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Alan Lenzi

Professor and Chair of Religious Studies


Phone: 209.946.2292

Office Hours

WPC 147


PhD, Ancient Near East and Hebrew Bible, Brandeis University, 2006

MA, Ancient Near East and Hebrew Bible, Brandeis University, 2002

Curriculum Vitae 

Teaching Philosophy

I'm a typical professor in that I come to class, talk, ask questions, lead discussion, interject humor, use visual aides---the usual professorial stuff. I'm also quite normal in that I expect my students to work hard. In exchange, I do my best to evaluate that work in a rigorous and constructive manner.
I love what I do. And I'm enthusiastic about the materials I teach and research. My teaching philosophy is formed by fusing this love and enthusiasm of material to genuine care for my students and their education.
The result: I challenge students to think critically and self-reflectively about religion and the Bible as products of human culture in order to understand themselves, their society, and human civilization broadly in a deeper manner. I bring a multi-disciplinary array of methodological tools to this task: linguistic, historical, sociological, and anthropological. Our deep intellectual engagement with religious texts and ideas often touches on sensitive personal issues, perhaps even creating conflict for a student's religious identity. (Education is nothing if it is not challenging.) I know firsthand about such matters. And I encourage students to visit me during office hours to think through such issues with me. 
Office hours provide an informal learning opportunity that compliments the classroom. This is when we can continue the classroom conversation or follow tangents. Office hours are also a time when I learn about (and from) my students' ideas, their lives, and their future plans. Conversation can roam far and wide. Having this kind of exchange is one of the reasons I'm a professor. Although I'm supposed to be the one teaching my students, I also end up learning so much from them!

Scholarly Interest

Babylonian Language, Literature, Religion

Old Testament/Hebrew Bible

Ancient Prayer/Ritual

Ancient Near Eastern Wisdom Literature


RELI 023 Introduction to the Old Testament

RELI 034 Introduction to Religion

RELI 030 Comparative Religion

RELI 102 History of Ancient Egypt and the Near East

RELI 170 Bible in America

RELI 047 Unbelief: Atheism and Agnosticism

PACS 001 Pacific Seminar 1

PACS 002 Pacific Seminar 2: Myth-Conceptions Old and New

PACS 003 Pacific Seminar 3