Professor of Religion and Philosophy
Ph.D., St. Louis University
M.Div., Covenant Theological Seminary
M.A., Covenant Theological Seminary
B.A., Covenant College
Dr. Vila came to John Brown University in the Fall of 1999 from Saint Louis University where he completed a PhD in Historical Theology. His dissertation, Christian Martyrs in the First Abbasid Century and the Development of an Apologetic Against Islam, focused on early Christian-Muslim relations, especially as seen in the hagiography of the period. He spent the ‘95-‘96 academic year on a Fulbright grant in Jordan, studying Arabic and working on his dissertation. Prior to his doctoral work David completed a BA in English Literature at Covenant College, an MA and an MDiv at Covenant Theological Seminary, and worked for two years with a Spanish language publisher in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.
Much of David’s research and publications focus on early Christian-Muslim relations and the early development of Arabic Christianity. In addition, since 1990 David has been involved with an archaeological excavation in northern Jordan at the ancient site of Abila of the Decapolis. In 2008 he was named Director of the Abila Archaeological Project and has been leading the excavation ever since. In 2006 David started a Jordan Summer Studies Program at John Brown University that takes students to work with the excavation while earning academic credit from John Brown University. Most summers find David traveling or excavating in the Middle East. During the ’06-’07 academic year, David was a Fulbright Scholar at Jordan University where he taught in the Department of English Language and Literature and did research in the Department of Archaeology. He is currently working on a book entitled The Churches of Abila that documents the five Byzantine churches found at Abila. He is also in the midst of a book on the 11th-12th century Muslim theologian al-Ghazali.
David’s teaching includes the Old and New Testament Survey courses in the University Core Curriculum as well as four courses on Islam (Islamic Art, The Life of Muhammad, The Qur’an, and an Introduction to Islam) as well as a course on Hinduism and Buddhism. He has also taught Greek, advanced Biblical Studies courses, History of Philosophy, and both Honors Integrated Humanities and Honors Integrated Theology in the Honors Scholars Program.
David has been married to Susan Vila since 1991. They have four children, Samuel (’95), Charlie (’99), Henry (’02), and Alice (’12), as well as four cats and a Chihuahua. Their home is wonderfully chaotic.