John K. Roth

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John K. Roth is an American-based author, editor, and, for over 30 years, professor of philosophy of religion at Claremont McKenna College. In 1988 he was named Council for Advancement and Support of Education's U.S. National Professor of the Year by The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.[1]


Roth is best known for his contributions as a writer and editor on major Holocaust themes. His work began with the 1979 publication of Consuming Fire: Encounters with Elie Wiesel and the Holocaust. In later interviews, Roth acknowledged the depth of the influence of Elie Wiesel on his life as a writer and person. Later volumes include Approaches to Auschwitz: The Holocaust and Its Legacy (with Richard Rubenstein, 1987), Holocaust: Religious and Philosophical Implications (ed. with Michael Berenbaum, 1989) and Memory Offended: The Auschwitz Convent Controversy (ed. with Carol Rittner), 1991.

Roth made national news in 1998 soon after being chosen to direct the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum based on public comments Roth has made several years earlier. Columnist George Will and others portrayed Roth as a liberal relativist who could not be trusted to understand the unique evil of the Holocaust.[2] To avoid distracting from the Museum’s work, Roth withdrew from the position.[citation needed] He incorporated some of the lessons of this experience in his later book Holocaust Politics.

As he continued work on Holocaust studies, he also became interested in global violence, founding the Center for the Study of the Holocaust, Genocide and Human Rights (2003; now the Center for Human Rights Leadership) at Claremont McKenna College.[3]

Partial bibliography[edit]

  • Freedom and the Moral Life: The Ethics of William James, 1969.
  • Problems of the Philosophy of Religion, 1971.
  • The American Religious Experience: The Roots, Trends and the Future of American Theology (with Frederick Sontag), 1972.
  • American Dreams: Meditations on Life in the United States, 1976.
  • God and America's Future (with Frederick Sontag), 1977.
  • A Consuming Fire: Encounters with Elie Wiesel and the Holocaust, 1979.
  • The American Dream (with Robert H. Fossum), 1981.
  • Approaches to Auschwitz: The Holocaust and Its Legacy (with Richard L. Rubenstein), 1987.
  • The Questions of Philosophy (with Frederick Sontag), 1988.
  • Private Needs, Public Selves: Talk about Religion in America, 1997.
  • Ethics after the Holocaust: Perspectives, Critiques, and Responses, 1999.
  • Holocaust Politics, 2001.
  • American Dreams and Holocaust Questions, 2002.
  • The Failures of Ethics: Confronting the Holocaust, Genocide, and Other Mass Atrocities, 2015.


  1. ^ "Fellow Professor John Roth". United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Retrieved 2013-10-20.
  2. ^ "Scholar Resigns Holocaust Museum Post Amid Dispute". Los Angeles Times. 1998-07-06. Retrieved 2012-02-23.
  3. ^ "Inspiring Human Rights Leadership". Claremont McKenna College. Retrieved 2013-10-20.