Timothy Beal

Timothy Beal

Timothy Beal is the Florence Harkness Professor of Religion and chair of the Department of Religious Studies at Case Western Reserve University. He is the Editor-in-Chief of The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Bible and the Arts (also on oxfordbiblicalstudies.com), which was named the Best Print Reference in the Humanities for 2015 by Library Journal.

Tim has published thirteen books, most recently The Book of Revelation: A Biography (forthcoming in 2018 from Princeton University Press), for which he won a Public Scholar Award from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Others include The Rise and Fall of the Bible: The Unexpected History of an Accidental Book (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011; Mariner paperback, 2012), Biblical Literacy: The Essential Bible Stories Everyone Needs to Know (HarperOne, 2009; paperback, 2010; Audible.com audiobook, 2012), Religion in America: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2008), and Roadside Religion: In Search of the Sacred, the Strange, and the Substance of Faith (Beacon, 2005), which was named one of Publishers Weekly’s ten “Best Religion Books of 2005,” was one of Amazon.com’s “Top 10 Editors’ Picks” for Christianity in 2005, and was a New York Times Book Review “Editor’s Choice.”

Since 2015, Tim has begun working in the programming language of Python in order to carry out research in natural language processing and machine learning as they relate to the academic humanities. He recently completed a series of five six-week courses (University of Michigan via Coursera) on Python and data visualization, and is collaborating with scholars at Iliff School of Theology, the University of Denver, and his own university on projects involving unsupervised machine learning and text generation ("bots"), neural machine translation (NMT), and Markov chain processes. For a fun example, see his KJVBot on Twitter. As a fellow of the Freedman Center for Digital Scholarship (2017-18), he is working on building neural machine translation models to work with ancient texts (e.g., Hebrew Scriptures) in order to highlight ambiguity, polyvocality, and non-equivalency in the processes of translation. In other words, he wants to use the technologies used by Google Translate and other apps to do the opposite of what they aim to do, which is to make translation seem easy and immediate. 

In addition to scholarly articles, Tim has written popular essays on religion, Bible, media, and culture for The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN.com, The Christian Century, and The Chronicle of Higher Education, among others. He also writes occasionally for The Huffington Post, where he developed a series called “BibliFact” to fact-check political Bible-talk during the 2012 presidential elections (he couldn't quite stomach doing it again in 2016).

Interviews with Tim have appeared on several radio and television shows, including All Things Considered (NPR), The Bob Edwards Show (NPR/XMRadio), On Point (NPR/WBUR Boston), Interfaith Voices (NPR), The Osgood File, Oregon Public Radio (OPB Portland), Ideastream’s public TV show, Ideas, and Animal Planet. His books have been featured in The Washington Post, The Baltimore Sun, The Dallas Morning News, The Orlando Sentinel, The Miami Herald, The Cleveland Plain Dealer, The Chicago Tribune, The St. Petersburg Times, The International Herald Tribune, The Denver Post, The New York Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, CNN.com, The Christian Century, The Christian Science Monitor, Salon.com, and USA Today, among other online and print news media.

Currently serving as chair of the Department of Religious Studies of Case Western Reserve University, Tim was the second director of the university's Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities (2004-08), where he worked with humanities department chairs to develop and implement a $2 million, four-year interdisciplinary program, funded by the Cleveland Foundation, including annual thematic seminars, distinguished visiting fellows, senior faculty fellows, resident artists, and local community leaders. He continues to be engaged in collaborative initiatives interested in reimagining the humanities in our new and emerging media environments of scholarship and education.

Tim was born in Hood River, Oregon and grew up near Anchorage, Alaska. He now lives between Cleveland, Ohio, where he works, and Denver, Colorado, where he lives with his wife, Clover Reuter Beal, co-lead pastor of Montview Boulevard Presbyterian Church. Tim and Clover have two grown kids, Sophie and Seth.

Contact Information:

Department of Religious Studies / Case Western Reserve University / Cleveland, OH  44106-7112 / 216-368-2210 / beal at case.edu