At the crossroads of theological formation, service, and scholarship

Paul Anderson

Paul Anderson
Professor of Biblical and Quaker Studies
Office: Hoover 241
Phone: 503-554-2651

PhD, Glasgow University
MDiv, Earlham School of Religion
BA, Trinity Lutheran Seminary
BA, Malone College

Teaching and Research Interests: Gospel of John; Jesus and Spirituality; Quaker Studies

I've been teaching in the Department of Christian Studies since January 1989 (other than a year of teaching at Yale Divinity School in 1998-1999) and absolutely love it! We have one of the finest religion departments in the Northwest — perhaps in the nation — and I count it a great privilege to serve here. My teaching specialties include New Testament studies, Quaker studies, and an assortment of other issues ranging from discernment-oriented leadership, to peace work, to dialogues between science and religion. I try to publish on those topics as well.

My calling is to serve and also to seek the truth, believing that the truth is always liberating (John 8:32). My double major in psychology and Christian studies at Malone College prepared me well for taking human experience seriously within biblical studies as well as ministry and leadership studies. D. Elton Trueblood was my mentor in seminary, and due to his influence my callings were expanded to include teaching, writing and preparing others for leadership. Also in seminary, I became fascinated with the Gospel of John, and in addressing the tensions in John’s Christology in my doctoral work, I found myself applying cognitive-critical analysis to the history and development of Gospel traditions. That provided an interdisciplinary approach to some of the Johannine riddles that have perplexed scholars for several centuries now.

I grew up in Latin America, where my father was in cultural affairs, and I’ve always believed that there is more than one way to approach an issue. This relates to leadership and conflict management, and it also relates to theology and biblical studies. In leadership studies, I’ve received two Lilly grants helping leaders from a variety of Christian traditions use discernment-oriented approaches to leadership—facilitating consensus instead of forcing decisions by hierarchical or parliamentary means.

In biblical studies, I was a founding member of the John, Jesus, and History Project at the national SBL meetings and have served as co-chair since 2005. We published our first two John, Jesus, and History volumes in 2007 (Vol. 1, Critical Appraisals of Critical Views) and 2009 (Vol. 2, Aspects of Historicity in the Fourth Gospel), and our third volume 2011 (Vol. 3, Glimpses of Jesus through the Johannine Lens). Interest has been strong.

My own book on the subject (The Fourth Gospel and the Quest for Jesus) argues for a more nuanced view, arguing also a new paradigm for understanding John’s composition, relations to other traditions, and likely contributions to the quest for Jesus. I call my approach to John “the dialogical autonomy of the Fourth Gospel,” and I refer to my new paradigm for seeing John as an independent tradition alongside the others as “a Bi-Optic Hypothesis.” There’s been some good engagement and interest internationally; it will be interesting to see where things go.

In his generous foreword to The Christology of the Fourth Gospel, Moody Smith commented that in my addressing the Johannine riddles I might have my career cut out for me; he was right! I suppose I’ll spend a good deal more time working on central issues pertaining to the Christ of faith, the Jesus of history, and the Gospel of John. Indeed, John’s Christology was the greatest contributor to theological controversies for the first five centuries of the Christian movement; the question of John’s relevance to historical Jesus studies has been one of the most controversial of religious and historical issues in the modern era. There’s always more work to be done!

Input is always welcome; if I can be of service, do let me know.

Engagements in the Media

Public Statements of Concern
A Declaration of Amnesty and Peace— An Open Letter to President Obama and the U.S. Congress

A review of the National Geographic Channel's "Jesus the Man" for The Bible and Interpretation (December 2010):

"From Mainz to Marburg--A Diachronic Exchange with the Master of Diachronicity and A Bi-Optic Hypothesis" in The Bible and Interpretation (August 2010)

"Acts 4:19-20--An Overlooked First-Century Clue to Johannine Authorship and Luke's Dependence upon the Johannine Tradition"  The Bible and Interpretation (August 2010)

"A Fourth Quest for Jesus...So What, and How So?" in The Bible and Interpretation (July 2010)

Bill Tammeus' Matters of Faith webblog provides an update on Biblical Scholarship, focusing on Anderson's work on the Gospel of John (October 2010)

"The Fight for the Fourth Gospel" in The George Fox Journal (March 2010)

"A new way to find Jesus" (a paradigm shift in Jesus studies from ignoring John to including John?) published on the Faith Matters weblog (2/10/2010)

"The John, Jesus, and History Project-New Glimpses of Jesus and a Bi-Optic Hypothesis" published on the Bible and Interpretation website (2/17/2010)

A longer English version of an essay on the JJH Project and my own theory of Johannine composition published in German in the Zeitschrift fuer Neues Testament (April 2009)

RBL reviews of John, Jesus, and History; Vol. 1, Critical Appraisals of Critical Views

Critical acclaim for John, Jesus, and History; Vol. 2, Aspects of Historicity in the Fourth Gospel

Critical acclaim for The Fourth Gospel and the Quest for Jesus; Modern Foundations Reconsidered

Reviews of The Fourth Gospel and the Quest for Jesus in the Journal of Greco Roman Christianity and Judaism

Paul Anderson's visiting DAAD professorship at the University of Mainz (May-August, 2010).