Dr. David Vila

Faculty Directory

Dr. David  Vila

Dr. David Vila

Distinguished Professor
Professor of Religion and Philosophy

Ph.D., St. Louis University
M.Div., M.A., Covenant Theological Seminary
B.A., Covenant College



Dr. David Vila came to John Brown University in the Fall of 1999 from Saint Louis University where he completed a Ph.D. 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 1995-96 academic year on a Fulbright grant in Jordan, studying Arabic and working on his dissertation.  Prior to his doctoral work, Dr. Vila completed a B.A. in English Literature at Covenant College, an M.A. and an M.Div. at Covenant Theological Seminary, and worked for two years with a Spanish language publisher in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.

Much of Dr. Vila's research and publications focus on early Christian-Muslim relations and the early development of Arabic Christianity.  In addition, since 1990, he 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, he started the Jordan Summer Studies Program at JBU which provides the opportunity for students to work with the excavation while earning JBU academic credit.  Most summers find him traveling or excavating in the Middle East.  During the 2006-07 academic year, he 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. 

Dr. Vila'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.

Dr. Vila 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.