M Adryael Tong was born in Boulder, Colorado to immigrant parents from Hong Kong and Taiwan. She attended the University of Pennsylvania and graduated with honors in 2007 with a B.A. in Classics. She then earned her M.Div. (2012) degree summa cum laude, as well as, her S.T.M. (2013) at Yale Divinity School where she was awarded the Ping Teh Sie scholarship for seminary students of ethnic Chinese descent. Throughout her education, M has been active in a variety of social justice causes, including anti-war protest (Not In Our Name), environmental protection (Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection), criminal justice reform and death penalty abolition (Connecticut Network to Abolish the Death Penalty), and, especially, the advancement of LGBTQIA rights (Soulforce and the Human Rights Campaign)..
M earned her Ph.D. in 2019 in Judaism and Christianity in Antiquity from Fordham University and is currently revising her dissertation, “‘Given as a Sign’: Circumcision and Bodily Discourse in Late Antique Judaism and Christianity,” for publication as a book. Tentatively titled, Difference and Circumcision, a play on Deleuze’s Difference and Repetition, this book compares the historical development of ideologies of the body in Jewish and Christian texts during the era in which Judaism and Christianity were becoming two different religions. Using the subject of circumcision to frame her analysis, M traces the reception of Pauline discourse on circumcision in early Christian authors such as Tertullian, Justin Martyr, and Origen, and compares it with rabbinic texts, such as the Mishnah, the Tosefta, and Genesis Rabbah. M shows how differences in Jewish and Christian theology that arose from the New Testament circumcision debate profoundly shaped later theological discourses of the body. These include questions on the role biological filiation plays in community membership, on the effect of sexual difference within these communities, and on the image of what constitutes a perfect body within each tradition. In making these often obscured connections visible, M shows that no single aspect of the development of Jewish-Christian difference in late antiquity can be isolated from any other aspects pertaining to that difference, and that all discourses of bodily difference are inextricably linked.
M’s work focuses on troubling the dichotomous categories of ‘sameness’ and ‘difference’ as analytic tools in the study of late ancient religion and culture. Her research interests also include the study of the Hebrew Bible, New Testament, early Christianity, Talmud and rabbinic Judaism, gender and sexuality, post-colonial theory, and continental philosophy. Her pedagogy focuses on embracing and amplifying difference and diversity both within the ancient texts and cultures she teaches, and among her students. She has taught courses on the New Testament, early Christian writings, and classic Jewish texts.