Department of Ancient History

Professor Alanna Nobbs

ancient-staff nobbs
BA Syd., PhD Syd.

Contact Details:
Telephone: +61 2 9850 8844 
Fax: +61 2 9850 8240
Office: W6A 318 


Professor Alanna Nobbs concluded her BA Hons1( Latin) (1966) and PhD (Latin) (1973) at the University of Sydney, having also studied at Birkbeck, University of London, under Professor Robert Browning She taught part-time at Sydney University (1967-8) and at Macquarie University full-time from 1970-2011, part time 2012-2015.

Her fields of research and teaching include Classical languages (Greek and Latin); Greek papyri especially those documenting the Christianisation of Egypt; late antique and early Byzantine history and historiography; and the historical background of the New Testament and Early Christianity.

External Appointments

  • 1974, 1979 Honorary Visiting Fellow, Birkbeck College, University of London
  • 1984, 1995 Honorary Visiting Fellow, Department of History, University of Sydney
  • 1995 Honorary Visiting Fellow, Centre for Research in East Roman Studies, University of Warwick
  • 1999, 2003 Honorary Visiting Fellow, Institute of Classical Studies, University of London
  • 2004 50th Anniversary Lecturer, Institute of Classical Studies, University of London
  • 2005 British Academy funded Visiting Speaker, University of Edinburgh

Macquarie University Awards

  • Division of Humanities Teaching Award 2004
  • Vice Chancellor's Outstanding Teaching Award 2005
  • Macquarie University Award for Engaging with the Community at Large 2008

Current Offices Held

  • President, Society for Study of Early Christianity
  • Vice President , Classical Association NSW (formerly President)
  • Board Member, Sir Asher Joel Foundation
  • Board Member, Rundle Foundation for Egyptian Archaeology
  • Member, Postgraduate sub committee, Australian College of Theology
  • Chair, Promotions Committee, Sydney College of Divinity

Past Offices Held

  • Macquarie University Representative: Australasian Society for Classical Studies, Australian Association for Byzantine Studies
  • Member, Advisory Panel , Australian Curriculum Reporting Authority
  • Former Chair and Chief Examiner Ancient History HSC Examination Committee
  • Former Member, Ancient History and Junior History Syllabus Committee
  • Former Member and Chair, History HSC Extension Examination Committee
  • Former Director, Ancient History Documentary Research Centre
  • Former Deputy Director, Ancient Cultures Research Centre

Grants (collaboratively held)

  • ARC Grants for work on Christian Papyri (1973-1998 incl.) and late Antique Historiography (1987-1989)

Selected other Grants include (as Director AHDRC)

  • 2008: RIBG 'Digital Mapping Resource' ($40,000)
  • 2007: RIBG 'Expanded Digitised Library, Coptic Resource Centre, and Thematic Database' ($69,394')
  • 2007: MQRDG 'Breaking the Code for the Early Christian Symbol: The Nomina Sacra' ( year 2: $24,057)
  • 2006: MURDG 'Breaking the Code for the Early Christian Symbol: The Nomina Sacra' (year 1: $25,717)
  • 2006: Research Infrastructure Block Grants (RIBG) 'Expanded Digitised Library, Coptic Resource Centre, and Thematic Database' ($67,040)
  • 2004: MURG Research Committee Discretionary Fund ($25,000); RIBG ($56,000); Paleographical and Codicological Analysis of 2nd century codex manual ($19,970)
  • 2003: MURDG Codicological Analysis of 2 Oxyrhynchus Libraries ($19,700)
  • 2002: RIBG ($47,500); Bilingualism within 4th century Egyptian Monasticism ($16,400); New Testament Paleographic Register ($9,760); Foreign Relations in the post Roman West ($14,990)
  • 2001: MURDS Transformation from polytheistic to Monotheistic formulas in Greek letters on papyrus ($14,700); The Macquarie English to Coptic Dictionary ($9,600); Distinguishing Jewish from Christian Papyri ($8,735)
  • 2000: Theophanes Continuatus (ARC Small Grant $11,600); RIBG ($37,900); Translation and commentary on Philostorgius ($7,770)


Books (edited)

  • History and Historians in Late Antiquity (Pergamon, 1983) (with Brian Croke) 182pp.
  • Reading the Past in Late Antiquity (ANU Press, 1990) (edited by Graeme Clarke with Brian Croke, Raoul Mortley & Alanna Emmett Nobbs) 370pp.
  • Ancient History in a Modern University (2 vols, Eerdmans, 1997) (with T.W. Hillard, R.A. Kearsley and C.E.V. Nixon) vol 1: 436 pp; vol 2: 493 pp.
  • Journal of Religious History (Blackwells, 2002), special issue on the Dead Sea Scrolls (with John Gascoigne and Mark Harding) 197pp.
  • The Content and Setting of the Gospel Tradition (edited by M. Harding, A. Nobbs), (William B Eerdmans Publishing, 2010), 460pp.
  • Jerusalem and Athens: Cultural Transformation in Late Antiquity (EA Judge, essays selected and edited by Alanna Nobbs), (Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, 2010), 352pp.
  • All Things to All Cultures (edited by M. Harding, A Nobbs), (William B Eerdmans Publishing, 2013), 406pp.

Book Chapters

  • 'The Digressions in the Lost Books of Ammianus Marcellinus', in History and Historians in Late Antiquity (Pergamon, 1983), 42-53.
  • (with Brian Croke) 'Historiography in Late Antiquity: an Overview', ibid., 1-13.
  • 'Philostorgius' View of the Past', in Reading the Past in Late Antiquity (ed. Graeme Clarke with Brian Croke, Raoul Mortley & Alanna Emmett Nobbs, ANU (1990), 251-264).
  • 'Acts and Subsequent Ecclesiastical Histories', in The Book of Acts in its Literary Setting, (Eerdmans, 1993), 153-163.
  • (with T.W. Hillard and B. W. Winter) 'Acts and the Pauline Corpus 1: Ancient Literary Parallels', ibid., 1-31.
  • 'Cyprus in the Book of Acts', in The Book of Acts in its Graeco-Roman Setting (Eerdmans 1994) 279-289.
  • (with W. Leadbetter) 'The Christians in the Later Roman Empire', chapter in Personalities from the Past (Nelson, 1997), 261-282.
  • 'Formulas of Belief in Greek Papyrus Letters of the Third and Fourth Centuries', in Ancient History in a Modern University (Eerdmans, 1998) vol 2, 233-237.
  • 'Beloved Brothers in the New Testament and Early Christian World', in The New Testament in its First Century Setting: Essays on Context and Background in Honour of B.W. Winter on his 65th birthday, ed. P.J. Williams, Andrew D. Clarke, Peter M. Head, David Instone-Brewer (Eerdmans, 2004) 143-151.
  • 'The Koimeterion of P. Charite 40 - Christian Burial Practices in a Papyrological Context' (Studies in Art History, presented to Asher Ovadiah, Tel Aviv, 2006), 77-87.
  • 'The Career of Pompey', in Res Romanae: Essays on Roman History, (ed. Bruce Marshall, Macquarie Ancient History Association, 2009).
  • 'Some Duties and Responsibilities of a Bishop (?) in Late Antique Egypt', in Religion and Retributive Logic: Essays in Honour of Professor Garry W. Trompf, (Brill, 2009).
  • 'Phileas, Bishop of Thmouis', Egyptian Culture and Society Studies in Honour of Naguib Kanawati, Vol II, (Supreme Council of Antiquities Egypt, 2010), vol. 2, 93-98.

Research Articles

  • 'Three Recent Interpretations of Ammianus Marcellinus', Prudentia 2 (1970), 19-27.
  • 'A Fourth-century Hymn to the Virgin Mary? Psalmus Responsorius: P. Barc. 149b-153', Proceedings of XIV International Congress of Papyrologists Oxford, 24-31 July 1974) Graeco-Roman Memoirs, No.61 (1975), 97-102.
  • (with S.R. Pickering) 'The Importance of P. Bodmer XX The Apology of Phileas and its Problems', Prudentia 7 (1975), 95-103.
  • 'The Subject of Psalmus Responsorius: P. Barc. 149b-153', Museum Philologum Londiniense 2 (1977), 99-108.
  • 'Introductions and Conclusions to Digressions in Ammianus Marcellinus', Museum Philologum Londiniense 5 (1981), 15-33.
  • 'Female Ascetics in the Greek Papyri', Akten des XVI. Internationalen Byzantinisten-Kongresses = Jahrbuch der Österreichischen Byzantinistik 32.2 (1982), 507-515.
  • 'Corpus Papyrorum Christianarum. A Report', ibid., 31.2, section 2.1.
  • 'A Fourth Century Hymn to the Virgin Mary?' New Documents illustrating Early Christianity (A.H.D.R.C. Macquarie, 1982), 141-6.
  • 'An Early Fourth-Century Female Monastic Community in Egypt?' Maistor: Studies Presented to Robert Browning (= Byzantina Australiensia 5) (1984), 77-83.
  • 'The Concept of Spirit in Papyrus Letters of the Third and Fourth Century: Problems Posed by P. Harr. 107', The Concept of Spirit, Prudentia, Supplement 1985, 73-79.
  • 'A Revolt in the Time of Diocletian: the Evidence of the Paniskos Papyri', Ancient Society 16 (1986), 132-6.
  • 'Digressions in the Ecclesiastical Histories of Socrates, Sozomen and Theodoret' Journal of Religious History 14.1 (1986), 1-12.
  • 'The Idea of Salvation: the Transition to Christianity as Seen in Some Early Papyri' in The Idea of Salvation, Prudentia Supplement 1988, 59-63.
  • 'Philostorgius' Ecclesiastical History: an "Alternative Ideology" 'Tyndale Bulletin 42.2 (1991), 271-281.
  • 'Philostorgius' Place in the Tradition of Ecclesiastical Historiography', Tradition and Traditions. Prudentia suppl. 1994, 198-207.
  • Article on 'Philostorgius', in Oxford Classical Dictionary (3rd edn, 1997) (with S.R. Llewelyn).
  • 'P. Grenf. II.73 Reconsidered', Proceedings of XXI International Papyrological Conference (Berlin 1997) Teubner, (1997) 613-630.
  • 'Gnosticism and the Greek Papyri from Egypt', Phronema 14 (1999), 53-60.
  • (with I. Gardner and M. Choat) 'P.Harr. 107. Is this another Greek Manichaean Letter?', Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 131 (2000), 118-124.
  • (with G. Fox) 'Propelling Plutarch from the first to the twenty-first century', Celebrating Teaching at Macquarie (2002).
  • (with S.R. Llewelyn) 'The earliest dated reference to Sunday in the papyri', in S.R. Llewelyn (ed.), New Documents Illustrating Early Christianity 9 (Sydney/Grand Rapids, 2002), 106-118.
  • 'The Christians in the Later Roman Empire', Ancient History: Resources for Teachers 32.1 (2002), 39-63.
  • (with T. Rajak) Review of Doron Mendels, The Media Revolution of Early Christianity. An Essay on Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History, Scripta Classica Israelica 22 (2003).
  • Australian Dictionary of Biography article on Fifi Hawthorne (2003).
  • (with M. Choat) 'Monotheistic Formulae of Belief in Second - Fourth century AD Greek Papyri', Journal of Greco-Roman Judaism and Christianity 2 (2001-2005), 36-51.
  • 'What do Ancient Historians Make of the New Testament', Tyndale Bulletin (2006).
  • Christians in a Pluralistic Society: Papyrus Evidence from the Roman Empire', The International Journal of New Perspectives in Christianity (2009).
  • '2009 Penny Magee Memorial Lecture: Voices from Late Antique Egypt: Christian Women Speak', Australian Religion Studies Review (2010).
  • 'Classical Allusions in Ammianus Marcellinus', Classicum 38.2 (2012), 25-28.
  • 'The Hellenism of Ammianus Marcellinus', Thinking Diversely: A Journal for Greek Letters E. Kefallinos (2012), 81-191.
  • 'Edification in the early Egyptian church: evidence from a bishop's Dossier' Coptic culture: past, present and future, Oxford 2012.
  • 'Egypt in Late Antiquity The Evidence from Ammianus Marcellinus'. Bulletin of the Australian Centre for Egyptology (2013).
  • 'A Problem like Maria: further reflections on Christian onomastic practices', Buried History: The Journal of the Australian Institute of Archaeology 50 (2014), 17-20.
  • 'The First Named Christian Accountant?' Festschrift for Fergus Millar vol 2 (Brepols, forthcoming).

Other Research Output

  • Kambala: The First Hundred Years 1887-1987 (Kambala Centenary History Committee 1987)
  • Australian Dictionary of Biography article on Fifi Hawthorne (2003).


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