Professor, History Department
Molly Lester is a historian of the late antique and early medieval Mediterranean, with a focus on the history of Christianity in the late Roman empire and in post-Roman kingdoms. At the heart of her scholarly interests are questions about the social life of religious concepts: how people have understood their relationship to the supernatural, and how they strove to translate their beliefs into practice. Her current book project, The Word as Lived: The Practice of Orthodoxy in Early Medieval Iberia, c.500-711, explores how early medieval Iberian Christians sought to define and actualize orthodox belief through a broad spectrum of activities ranging from liturgical rituals to everyday moral living. Drawing upon sources ranging from church council records to theological tracts to liturgical manuscripts, her work examines how and why Iberians came to believe that the political cohesion of their society, the identity of their kingdom, and the salvation of their souls depended on how they lived the Word of God.