Deb Saxon

Ph.D., Iliff School of Theology
University of Denver Joint Program

M.A., Applied Linguistics (ESL)
Indiana University

M.A., English
Indiana University

B.A., English, Spanish, and German
Baylor University

Deborah Niederer Saxon

Visiting Instructor of Religion at Butler University

Deborah Niederer Saxon is the author of The Care of the Self in Early Christian Literature (Palgrave Macmillan, Oct 2017). Her research re-conceptualizes early Christian history not as a matter of heresies or “gnosticism” splitting off from some supposed orthodoxy but rather by highlighting differing perspectives and practices regarding the care of the self in early Jesus scriptures of the first to third centuries (particularly those that have resurfaced in the last century at Nag Hammadi, Egypt). The care of the self is simply a term used by the French thinker, Michel Foucault, to describe practices common in the ancient Greco-Roman world that helped one to develop a sense of identity and engage in spiritual transformation. By comparing texts from the Greek philosophical schools with those of the so-called “apostolic fathers” and those newly-discovered in Egypt, Saxon explores how early Jesus followers practiced the care of the self in innovative ways. She also focuses on women’s roles in these texts and the positive models that emerge for women’s leadership in these early times. Finally, Saxon explores the potential that newly-discovered early Jesus scriptures provide for contemporary ecumenical and interfaith partnerships.  Given that differing conceptions of self-care (and how Jesus figured into all of that) made for “many ways to be Christian” in the early centuries, Saxon encourages those who yearn for an inclusive Christianity today that engages with those of all affiliations and backgrounds (including those who are not particularly “religious”) to think about what these texts can teach us now about the meaning of Jesus’s life and teachings. She particularly enjoys discussing these topics with public groups of all kinds at workshops, retreats, and other events and may be contacted directly at or 720-413-5685.