Before he came to study at the University of Dallas, Taylor Marshall, Ph.D., had only one thing on his bucket list: to write a book. Fast forward about a decade, and he has published six books, blogged for 400,000 subscribers, launched a website and founded an academic institution.
Marshall had been an Episcopalian priest. Wanting to become Catholic, he entered the Braniff Graduate School IPS (Institute of Philosophic Studies) program to pursue a doctorate in philosophy. The IPS requires students to take classes in literature, philosophy and politics.
“I think I’ve really had a benefit as a teacher, educator, professor in being able to incorporate different disciplines,” Marshall said. “I don’t know of any other program that really does their Ph.D. program with that kind of breadth, and I’m grateful for it.”
Marshall’s dissertation, “Thomas Aquinas on Natural Law and the Two-Fold Beatitude of Humanity,” proved prophetic, as Aquinas inspired much of Marshall’s career. Marshall even taught Philosophy and the Ethical Life and Philosophy of Being at UD.
“UD students understand the importance of being close to the original texts,” Marshall said. “That’s something that I miss about UD.”
Marshall found that Aquinas intimidated students, so he wrote “Thomas Aquinas in 50 Pages,” which has been downloaded or otherwise received by over 30,000 people.
Marshall has written six books, and his most successful work is “Sword and Serpent,” a young adult retelling of the story of St. George. It reached #1 Amazon Bestseller in Young Adult Religious Historical Fiction and #1 Amazon Bestseller in Young Adult Religious Action.
“I’ve put so much blood, sweat and tears into philosophical and theological books I’ve written, but ‘Sword and Serpent,’ which is a novel, outsells all of those,” Marshall said. “What was supposed to be a hobby has now become popular.”
Marshall did not stop with the success of his written works. He founded the Troops of St. George, a Catholic outdoors fraternity for men of all ages. He has cultivated a weekly podcast and taylormarshall.com, a blog with over a quarter of a million subscribers. He recently launched a new site called The Maccabee Society.
But he considers none of these his full-time job.
“The thing I’m most passionate about is the New St. Thomas Institute,” Marshall said.
Launched in 2013, the New St. Thomas Institute (NSTI) is an online theological education program with almost 3,000 students in over 50 nations, including countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, North America and South America. NSTI has proven to be so successful that it keeps a waiting list.
“We’re trying to make Catholic theology, Catholic philosophy, Catholic apologetics, Catholic history, accessible to people who would not normally go to a college,” Marshall said. “If you live in Nigeria, you don’t have access to theological classes. If you live in China, you certainly don’t. So this is a way for them to, at a very low tuition price, take online classes.”
Marshall recently returned from a pilgrimage he took with his NSTI students to Our Lady of Guadalupe. He is also leading a summer course in Rome later this year. Marshall plans to do two NSTI pilgrimages every year.
Marshall does all this while raising his eight children with his wife, Joy.
“One of the most difficult times in my life was when I was trying to finish my dissertation here at UD and we had five children, and I was working a full time job,” said Marshall. “As a husband and as a father I know that I can’t just coast … I know that I always need to be pushing myself and expanding.”
And expand he does. Marshall never expected that after completing his doctoral studies in philosophy he would be dealing with web development, social media and online platforms.
“UD helped me discover … that you can be broad,” Marshall said. “You have a latitude of knowledge and that you can incorporate many disciplines. Catholicism has always been good at that, but I think in our modern Western society where everybody has their niche, being able to do that and to do it well is satisfying.”
Marshall’s career is evidence that the study of philosophy can spell success in the modern world. Rather than finding limited options, Marshall has continued to write, teach and innovate, proving that the study of philosophy and theology is still very much alive — and can be very successful to boot.