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Faculty Profiles

John Walton, Ph.D.

Professor of Old Testament

On Faculty since 2001
630.752.5276
BGC 544


I was raised in a Christian home and from my earliest memories had an interest in Old Testament. Nevertheless, I was not aware of any vocational path connected to Old Testament and therefore in college pursued a business degree. It was in my junior year 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. As I have taught high school Bible studies, adult education 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.

I came to Wheaton after twenty years of teaching at Moody Bible Institute. I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity I had 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; 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 children are all grown and married, and are an “academically intense” group.

Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion
Ph.D., Hebrew and Cognate Studies, 1981

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

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

  • The Old Testament and the Ancient Near East
  • Old Testament Theology
  • Genesis
  • Job
  • Science and Faith
  • Society of Biblical Literature
  • Evangelical Theological Society
  • Institute for Biblical Research

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 working on a commentary on Daniel for the New International Commentary on the Old Testament (Eerdmans).

  • 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 Origins
  • Who's  Who in Biblical Studies and Archaeology

  • Moody Alumni Faculty Citation Award (1996)

  • Wheaton College Senior Scholarship Achievement Award (2005)

  • Hebrew Union College Founders Medallion for Distinguished Alumnus

  • Hebrew Union College Alumnus-in-Residence (2007-8)

  • ECPA Book Award for Bible Reference, Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary (2011)

  • Readers’ Choice Honorable Mention, IVP, Lost World of Scripture (2014)

  • Christianity Today Award of Merit, Biblical Studies, Lost World of Adam and Eve (2016)

  • ECPA Book of the Year in Bibles category, NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible (2017)

  • International Book of the Year in “Religion-Christianity” category, NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible (2017)

  1. The New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis (Zondervan)
  2. The NIV Application Commentary (Zondervan)
  3. Teach the Text Commentary Series (Baker) General Editor, Old Testament; 19 volumes
  4. Advisory Board, BioLogos Foundation
  5. BioLogos Speakers Bureau Panel (2015-)
  • The New Living Translation, Isaiah Revision Team (Tyndale House)
  • The New Century Version, 1 & 2 Samuel (Word)
  • The Message, 1 & 2 Samuel (NavPress)