Jacob Leal

Credentials: BA, Vanguard University of Southern California / MTS, Duke Divinity School / PhD, Boston University (present)

Denomination: Baptist

Specific Field: Theology and Philosophy


Jacob is a Mexican-American born and raised in Texas whose research is influenced by his abuela‘s stories of visitations from deceased loved ones–ancestral veneration is an important aspect of Mexican culture that informs everyday life. Jacob will use decolonial theory and trauma studies to explore the continuing presence of the dead in the present and to show how the belief in our ancestor’s presence with us is rooted in a precolonial understanding of time, space, and death. He believes the Mexican belief in the presence of the dead is one of many fragments passed down to us from our indigenous ancestors. In his research, Jacob hopes to expose the negative Western label of ancestral visitations, which deem interactions with the dead as taboo, as a continuation of the colonial project. Jacob is particularly interested in biblical passages such as Matthew 17:1-3 (the Mount of Transfiguration) and reading them as “Dia de los Muertos moments” in the Bible.  His passion for theological research and training continues to grow the more he realizes the importance of inclusive academic spaces that create opportunities for Latines, like his abuela, to tell their stories. He strives to be a professor whose office is a safe space for students of marginalized identities, especially those within the Latine community.