Jeffrey Trumbower Vice President for Academic Affairs and Professor of Religious Studies



B.A. Vanderbilt University
M.A., Ph.D. University of Chicago


Areas of Expertise:

Biblical Studies, Early Christianity, Ancient Judaism, Greco-Roman Religions


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 adventurous 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 over 25 years here.

What is your favorite class to teach, and why?

It’s hard to pick one that is 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. They also get to learn how to construct and deconstruct arguments about history and religious ideas.

Recent News

Jeffrey Trumbower, vice president for academic affairs and professor of religious faculty, is author of a book titled Rescue for the Dead: The Posthumous Salvation of Non-Christians in Early Christianity, and recently reporter Dave Roos for the webpage “How Stuff Works” gave Jeff a call recently to interview him for an article titled, “A short history of hell.”” The article quotes Jeff extensively on how more modern ideas about Hell evolved through history, art and literature.
(posted June 2020)

Jeffrey Trumbower, professor of religious studies, agreed to and assumed a combined role of Dean and Interim Academic Vice President on July 1, 2018. Jeff also in mid-December taped an interview with anchor Galen Ettlin of WCAX Channel 3 TV in Burlington about the Gospel accounts of the Nativity of Jesus, a conversation that was broadcast on Christmas Eve. Shortly thereafter Jeff left for the Holy Land as one of the leaders of a Saint Michael’s study trip there.
(posted January 2019)

Jeffrey Trumbower, professor of religious studies, will lead a panel discussion of his paper “Closing the Door on Reincarnation in Early Christianity: Limiting the Options” at the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, San Antonio, TX, November 20, 2016.
(posted November 2016)

Jeffrey Trumbower, professor of religious studies, presented a paper titled “The Use of Scriptures to Construct a Coherent Afterlife Scenario in ‘Against Plato, On the Cause of the Universe,’ often attributed to Hippolytus” at the Annual Meeting of the North American Patristics Society in Chicago, May 27, 2016.  He also organized and presided over a panel of four papers devoted to studying views about the afterlife in Early Christianity.
(posted June 2016)

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)