Allison, Robert W. (Emeritus)




Allison, Robert W.

Professor Emeritus
Religious Studies

Professor Emeritus
Classical and Medieval Studies


Ph.D., Chicago; B.A., Brown

Professor Allison specializes in Bible, Early and Medieval Judaism and Christianity, ancient Greek religion, Greek language (ancient and modern), and Byzantine middle ages.  His research specialties are Byzantine monasticism (especially Mount Athos), Byzantine manuscript traditions, and Greek paleography. Professor Allison earned his B.A. from Brown University in Religious Studies and his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in New Testament and Early Christian Studies, where he was a student of Robert M. Grant (Early Christian Studies), Benedict Einarson (Classics), and Walter Kaegi (Byzantine History).  At Chicago he served as an assistant curator of manuscripts and archives and lecturer in Greek paleography.  Supported by a series of National Endowment for the Humanities grants, as a research fellow of the Patrarchal Institute for Patristic Studies in Thessaloniki, Greece, he undertook a long-term project describing the manuscripts and studying the history of Philotheou Monastery on Mount Athos, Greece.  After living in Greece from 1977-1980, Professor Allison came to Bates to teach in Religion and Classical and Medieval Studies.  A founding member of the Byzantine Studies Association of North America, he is widely known for his ongoing work in Greek paleography and his publications related to Mount Athos, Philotheou Monastery, and Byzantine monastic history.  His manuscript studies led to a decade of work on the study of paper as evidence for the productions of manuscripts. Working with James Hart of Bates College, he founded The Watermark Archive Initiative.  The Allison-Hart plan for a world-wide distributed database system for the description of paper was adopted and implemented by the European Bernstein Consortium.  Professor Allison is also widely known for his role in organizing and leading the branch of the Friends of Mount Athos in the Americas, and is now the chairman and CEO of the Mount Athos Foundation of America (, a U.S. non-profit charitable foundation dedicated to promoting understanding of Mount Athos and preservation of its historic buildings, manuscripts and works of art.