Faculty Profiles

john dickinson

Rev. Dr. John Paul Dickson

Jean Kvamme Distinguished Professor of Biblical Studies and Public Christianity

On Faculty since 2022

Professor Dickson is an historian, author, and public advocate for the Christian Faith. He started his career as a singer-songwriter, before moving into writing, academia, and the media. He co-founded Australia’s Centre for Public Christianity, which he directed from 2007-2017. He has written over 20 books and produced and presented three historical television documentaries. His Undeceptions podcast remains Australia’s #1 religion podcast. John’s academic focus has been on ancient history, from the New Testament to the Byzantine Empire, focusing on the historical Jesus, which he taught at the University of Sydney between 2011-2021, and the mission and expansion of Christianity in the Roman world, which he has taught and researched in various academic settings, including Macquarie University, Ridley College, and the Faculty of Classics at the University of Oxford where he has been a Visiting Academic (2016-2023). His move to Wheaton College is motivated by the great passion of his life: to make Christ public and help other believers do the same in doubting times. Having lost his father in a plane crash at 9 years of age, John is sympathetic to the doubts and sorrows of our world, and he values his wife and three children above all other earthly gifts. 

Doctor of Philosophy
Departmentof Ancient History, Macquarie University,2001
Thesis title: Mission-Commitment in the Pauline Communities Against its Jewish and Graeco-Roman BackgroundsSupervisors: Dr Brian Rosner (Macquarie); Prof Judith Lieu (Cambridge)Examiners: Profs I. H. Marshall (Aberdeen); T. Donaldson (Toronto); J. Painter (Canberra)

Bachelor of Theology (Honours 1st Class)
Moore Theological College, Sydney, 1995

Higher School Certificate
Mosman High School, Sydney, 1985

Academic Research and Publication (Peer Reviewed)

Creeds as Educational Epitomes: a History from Epicurus to Nicaea” Forthcoming
I am currently examining the ancient use of mnemonic devices in formal education, philosophical schools, synagogues, and the early church. Part of the research is being conducted within the Classics Faculty of Oxford University where I have enjoyed Visiting Academic status since 2015 under the sponsorship of Nicholas Purcell FBA, the Camden Professor of Ancient History.

“Gentiles in Paul”, in Dictionary of Paul and His Letters, updated 2nd edition 2022 publication
(IVP Academic)
An entry on Paul’s mission to the nations against the Jewish and Graeco-Roman backgrounds.

“Witness in Paul”, in Dictionary of Paul and His Letters, updated 2nd edition 2022 publication
(IVP Academic)
An entry on Paul’s expectations of congregational involvement in mission against the Jewish and Graeco-Roman backgrounds.

“Teaching as traditioning: an historical observation”, in The Gender, Conversation,  2018  
(Moorling College Press)
A chapter about “teaching” (didaskein) in earliest Christianity

“Gentiles in the New Testament,” in Encyclopedia of the Bible and its Reception 2016
(edited by Dale C. Allison, vol.10. Berlin: De Gruyter):
An historical entry on the New Testament idea of  "gentiles/nations" for the thirty-volume EBR.

“Mission-Commitmentin Second Temple Judaism and the New Testament” 2011
(in Introduction to Messianic Judaism. Zondervan Academic)
A chapter for an international collection of papers exploring the historical roots of Messianic Judaism.

Investigating Jesus: An Historian’s Quest (Oxford: Lion Hudson) 2009
A textbook on historical sources and methods for the study of Jesus.

“Genesis of Everything: an historical account of the Bible’s opening chapter” 2008
(International Society for Christian Academics in Science and Technology Online Journal, May 2008)
A review of the history of interpretation of Genesis 1, comparing the Hebrew text with Ancient Near Eastern cosmogonies.

James: the wisdom of the brother of Jesus 2006
(Reading the New Testament Today Series. Sydney, Aquila Press)
An exegetical commentary on the epistle of James.

“Euaggel-from Aristophanes to the Apostle Paul”2005
(New Testament Studies, vol. 51, Cambridge University Press).
An historical study of the origins and usage of heralding-terminology from Classical Greece to the New Testament.

“Humility as a Social Virtue in the Hebrew Bible?” 2004
(Vetus Testamentum 54.2, Brill, Leiden).
A technical article (co-authored with Dr. Brian Rosner) tracing the history and etymology of humility (anawa) as a virtue of social relations.

Mission-Commitment in Ancient Judaism and in the Pauline Communities:2003 the shape, extent and background of early Christian mission
(Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 2. Reihe, vol.159. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck).
A large scale historical philological study of propaganda and proselytizing within Judaism, philosophical schools, and Christianity in the Roman period.

A Doubter’s Guide to World Religions: A Fair and Friendly Introduction to the  History, Beliefs, and Practices of the Big Five. 2022 scheduled
(Grand Rapids: Zondervan)

Bullies and Saints: An Honest Look at the Good and Evil in Christian History.
2021 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan)

Is Jesus History.
2019 (London: The Good Book Company) 

A Doubter’s Guide to Jesus: An Introduction to the Man from Nazareth for Skeptics and Believers.
2018 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Academic)

A Doubter’s Guide to the Ten Commandments: How, For Better Or Worse, Our Ideas About The Good Life Come From Moses And Jesus.
2017 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Academic)

A Doubter’s Guide to the Bible: An Introduction to History’s No.1 Bestseller for Skeptics and Believers.
2016 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Academic)

Hearing Her Voice: a case for women giving sermons
2013 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan)

Humilitas: Lost Key to Life, Love and Leadership
2011 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan)

The Best Kept Secret of Christian Mission
2010 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan)

The Christ Files: how historians know what they know about Jesus
2010 (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Academic).

If I Were God I‘d Make Myself Clearer
2002 (Sydney/London: Matthias Media).

If I Were God I‘d End All the Pain
2001 (Sydney/London: Matthias Media).

Simply Christianity: Beyond Religion
1999 (Sydney/London: Matthias Media).

A Hell of a Life
1996 (Sydney/London: Matthias Media).

A Sneaking Suspicion 1993
(Sydney/London: Matthias Media).

Hanging in There
1991 (Sydney/London: Matthias Media).

Scholarly, Civic, and Creative Arts Memberships and Awards

  • Priest, Anglican Diocese of Sydney (current)
  • Justice of the Peace, New South Wales Department of Justice (current)
  • Visiting Academic, Faculty of Classics, University of Oxford (2015-2022)
  • Honorary Research Associate, Sydney College of Divinity (2015-current)
  • Senior Research Fellow, Department of Ancient History, Macquarie University (2004-2017)
  • Full Member, Society of Biblical Literature (current)
  • Writer, Full Member, Australasian Performing Right Association (current)

For the Love of God
(CPX Media: fortheloveofgodproject.com) 2018
A four-part historical documentary tracing the development of charity, religious violence, and human rights in ancient Israel, classical Greece, imperial Rome, and the Medieval period. Hosted by Dr. Dickson (with Simon Smart and Justine Toh), the documentary is shot in 15 countries and conducts interviews with over 40 leading scholars from universities around the world. It aired on the Australian Broadcasting Commission (ABC), Nov 2018.

The Christ Files DVD: How Historians Know what they Know
2011 (Channel 7 Australia; Grand Rapids: Zondervan Academic)
A four-part historical documentary hosted by Dr. Dickson exploring the sources and methods for the study of Jesus. Shot in Egypt, Israel, Rome, Germany, and the UK, the documentary also interviews twelve leading historians in the quest for Jesus of Nazareth.

Life of Jesus DVD
2010 (Channel 7 Australia; Grand Rapids: Zondervan Academic)
A six-part documentary hosted by Dr. Dickson on location in Israel examining the historical roots of the founder of Christianity.

Published music recordings 1988-2003

  • Things to Come – LP, tape, Spotify
  • Bleeding Heart – EP and Spotify
  • Sound Asleep – CD and Spotify
  • Maranooka – CD and Spotify
  • Ode – CD and Spotify
  • Sydney Rocks – CD and Spotify