Philip Burton


Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

Greek and Latin linguistics
Early Christianity
Classical literature, especially later Latin
Reception of classical antiquity


Research activity per year

Personal profile


Philip Burton is a specialist on the relationship between early Christianity and the wider world of Graeco-Roman literature and thought. In his first book, The Old Latin Gospels (OUP, 2000), he examined the textual history and language of the earliest Latin translations of the Four Gospels, exploring particularly their translation technique and their value as a source for post-classical, non-literary Latin. His most recent book, Language in the Confessions of Augustine (OUP, 2007), brings together insights from linguistics and ancient theories of language. Since 2002 he has been involved in two AHRC-funded projects to produce a definitive edition of the Old Latin manuscript traditions and early citations John (visit for more information). He has also published on the Gothic version of the Bible and its value as a linguistic document. He is currently working also on the reception of classical antiquity and early Christianity in modern culture.

Research interests

  • The Old Latin Bible; how the Bible was translated into Latin, what practical issues confronted the translators and how they addressed them, and how we can use surviving manuscripts and quotations in ancient writers to reconstruct these early versions;
  • The development of Christian Latin discourse; how Christian writers used the language of the Latin Bible and the wider range of stylistic possibilities in Latin to create a range of more or less distinctly Christian idiolects;
  • Ancient and modern descriptions of Latin; how Latin speakers described and conceptualized their language, what defined the limits of acceptable and unacceptable language, and how far these descriptions map onto modern linguistic categories;
  • Reception of classical antiquity and early Christianity; the ways in which modern novelists, poets, translators, and others have reinvented the ancient world and ancient Christianity as a means of talking about matters of contemporary concern to themselves.


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