Sam Thomas, Ph.D.

Professor of Religion

Book this person as a speaker:

Phone: (805) 493-3693


  • Jewish-Christian Relations from Antiquity to the Present
    This discussion addresses Jewish-Christian relations from the ancient world to contemporary developments, focusing on the theological and historical grounds for separation and dispute, as well as the historical consequences of negative attitudes toward the "other." Also discussed will be recent movements toward mutual understanding and the ability to embrace one another.

  • The Bible and the Dead Sea Scrolls
    This talk gives a basic introduction to the Dead Sea Scrolls and the site of Qumran, and discusses their significance for understanding the Bible and the origins of Judaism and Christianity. The talk also addresses some contemporary debates and controversies about these ancient scrolls.

  • What is the Bible? A Material History of the Text
    This talk begins with the origins of writing as a cultural practice, and discusses the evolution of writing from ancient Israel through early and Medieval Judaism and Christianity. Why writing? Why texts? The talk also gives some attention to the ritual uses of the Bible and some of the intriguing questions raised by new textual technologies.

  • Food, Faith, and Sustainability
    This talk discusses the realities of contemporary food production and raises questions about the ethics of food - locally and globally. It addresses questions such as: what are the ethical dimensions of production, distribution, and consumption? How might religious (especially Christian) faith inform decision-making around food? How is eating a religiously significant act?

  • Gardens Then and Now
    This talk considers: What is a garden? In Western cultural, religious, and intellectual traditions, gardens play a central role in the drama of what it means to be human. The talk begins with gardens in the ancient world and ends with contemporary ones.

I studied biology as an undergraduate and intended to go on to study medicine. While volunteering at L'Hopital Francais de St. Louis in Jerusalem after college, I discovered what would become a lasting fascination with the origins of Judaism and Christianity in Mediterranean antiquity. Instead of medical school, I went on to graduate school to study the history, languages, and cultures that formed the context for the emergence of Judaism and Christianity. Since arriving at Cal Lutheran in 2006, I have turned my teaching, scholarship, and advocacy toward religion and ecology, and land, food, and environmental justice. In 2009, along with several industrious students I founded the SEEd (Sustainable Edible Education) Project, which includes a small campus-based regenerative farm, experiential learning, and community education and outreach.

In addition to teaching and research, I serve on the Faculty Steering Committee of the Center for Equality and Justice and the board of directors of Los Padres ForestWatch and Slow Food Ventura County. I design and make furniture and household accessories using local, sustainable timber, read as much poetry and non-fiction as I can get my hands on, and go backcountry hiking and fly fishing whenever humanly possible. I am also currently working on a book on wilderness, craft, spirituality, and the possibility of human community in the Anthropocene.