John Walton, Ph.D.

Professor of Old Testament
On Faculty since 2001

Office: BGC 544
Phone: (630)752-5276


Ph.D. 1981 Hebrew and Cognate Studies, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Cincinnati, Ohio. Dissertation: The Tower of Babel

M.A. 1975 Biblical Studies: Old Testament; Wheaton Graduate School

A.B. 1974 Economics/Accounting, Muhlenberg College, Allentown, PA

About John Walton

It was in my college years that I encountered a book by Joseph Free, a former Wheaton professor, called Archaeology and Bible History. It was apologetic in focus but brought to my attention the tremendous impact that archaeology and cultural background studies could have on our understanding of the Old Testament. It was in the very year that I read that book that I made the decision to pursue Old Testament studies as a vocational discipline. Instead of training to be an archaeologist, I determined to focus my attention on studies comparing the culture and literature of the Bible and the ancient Near East. I have never lost my fascination with this subject. But comparative studies only provide one of the means by which I try to get people excited about the Old Testament. I am saddened by how little exposure to and understanding of the Old Testament many Christians have, but I am passionate in doing whatever I can do to remedy this spiritual and theological loss.

For twenty-five years I was active at South Park Church in Park Ridge, IL teaching at every level from adults through pre-school. As I have taught high school Bible studies, adult Sunday school classes, Introduction to doctrine for sixth graders, or Bible stories to four-year olds, I have been driven by the desire to offer people a greater familiarity with God's Word and a greater confidence in understanding God's revelation of himself in its pages. After moving to Wheaton, I got involved in the same areas of ministry at Glen Ellyn Bible Church and now am involved in the Blanchard Alliance Church.

I came to Wheaton after twenty years of teaching at Moody Bible Institute. I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity I had there to train students for ministry and am no less enthusiastic about the interaction with students here. Whether in teaching or writing, I am constantly challenged in my own life because the material that I am presenting stretches me as much as it stretches my students or readers. Whatever I am writing or teaching also has a way of infiltrating my family. My wife, Kim, was trained as a biochemist, which has made for interesting dinner conversations-especially when I was working on my Genesis commentary. My three kids often have gotten involved in the discussions, and it has been fun to respond to them and see our family grow together.

Courses Taught

  • Old Testament Lit and Interpretation
  • OT Book Studies: Genesis, Deuteronomy, Psalms, Isaiah, Daniel, Jeremiah, Ezekiel,
  • Minor Prophets
  • Pentateuch
  • OT Historical Literature I
  • OT Historical Literature II
  • OT Historical Literature III
  • Old Testament Wisdom Literature
  • Hebrew Grammar
  • Hebrew Exegesis
  • Introduction to Biblical Archaeology
  • Introduction to Old Testament Exegesis
  • History of the Ancient Near East
  • Ancient Near Eastern Backgrounds
  • Old Testament Criticism
  • Bible Introduction
  • Senior Seminar (Capstone course)
  • Theories of Origin

Membership in Professional Societies

  • Society of Biblical Literature
  • American Schools of Oriental Research
  • Evangelical Theological Society (Chairman, Midwest, 1986)
  • Institute for Biblical Research (Fellow)


Christianity Today - "Award of Merit" for Biblical Studies (2016)


Recent research has focused on comparative studies between the Old Testament and the ancient Near East. In biblical studies my particular interest is in Genesis. I am currently serving as the general editor for a five volume series, The Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary, and General Editor of a 20 vol. Baker Commentary Series, "Teach the Text."


Lost World of Adam and Eve (IVP:2015)

Lost World of Scripture (IVP: 2013) with Brent Sandy

Job, NIV Application Commentary (Zondervan: 2012)

Genesis 1 as Ancient Cosmology (Eisenbrauns: 2011)

Bible Story Handbook (Crossway: 2010) with Kim Walton

The Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary: Old Testament (General Editor, Zondervan, 2009)

The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate (IVP, 2009)

Jonah (Expositor's Bible Commentary, Zondervan: 2008)

Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament (Baker: 2006)

Essential Bible Companion (Zondervan: 2006)

Old Testament Today (Zondervan: 2004)

Genesis, NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2001)

IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament (Downers Grove: IVP, 2000). Co-authored with Victor Matthews and Mark Chavalas

The Tiny Tots Jesus Story Book, Chariot Books, David C. Cook, 1996

Covenant: God's Purpose, God's Plan (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994).

The Tiny Tots Bible Story Book, Chariot Books, David C. Cook, 1993 Translated in Spanish and French and also produced as a video series

A Survey of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1991; Third Edition, 2009). Co-authored with Andrew Hill

Ancient Israelite Literature in Its Cultural Context: A Survey of parallels between biblical and ancient Near Eastern texts (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1989).

Obadiah - Jonah: A Bible Study Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1982/1988). Co-authored with Bryan Beyer.

Chronological and Background Charts of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1978, Revised and Expanded Edition, 1994). Numerous foreign language translations

Editorial Boards

The New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis (Zondervan)

The NIV Application Commentary (Zondervan)

Translation Projects

The New Living Translation, Isaiah Revision Team (Tyndale House)

The New Century Version, 1 & 2 Samuel (Word)

The Message, 1 & 2 Samuel (NavPress)


"Genesis 5 and the Antediluvian Section of the Sumerian King List", Biblical Archaeologist 44 (1981) 207-8.

"New Observations on the Date of Isaiah" Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 28 (1985) 129-132.

"Daniel's Four Kingdoms" Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 29/1 (1986) 25-36.

"The Sons of God in Genesis 6:1-4" The Genesis Debate, ed. R. Youngblood (Nelson:1986; Baker:1991) 184-209.

"Deuteronomy: An Exposition of the Spirit of the Law" Grace Theological Journal 8 (1987) 213-225.

"Isaiah 7:14--What Is In a Name?" Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 30 (1987) 289-306.

"The Decree of Darius the Mede in Daniel 6" Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 31 (1988) 279-86.

"Vision Narrative Wordplay and Jeremiah xxiv" Vetus Testamentum 39 (1989) 508-9

"Psalms: A Cantata About the Davidic Covenant" Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 34 (1991) 21-31.

"The Place of the Hutqattel Within the D-stem Group and its Implications in Deuteronomy 24:4" Hebrew Studies 32 (1991) 7-17.

"The Object Lesson of Jonah 4:5-7 and the Purpose of the Book of Jonah" Bulletin for Biblical Research 2 (1992) 47-57.

"Bible-based Curricula and the Crisis of Scriptural Authority" Christian Education Journal 13.3 (1993) 83-94.

"Joshua 10:12-14 and Celestial Omens of the Ancient Near East" in Faith, Tradition, History: Essays on Old Testament Historiography in its Near Eastern Context, ed. A. Millard, J. Hoffmeier, D. Baker (Eisenbrauns, 1994) 181-190.

"The Mesopotamian Background of the Tower of Babel and Its Implications" Bulletin for Biblical Research 5 (1995) 155-175. Reprinted in Bible and Spade 9.3 (1996) 77-96.

"The Anzu Myth as relevant Background for Daniel 7?" The Book of Daniel: Composition and Reception, Vetus Testament Supplement, FIOTL 2, ed. John Collins and Peter Flint (Brill, 2000)

"Recovering the Vitality of the Old Testament in Preaching" (2001) 17.

"Equilibrium and the Sacred Compass: The Structure of Leviticus" Bulletin for Biblical Research 11.2 (2001) 1-12.

“Inspired Subjectivity and Hermeneutical Objectivity” The Master’s Seminary Journal 13/1 (2002) 65-77.

“The Imagery of the Substitute King Ritual in Isaiah’s Fourth Servant Song” Journal of Biblical Literature 122 (2003) 734-743.

“Creation in Genesis 1:1 - 2:3 and the Ancient Near East: Order out of Disorder after Chaoskampf,” Calvin Theological Journal 43 (2008): 48-63.

“Interpreting the Bible as an Ancient Near Eastern Document” in Israel-Ancient Kingdom or Late Invention? Archaeology, Ancient Civilizations, and the Bible, ed. D. Block (Nashville: Broadman/Holman, 2008) 298-327.

Book Reviews

The History of Israel and Judah in Old Testament Times, François Castel; in JETS 29 (1986) 505-507.

A New Chronology for the Kings of Israel and Judah, J. Hayes and P. Hooker; in JAOS 110 (1990) 767-70.

The Bible in Light of Cuneiform Literature, W. Hallo, B. Jones, and G. Mattingly (eds.); in Hebrew Studies 33 (1992) 69-71.

Character and Ideology in the Book of Esther, M. V. Fox; in Ashland Theological Journal 24 (1992) 111-13.

Deuteronomy, Eugene Merrill; in JETS 39 (1996) 469-471.

The Torah: Theology and Social History of Old Testament Law, F. Crüsemann; in JETS 42 (1999) 714-16.

Gods, Goddesses and Images of God in Ancient Israel, O. Keel and C. Uehlinger; in JETS 43 (2000) 535-37.

Reference Works (Contributed To)

Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible, ed. W. Elwell (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1988)

Revised International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, ed. G. Bromiley (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans)

The Complete Bible Study Tool Kit (Downers Grove: IVP, 1991)

The New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis, ed. W. Van Gemeren (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1997) "Principles For Productive Word Study" I:161-71 in addition to several lexical articles

Foundations for Biblical Interpretation, ed. Dockery, Mathews and Sloan (Nashville: Broadman, 1994) "Cultural Background of the Old Testament" 255-73.

Eerdmans Handbook of the Bible (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, projected 2000) "Biblical and Babylonian Flood"

IVP Dictionary of the Pentateuch, ed. D. Baker and D. Alexander (Downers Grove: IVP, projected 2002) "Creation: Biblical and Ancient Near East" "Flood: Biblical and Ancient Near East" "Sons of God"

IVP Dictionary of the Old Testament: Historical Books (IVP, 2005)

Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of Scripture (Baker, 2005)

IVP Dictionary of the Old Testament: Wisdom, Psalms and Writings (IVP, 2008)

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