Sam  Thomas

Sam Thomas, Ph.D.

Associate Dean of Students & Faculty Affairs and Professor of Religion
(805) 493-3693
Humanities 236


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, I have also turned my teaching, scholarship, and advocacy toward religion and ecology, food, and environmental justice, and serve as the founding director of the SEEd (Sustainable Edible Education) Project, which includes a small campus-based farm. 

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, read as much poetry and non-fiction as I can get my hands on, and go backcountry hiking and fly fishing whenever humanly possible.


St. John's University (B.A.), Yale University Divinity School (M.Div.) and the University of Notre Dame (Ph.D.).


I have written on early Jewish texts and traditions, focusing especially on the Dead Sea Scrolls. I also have interests in archeology, the formation of early Christianity in its various manifestations, and the history of Jewish-Christian relations. I am the author of the book, The 'Mysteries' of Qumran: Mystery, Secrecy and Esotericism in the Dead Sea Scrolls (SBL / Brill, 2009) and recent articles include "Hearing the Vision: galah 'ozen in 4QInstruction and Qumran Sectarian Texts" (HBAI 5, 2015), "Living Water by the Dead Sea: Water Metaphors and Performativity in Some Qumran Texts" (in Thinking about Water in Antiquity [ed. Ehud Ben Zvi; Walter de Gruyter, 2014]), "Watchers Traditions in the Dead Sea Scrolls" (in Looking at the Watchers; ed. Harkins et al.; Fortress, 2014), and "Eternal Writing and Immortal Writers: On the Non-Death of the Scribe in Early Judaism" (in A Teacher for All Generations; ed. Mason et al.; Brill, 2012).

I also teach, research, and write at the intersections of religious and philosophical ethics, ecology/environment, and food studies. I have been a participant in the Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology, and work across academic boundaries to engage with practitioner-scholars, activists, and advocates for food and environmental justice. 


For a full list of publications, please see my CV. 

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