Hector Avalos


Dept:Philosophy & Religious Studies


Hector Avalos is Professor of Religious Studies. An anthropologist and biblical scholar by training, Avalos has published work in areas such as the role of religion in violence, health care in the ancient world, Disability Studies, religion among US Latinas/os, and the relationship between science and religion. His most recent work has concentrated on examining the extent to which religious biases still affect the study of biblical history, translations, archaeology, and ethics.

Research Areas

Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies; Health Care in the Ancient World; Religion and Violence; Religion among U.S. Latinas/os; Science and Religion


PhD Harvard (1991)
MTS Harvard Divinity School (1985)
BA University of Arizona (1982), Anthropology and Classics

Courses Taught

Old Testament
New Testament
Religion in U.S. Latina/o Literature
Biblical Languages

Selected Publications

The Reality of Religious Violence: From Biblical to Modern Times (2019)
The Bad Jesus: The Ethics of New Testament Ethics (2015)
Slavery, Abolitionism and the Ethics of Biblical Scholarship (2011)
The End of Biblical Studies (2007)
This Abled Body: Rethinking Disabilities in Biblical Studies (co-editor; 2007)
Strangers in our Own Land: Religion in U.S. Latina/o Literature (2005)
Fighting Words: The Origins of Religious Violence (2005)
Introduction to The U.S. Latina and Latino Religious Experience (editor; 2004)
¿Se puede saber si Dios existe? (2003)
Health Care and the rise of Christianity (1999)
Illness and Health Care in the Ancient Near East: The Role of the Temple in Greece, Mesopotamia and Israel (1995)

Selected Presentations

“Approaches to Disability: Redemptionism, Rejectionism, and Historicism,” Ideas Matter Speaker Series, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR (November 10, 2014)

"Who Ended Slavery? Secularization in Context,” Drake University, Des Moines Iowa “ (February 14, 2013)

"From Darwin to the Holocaust: How Creationists Revise History,” International Darwin Week, University of Nebraska, Omaha, Nebraska (February 12, 2013)

“Religion and Violence: A New Theory for an Old Problem,” Korbel Lecture Series, Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver (November 2, 2012)

Professional Activity

Member of the Society of Biblical Literature and the American Academy of Religion, where he has chaired or served on the steering committees of various units. He founded the Metacriticism of Biblical Scholarship unit in the Society of Biblical Literature.

Additional Information

Professor of the Year, 1996 (university-wide award). Master Teacher 2003-04. Outstanding Professor Award in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (1996). Early Excellence in Research and Creative Activity Award in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (first recipient; 1996). Faculty founder and adviser of the ISU Atheist and Agnostic Society. Since 2010, he has been a regular columnist for The Ames Tribune, writing on issues of religion and culture. He has delivered lectures in, among other places, Berlin, Dublin, Israel, London, Mexico City, Rome, and Oslo.

Dr. Avalos received the first Hispanic American Freethinkers Lifetime Achievement Award "honoring a lifetime of scholarship and advocacy promoting freethought” in August 2018.

He was inducted into the 2019 Iowa Latino Hall of Fame for his role in founding the US Latino/a Studies Program at Iowa State University: https://humanrights.iowa.gov/2019-iowa-latino-hall-fame-members

In October of 2019, Dr. Avalos was awarded a Senior Distinguished Fellowship by the Institute for Ancient Near Eastern and Afroasiatic Studies for his outstanding scholarship, leadership, and service to that organization.