Elli Elliott (Dr. Susan M. Elliott, M. Div., Ph.D.) is a writer, lecturer, workshop leader, and environmental activist based in Red Lodge, Montana. She began her doctoral work after years in urban ministry in Chicago where she served a local church, directed human rights organizations, worked in grassroots economic development, and organized direct actions on local and international justice issues. For several years, she managed construction companies and a mailing service as ventures to employ and train urban young people in Chicago. She also spent a year in a village in Mexico assisting with the economic development work of the Arizona Farmworkers Union.
She earned a Ph.D. in New Testament and Early Christianity in 1997 from Loyola University Chicago. Her research focuses on the social context of early Christianity with an emphasis on family relationships, pagan and Roman imperial backgrounds, and Greco-Roman mystery cults. Her primary expertise in Paul’s letter to the Galatians and the cult of Cybele and Anatolian popular religiosity.
Dr. Elliott's first book, recently reissued, explores Paul's letter to the Galatians and the relation of the circumcision controversy to the practice of ritual self-castration. (Cutting Too Close for Comfort: Paul’s Letter to the Galatians in its Anatolian Cultic Context, 2003/2008.) Her current book project, based on a lecture series offered in a number of local churches, examines the Roman Empire as a family and strategies of early Christian communities and others to respond with alternative visions and practice of family. The provisional title is: Family Empires: The Roman Family Emire and Early Christian Responses.
Dr. Elliott has taught courses at Iliff School of Theology, Loyola University Chicago, Northwest College, and as a faculty member of lay ministry programs in Colorado and Montana. During her ministerial career, she served churches in Illinois, Colorado, and Minnesota as well as in urban and justice ministries in Chicago and economic development work in rural Mexico. Her articles have appeared in the Journal of Biblical Literature, Biblical Research, Semeia, Listening, 4thR, and in dictionaries of the Bible. She is a fellow of the Westar Institute (Jesus Seminar).
Dr. Elliott currently lives in Red Lodge, Montana where she is developing a grass roots think tank. She enjoys volunteer work as an environmental activist, and she brings the perspective of her status as one of the working poor to her writing and reflection. While her background and training are Christian, her faith and thought are moving into new directions from there.