Professor of Religion, Psychology, and Culture
Director of the Program in Theology and Practice
Jaco J. Hamman’s research interests include the formation of pastoral leaders, the narratives of Scripture, psychology of religion, psychodynamic theory, play studies, and humanity’s deepening relationship with technology. He has published six books: When Steeples Cry: Leading congregations through loss and change (Pilgrim Press, 2005); Becoming a pastor: Forming self and soul for ministry (Pilgrim Press 2007) and A play-full life: Slowing down and seeking peace (Pilgrim Press, 2011). Becoming a Pastor was greatly revised in a 2nd edition in 2014. Growing down: Theology and human nature in the virtual age (Baylor University Press, 2017) explores personhood in a technological age. The Millennial Narrative: Sharing a good life with the next generation (Abingdon Press, 2019) explores the lives of Millennials who are spiritual but not religious and what they might learn from the Book of Joel. Current book projects include: Pastoral virtues for Artificial Intelligence (Lexington Books: Forthcoming), a co-authored a book on leadership with a colleague at Owen Business School, and a book on the Theology of Travel.
A native of South Africa, he has completed his studies in South Africa, at Princeton Theological Seminary, and at the Blanton-Peale Graduate Institute (New York City). Hamman has lectured widely in North America, Southern Africa, Bangladesh, Australia, and New Zealand. Professor Hamman is a Section Editor (Pastoral Counseling) for The Encyclopedia of Psychology of Religion (Springer Reference) and on the Editorial Boards of Sacred Spaces (e-journal of The American Association of Pastoral Counselors), the Journal of Pastoral Theology, and Pastoral Psychology. An ordained elder in the Presbyterian Church (USA), Hamman was Professor of Pastoral Care and Counseling at Western Theological Seminary (Holland, MI) for eleven years prior to joining Vanderbilt Divinity School in 2012.
Hamman co-founded Our Place Nashville (OPN) in 2014 with Vanderbilt University alumna, Ms. Carolyn Naifeh. In partnership with Vanderbilt Divinity School, Urban Housing Solutions, and Woodbine Community Organization, OPN created two Divinity Friendship Houses at Vanderbilt and recently opened a third Friendship House (August 2019). In a Friendship House, divinity students live alongside persons with a developmental disability and also some of Nashville’s displaced elderly. Fifty-one persons thrive in this community of affordable housing.
As director of the Program in Theology and Practice, Hamman coordinates the training of a generation of professors who are outstanding teachers of people preparing for ministry and groundbreaking scholars engaged in practical theological inquiry.