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Thomas A. Idinopulos ’57

A picture of Thomas Idinopulos

Thomas A. Idinopulos ’57, March 7, 2010, at home in Cincinnati, Ohio. The son of Greek immigrants in Portland, Thomas grew up with English as his second language. He earned a BA from Reed in philosophy, and went on to receive an MA from Duke University as a National Woodrow Wilson Scholar. He also received an MA and a PhD from the University of Chicago and was an International Graduate Fellow at the University of Athens, Greece. Thomas taught in comparative religious studies at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, for four decades, retiring as professor emeritus, and was founder and director of the Jewish studies program. In retirement, he took courses in Hebrew and Spanish at the University of Cincinnati, where he was also an adjunct professor. Thomas was a prolific scholar, who published more than 160 articles about religion, politics, and literature, and wrote several books, including Jerusalem Blessed, Jerusalem Cursed: Jews, Christians, Muslims in the Holy City from David's Time to Our Own; The Erosion of Faith: An Inquiry into the Origins of the Contemporary Crisis in Religious Thought; and Land Weathered by Miracles: Historic Palestine from Bonaparte and Muhammad Ali to Ben-Gurion and the Mufti. During his many trips to Jerusalem, he developed an encyclopedic knowledge of the Old City, and it was there that he met his wife of 30 years, Lea Spector Idinopulos. He was recognized widely for his contributions, including the Associated Church Press Excellence Award; an appointment as resident scholar at the Ecumenical Institute for Advanced Theological Studies; his election as fellow to the Patriarchal Institute for Religious Studies; and an appointment to the Center on Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights for his work on the Holocaust. In 1981, Crown Prince Hassan of Jordan invited him to confer in Amman with scholars and political leaders about the future of Jerusalem as a capital of both Israelis and Palestinians. Thomas also served in the U.S. Army. Family members, friends, and colleagues remember him as a fine father, athlete, good friend, exquisite host, model scholar, fierce debater, and “one of the most warm-hearted guys you'll meet.” He had an unquenchable passion for work and scholarly pursuit, and students were drawn to his challenging courses, as well as to his “playful eccentricity” and warmth. Survivors include his wife, two sons, six grandchildren, and a sister. The family asks that donations in his memory be made to Reed College.

Appeared in Reed magazine: September 2010

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