Paffenroth, Kim 1966-

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Paffenroth, Kim 1966-


Born March 7, 1966, in Manhasset, NY; married, 1986; children: Charles, Sophia. Education: St. John's College, B.A., 1988; Harvard Divinity School, M.T.S., 1990; University of Notre Dame, Ph.D., 1995.


Home—Cornwall on Hudson, NY. Office—Department of Religious Studies, Iona College, 715 North Ave., New Rochelle, NY 10801; fax: 914-633-2248. E-mail—[email protected]; [email protected].


Academic. Southwestern Michigan College, Dowagiac, instructor, 1993; University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN, tutor, 1993-95, teaching fellow, 1994-95, adjunct assistant professor, 1995-96, visiting assistant professor, 1996-97; Iona College, New Rochelle, NY, assistant professor, beginning 2001, then associate professor of religious studies, department chair. Presidential fellow, University of Notre Dame, 1990-94; Salvatori fellow, Heritage Foundation, 1997; Arthur Ennis fellow, Villanova University, 1997-99; research fellow, Acton Institute, 1998; fellow, Westar Institute, 2003.


Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, Catholic Biblical Association of America, North American Patristic Society, Dante Society of America, Chicago Society of Biblical Research, College Theology Society.


Mathematics prize, St. John's College, 1985, 1988; Bram Stoker Award, 2006, for Gospel of the Living Dead.



The Story of Jesus according to L, Sheffield Academic Press (Sheffield, England), 1997.

(Editor, with Kevin L. Hughes) Augustine and Liberal Education, Ashgate (Burlington, VT), 2000.

Judas: Images of the Lost Disciple, Westminister John Knox Press (Louisville, KY), 2001.

(Editor, with Robert P. Kennedy) A Reader's Companion to Augustine's "Confessions," Westminster John Knox Press (Louisville, KY), 2003.

In Praise of Wisdom: Literary and Theological Reflections on Faith and Reason, Continuum (New York, NY), 2004.

The Heart Set Free: Sin and Redemption in the Gospels, Augustine, Dante, and Flannery O'Connor, Continuum (New York, NY), 2005.

(Editor, with John Doody Kevin and L. Hughes) Augustine and Politics, Lexington Books (Lanham, MD), 2005.

(Editor, with Robert P. Kennedy and John Doody) Augustine and Literature, Lexington Books (Lanham, MD), 2006.

(With Thomas Bertonneau) The Truth Is out There: Christian Faith and the Classics of TV Science Fiction, Brazos (Grand Rapids, MI), 2006.

Gospel of the Living Dead: George Romero's Visions of Hell on Earth, Baylor University Press (Waco, TX), 2006.

(Editor, with Brian Brown and John Doody) Augustine and World Religions, Lexington Books (Lanham, MD), 2008.

(Editor, with Kevin L. Hughes) Augustine and Liberal Education, Lexington Books (Lanham, MD), 2008.

(Editor, with Christopher T. Daly and John Doody) Augustine and History, Lexington Books (Lanham, MD), 2008.


Dying to Live, Permuted Press, 2007.

Dying to Live 2, Permuted Press, 2008.

Orpheus and the Pearl, Magus Press, 2008.

Contributor to periodicals and academic journals, including Augustinian Studies, Expository Times, Midwest Quarterly, Classical Quarterly, Quarterly Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society, Harvard Theological Review, Augustinian Heritage, Irish Biblical Studies, Energeia, Journal of Religion and Film, Downside Review, Biblica, Journal of Early Christian Studies, Journal of Hebrew Scriptures, Religious Studies Review, Catholic Studies Online, Review of Biblical Literature, Journal of Religion, Journal of Biblical Literature, and Bryn Mawr Classical Review.


Kim Paffenroth is an academic. Born in Manhasset, New York, on March 7, 1966, he began his higher education at Maryland's St. John's College, earning a bachelor of arts degree there in 1988. Two years later he complemented this with an M.T.S. from Harvard Divinity School. In 1995 he completed a Ph.D. from the University of Notre Dame. Paffenroth began working as an adjunct assistant professor at the University of Notre Dame upon completing his dissertation and became a visiting assistant professor in 1996. From 1997 to 1999 he served as an Arthur Ennis fellow at Pennsylvania's Villanova University. He started working at New York's Iona College in 2001, eventually becoming an associate professor of religious studies and the department chair. Paffenroth's research interests center around Christian Scriptures.

Judas: Images of the Lost Disciple was published in 2001. The account examines the images of Judas from poetry, historical fiction, drama, belles-lettres, and theology. Graham Christian, reviewing the book in Library Journal, "highly recommended" Judas.

Paffenroth published The Heart Set Free: Sin and Redemption in the Gospels, Augustine, Dante, and Flannery O'Connor in 2005. Here the author compares the thoughts and practices of Jesus, Augustine, Dante, and Flannery O'Connor on how redemption and sinfulness are pertinent and accessible to modern Christians.

A contributor to Reference & Research Book News proposed that "this text would work well for groups as well as self-study." Scott Huelin, reviewing the book in Christianity and Literature, commented that "its genre and structure make clear, rather than frustrate, Paffenroth's greater goal. Of course, the generic hybridity of The Heart Set Free will no doubt alienate some scholarly readers … but I think its virtues far outweigh its liabilities. If nothing else, Paffenroth takes seriously the mission of educating or forming the reader, a most necessary task in these days when scholarly formation happens largely at the hands of (post)modernist practitioners of reading. Fellow scholars in this field would do well to undertake similarly innovative, unconventional ways of advancing our common field of inquiry." Huelin said that "to Paffenroth's credit, he is aware that his work writes about Christian texts and themes for largely Christian audiences. However he seems to suspect (and I agree) that the study of theology and literature must broaden both its audience and subject matter if it is to continue to make a valuable contribution to the humanistic inquiry of the academy."

Paffenroth published Gospel of the Living Dead: George Romero's Visions of Hell on Earth in 2006, which won the Bram Stoker Award that same year. Paffenroth looks into George Romero's zombie films, including Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, and Land of the Dead, in search of deeper religious themes found within and compares the acts of the undead with examples of how humanity can act less humane than the undead.

A contributor writing in Dibs! pointed out that "Paffenroth presents refreshingly readable analyses" of popular cult zombie classics "giving the brainy film fan much to chew on." Thomas M. Sipos, writing in the American Chronicle, noted that the book's "prose is lucid and reader-friendly, mercifully avoiding academia's pretentious vapidity. But not its politics." Sipos added, however, that "his book reads as though calculated to impress a tenure committee." Sipos found that the content of the book comprises "a valid and potentially interesting topic. But frequently Paffenroth's own grandstanding overwhelms his film analyses." Continuing on his critique of the politics in the book, Sipos stated: "I'm no fan of Bush's wars and I'm no fundamentalist Christian, but were I to see Paffenroth approaching at a party, I'd turn and run. This is a man made for talk radio. Partisan and relentless. Although ‘scapegoating’ comes from all sides of the political spectrum, Paffenroth predictably targets only one side (in his case, the Right)." Sipos concluded that "greater emphasis on such topics (humor in the zombie film, Romero's satire versus Fulci's nihilism) might have yielded an interesting book. Instead, Paffenroth choose to vent. If you like his above fulminations, you should enjoy this book. If not, well, there are plenty of better zombie film books out there."

A contributor to the Midwest Book Review described the book as "a thoughtful scrutiny of the underlying artistic expressions driving Romero's pop culture horror films." A contributor to Publishers Weekly called the book "an excellent resource … for anyone who wants to understand the appeal of the genre." Nina C. Ayoub, reviewing the book in the Chronicle of Higher Education, recorded that "Paffenroth is a fan. He is also an associate professor of religious studies at Iona College. Both roles shape his theological look" at Romero's zombie films.

In 2007 Paffenroth published a novel called Dying to Live. The premise of the novel is that an apocalypse has turned the majority of people into zombies. Former academic and survivor Jonah Caine eventually finds a living community hiding in a museum co-led by a theologian and a more militant-oriented man. He proves his worth to the group in order to join their ranks, but they later find out that they are not the only survivors. The message of the book is one of humanitarianism versus immorality, contrasting humans with the zombies in alternate roles.

A critic writing on the Fatally Yours Web site commented that "critics and other authors are spot-on when they call Kim Paffenroth's Dying to Live a ‘thinking man's’ novel. This is a zombie novel with plenty of heart, guts and brains … to satisfy any horror fan that's looking for a more intellectually stimulating book." The same critic called the novel "recommended reading," pointing out that it was written in an "accessible" manner that would "make you think as well as squirm." Fear Zone Web site contributor Gabrielle S. Faust "highly recommended" the novel, citing that Paffenroth "is a horror writer to be celebrated." Faust presumed that "the world has been long overdue for truly intelligent horror literature and this novel, by and far, deserves high acclaim." David A. Granoff, reviewing the novel in Postcards from a Dying World, observed that the author "uses his knowledge to weave deep themes without a heavy hand," adding that "Dying to Live is an intense work peppered with chilling moments." Granoff wrote that "while I don't think huge amounts of new ground were broken, this book is a must for zombie fans."

The following year Paffenroth published the novel Orpheus and the Pearl. Here a scientist, mourning the death of his wife, decides to bring her back to life, of sorts. Like Frankenstein, he succeeds in resurrecting her, but she is not the same woman he recalled, with her fondness of liquor and raw meat. Concerned, he brings in a psychologist to help rehabilitate his wife.

Joe McKinney, reviewing the novel on the Old Major's Dream Web site, described the book as "a must read" for zombie genre fans. McKinney also found that "this is a quiet tale, but one that runs deep. Going through it, I found myself enjoying the story for its wonderful gothic elements." Rich Ristow, writing in Strange Latitudes, commented that "despite the bizarre situations that his characters may find themselves in, sometimes, there is always a sense of heart at work." Ristow stated: "Given that horror is sometimes dominated by trends, just like every other nook and cranny of the publishing world, Paffenroth's tale is refreshingly new."



Augustinian Studies, spring, 2003, Todd Breyfogle, review of Augustine and Liberal Education, p. 121; fall, 2006, James K.A. Smith, review of Augustine and Politics, p. 275; fall, 2006, Paul J. Contino, review of In Praise of Wisdom: Literary and Theological Reflections on Faith and Reason, p. 284.

Catholic Biblical Quarterly, April 1, 1999, Robert L. Jr. Derrenbacker, review of The Story of Jesus according to L, p. 375.

Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, November 1, 2005, J.L. Miller, review of Augustine and Politics, p. 568.

Christianity and Literature, summer, 2006, Scott Huelin, review of The Heart Set Free: Sin and Redemption in the Gospels, Augustine, Dante, and Flannery O'Connor, p. 587.

Chronicle of Higher Education, November 3, 2006, Nina C. Ayoub, review of Gospel of the Living Dead: George Romero's Visions of Hell on Earth.

Inside Higher Ed, February 20, 2008, Scott McLemee, "Zombie Nation."

Journal of Biblical Literature, summer, 1999, Mark Goodacre, review of The Story of Jesus according to L, p. 363.

Journal of Religion and Popular Culture, fall, 2007, review of The Truth Is out There: Christian Faith and the Classics of TV Science Fiction.

Library Journal, March 1, 2002, Graham Christian, review of Judas: Images of the Lost Disciple, p. 108.

Midwest Book Review, January 1, 2007, review of Gospel of the Living Dead.

Publishers Weekly, February 27, 2006, review of The Truth Is out There, p. 56; May 29, 2006, review of Gospel of the Living Dead, p. 53.

Reference & Research Book News, February 1, 2001, review of Augustine and Liberal Education, p. 2; August 1, 2006, review of The Heart Set Free.


American Chronicle, (April 6, 2007), Thomas M. Sipos, review of Gospel of the Living Dead.

Dibs!, (August 5, 2008), review of Gospel of the Living Dead.

Fatally Yours, (August 5, 2008), review of Dying to Live.

Fear Zone, (October 26, 2007), Gabrielle S. Faust, review of Dying to Live; (June 20, 2008), Derek Clendening, author interview.

Iona College, Department of Religious Studies Web site, (August 5, 2008), author profile.

Kim Paffenroth Home Page, (August 5, 2008), author biography.

Old Major's Dream, (July 12, 2008), Joe McKinney, review of Orpheus and the Pearl.

Postcards from a Dying World Web log, (August 27, 2007), David A. Granoff, review of Dying to Live.

Strange Latitudes Web site, (July 29, 2008), Rick Ristow, review of Orpheus and the Pearl.