Chris Frilingos, associate professor of religious studies, poses in the MSU Alumni Chapel on Friday October 6, 2017.

Office: 729 Wells Hall
Office phone: (517) 432-0062
Professor in the Department of Religious Studies


Ph.D., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 2001 (Religious Studies)

M.Litt., University of St. Andrews, Scotland 1993 (New Testament)

B.A., Greensboro College 1992 (English)


Biblical Literature, Early Christianity


Dr. Frilingos studies and teaches about the religions of the ancient Mediterranean world, specifically Greek and Roman religions, Early Judaism, and Early Christianity. He publishes mostly on topics in the history and literature of ancient Christians. 

His first book, Spectacles of Empire: Monsters, Martyrs, and the Book of Revelation, was published in 2004 by the University of Pennsylvania Press. Why were early Christians attracted to the Book of Revelation, the strange last book of the Christian Bible? While most studies have suggested that opposition to Rome is the key to explaining Revelation, Spectacles of Empire focuses instead on what the book shares with Roman-era culture. Rome’s was a society of spectacles, ranging from imperial processions to gladiatorial contests and the staged hunts of wild beasts. The visions of Revelation invited early Christian audiences to do what came naturally in the Roman world: to find meaning in the dynamic of viewing and being viewed. 

More recently, Dr. Frilingos has published articles about a pair of gospels not included in the New Testament. The Infancy Gospel of Thomas and the Proto-gospel of James describe the childhoods of Jesus and Mary and, more broadly, the challenges faced by the holy family. He is currently completing a book-length manuscript entitled, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph: Christianity and Culture in Ancient Family Gospels.


  • REL 150 Introduction to Biblical Literature
  • REL 320 Christianity
  • REL 420 Birth of Christianity
  • REL 491 Special Topics in Religious Studies: Jesus in History and Tradition
  • IAH 221A Ancient World: Pagans, Christians, and Jews