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Jack Miles


Jack Miles

Jack Miles was born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1942. Raised a Roman Catholic, he entered the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) after high school and, as a Jesuit in training, spent two years at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome studying philosophy and another year studying Hebrew and archaeology at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. In 1967, just after the Six Days War, he left Israel and went to Harvard University, where in 1971 he was awarded a doctorate in Near Eastern languages, specializing in Hebrew and in the Bible.

Miles was impatient with the heavily historical way the Bible was studied at Harvard (and at virtually all American universities). After only four years of full-time teaching, he gave up on academic life. For ten years, he worked in book publishing, first as an editor at Doubleday in New York and then as executive editor of the University of California Press. While living in Los Angeles, he began writing for the Los Angeles Times, where in 1985 he became literary editor and in 1991 was appointed to the newspaper's prestigious editorial board.

Having left the Jesuits in 1970 and become an Episcopalian in 1980, Miles found to his surprise that questions he thought he had left behind, questions about the Bible and about the difficult character of God, were crowding in on the political issues that it was his professional responsibility to address as a member of the Times editorial board.

In 1990, unable to keep these questions at bay any longer, he went on leave from the newspaper and began the book that in 1995 was published as GOD: A Biography. Shortly after the publication of this book, he left the Times to take the position he now holds as director of the Humanities Center at the Claremont Graduate School in Claremont, California, a small town about an hour east of downtown Los Angeles.

Miles remains active as a journalist. He is a contributing editor at The Atlantic Monthly and his work appears frequently in both scholarly and popular publications, including The New York Times

Jack Miles

Books by Jack Miles