I like to say that when it came to discerning an academic path, I took the scenic route.
I was born and raised in Massachusetts, traveled much of the world, and never lost my Boston accent. Today I’m among the few biblical scholars in the far north Western Hemisphere.
My first degree was a BA in English; I went on to earn a master’s to prepare for a career as a university librarian. After serving as library director at a Catholic seminary college, I realized that biblical studies combined many of the areas that really interested me: literature, history and archaeology, as well as religion.
I began a second master’s, this time in biblical studies at Providence College; later, as a Yale Divinity School student, I gained an appreciation of the many varieties of Christianity. I taught for three years at Merrimack College in Massachusetts before earning a doctorate from Temple University in a program that highlighted major world religions. I trace my interest in interfaith dialog to this period. I’ve become especially committed to fostering relations between Jews and Christians.
This wide-ranging background, which included studies in Jerusalem, helped prepare me as a professor who offers diverse courses here at APU while maintaining an active research and publication life.
I foster APU’s emphasis on active learning by encouraging students to observe – or become “participant observers” – at services in various religious communities. Over the years, my classes and I have attended Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish and Muslim services as well as services in the Orthodox, Evangelical and Liturgical branches of Christianity
What’s especially neat is knowing that on these trips, APU students are participating in an experience that they’ll never forget.
I want our students to enjoy happy, successful, meaningful lives. I want them to gain a sophisticated understanding of the way that religion has formed cultures and shaped human creativity. And I want students to be aware of ways that religion has been distorted by people the world over and throughout history so that, for instance, each side in war could go into battle claiming that God was on its side.
I’ve channeled my interest in religion as a societal force into APU travel courses to Israel, Rome and Greece. I’ve developed classes like the “DaVinci Code Decoded;” “Creation: Ancient Myths and Modern Hypotheses;” and “Jesus in the Movies.”
Since joining APU in 1997 as Cardinal Newman Chair of Catholic Theology, I’ve taught dozens of graduate and undergraduate courses, including explorations of the books of the Bible as well as “Women in the Biblical World,” “The Life and Letters of Paul,” and “The Bible and the Qur’an.”
Since 2002, I’ve organized the biennial Midsummer Light Bible Institute, attracting scholars and learners to the APU campus and coinciding with the height of summer in Alaska. My interest in interfaith dialog led to development of the yearlong public education project “Engaging Muslims, Religion, Cultures, Politics.”
As the only biblical scholar in Alaska to hold an endowed chair, I’ve hosted dozens of public lectures and forums, bringing to APU scholars and popular authors who otherwise might not venture as far north as the scenic route has taken me.
PhD, MA, Temple University
Élève Titulaire, École Biblique et Archéologique Française de Jérusalem
MA, Providence College
MDiv, STM, Yale University
MS, Simmons College
BA, Anna Maria College