Hannah Matis, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Church History at Virginia Theological Seminary. She believes history is never about a string of dates, but about stories: the stories we tell ourselves about the past, true and false, the stories of forgotten people we can piece together from fragmentary bits of evidence, the stories of ways of life that are now lost to us. She reminds her students that more often than not, history is far more alive in our present than we think.
Matis’ areas of expertise include early medieval biblical interpretation, late antiquity, and medieval history, Reformation history, Anglican studies, and the history of spirituality. She teaches courses in Church History and Spirituality and joined the faculty in 2014.
She observes that many students come into the classroom dreading history. Often they have often never learned history specifically about their church, and she loves watching them discover how relevant to their faith it can be.
In her first book, The Song of Songs in the Early Middle Ages, Matis examined how one book of the Bible was interpreted in the early medieval West by a number of its most important and influential monks and clergy. Reading the Song of Songs allegorically as a love song between Christ and the Church, Gregory the Great, the Venerable Bede, Alcuin, and others used the text as a blueprint for church reform and a way to shape an emerging sense of clerical identity.
She has a particular interest in the religious experience of women within the Christian tradition and is currently at work on a book project she is tentatively entitling A Women’s History of Christianity.
Dr. Matis frequently presents lectures and seminars on topics such as:
- the history of Christianity
- the history of the Episcopal Church
- Anglican identity
Ph.D. Medieval Studies, University of Notre Dame
M.A. Medieval Studies, University of Notre Dame
M.A. Medieval History, University of Durham
B.A. History and English, Lee University