Steven Jacobs

Steven L. Jacobs

Professor |
Emeritus Aaron Aronov Chair of Judaic Studies

Office Hours

Tuesday & Thursday, 12:45-1:45 & By Appointment


  • DD, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion
  • DHL, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion
  • MAHL, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion
  • BHL, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion
  • BA, Pennsylvania State University


Steven Leonard Jacobs joined the Department of Religious Studies as Associate Professor and Aaron Aronov Chair of Judaic Studies on January 1, 2001 — a position he held for almost 20 years — and received tenure as of August 2004 and was promoted to Full Professor in 2017. He received his BA from Penn State University; and his BHL, MAHL, DHL, DD,  ordination from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. A resident of Alabama for more than three decades, he has taught at Spring Hill College, Mobile; University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham-Southern College, Samford University, Birmingham; the University of Alabama in Huntsville and Calhoun Community College, Huntsville; as well as serving congregations in Birmingham, Mobile and Huntsville.

Dr. Jacobs’ primary research foci are in Biblical Studies, translation and interpretation, including the Dead Sea Scrolls; as well as Holocaust and Genocide Studies.

His books include Shirot Bialik: A New and Annotated Translation of Chaim Nachman Bialik’s Epic Poems (1987); Raphael Lemkin’s Thoughts on Nazi Genocide: Not Guilty? (1992); Contemporary Christian and Contemporary Jewish Religious Responses to the Shoah (2 volumes, 1993); Rethinking Jewish Faith: The Child of a Survivor Responds (1994); The Meaning of Persons and Things Jewish: Contemporary Explorations and Interpretations (1996); The Holocaust Now: Contemporary Christian and Jewish Thought (1997); The Encyclopedia of Genocide (2 volumes, 1999, Associate Editor); Pioneers of Genocide Studies (2002, Co-editor); and The Biblical Masorah and the Temple Scroll: An Orthographical Inquiry (2002); Dismantling the Big Lie: The Protocols of the Elders of Zion (2003); Post-Shoah Dialogues: Re-Thinking Our Texts Together (2004).

His professional and civic involvements include the Alabama Holocaust Commission; Board of Advisors, The Center for American & Jewish Studies, Baylor University, Waco, TX; International Editor, The Papers of Raphael Lemkin; International Advisory Board of the Centre for Comparative Genocide Studies, Macquarie University, New South Wales, Australia; Editorial Board, “Studies in the Shoah,” University Press of America, Lanham, MD; Editorial Board of Bridges: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Theology, Philosophy, History and Science, Monkton, MD; Educational Consultant to the Center on the Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights, Philadelphia, PA; Board of Advisors of The Aegis Trust for the Prevention of Genocide, England; and Secretary-Treasurer of the International Association of Genocide Scholars.

In October 2019, the University of Alabama’s Board of Trustees appointed Prof. Jacobs as REL’s Emeritus Aaron Aronov Endowed Chair in Judaic Studies.

He is also the REL assessment coordinator.

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Courses Taught

  • REL 100 Intro to the Study of Religion
  • REL 101 Violence and the Sacred
  • REL 110 Intro to the Old Testament
  • REL 223 Holocaust In Historical Perspective
  • REL 224 Judaism
  • REL 238 Philosophies of Judaism
  • REL 371 Antisemitism and the Crises of Modernity
  • REL 332 Figures In Contemporary Jewish Thought
  • REL 347 Jewish-Christian Relations
  • REL 410 Religion and Genocide
  • REL 419 Myth, Ritual, and Magic
  • REL 490 Capstone Seminar

Selected Publications

Mike Altman

Michael J. Altman

Associate Professor |
Director and PI of American Examples

Office Hours

Monday, 12:30pm-1:30pm; Tuesday, 9:00am-10:00am, and by appointment.


Prof. Altman's Website

American Examples


Asian Studies Program


  • PhD, American Religious Cultures, Emory University


Michael J. Altman received his PhD in American Religious Cultures from Emory University. His areas of interest are American religious history, colonialism, theory and method in the study of religion, and Asian religions in American culture. Trained in the field of American religious cultures, he is interested in the ways religion is constructed through difference, conflict, and contact.

Dr. Altman is the author of Heathen, Hindoo, Hindu: American Representations of India, 1721-1893 (Oxford, 2017). Today, there are more than two million Hindus in America. But before the twentieth century, Hinduism was unknown in the United States. But while Americans did not write about “Hinduism,” they speculated at length about “heathenism,” “the religion of the Hindoos,” and “Brahmanism.” In Heathen, Hindoo, Hindu, Dr. Altman argues that this is not a mere sematic distinction-a case of more politically correct terminology being accepted over time-but a way that Americans worked out their own identities. American representations of India said more about Americans than about Hindus. For his next book length project, Dr. Altman is researching the use of American history in the formation of evangelical Protestant identities and communities. His forthcoming book, Hinduism in America (Routledge) will be published in the Spring of 2022.

Dr. Altman is the PI, organizer, and an active mentor for the four year American Examples grant from the Luce Foundation (which bring a group of early career scholars to UA three times each year, to work on their research, teaching, and public humanities skills), the editor of the American Examples book series with the University of Alabama Press, one of the co-developers of the uncivilreligion initiative (launched in January 2022, in partnership with the Smithsonian Museum of American History, to document the role of religion in the January 2021 insurrection at the US Capitol), and also the founder and continuing supervisor for REL’s Study Religion podcast.

Along with his research, Dr. Altman teaches a range of classes in the department from REL 130: Religion, Politics, and Law to REL 450: Religion and Power in Colonial India and a variety of 500-level graduate courses (including our Foundations course on public humanities along with the history of the field).  His courses are notable for their use of digital projects such as course blogs (for examples, see American Religion in America and Monks and Nones.)

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Selected Publications

  • Hinduism in America: An Introduction (London: Routledge), 2022.
  • Heathen, Hindoo, Hindu: Representations of India in America, 1721-1893, (New York: Oxford University Press), 2017.
  • American Examples: New Conversations about Religion, Volume 1, ed. (Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama Press) 2021.
  • American Examples: New Conversations about Religion, Volume 2, ed. with Samah Choudhury and Prea Persaud (University of Alabama Press). Forthcoming December 6, 2022