Kyle Smith

Jackman Humanities Building, Room 321, 170 St. George Street, Toronto, ON M5R 2M8


Fields of Study

Areas of Interest

  • Christianity in late antiquity
  • Martyrdom, monasticism, and asceticism
  • Syriac Christianity


Kyle Smith, winner of the University of Toronto’s inaugural Early Career Teaching Award, is professor of the history of Christianity in the Department of Historical Studies at UTM. His undergraduate teaching includes courses on martyrdom in the ancient world, women and gender in early and medieval Christianity, and the religious and cultural history of Christmas.

On the UTSG campus, Smith holds graduate appointments in the Department for the Study of Religion and the Centre for Medieval Studies. He regularly offers graduate seminars on martyrdom and asceticism in early Christianity.

Smith's research focuses primarily on the history of Christianity in Roman Mesopotamia and Sasanian Persia, with a particular emphasis on the fourth through sixth centuries. He has edited and translated several Christian martyrdom narratives from Syriac (a dialect of Aramaic) and published a detailed study of the Roman emperor Constantine and the Christians of Persia.

His most recent book, Cult of the Dead: A Brief History of Christianity, was published by the University of California Press in the fall of 2022. Written for a general audience, Cult of the Dead ranges from Roman antiquity to medieval England, through the Protestant Reformation and up to the present, to tell the story of how the world’s most widespread religion is steeped in the memory of its martyrs.

Currently, Smith is working on a new biography of St. Nicholas.


Cult of the Dead: A Brief History of Christianity. University of California Press, 2022.

The History of Mar Behnam and Sarah: Martyrdom and Monasticism in Medieval Iraq (with J.-N. Mellon Saint-Laurent). Gorgias Press, 2018.

Constantine and the Captive Christians of Persia: Martyrdom and Religious Identity in Late Antiquity. University of California Press, 2016.

Syriac Encounters: Papers from the Sixth North American Syriac Symposium (co-edited with M. Doerfler and E. Fiano). Peeters Publishers, 2015.

The Martyrdom and the History of Blessed Simeon bar Sabba’e. Gorgias Press, 2014.

The History of the Great Deeds of Bishop Paul of Qentos and Priest John of Edessa (with H. Arneson, E. Fiano, and C. L. Marquis). Gorgias Press, 2010.


PhD, Duke University
MA, University of Notre Dame
BA, University of Notre Dame