Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, Rob was introduced to the academic study of religion when he fortuitously enrolled in a class on “Jesus and the Gospels” to fulfill his final undergraduate liberal arts requirement. He thought the course would be an easy grade given his upbringing in the church, but was instead exposed to a life-altering world of intellectual stimulation not offered by his previous life experiences. For example, he wondered why, in spite of having a Bible in front of him for most of his life, had he never heard of the “Synoptic Problem” before stepping into a college Religious Studies classroom.
Throughout his graduate studies, Rob benefitted from interactions with professor-mentors who nurtured his curiosities and encouraged him to pursue questions of consequence, ranging from the historical Jesus to the origins of the so-called heresies of the early Church and the boundaries of the biblical canon. While earning his graduate degrees in Indiana and Colorado, Rob studied these questions rooted in the first centuries of the church, but never lost sight of their relevance to “lived religion” in the modern era.
Recognizing the pressures that religion continues to exert today, Rob is committed to fostering a similar setting of open and responsible inquiry for his students, who enter his classes from a variety of backgrounds. He is compelled to teach and conduct his research under the human rights imperative for education, which confers not only the right of the individual to learn in an environment free from coercion in the present, but also signifies our ethical responsibilities to persons from the past, to account as accurately as possible for their motivations, beliefs, and actions.
Rob and his family—his wife, daughter, and Goldendoodle—currently live in Denver, Colorado. He is a first-generation Ph.D., having earned his doctorate in Religious and Theological Studies from the University of Denver and Iliff School of Theology in 2019. With areas of expertise in New Testament, Christian Origins, and Early Christianity, Rob focuses his research on the biblical canon, the Shepherd of Hermas, and the patristic construction of heresiology and orthodoxy. His future interests include not only these historical subjects but also religious adherence and severance in the 21st century, the role of religion in the modern American political climate, the great sin-salvation narrative, and the “soul hypothesis.” He is currently revising his dissertation for publication as a monograph.
Rob is a proud product of the public school system, has roots in Protestant denominations ranging from the Lutherans and Quakers to the Church of God, and hails from a constellation of 19th-century German/Prussian immigrants to the United States who came in search of a better life, a goal that, along with equity and justice, remains worthy of our continued support and extension to all people.