Jana Riess

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Jana Riess
Born Jana Kathryn Riess
(1969-12-13)December 13, 1969
Occupation Writer
Language English
Nationality American
Education PhD
Period 1990s-present
Genre Religion
Spouse Phil Smith[1]
Children Jerusha (born c. 1999)[2]

Jana Kathryn Riess (born December 13, 1969)[3][4] is an American writer and editor.

Reiss' writings have focused on American religions, usually on organized movements such as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) and The Church of Christ, Scientist.


Reiss was born in the US midwest, one of two children.[5] Her father[6] abandoned the family (mother Phyllis[7] and Jana; by that time the brother was on his own) without warning in 1984.[8]

Riess has a Bachelor's degree from Wellesley College. She received a Master's degree in theology from the Princeton Theological Seminary and a PhD in American Religious studies from Columbia University. Riess is a Religion and American Studies professor at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. She and husband Phil Smith reside in Cincinnati.[9]


Among the books by Riess are What Would Buffy Do? and an abridgment of the Book of Mormon with commentary. Riess is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, having converted as an adult.[10] Riess is an expert on religion in literature. In 2001 she moderated a debate over whether the Harry Potter books were a tract for witchcraft.[11] She has been the religion book editor for Publishers Weekly.[9]

Tweeting the Bible[edit]

On October 4, 2009, Riess began a project to tweet the bible. Her "Twible" quest will conclude in January 2013. Each tweet summarizes a chapter of the bible. Riess tweets the bible in order and plans to hit all 1,189 chapters in 140 characters.[12]


  • @janariess #Twible Genesis 12: Hello, Abram. G promises land & descendants. Father Ab responds by lying to Pharaoh & pimping out wife Sarai.
  • @janariess #Twible Genesis 20: Ab pulls the "she's my sister" thing again; successfully pimps out Sarah for more sheep, oxen & slaves. Yay Father Ab!
  • @janariess #Twible Genesis 26: Like father, like son. Isaac mimics "she's my sister" trick to pimp out wife Reb. Again results in riches. We never learn.


  • Riess, Jana (1991), "The Saints Go Marching In: Mormonism in American Politics, 1970–1990", [Honors thesis], Wellesley, MA: Department of Religion, Wellesley College  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • —— (2000), "Heathen in Our Fair Land: Anti-Polygamy and Protestant Women's Missions to Utah, 1869–1910", [PhD Thesis], New York: Columbia University  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  • Bigelow, Christopher Kimball (2007), Jana Riess, ed., The Timechart History of Mormonism from Premortality to the Present, Bassingbourne, Hertfordshire, UK: Worth Press, ISBN 978-1-903025-40-6 


  1. ^ Flunking Sainthood, pp. 5, 153
  2. ^ Flunking Sainthood, pp. 19, 56
  3. ^ "The Book of Mormon: selections annotated and explained". Copyright Catalog (1978 to present). United States Copyright Office. Retrieved June 21, 2010. 
  4. ^ Flunking Sainthood, p. 158
  5. ^ She has an older brother, John (ref. Flunking Sainthood, pp. 58, 168)
  6. ^ Her father died at age 71 in Mobile, Alabama, in October 2010 (Flunking Sainthood, pp. 166–169)
  7. ^ Annotated Book of Mormon, p. xix
  8. ^ Flunking Sainthood, pp. 166–169
  9. ^ a b Riess, Jana (September 2006). "How to Give a Sacrament Meeting Talk: An Open Letter to Converts" (PDF). Sunstone Magazine (142): 55–57. Retrieved June 21, 2010. .
  10. ^ "My dad was an angry atheist . . My mom was considerably more charitable but no more interested in organized religion . ." (Flunking Sainthood, p. 1)
  11. ^ Deseret News, 9 December 2001
  12. ^ "Tweeting the Bible", Patheos

External links[edit]