John grew up in Southall, in West London, and read Theology at Keble, where he also took his doctorate. After a year as a Junior Research Fellow at Merton, he became University Lecturer in Theology (Old Testament) and a Fellow of St Cross in 1974. From 1991 to 2014 he was Oriel & Laing Professor of the Interpretation of Holy Scripture, and a Fellow of Oriel. He is currently working on A History of the Bible for Penguin. He is interested in biblical study in general, and particularly in the prophets, biblical ethics, the biblical canon, and issues in hermeneutics. Ordained in the Church of England in 1973, he assists in three churches in the parish of Abingdon-on-Thames, where he lives with his wife Mary; they have one daughter and two granddaughters. He is a Fellow of the British Academy, a Corresponding Fellow of the Norwegian Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the holder of the degrees of Doctor of Letters from Oxford and Honorary Doctor of Theology from Bonn.
"I have just finished editing a large Guide to the Old Testament, to be published by Princeton University Press, with around twenty-five articles by a wide range of scholars, Christian, Jewish, and agnostic, both experienced and new to the field. Along with Peter Groves, the vicar of St Mary Magdalen’s church in Oxford, I am involved in producing a Festschrift for John Muddiman, The New Testament and the Church. Both these volumes should appear in the next year or so. I then want to do more work on the origins of the biblical canon and the issue of how far canonicity does or should constrain interpretation of the canonical texts, which is both a theoretical and an empirical question."