B.A. Vanderbilt University
M.A., Ph.D. University of Chicago
Areas of Expertise:
Jewish sectarian logic and ideology
My Saint Michael's:
Dr. Trumbower is the author of Rescue for the Dead: The Posthumous Salvation of Non-Christians in Early Christianity (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001) and Born From Above: The Anthropology of the Gospel of John (Tübingen: J.C.B. Mohr [Paul Siebeck], 1992).
Dr. Trumbower incorporates the topics he has written about into his courses. The very act of producing peer-reviewed scholarship keeps him in touch with new ideas and developments in his field, and these new ideas inevitably find their way into his teaching. He has quite often been influenced by a question or assertion of a student in class that has helped him to think more deeply about some scholarly topic he has been working on.
Outside Saint Michael's, Dr. Trumbower enjoys snowshoeing, coin collecting, and vegetable gardening. He appeared on the television game show “Jeopardy!” in 2004, narrowly missing first place by only $1.
I remember teaching a sophomore woman who had horrible writer's block, froze up during exams and was deathly afraid of public speaking. Two and a half years later, I witnessed her senior thesis presentation: she was knowledgeable, articulate, poised and full of self-confidence. Some kind of magic took place during those years, and I credit her experiences at Saint Michael's, both inside and outside the classroom.
What do you like most about teaching/working at Saint Michael's College?
I enjoy watching light bulbs go off as the students study something that they think they know, (such as the Bible and early Christianity) but which has dimensions they never realized before.
What do you like about Saint Michael's students?
I find the students quite adventuresome and willing to try out new ideas. They tend to be very polite and down-to-earth, without a great deal of pretension. They are also a generally friendly and accepting bunch, with only a few exceptions that I've run across in my 19 years here.
What is your favorite class to teach, and why?
I'm only teaching one class per year now that I'm Dean, so that one is always my favorite! But if I had to choose, I guess I'd say Old Testament, since that's the foundation of all the other subjects I study. The New Testament and later Jewish traditions consist largely of commentary on the Hebrew Bible, and they cannot be understood apart from it.
What kinds of unique opportunities are available to students in your classes or department?
In my classes, students get to examine seemingly familiar material from new points of view that can be quite disconcerting. To me, that's an essential hallmark of a quality liberal arts education.
Jeffrey Trumbower, professor of religious studies, published an essay, “Christians, Sabbateans, and the Dead Sea Sect: A Comparative Case Study in Jewish Sectarian Logic,” in T. R. Blanton, R. M. Calhoun, and C. K. Rothschild, eds., The History of Religions School Today (Tuebingen, Germany: Mohr Siebeck, 2014), pp. 185-196.
(posted April 2015)