Johnson is a historian of late antique literature and culture. He works primarily with Greek, Syriac, and Coptic. He received his B.A. in Classical Languages at Vanderbilt (summa cum laude) and his D.Phil. in Classics from Oxford. He has been a Junior Fellow in the Harvard Society of Fellows, a Fellow in Byzantine Studies at Dumbarton Oaks, a Kluge Fellow at the Library of Congress, and Dumbarton Oaks Teaching Fellow in Byzantine Greek at Georgetown. In 2018 he received a Guggenheim Fellowship for his current book project, under contract with Princeton University Press, Syriac: A Biography. See more details here.
Johnson has published widely on late antique literature and culture. Johnson’s first book The Life and Miracles of Thekla, A Literary Study (Harvard, 2006) explores hagiographical literature in Greek from the fifth century CE, placing it in the confluence of cultures between the classical and early Christian worlds. His second book Literary Territories: Cartographical Thinking in Late Antiquity Oxford, 2016) is a study of how the late antique imagination fashioned new concepts of the physical and celestial realms and, in turn, shaped the literature of the period. He edited a major, 30-chapter volume The Oxford Handbook of Late Antiquity (Oxford, 2012), which has become a standard reference work that also pushes the field forward in new directions. In addition, he is the editor of Greek Literature in Late Antiquity: Dynamism, Didacticism, Classicism (Ashgate, 2006), and Languages and Cultures of Eastern Christianity: Greek (Ashgate, 2015). He is the translator of Jacob of Sarug’s Homily on the Sinful Woman (Gorgias, 2013), in Syriac, and the co-translator of Miracle Tales from Byzantium (Harvard, 2012), in Greek. He also co-founded and co-edits a Digital Humanities project called Syri.ac which aims to be a comprehensive annotated bibliography of Syriac literature, history, and culture, focused on open-access resources on the web.
He teaches a range of classes on the Greek language and literature, as well as classical culture, including a survey courses in his field of specialty: “From Rome to Baghdad: The World of Late Antiquity” and “Syrian Christianity”.