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About Me

(well, at least a little bit)




Jacob Rennaker serves as the Scholar in Residence and Director of the John A. Widtsoe Foundation at the University of Southern California and is a Fellow at Chapman University’s Fish Interfaith Center. He holds a B.A. in Ancient Near Eastern Studies from Brigham Young University, an M.A. in Comparative Religion from the University of Washington, and a Ph.D. in Religious Studies from Claremont Graduate University. His primary research focuses on comparative religion and literature, with an emphasis on temples and related sacred spaces as they appear in biblical, extra-biblical, and ancient Near Eastern texts. His most recent co-edited book in this area is Sacred Space, Sacred Thread: Perspectives Across Time and Traditions (Wipf & Stock, 2019). He is also the director of the New Testament Comparative Passages Project, which brings together scholar-practitioners from eight Christian traditions to dialogue about important differences in interpreting scripture.

Jacob’s additional research deals with Latter-day Saint scripture and theology, especially as it intersects with other ancient and modern religious traditions. His most recent work in this area puts the Catholic imagination of J.R.R. Tolkien into conversation with Latter-day Saint thought. He has served on the editorial board for the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies, was an advisor for the BYU New Testament Commentary Series, and directed the BYU New Testament Commentary Summer Seminar. Jacob has presented papers at a variety of conferences internationally, including those held by the American Academy of Religion, the Society of Biblical Literature, the Society for Mormon Philosophy and Theology, Mormon Scholars in the Humanities, and others.

He also writes fiction for young and not-so-young readers, and his stories often live on the threshold between the ordinary and the extraordinary.

Jacob lives on that same threshold in Oak Park, California with his embarrassingly talented wife, a boy who dreams of being a bird, and a suspiciously intelligent dog.