Philip Layton Barlow (born 1950) is a Harvard-trained scholar who specializes in American Religious History, religious geography, and Mormonism. In 2007 he became the country’s first full-time professor of Mormon studies at a secular university by being appointed as the Leonard J. Arrington Chair of Mormon History and Culture at Utah State University.
Barlow was raised in Bountiful, Utah. In 1975, he graduated with a B.A. in History from Weber State College. In 1980 and 1988, respectively, he received his Masters in Theological Studies and Doctorate of Theology (Th.D.) from the Harvard Divinity School. While in the Boston area, Barlow taught at the local LDS Institute of Religion. He also served as a counselor in a bishopric to Mitt Romney.
Following the completion of his education, he served in consecutive years as a Mellon Post-doctoral Fellow at the University of Rochester. Prior to his arrival at Utah State University, Barlow spent 17 years in the Department of Theological Studies at Hanover College in Indiana.
Barlow's research interests have ranged over American religious and historical geography, concepts of “time” in secular and religious society, the problem of suffering and evil, and Mormon theology and practice. Barlow's first book, Mormons and the Bible: The Place of the Latter-day Saints in American Religion (Oxford, 1991, 1997) analyzed Latter-day Saint uses of the biblical text, including issues revolving around the LDS Church’s official backing of the King James translation. In 1992, the Mormon History Association awarded the volume its Best First Book Award. His second book, the New Historical Atlas of Religion in America (co-authored with Edwin Scott Gaustad), examined the implications of religion’s connections with “place” and created hundreds of maps portraying the religious composition of the United States over time. The Association of American Publishers named the work the “Best Single-volume Reference Book in the Humanities” for 2001.
The Arrington Chair of Mormon History and Culture
The establishment in 2007 of the Arrington Chair at Utah State University is one prominent symbol of a new era for the study of the Mormon faith in secular higher education. It is part of the new Religious Studies Program at the University, the first program in Utah enabling students to major in religion. Since the establishment in 2007 of the Arrington Chair, Richard Bushman has been inaugurated as the Howard W. Hunter Chair of Mormon Studies at Claremont Graduate University of Religion, Utah Valley University has continued to offer its students a minor in Religious Studies, the University of Utah has recently followed suit, with both programs showing interest in Mormonism, and the University of Wyoming is working to gather funds for a professorship in Mormon studies.
In 2006, Philip Barlow was President of the Mormon History Association, and currently serves on the Boards of Directors for the Society for Mormon Philosophy and Theology and the Dialogue Foundation, on the Steering Committee for the American Academy of Religion’s new Consultation in Mormon Studies, and as a member of the editorial board of the Intermountain West Journal of Religious Studies.
- New Historical Atlas of Religion in America. Oxford University Press, 2001. (Co-authored with Edwin Scott Gaustad.)
- Mormons and the Bible: The Place of the Latter-day Saints in American Religion. Oxford University Press, 1991.
- Religion and Public Life in the Midwest: America’s Common Denominator? Alta Mira Press, 2004. (co-edited with Mark Silk.)
- A Thoughtful Faith: Essays on Belief by Mormon Scholars. Canon Press, 1986.
- "Past MHA Presidents". Mormon History Association.
- Utah State University Faculty Website
- 12 Questions for Philip Barlow. Times and Seasons Blog.
- Deseret News Article.