Faculty Friday: Tim Furnish explores the Middle East and Middle-earth
Dr. Timothy Furnish has an unexpected combination of interests, from Islamic eschatology (End Times beliefs) to military history of Middle-earth (the fictional world of “Lord of the Rings”), even semi-professional acting.
Furnish, a U.S. Army veteran and adjunct history professor at Reinhardt, earned a Ph.D. in Islamic history from Ohio State in 2001. He has since published three books on the Islamic world, received training in Arabic linguistics, and has been consulted by the U.S. Special Operation Command on Terrorism and Islamic Movements.
In addition to his three years teaching at Reinhardt, he has also lectured for more than a dozen seminaries and institutions including Islamic Centre of England, the CIA, Hebrew and Haifa Universities in Israel and the Mahdavivat Conference in Iran.
Furnish’s interest in other cultures doesn’t stop with Islam, however. It also extends to fictional cultures, such as the histories of countries in Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” series.
“Although I am professionally trained as a historian of the Islamic Middle East, I prefer writing about Middle-earth,” he admitted.
In fact, Furnish has already published one volume on Middle-earth entitled “High Towers and Strong Places: A Political History of Middle-earth” and is currently writing a second book called “Bright Swords and Glorious Warriors: A Military History of Middle-earth.”
He recently had the opportunity to indulge in his third hobby, acting, by playing the role of Shakespeare-imitator Robert Middleton in the Pumphouse Players’ production of “Thee and Thou” in February.
McKayla Parmele, a third-year political science major, believes that Furnish’s wide range of hobbies makes him a more relatable professor.
“Dr. Furnish is great,” said Parmele. “Because his interests are varied, he’s very well rounded and knows a lot. I feel like I can talk to him about any subject.”
Furnish lives in Woodstock with his wife, Davina, and two sons, Thaddeus and Matthias, who attend and play football for Blessed Trinity High School.