Born in Devonport, England, Philip Henry Rousseau joined the Society of Jesus in 1957. He earned a Licentiate in Philosophy at Heythrop College, London in 1962, and a B.A. in Modern History at Campion Hall, Oxford in 1965. That year, as a lay missionary, he left for Zambia where he taught history at St. Joseph’s Secondary School for Girls in Chivuna, founded in 1960 by the Religious Sisters of Charity. There he met a fellow teacher, Thérèse Healy, of County Clare, Ireland, and the two were married in 1967. The following year Philip began his doctoral studies in the Oxford Faculty of Modern History. As a Graduate Student at Campion Hall (1968-69) and Graduate Scholar at Wolfson College (1969-1972), he completed his D.Phil. on “Monks and Bishops” under the supervision of Peter Brown. A study of spiritual authority in the age of Jerome and Cassian, the thesis was submitted in a revised form to the Oxford University Press for publication, and appeared in 1978 in the series Oxford Historical Monographs. From 1972 to 1998 he taught history at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, rising to the rank of Associate Professor.
In Fall 1998 Prof. Rousseau came to Catholic University on a three-year appointment as Visiting Distinguished Professor of Early Christian Studies. In 2000 the position was made permanent with his appointment as Andrew W. Mellon Distinguished Professor of Early Christian Studies. During his career at the University, he directed numerous dissertations and served as a committee member for many others. He taught graduate seminars on a regular basis and in many semesters an undergraduate course as well, including the Honors Program course “From Jesus to Muhammad.” As Mellon Professor he delivered twenty Mellon Lectures, many of which were subsequently published.
Professor Rousseau’s scholarship focuses on the religious history of late antiquity, and in particular ascetic thought and culture. In addition to his monograph on Jerome and Cassian, published in a second edition with a new introduction (University of Notre Dame Press, 2010), his books include studies of the Egyptian monastic founder Pachomius (University of California Press, 1985) and the Cappadocian bishop Basil of Caesarea (University of California Press, 1994). His survey of early Church history, The Early Christian Centuries, was published by Longman in 2002 and reprinted by Routledge in 2013. He was also the editor of the prize-winning Companion to Late Antiquity (Wiley-Blackwell, 2009) and co-editor of three volumes of collected essays: Greek Biography and Panegyric in Late Antiquity, edited with Tomas Hägg (University of California Press, 2000), Transformations of Late Antiquity: Essays for Peter Brown, edited with Manolis Papoutsakis (Ashgate, 2009), and The Christian Moses: From Philo to the Qur’an, edited with Janet Timbie (Catholic University of America Press, 2019). His book chapters, journal articles, and book reviews number over 100. In 2013 he was presented with a festschrift entitled Ascetic Culture: Essays in Honor of Philip Rousseau, edited by Blake Leyerle and Robin Darling Young (University of Notre Dame Press).
In addition to his teaching and research as Mellon Professor, Philip Rousseau served as Director of the Center for the Study of Early Christianity at Catholic University from 2001 to 2015. As Director, he was responsible for many initiatives, including large and small conferences, workshops and study days, and networks of affiliation. He was also the founding editor of CUA Studies in Early Christianity, published by the Catholic University Press. Since its inception in 2007 the series has published ten volumes, with more in the pipeline.
Appointed a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society in 1981, Prof. Rousseau held visiting fellowships and scholarships at Dumbarton Oaks, the University of Exeter, the Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton), Wolfson College (Oxford), Robinson College (Cambridge), the Center for Advanced Studies (Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters), and the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at UCLA. In 1985 he served as Visiting Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and from 2013 to 2016 as Honorary Professor at the Centre for Early Christian Studies, Australian Catholic University.
A memorial celebration for Prof. Rousseau was held as a Zoom webinar on Sunday, Oct. 18, 4:00-5:30PM EDT. Portions of the event have been posted below.
Johann Sebastian Bach, “Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern” (BWV 1)
William Klingshirn, Margaret H. Gardiner Professor of Greek and Latin and Director, Center for the Study of Early Christianity
Sr. Maria Kiely, OSB, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Greek and Latin
Peter R. L. Brown, Rollins Professor of History Emeritus, Princeton University
Lisa Kaaren Bailey, Associate Professor of History, Classics and Ancient History, University of Auckland
- Sr. Maria Theotokos Adams, SSVM, Doctoral Candidate, Church History
- Carl Vennerstrom, Doctoral Student, Early Christian Studies
- Eric Philips (Ph.D. 2006), Pastor, Concordia Lutheran Church (Missouri Synod), Nashville, Tennessee.
- Dana Robinson (Ph.D. 2016), George Fox University, Newberg, Oregon
- Ky Heinze (Ph.D. 2015), Assistant Professor of Classical and Early Christian Studies, Our Lady Seat of Wisdom College, Barry's Bay, Ontario
- Sr. Maria del Fiat Miola, SSVM (Ph.D. 2018), Research Associate, Dept. of Greek and Latin, Catholic University of America
- Sean Argondizza-Moberg (Ph.D. 2016), Assistant Professor of Greek Patristics, Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies, University of St. Michael's College in the University of Toronto
- Yuliya Minets (Ph.D. 2017), Assistant Professor of History, Jacksonville State University, Jacksonville, Alabama
Constant J. Mews, FAHA, Professor of Medieval Thought and Director of the Centre for Religious Studies, Monash University
Gillian Clark, FBA, Professor Emerita and Senior Research Fellow, University of Bristol
Blake Leyerle, Associate Professor of Theology, University of Notre Dame
Albrecht Diem, Associate Professor of History, Syracuse University
Georgia Frank, Charles A. Dana Professor of Religion, Colgate University
- Katherine L. Jansen, Professor of History and Editor of Speculum
- Lilla Kopár, Associate Professor of English and Director of the Center for Medieval and Byzantine Studies
- Lola Lastrapes, Business Manager and Academic Specialist, Speculum/ Medieval and Byzantine Studies
- Janet A. Timbie, Adjunct Associate Professor of Semitic and Egyptian Languages and Literatures
- Sarah Brown Ferrario, Associate Professor and Chair of Greek and Latin
- Jennifer R. Davis, Associate Professor of History
- Robin Darling Young, Associate Professor of Church History
Dame Averil M. Cameron, FBA, Professor of Late Antique and Byzantine History, Oxford (retired)
Naomi Bain, on behalf of the Rousseau family
For help in making this memorial celebration possible, the Planning Committee thanks Provost Aaron Dominguez, Assistant Provost David Long, Dr. Eric Gramatges of the Rome School of Music, Drama, and Art, and Mr. Yuening Rao, doctoral student in Early Christian Studies.