Dr Paul Middleton

Senior Lecturer in New Testament and Early Christianity

The Bible’s impact on the religious, cultural, and political history of our species makes it one of the significant collections of literature in existence.  It has inspired great acts of devotion, charity, and liberation, while at the same time justified violence, terror, and oppression.  But who wrote these texts and why?  These are some of the questions which drive my interest in the New Testament, while my research centres on the phenomenon of suicide and martyrdom in both the ancient and modern world.  I am currently editing the Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Christian Martyrdom, which will feature more than 30 essays, and is due to be published Spring 2018.  I am also leading a project on Sexuality and Anglican Identities, which has been funded by the Church Universities Fund.


Telephone 01244 511036
Email p.middleton@chester.ac.uk


BMus; BD (Glasgow); ThM (Princeton Theological Seminary); PhD (Edinburgh); FRSA; FHEA


I completed my PhD on early Christian martyrdom in 2004 under Prof. Larry Hurtado at the University of Edinburgh.  Prior to this, I took a Masters in Theology at Princeton Theological Seminary (1998), and studied at the University of Glasgow, where I completed two undergraduate degrees: first in Music; then Divinity.

My first academic post was with Edinburgh University’s Centre for Theology and Public Issues, where I was a researcher on a Scottish Government funded project on the needs of Faith Communities in Glasgow.  In 2005, I took up a post as Lecturer in New Testament Studies at the University of Wales, Lampeter.   In 2010, after four years in rural Wales, I joined the Chester TRS Department as Senior Lecturer in Biblical Studies.

I am an active member of the Society of Biblical Literature and often give papers at the annual conference in North America.  I am currently Secretary of the British New Testament Society and will be hosting the annual conference at Chester in 2016. I have been a keynote speaker at local schools conferences, and have made regular contributions to radio, television, and print media on topics as diverse as John the Baptist, Martyrdom, Jesus’ sexuality, and contemporary debates on same-sex marriage.  You can follow me on Twitter: @DrPaulMiddleton.


Undergraduate Modules

TH4045 The Bible: Contents and Contexts

TH6047 Jews, Christians, and Pagans (168BCE–132CE)

TH6049 Jesus and the Gospels

TH6051 Dissertation


Postgraduate Modules

TH7026 Jews, Christians, and Pagans



Ancient Jewish and Christian Martyrdom

Early Christianity

Violence and Religion


Research Interests

New Testament language, literature, and theology

Formation of early Christian identity

Diversity in early Christianity

Violence and Martyrdom

Music and Theology


PhD Supervision

I welcome enquiries for research at doctoral level in any of my research areas listed above or from students wishing to explore other areas within Biblical Studies, Second Temple Judaism and Early Christian History.

Published work



Violence and Martyrdom in The Apocalypse (T & T Clark, forthcoming, 2017).


Martyrdom: A Guide for the Perplexed (T & T Clark, 2011)


Co-edited with Angus Paddison and Karen Wenell, Paul, Grace, and Freedom: Essays in Honour of John K. Riches (T & T Clark, 2009)


(ed.), The God of Love and Human Dignity: Essays in Honour of George Newlands ( T & T Clark, 2007)


Radical Martyrdom and Cosmic Conflict in Early Christianity (T & T Clark, 2006)

Other Select Publications


‘“Suffer Little Children”: Child-Sacrifice, Martyrdom, and Identity Formation in Judaism and Christianity.’ Journal of Religion and Violence 4/3 (2016), 337–356.


‘Overcoming Satan in the Acts of the Martyrs’ in C. Keith and L. Stuckenbruck (eds), Evil in Second Temple Judaism and Early Christianity, (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2016), 357–374.


‘Male Virgins, Male Martyrs, Male Brides: A Reconsideration of the 144,000 “who have not Dirtied Themselves with Women” (Revelation 14.4)’ in G. V. Allen, I. Paul, and S. P. Woodman (eds), The Book of Revelation: Currents in British Research on the Apocalypse (Tübingen: Mohr-Siebeck, 2015), 193–208.  


‘“Unlock Paradise with your own Blood”: Martyrdom and Salvation in Islam and Christianity’ in H. Bacon, W. Dossett, and S. Knowles (eds), Alternative Salvations: Engaging the Secular and the Sacred (London: Bloomsbury, 2015), 109–120.


‘Christology, Martyrdom, and Vindication in the Gospel of Mark and the Apocalypse: Two New Testament Views’ in C. Keith and D. T. Roth (eds), Mark, Manuscripts, and Monotheism: Essays in Honor of Larry W. Hurtado (T & T Clark, 2015), 219–237.


‘Noble Death or Death Cult? Pagan Criticism of Early Christian Martyrdom’ in O. Lehtipuu and M. Labahn (eds), People under Power: Early Jewish and Christian Responses to the Roman Empire (Amsterdam University Press/Chicago University Press, 2015), 205–228.


‘Suffering and the Creation of Christian Identity in the Gospel of Mark’ in C. Baker and B. Tucker (eds), The T & T Clark Handbook to Social Identity in the New Testament (T & T Clark, 2014), 173-189.


‘What is martyrdom?' in Mortality: Promoting the Interdisciplinary Study of Death and Dying 19/2 (2014), 117–133.


‘Suicide in the Bible’, Society of Biblical Literature Odyssey Project (SBL, 2014) http://www.bibleodyssey.org/en/people/related-articles/suicide-in-the-bible.aspx


‘Early Christian Voluntary Martyrdom: A Statement for the Defence’ in Journal of Theological Studies n.s. 64 (2013), 556-573.


‘Enemies of the (Church) and State: Martyrdom as a Problem for Early Christianity’ in Annali di Storia dell'Esegesi 29/2 (2012), 161-181


‘Martyrdom’ in The Cambridge Dictionary of Christian Theology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 301-303


‘Review article: The Queer Bible Commentary’ in Theology and Sexuality 16 (2010), 109-114


‘Paul and Martyrdom’ in P. Middleton, A. Paddison, and K. Wenell (eds), Paul, Grace, and Freedom: Essays in Honour of John K. Riches (London: T & T Clark, 2009), 82-93