MacArthur Fellows Program

Peter R. L. Brown

Historian | Class of 1982

Berkeley, California
47 at time of award
Published August 1, 1982

About Peter's Work

Peter Brown is a historian of ideas who studies the relationship between social and religious life from late antiquity to the medieval period. 

He has integrated the study of the rise of Christianity in the Roman Empire, the fate of the Empire in western Europe, and the survival of its Byzantine form in the Near East.  In Brown’s book entitled The Body and Society: Men, Women and Sexual Renunciation in Early Christianity (1988), he examines the reasons for the change from a pagan to a Christian society as expressed in societal attitudes toward marriage and sexuality.  Other works by Brown include The Cult of the Saints: Its Rise and Function in Latin Christianity (1980) and Society and the Holy in Late Antiquity (1982), Authority and the Sacred: Aspects of the Christianization of the Roman World (1995), and Poverty and Leadership in the Later Roman Empire (2002).


Brown taught at the University of Oxford until 1975 as a Fellow of All Souls College.  He joined the faculty of Princeton University in 1986 after teaching at the University of London (1975-1978) and the University of California, Berkeley (1978-1986).  Brown is the Philip and Beulah Rollins Professor of History at Princeton University. 

Brown received his B.A. (1956) from the University of Oxford.

Last updated January 1, 2005.

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