Religious Studies


  • BA, Oral Roberts University
  • MA, Oral Roberts University
  • DPHIL, Oxford University

Associate Professor of Religious Studies

Contact Information

Growing up on the grounds of a psychiatric hospital gave me a unique perspective on the needs of those among us who struggle with mental disorders.

My dad led Philhaven, a psychiatric hospital in southeastern Pennsylvania, and I spent a year working there as a nurse’s aide before attending college. I enjoyed working closely with people who were experiencing difficult challenges in their lives, so it seemed a good fit to study psychology in college and graduate school.

While pursuing graduate study and working as clinical psychologist early in my career, I planned to teach. Teachers and professors had deeply influenced my life, and teaching has been an opportunity to do the same for others. One can never pay back the people who have supported you; you can only pay it forward to others.

Our society needs more people who are willing to do the hard work of serving those among us who are most vulnerable, particularly individuals affected by mental disorders and intellectual disabilities. To the degree that I can inspire my students to take up this work, I believe I’m addressing the need while simultaneously preparing them for important and rewarding careers.


D.Phil.: Oxford University, 1986

New Testament, Luke-Acts, Social Science
methods & theory; supervised by Robert
Morgan & E.P. Sanders

M.A.: Oral Roberts University, 1979

with High Honors; Biblical Literature, Old
& New Testaments, Greek & Hebrew

B.A.: Oral Roberts University, 1976

summa cum laude, majors: History &
Theological Studies

D.Phil. Thesis: Eschatology, History and Mission in the Social Experience of Lucan Christians: A Sociological Study of the Relationship between Ideas and Social Realities in Luke-Acts

Articles and Entries:

“The City as Salvific Space: Heterotopic Place and Environmental Ethics in the New Jerusalem,”
SBL FORUM 7.2, Society of Biblical Literature, March.

“Geography and Spiritual Identity Among the Nebraska Pennsylvania Dutch: An Autocritographic Account,” The Pennsylvania Colony Historical Society, August.


“Faith in the Classroom: The Perspective of a Pastor Called to College Teaching,” Teaching Theology and Religion, (Oct.) vol. 11/no. 4, pp. 213-221.


“What Makes Glory Glorious? Reading Luke’s Account of the Transfiguration Over Against Triumphalism,” Journal for the Study of the New Testament, September 2006: 3-26.


“Inductive Discovery of the Synoptic Problem, OR Catching the Plagiarist”, pages 256-257.

“Women’s Ordination, The New Testament and the Politics of Interpretation”, pages 347-349.

“Teaching the Book of Revelation as a Screen Play”, pages 394-395.

“Creating Comfort with Ambiguity about Jesus”, pages 284-286.
All in: Teaching the Bible: Practical Strategies for Classroom Instruction, eds. Mark Roncace and Patrick Gray, (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature).


“Reflections on Lutheran Identity on Reformation Sunday,” Intersections, 19/Summer, pp. 24-28.


“The Study of Religion and the Liberal Arts,” Observations 31/1, pages 9, 18.


entries for: Elymas; Hellenists; Matthias; Nicolaus; Niger; Paulus, Sergius; Pyrrhus; and Tertullus in The Anchor Bible Dictionary, (New York: Doubleday).

Book Reviews:

The World in the Trinity: Open-Ended Systems in Science and Religion, by Joseph A. Bracken, S.J. (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2014.) Forthcoming in Dialog: A Journal of Theology.

The Entangled Trinity: Quantum Physics and Theology, Ernest L. Simmons. (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2014.) Forthcoming in Dialog: A Journal of Theology.


Objecting to God, by Colin Howson. (New York: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2011) Dialog: A Journal of Theology, September, 52/3, pages 267-269.


Darwin’s Pious Idea: Why the Ultra-Darwinists and Creationists Both Get It Wrong, by Connor Cunningham. (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010) Dialog: A Journal of Theology, December 51/4, pages 339-341.


Philosophy Begins in Wonder: An Introduction to Early Modern Philosophy, Theology, and Science, eds. Michael Funk Deckard and Peter Losonczi. (Eugene, OR: Pickwick, 2010) in Dialog, A Journal of Theology June, 51/2; pages 172-173.


Scripture as Communication: Introducing Biblical Hermeneutics, by Jeannine K. Brown. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2007) in Dialog: A Journal of Theology, March, 50/1; pages 109-110.

Raising Up a Faithful Exegete: Essays in Honor of Richard D. Nelson, Eds. K.L. Noll and Brooks Schramm. (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 2010) Seminary Ridge Review, Autumn, 14.1; pages 87-89. (With Karla G. Bohmbach)


Catholic Biblical Association of the Philippines. Bible and Ecology. Proceedings of the Eighth Annual Convention, Phima Training Center, Tagaytay City, 20-22 July 2007 (Manila: Cahtolic Biblical Association of the Philippines, 2007). The Catholic Biblical Quarterly. 72/2010, pages 396-398.

The Weakness of God: A Theology of the Event, by John D. Caputo. Dialog, A Journal of Theology, 49/3, pp. 252-253


Dreams of Glory: The Sources of Apocalyptic Terror, by Richard K. Fenn. Burlington,
VT and Aldershot, Hampshire, UK: Ashgate, 2006. Dialog 48/1, March 2009, pp. 104-106.

The God Delusion, by Richard Dawkins, Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin, Dialog: A Journal of Theology, 48/2, pp. 209-211.


Science and the Trinity: The Christian Encounter with Reality, by John Polkinghorne.
New Haven and London: Yale Univ. Press, 2004; Theology and Science, March 2006 4/1, pages 105-07.


Jesus After 2000 Years: what he really said and did, by Gerd Ludemann, Dialog 41/3, pp. 253-4.
The Triumph of Sociobiology, by John Alcock, Journal of the American Academy of Religion (70/2), pp. 397ff.


Finding Darwin’s God: A Scientist’s Search for Common Ground Between God and Evolution, by Kenneth R. Miller; Dialog 40/1, pp. 79-80.


God, Humanity and the Cosmos: A Textbook in Science and Religion by Christopher Southgate;, Dialog 39/4, pp. 313-15.


Luke 1:1-9:51, Vol. 3A, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, by Darrell Bock; Themelios 2/21, p. 25.


The Economy of the Kingdom: Social Conflict and Economic Relations in Luke’s Gospel, by Halvor Moxnes; Themelios 3/16, p. 25.

Papers, Lectures (academic, denominational, & community)

A. Academic Papers


The Silence of God as a Problem for Retrieving the Voice of the Earth in the Book of Revelation The Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, New Orleans, November.


The City as Salvific Space: The Promise and Peril of John’s Vision of the New Jerusalem for Contemporary Environmental Ethics, The Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, Boston, November.


Called to the Ministry of Word in the Classroom, SBL Forum Session: Faith in the Classroom; AAR/SBL Annual Meeting, November, Washington, DC.


Angels Run Amok: Inverting the Problem of God’s Violence against the Earth in Revelation, Ecological Hermeneutics Section, AAR/SBL Annual Meeting (11/19), Philadelphia.

Angels Run Amok, Cities Gone Astray, research presentation to the faculty of the School of Arts, Humanities and Communication, Susquehanna University (10/25).


Lutheran and Other: A Story of American Religious Identity, The Lutheran Academy of Scholars in Higher Education, St. Olaf College.

Ecological Semiotics of Destruction or Renewal: An Environmental Ethics Reading of the Apocalypse, AAR/SBL Rocky Mountain-Great Plains Regional Meeting, Denver. (Also presented at Juniata College, Huntingdon, PA.)

The Nebraska Pennsylvania Dutch Colony as a Religious Legacy: An Autocritographic Account Religion on the Great Plains Symposium, The Center for Great Plains Studies, The University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


The Relevance of Interpretive Anthropology to the Science-Religion Debate: The Work of Clifford Geertz and the Evolution of Human Behavior, AAR/SBL Rocky Mountain-Great Plains Regional Meeting, Denver.


Is There a Religious Definition of Sentience?: Religious Parameters for Dialogue with Neuro-Science Developments Regarding the Problem of Consciousness, AAR/SBL Rocky Mountain-Great Plains Regional Meeting, Colorado Springs.


American Express, Gendarmes and the Advantages of Being a Tourist: The Audacity and Promise of Teaching an Interdisciplinary Course Alone, The Association of Lutheran College Faculties Conference, Dana College.

Social Boundaries and the Motivation to Engage in Proselytism: Luke-Acts as a Case Study in the Formation of Early Christian Mission, AAR/SBL Rocky Mountain-Great Plains Regional Meeting, Omaha.

Frames of Reference, Methodological Atheism, and Scientific Theory: A Sociology of Knowledge Approach to the Problem of Scientific Reductionism, Guest Lecture at the University of Sioux Falls, Sioux Falls, SD.


Participant, Templeton Foundation Advanced Workshop for Teaching Science and Religion, Chicago.


Discussion Leader for: Ethics: Connecting Congregations and Colleges Conference, Dana College.


Anti-Judaism in Luke-Acts?, AAR/SBL Rocky Mountain-Great Plains Regional Meeting, Omaha.


The Social Stratification of the Community of Luke-Acts: A Wissenssoziologie Approach, AAR/SBL Rocky Mountain-Great Plains Regional Meeting, Denver.

B. Applied Scholarship in Denominational and Community Papers/Presentations


“How Evolution Changes how We Think about God, Ourselves, and Bugs Bunny.” Workshop. Mid-Atlantic Youth Event, The United Church of Christ, Susquehanna University 12 July.

“God and Quantum Physics: Rethinking Theology, the bible and Just Where Universes Come From.” Workshop. Mid-Atlantic Youth Event, The United Church of Christ, Susquehanna University. 11 July.

New Testament 2: The Letters. Authorized Lay Worship Leader Training Session for the Upper Susquehanna Synod of the ELCA. February 8.


Adventurous Readings in the Bible, Summer Institute for Ministry, The Lutheran Seminary at Gettysburg, July 11-15.

Preaching Perspectives: Lent and Eastertide 2011, A Continuing Education Program for Preachers, The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg. 27 January.

Preaching Perspectives Workshop: Lent and Easter 2011, Upper Susquehanna Synod of the ELCA. 22 January.


Thinking About Faith, God and Ourselves in an Age of Science, plenary course for Theological Education with Youth, sponsored by the Lutheran Theological Seminaries at Philadelphia and
Gettysburg, July.

Our Biblical Mission to Brother Sun and Sister Moon: Theology, Bible, Culture and the Environment, Plenary Bible Study, Upper Susquehanna Synod Assembly (ELCA), June.

Upper Susquehanna Assembly Preacher.


Dealing with Intelligent Design, a workshop for the Upper Susquehanna Synod Assembly, June.

New Testament 2: The Letters, Authorized Lay Worship Leader Training Session for the Upper Susquehanna Synod of the ELCA.


New Testament 2: the Letters, Authorized Lay Worship Leader Training Session for the Upper Susquehanna Synod of the ELCA.


Gene Therapy and Medicine as Social Practice: Ethical Issues, lecture, Fremont Area Medical Center, 11/15/01.

The Church and Culture a four-week educational event at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church (ELCA), Omaha.


Where Are We Going? Lessons from the 20th Century for the 21st, educational series at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Omaha.

Ethics 101, lecture for the Fremont Area Medical Center Ethics Committee.


A Practical Explanation of Postmodernism for Church Professionals, Fremont Area Ministerial Association.


Anti-Judaism in the New Testament: Understanding Early Christian Attitudes towards Judaism Against the Background of Late Second Temple Judaisms. Plenary address and course sessions for The Fellowship of Learning, an annual education event for clergy of the Nebraska Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.


Updating Biblical Studies Skills for the 21st Century, a continuing education seminar for clergy, sponsored by the East District of the Nebraska Conference of the United Methodist Church and the Fremont Area Ministerial Association.


Updating Biblical Studies Skills for the 21st Century, continuing education event for clergy, sponsored by the Northwest District the Nebraska UMC.

Published under the penname Preston Thomas

The Transfiguration. Dog Pond Magazine: The Intersection of Art and Christianity. 6/15/2015

Awards and Honors

Lutheran Academy of Scholars in Higher Education, Harvard Univ., 2000-01.

John Templeton Foundation/American Scientific Affiliation, 1998-99. Local Chair for the 98/99 National Lecture Series on Science and Religion. Organized two lectures featuring Dr. Philip Hefner, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, Between Evolution and Faith: A Proposal for Shuttle Diplomacy and Dr. David Lindberg, Univ. of Wisconsin, Galileo, the Church and Cosmology.

John Templeton Foundation Course Development Award for Teaching Science and Religion, 1997.

Portfolio of Courses

  • New Testament Introduction
  • Science and Religion
  • Old Testament Introduction
  • Church History
  • Development of Christian Thought
  • Jesus and Gospels
  • Introduction to World Religions
  • Greek
  • Comparative Religions
  • Critical Thinking
  • Introduction to Philosophy
  • Philosophical Ethics
  • The Social World of Early Christianity
  • Applied Christian Ethics
  • Reading the Bible
  • Introduction to Religious Studies
  • Environmental Ethics
  • Theology and Philosophy in the Fiction of C.S. Lewis

Professional Experience

Susquehanna University, 9/03 to present
Interim Chaplain to the University (6/13 to __)
Associate Professor of Religious Studies (tenured 2009)
Department of Religious Studies

Committee Service: Board of Trustees Observer 2015 -
Committee for the Central Curriculum 2009-2013
Chair: 2009-2013
Arlin Adams Center Steering Committee 2007-2010
Curriculum Committee 2004-2009
Religious Life Advisory Committee 2004-2007
Community Service: Board of Directors, Friends of Joseph Priestly House 2008

The University of Nebraska at Omaha, 9/01 to 6/03
Instructor/Visiting Professor
Department of Philosophy and Religion
6001 West Dodge, Omaha, NE

Midland Lutheran College, 8/96 to 8/02
Assistant Professor of Religion
Department of Religion and Philosophy
900 N. Clarkson, Fremont, NE 68025

Committee service: Assessment Council 1996-2001
Steering Committee North Central Site Visitation 1997-99
Long Range Planning Committee 1998-2002
Religion Search Committee 1999 & 2001
Chair: Dept. of Religion and Philosophy 1999-2002;
Social Sciences Division 1999-2002
Founding Sponsor for the student club: The Socratic Society

Community Service: Fremont Area Medical Center Ethics Committee, 1999-2003

Adjunct Professor

University of Nebraska at Omaha, 8/90-5/96

Midland Lutheran College, 8/93-8/96

Metropolitan Community College, periodically from 12/94-5/03


The American Academy of Religion
The Society of Biblical Literature
The Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences
The Chicago Center for Religion and Science (Zygon)
Association of Teaching Theologians (ELCA)

Related Experience

Director, Adult Education, 1/95-9/00

First Lutheran Church
11th & Lincoln. Fremont, NE 68025

Pastor, 8/86-6/94
The Nebraska Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church

Received and Installed as a Pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, 10/10/07
Call: Associate Professor of Religion, Susquehanna University

  • RELI-300: Book of Revelation/Zombie Apocalypses
  • RELI-400: C.S. Lewis
  • RELI-500: Capstone
  • HONS-301: Environmental Ethics
  • RELI-235: Environmental Ethics
  • RELI-305: Fiction of C. S. Lewis
  • RELI-101: Introduction to Religious Studies
  • RELI-400: Readings in Science & Religion
  • HONS-301: Science and Religion
  • RELI-350: Science and Religion
  • RELI-103: The New Testament
  • RELI-400: Theodicy: Bible and Theology