Institute for Religion & Critical Inquiry

Professor Francis Watson

Professor Francis Watson

Biblical and Early Christian Studies

Francis Watson

MA, DPhil (Oxon)

Professor Francis Watson is a Professorial Fellow and ACU Lead Chief Investigator on the “Texts, Traditions, and Early Christian Identities” project. He has held a Research Chair in Biblical Interpretation at Durham University since 2007, and was previously Kirby Laing Professor of New Testament Exegesis at the University of Aberdeen (1998-2007) and Lecturer and then Reader in New Testament at King’s College London (1984-98). He is currently Editor of New Testament Studies, the leading international peer-reviewed journal in the field, published by Cambridge University Press in conjunction with the Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas. He previously edited the Journal for the Study of the New Testament (Sheffield, 1991-96) and was a founding editor of Early Christianity (Mohr Siebeck, 2007-13). He is Principal Investigator of a collaborative research project on “The Fourfold Gospel and its Rivals” (2012-17), for which funding of £345,900 was awarded by the AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council), following a Leverhulme Trust project on “Gospels Canonical and Non-canonical” (£102,853, 2007-10).

The themes of textual reception and identity construction lie at the heart of all his major recent published work: Paul and the Hermeneutics of Faith (2004, 2nd ed. 2015, T&T Clark/Bloomsbury), Paul, Judaism and the Gentiles (revised 2nd ed. Eerdmans, 2007), Gospel Writing (Eerdmans, 2013), and The Fourfold Gospel (Baker, 2016). The first and third of these works have been the subject of well-attended panel discussions at meetings of the Society of Biblical Literature and the British New Testament Society, and a volume of responses to Gospel Writing is in preparation for publication by T&T Clark/Bloomsbury. Other significant recent work is devoted to exposing two modern forged gospel fragments: the “Secret Gospel of Mark”, on which Watson published a 19,000 word article in the Journal of Theological Studies in 2010, following the popular-level paperback on this topic by Stephen Carlson (now ACU); and the so-called “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife”, on which he wrote a paper entitled “How a fake Gospel was composed” that attracted worldwide media attention when published online within three days of the announcement of the papyrus fragment.

Watson is currently finalizing work on a volume entitled ‘Connecting Gospels: Beyond the Canonical/Non-canonical Divide’, co-edited with his AHRC PhD student Sarah Parkhouse and arising out of a Colloquium held in Durham under the auspices of the AHRC-funded “Fourfold Gospel” project in July 2016.

For a more detailed biography, with list of publications, see here.