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About ISAC

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The Institute for the Study of Antiquity and Christian Origins (ISAC) is an Organized Research Unit of the College of Liberal Arts, at The University of Texas at Austin. It was founded in 2002 and is currently under the direction of Dr. Geoffrey Smith, Associate Professor of Biblical Greek and Christian Origins and Fellow of the W. C. Nease Endowment.


As a graduate research center, ISAC is housed in the Department of Religious Studies, which boasts one of the top ranked graduate programs in Religion of the Ancient Mediterranean, where students and faculty study the Biblical world, Formative Judaism, and Early Christianity in their cultural contexts. ISAC fosters close connections with the study of the Greco-Roman world as well as the study of the ancient Middle East. The institute promotes the development of specialized, interdisciplinary graduate offerings and provides faculty and graduate students with research support in conjunction with the Department of Religious Studies. ISAC is supported by an endowment, thanks to generous donations from:

Used to support the program, operations, lectures & colloquia, and research projects of ISAC.

Devoted to research and teaching in the area of Antiquity and Christian Origins and broader areas of Biblical Studies, history, and archaeology.

Devoted to research and teaching in the area of Biblical Studies, with a special focus on Biblical Greek and Christian origins.

Devoted to research and teaching in the area of Hellenistic Judaism, and related areas.

Used to support graduate students and faculty research in the area of Christian Origins and related fields, through ISAC and the Department of Religious Studies.

Donors include the Foundation for Biblical Studies in Texas, the Foundation for Religious Studies in Texas, the George & Faye Young Foundation of Dallas, Texas, and numerous individuals.

Through gifts and endowments, ISAC sponsors both undergraduate and graduate student fellowships, including the Max and Sylvia Miller Scholarships in Religious Studies, the Lt.Gen. H. O. Thompson Graduate Research Fellowship in Biblical Studies, and the Foundation for Biblical Studies Graduate Fellowships in Ancient Mediterranean Religions.

Current research projects supported by ISAC and its associated endowments include:     

  • OSMAP Excavations in the Ancient Synagogue of Ostia, Italy
  • Colloquium on Material Culture and Ancient Religions (COMCAR)
  • Research and Field Work Seminars in Greco-Roman Religions in Greece and Turkey
  • Oxford Papyrology Project in Greek and Coptic Papyri of the Oxyrhynchus Collection