Sam Thomas, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Religion
Professor Thomas studied biology as an undergraduate and intended, after a short stint volunteering at a hospital in Israel (L'Hopital Francais de St. Louis in Jerusalem), to go on to study medicine. The short stint turned into a long one, and Dr. Thomas discovered what would become a lasting fascination with the origins of Judaism and Christianity in Mediterranean antiquity. Instead of medical school, he went on to graduate school to study the histories, languages, theologies, cultures, and peoples that contributed to the formation of the texts and the traditions of ancient Judaism and Christianity.
In addition to his academic work, Dr. Thomas has continued to cultivate interests in furniture making, poetry and literature, service and social justice, and sustainable living.
Dr. Thomas is on the Faculty Steering Committee of the Center for Equality and Justice, is active in campus sustainability initiatives, and regularly teaches a course in Environmental Ethics.
Dr. Thomas has degrees from St. John's University (B.A., 1994), Yale University Divinity School (M.Div., 2001) and the University of Notre Dame (Ph.D., Christianity and Judaism in Antiquity, 2007). He has lived and studied in several different countries, and is competent in eight different ancient and modern languages.
Dr. Thomas conducts research on the Hebrew Bible and early Jewish texts and traditions, focusing especially on the Dead Sea Scrolls. He also has interests in archeology, the formation of early Christianity in its various manifestations, and the history of Jewish-Christian relations. He is the author of the book, The 'Mysteries' of Qumran: Mystery, Secrecy and Esotericism in the Dead Sea Scrolls (SBL / Brill, 2009). Recent papers have included "Sense Perception and Metaphor in the Dead Sea Scrolls" (SBL, Qumran Section), "Esoteric Knowledge in Qumran Aramaic Texts" (CNRS Colloquium, Aix-en-Provence, France); "Vision, Interpretation, Mediation: Textuality and Experience in Qumran Literature” (SBL, Religious Experience in Early Judaism and Christianity Section); "Eternal Writing and Immortal Writers: On the Non-Death of the Scribe in Early Judaism” (SBL, Qumran / Social History of Formative Judaism and Christianity); "Watchers and Giants in Qumran Sectarian Texts" (Annual Meeting of the Catholic Biblical Association).
Monographs and Edited Volumes
The "Mysteries" of Qumran: Mystery, Secrecy and Esotericism in the Dead Sea Scrolls (Early Judaism and Its Literature 25; Society of Biblical Literature/Brill, 2009)
A Teacher for All Generations: Essays in Honor of James C. VanderKam (ed. Kelley Coblentz Bautch, Eric Mason, Samuel Thomas et al; Journal for the Study of Judaism: Supplement Series; Brill, 2012)
Dead Sea Discoveries 15 (2008), with Hindy Najman, Daniel Machiela, and AlisonSchofield
"Eternal Writing and Immortal Writers: On the Non-Death of the Scribe in EarlyJudaism," in A Teacher for All Generations: Essays in Honor of James C. VanderKam(ed. Kelley Coblentz Bautch, Eric Mason, Samuel Thomas et al; Journal for the Study ofJudaism: Supplement Series; Brill, 2012)
"Watchers Traditions in the Dead Sea Scrolls," in Looking at the Watchers: Studies on theInterpretive Traditions of Gen 6:1-4 and the Myth of the Fallen Angels (ed. Angela KimHarkins, Kelley Coblenz Bautch, and John Endres, S.J.; Catholic Biblical Association Monograph Series; Washington D.C.: Catholic Biblical Association, forthcoming)
"Esoteric Knowledge in Qumran Aramaic Texts," in Aramaica Qumranica: The Aix-en-Provence Colloquium on the Aramaic Dead Sea Scrolls (ed. Katell Berthelot and Daniel Stöklben Ezra; Studies on the Texts from the Judean Desert; Leiden: Brill, 2010)
"Enoch, Elijah and the (Eschatological) Torah," Henoch: Studies in Judaism andChristianity from Second Temple to Late Antiquity 30.1 (2009): 54-59
"Riddled with Guilt: The Mysteries of Transgression, the Sealed Vision, and the Art of Interpretation in 4Q300 and Related Texts," Dead Sea Discoveries 15 (2008):155-71
"άποκρὐπτω, ἀπὀκρυφος," inHistorical and Theological Lexicon of the Septuagint (ed. E. Bons and J. Joosten; Mohr Siebeck, forthcoming)
"Mysteries" inThe Companion to the Dead Sea Scrolls (ed. Charlotte Hempel and George Brooke; T&T Clark, forthcoming)
"בין, בינה, בינות"; "בלע, בליעל"; "חותם, חתם"; "נבט" in Theologisches Wörterbuch zu denQumrantexten (ed. Heinz-Josef Fabry; Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, in press)
"Mystery"; "Mystery Religion, Judaism as"; and "Goodenough, E.R." in Dictionary ofEarly Judaism (ed. John J. Collins and Daniel Harlow; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans,2010)
Reviews and Miscellaneous Publications
"A Return to the Garden: Climate Change and Environmental Ethics," Journal of LutheranEthics, April 2009: http://www.elca.org/What-We-Believe/Social-Issues/Journal-of-Lutheran-Ethics/Issues/April-2009/A-Return-to-the-Garden.aspx#at
Review of Fred Strickert, Rachel Weeping: Jews, Christians, and Muslims at the Fortress Tomb (Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press, 2007), Review of Biblical Literature (November 2008)
Review of P. S. Alexander, Mystical Texts: Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice and RelatedManuscripts (LSTS 61; London: T&T Clark, 2006), Review of Biblical Literature(April 2008)
Review of Daniel Brizemeure, Noël Lacoudre and Émile Puech, Le Rouleau de cuivre de lagrotte 3 de Qumrân (3Q15): Expertise, Restauration, Epigraphie (STDJ 55; 2 vols.; Leiden:Brill, 2006), Review of Biblical Literature (October 2007)
"Faculty Viewpoint: CLU and Sustainability," CLU Magazine, November 2008