Rachel Elizabeth Nelson
STL, Boston College School of Theology and Ministry (2011)
MDiv, Harvard Divinity School (2000)
BA, Juniata College (1996)
Rachel Nelson received her BA in chemistry and math from Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. At Juniata, she became involved in the campus ministry program and following graduation chose to pursue an MDiv at Harvard Divinity School. While at HDS, she first encountered the wonders of early martyrdom literature and wrote her MDiv thesis on the interplay between early acta martyrum and the baptismal liturgy. Following graduation, she served as Catholic campus minister at Colby College in Waterville, Maine. In 2004, Rachel entered the concurrent PhD/STL program at Boston College. She completed the STL in 2011, writing on the use of motifs of the Roman spectacula in the Martyrdom of Polycarp. Her doctoral dissertation is on the motifs of the spectacula in second and third century acta martyrum.
Rachel has also worked for ConstellationCenter (a performing arts center to be built in Cambridge, Massachusetts) researching the history of sacred music performance, liturgy, and church architecture since 2002. Her interests include martyrdom, the interplay between early Christianity and Greco-Roman culture, liturgical development, and early sacred music.
“Representation and Reenactment: interplay between early acta martyrum and the development of the Eucharistic liturgy,” Archbishop Iakovos Graduate Student Conference in Patristic Studies (2013)
“Martyrdom as a Christian Spectaculum: developments in the use of Roman arena motifs in late-third century acta martyrum,” Archbishop Iakovos Graduate Student Conference in Patristic Studies (2012)
“New Deeds of Heroism and Manifestations of Virtue: the motifs of the Roman Spectacula in the Passio Perpetuae,” Archbishop Iakovos Graduate Student Conference in Patristic Studies (2011)
“The Sound of Heaven: some musical objectives of Medieval church architecture,” International Congress on Medieval Studies (2009)
“For the Good of the Soul: the relationship between illness and sin in the Apocryphal Acts of the Apostles,” Archbishop Iakovos Graduate Student Conference in Patristic Studies (2008)
Pl/Th090 and Pl/Th091: Perspectives on Western Culture I and II. Fall 2008 and Spring 2009. With Pheme Perkins.