Faculty and Staff

Religion Department Faculty

The department's faculty are active in a number of professional scholarly organizations, including the American Academy of Religion and the Society of Biblical Literature. Also productive scholars themselves, faculty present papers, chair conference sessions, and write for publication. Work published by members of the department in recent years includes a considerable number of books and many articles on a wide variety of subjects.

James Barker

  • Office: Former FacultyFormer Faculty Spouse
  • Phone: Former Faculty, Former Faculty Spouse
  • E-mail: james.barker@luther.edu

Education: Ph.D., New Testament and Early Christianity, Vanderbilt University; M.T.S., Biblical Studies, Vanderbilt Divinity School; B.A., History and Religious Studies, University of Tennessee, Knoxville  

Research Interests: Interrelations of the Gospels; Canonization of the New Testament; Second-Century Christianities

Learn more about James Barker

Sean D. Burke

Associate Professor of Religion

Education: Ph.D., Biblical Studies, Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, California; M.Div., Lutheran Theological Seminary; B.A., Judeo-Christian Heritage, Concordia College

Research Interests: Eunuchs, sex in the Bible, queer theory and the interpretation of scripture

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Wanda Deifelt

Professor of Religion

Department Head

Education: Ph.D., Joint Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary and Northwestern University Doctoral Program; M.T.S., Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary; B.A., Faculdade de Teologia, Escola Superior de Teologia

Research Interests: Contextual Christian Theologies (particularly feminism and liberation), Reformation, Ecumenism, Interdisciplinary Studies on Embodiment, and Interfaith Dialogue

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Evgenia Fotiou

ACM-Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow

Education: Ph.D., Anthropology and Latin American Studies, University of Wisconsin – Madison; M.A., Anthropology, University of Wisconsin – Madison; B.A., Communication and Mass Media, National and Capodistrian University of Athens, Greece

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Todd Green

Assistant Professor of Religion

Education: Ph.D., Vanderbilt University; M. Div., Columbia Theological Seminary; M.A., Vanderbilt University; B.A., Birmingham-Southern College

Research Interests: Secularization and Islamophobia in the West, Interreligious Dialogue

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Scott Hurley

Assistant Professor of Religion

Education: Ph.D., East Asian Studies, University of Arizona; M.A., East Asian Studies, University of Arizona; B.S., Family Studies, University of Arizona

Research Interests: New religions of China and Japan, early-mid twentieth century Chinese Buddhism, animal rights and welfare issues

Sharon Jacob

Visiting Assistant Professor of Religion

Visiting Assistant Professor of Religion

Gereon Kopf

Professor of Religion

Education: Ph.D., Religious Studies, Temple University; M.A., Temple University

Research Interests: Zen Buddhist philosophy, Kyoto School, personal identity, deconstruction ethics

Learn more about Geron Kopf

James Martin-Schramm

Professor of Religion

Education: Ph.D., Christian Ethics, Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York; M. Phil., Christian Ethics, Union Theological Seminary in New York City; M. Div., Parish Ministry, Luther Northwestern Theological Seminary; B.A., Doctrines of Human Nature, Pacific Lutheran University

Research Interests: Ethics, Energy, and Climate Policy; Theological Ethics and Duties to Future Generations; Christian Social Ethics; Campus Renewable Sustainability Initiatives

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Guy Nave Jr.

Associate Professor of Religion

Education: Ph.D., New Testament Studies, Social History of Early Christianity, Yale University; M.Phil., New Testament Studies, Biblical Interpretation, Yale University; M.A., New Testament Studies, Greco-Roman Milieu, Yale University; M.Div., Biblical Studies, New Testament Exegesis, Princeton Theological Seminary; B.A., Psychology, Oral Roberts University

Research Interests: Origins and social history of early Christianity, social implications of biblical interpretation, the relationship between Christianity and empire, the relationship between scripture and faith

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Robert F. Shedinger

Associate Professor of Religion

Education: Ph.D., Religious Studies (with distinction), Temple University; M.A., Religious Studies, Temple University;  M.Div., Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary; B.S., magna cum laude, Civil Engineering Tech, Temple University

Research Interests: The Syriac versional tradition of the New Testament, theoretical approaches to the study of religion, Christian-Muslim relations in the contemporary world

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Terry Sparkes

Associate Dean and Dir. of Curriculum Dev and College Honors

  • Office: Dahl Centennial Union 262E
  • Phone: 563-387-1005, 563-387-2165
  • E-mail: sparkete@luther.edu

Education: Ph.D., University of Chicago Divinity School, History of Christianity; M.Div., Colgate Rochester Divinity School/Bexley Hall/Crozer Theological Seminary; B.A., Denison University, French Language and Literature

Research Interests: Immigration and religious diversity in the U.S.; religion, politics, and culture; religious fundamentalisms and modernity; religion and identity in modern American fiction; interdisciplinary studies and the liberal arts; global peace and justice studies

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Karla Suomala

Associate Professor of Religion

Education: Ph.D., Hebraic and Cognate Studies, Hebrew Union College; M. Phil., Hebraic and Cognate Studies, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago; M. Phil., Hebrew Bible, Rabbinics, and Judaism in the Greco Roman Period, Hebrew Union College; B.A., Comparative Literature, University of Michigan

Research Interests: Jewish, ­Christian, and ­Muslim dialogue; biblical interpretation: Jewish Hellenistic, Rabbinic, early Christian fathers, Syriac; Pentateuch; biblical themes in Early Renaissance art

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Kristin Swanson

Associate Professor of Religion

Education: Ph.D., Religion, Vanderbilt; M.T.S., Trinity Lutheran Seminary; B.A., summa cum laude, California Lutheran University

Research Interests: Judah at the end of the 8th century BCE, Book of Judges

Learn more about Kristin Swanson