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Durham University

Department of Theology and Religion


Professor Walter Moberly

Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 43953
Room number: Abbey House 102

Contact Professor Walter Moberly (email at


The overall concern in my scholarly work is the responsible understanding and use of the Bible in the life, thought, and spirituality of Christian faith today. Although I wish to read and respect the biblical texts as ancient texts I wish also to articulate the dynamics of their enduring significance as Scripture. Thus, although my primary scholarly specialism is the Old Testament, I seek to overcome conventional scholarly divisions between Old Testament, New Testament, historical theology, systematic theology, ethics and spirituality, and to articulate a frame of reference for understanding the Bible that includes, but is much broader than, that of ancient history.

Two of my books, The Bible, Theology, and Faith: A Study of Abraham and Jesus (2000) and Prophecy and Discernment (2006), have both been published in the Cambridge Studies in Christian Doctrine series - as a way of symbolizing the concern to contextualize the specifics of biblical exegesis within a broader theological frame of reference. Each book offers detailed interpretation of selected texts of Old and New Testaments in relation to their enduring significance today. The first book offers an in-principle account of the why and how of situating biblical interpretation within Christian theology. The second book looks at an enduring critical problem: When people claim to speak for God, are there criteria for knowing when to credit, or not credit, the claim? Together they seek to show in both theory and practice how the Bible might appropriately be used to form contemporary thought and life. Since then, I have been working specifically on the interpretation of the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible. The Theology of the Book of Genesis (2009), explores how best to relate the biblical text to enduring existential issues. My Old Testament Theology: Reading the Hebrew Bible as Christian Scripture (2013) seeks to model my approach with selected passages from across the biblical canon. My most recent book, The Bible in a Disenchanted Age: The Enduring Possibility of Christian Faith (2018) sets out a way of understanding biblical authority and interpretation as a whole.

I have been involved in two projects at the Center of Theological Inquiry in Princeton, NJ, each of which has sought to articulate a renewed and robust understanding and use of the Bible for contemporary Christian life and thought. The initial Scripture Project led to the publication of Ellen Davis & Richard Hays (eds.), The Art of Reading Scripture (2003), while the fruits of the successor Identity of Jesus Project have been published as Beverly Gaventa & Richard Hays (eds.), Seeking the Identity of Jesus: A Pilgrimage (2008).

My main current project, other than numerous essays, is to prepare to deliver the Hulsean Lectures in Cambridge in 2019-20.

I have a steady stream of research students, all interested in the general area of theological interpretation of the Bible as Scripture. Current students are studying topics such as: Rejection as a corollary of electionthe Genesis flood narrative, the Balaam narrative, the hiddenness of God (Isa. 45:15), Ezra and Nehemiah as Christian Scripture, the Book of Judges as Christian Scripture.

The revised and published dissertations of former doctoral students include:
Peter Harland, The Value of Human Life: A Study of the Story of the Flood (Genesis 6-9) (VTS 64; Brill: 1996); Jo Bailey Wells, God's Holy People: A Theme in Biblical Theology (JSOTSS 305; Sheffield Academic Press: 2000); Kevin Walton, Thou Traveller Unknown: The Presence and Absence of God in the Jacob Narrative (PBTM; Paternoster: 2003); Keith Grüneberg, Abraham, Blessing and the Nations: A Philological and Exegetical Study of Genesis 12:3 in its Narrative Context (BZAW 332; de Gruyter: 2003); Nathan MacDonald, Deuteronomy and the Meaning of 'Monotheism' (FAT 2nd series, no.1, Mohr Siebeck: 2003) (this monograph was given a Templeton Award for Theological Promise in Jan. 2007); Michael Widmer, Moses, God, and the Dynamics of Intercessory Prayer (FAT 2nd series, no.8, Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2004); David Bostock, A Portrayal of Trust (PBM; Paternoster: 2006); William Ford, God, Pharaoh and Moses: Explaining the Lord's Actions in the Exodus Plagues Narrative (PBM; Paternoster: 2006); Joel Lohr, Chosen and Unchosen: Conceptions of Election in the Pentateuch and Jewish-Christian Interpretation (Siphrut; Eisenbrauns: 2009) (this monograph has received the 2011 R.B.Y.Scott Award from the Canadian Society of Biblical Studies); Rob Barrett, Disloyalty and Destruction: Religion and Politics in Deuteronomy and the Modern World (LHBOTS 511; T & T Clark, 2009); Douglas Earl, Reading Joshua as Christian Scripture (JTIS 2; Eisenbrauns, 2010); Havilah Dharamraj, A Prophet Like Moses? A Narrative-Theological Reading of the Elijah Stories (PBM; Paternoster, 2011); Julie Woods, Jeremiah 48 as Christian Scripture (PTMS; Wipf & Stock, 2011); Brad Anderson, Brotherhood and Inheritance: A Canonical Reading of the Esau and Edom Traditions (LHBOTS 556; T & T Clark, 2011); Kathleen Rochester, Prophetic Ministry in Jeremiah and Ezekiel (CBET 65; Peeters, 2012); Csilla Saysell, "According to the Law": Reading Ezra 9-10 as Christian Scripture (JTIS 4; Eisenbrauns, 2012); Zoltan Schwab, Toward an Interpretation of the Book of Proverbs: Selfishness and Secularity Reconsidered (JTIS 7; Eisenbrauns, 2013); Charlie Shepherd, Theological Interpretation and Isaiah 53 (LHBOTS; T & T Clark, 2014); Vincent Ooi, Scripture and Its Readers: Readings of Israel's Story in Nehemiah 9, Ezekiel 20, and Acts 7 (JTIS 10; Eisenbrauns, 2015); Andrea Saner, "Too Much to Grasp": Exodus 3:13-15 and the Reality of God (JTIS 11; Eisenbrauns, 2015); Angela Harvey, Spiritual Reading: A Study of the Christian Practice of Reading Scripture (Wipf & Stock, 2015); Benjamin Johnson, Reading David and Goliath in Greek and Hebrew (FAT, 2nd series; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2015); Karlo Bordjadze, Darkness Visible: A Study of Isaiah 14:3-23 as Christian Scripture (PTMS; Pickwick: 2017); Josef Sykora, The Unfavored: Judah and Saul in the Narratives of Genesis and 1 Samuel (Siphrut 25; Eisenbrauns: 2018); Kumiko Takeuchi, Death and Divine Judgment in Ecclesiastes (BBRS; Eisenbrauns: 2019).

I teach two modules in which my research interests are at the forefront: level three "Biblical Theology", which seeks to exemplify theological interpretation in relation to selected texts and topics - wisdom & theology, the nature of God and of religious language, moral and spiritual discernment; and level four (MA) "The Bible and Hermeneutics", which seeks to map modern and postmodern approaches to biblical interpretation and to explore what contemporary interpretation that takes seriously the Bible as an authoritative religious text might involve. I also teach a level two module "Hebrew Prose Texts", which is for students in their second year of Hebrew study to consolidate and develop their knowledge of Hebrew via close reading of Genesis 1-9 and Deuteronomy 5-10; and I co-teach an "Introduction to Biblical Studies" at level one, in which I try to make the Old Testament and its interpretative debates accessible and engaging.

I have been at Durham for thirty four years. I first arrived in autumn 1985, after four years in Anglican parish ministry. Durham and its environs are both beautiful and full of interest. The hills and dales of the Pennines are close at hand, and Hadrian's Wall is an hour away. Top-class cricket is seven miles up the road at Chester-le-Street, while Premiership and League One football is only twenty minutes away (at St James' Park and the Stadium of Light). Overall, the Dept. of Theology and Religion is a congenial and supportive place to work, within a wonderful environment. I recommend it!

Research Interests

  • Biblical hermeneutics
  • Biblical Theology
  • Spirituality


Authored book

Chapter in book

  • Moberly, R.W.L. (Published). The Old Testament in Christianity. In The Cambridge Companion to the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament. Chapman, Stephen B. & Sweeney, Marvin A. Cambridge UP. 388-406.
  • Moberly, R.W.L. (2018). The Ecclesiology of Israel's Scriptures. In The Oxford Handbook of Ecclesiology. Avis, Paul Oxford Oxford University Press. 33-54.
  • Moberly, R.W.L. (2017). Canon and Religious Truth: An Appraisal of A New New Testament. In When Texts Are Canonized. Lim, Timothy H. & Akiyama, Kengo Providence, Rhode Island: Brown Judaic Studies. 359: 108-136.
  • Moberly, R.W.L. (2016). The Old Testament in Christianity. In The Cambridge Companion to the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament. Chapman, Stephen & Sweeney, Marvin Cambridge Cambridge University Press. 388-406.
  • Moberly, R.W.L. (2016). Theological Approaches to the Old Testament. In The Hebrew Bible: A Critical Companion. Barton, John Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton UP. 480-506.
  • Moberly, R.W.L. (2015). Learning to be a Theologian. In I (Still) Believe. Byron, John & Lohr, Joel N. Zondervan. 201-210.
  • Moberly, R.W.L. (2015). Sacramentality and the Old Testament. In The Oxford Handbook of Sacramental Theology. Boersma, Hans & Levering, Matthew Oxford UP. 7-21.
  • Moberly, R.W.L. (2015). What Will Happen to the Serpent? Unending Struggle, Hermeneutics, and the Interpretation of Genesis 3.15. In The Temple in Text and Tradition: A Festschrift in Honour of Robert Hayward. McLay, R.Timothy Bloomsbury. 83: 13-34.
  • Moberly, R.W.L. (2013). 'Where Shall Wisdom Be Found?' (Job 1-2,28). In The Bible and Spirituality: Exploratory Essays in Reading the Bible Spiritually. Lincoln, Andrew T., McConville, J. Gordon & Pietersen, Lloyd K. Eugene, OR: Cascade. 20-37.
  • Moberly, R.W.L. (2013). Biblical Hermeneutics and Ecclesial Responsibility. In The Future of Biblical Interpretation: Responsible Plurality in Biblical Hermeneutics. Porter, Stanley E. & Malcolm, Matthew R. Downers Grove, IL: Paternoster. 133-156.
  • Moberly, R.W.L. (2013). Election and the Transformation of Herem. In The Call of Abraham: Essays on the Election of Israel in Honor of Jon D. Levenson. Anderson, Gary A. & Kaminsky, Joel S. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press. 67-98.
  • Moberly, R.W.L. (2012). Abraham and Aeneas: Genesis as Israel's Foundation Story. In Genesis and Christian Theology. MacDonald, Nathan, Elliott, Mark W. & Macaskill, Grant Eerdmans. 287-305.
  • Moberly, R.W.L. (2012). Pneumatic Biblical Hermeneutics: A Response. In Spirit & Scripture: Examining a Pneumatic Hermeneutic. Spawn, Kevin L. & Wright, Archie T. T. & T. Clark International. 160-165.
  • Moberly, R.W.L. (2011). By Stone and Sling: 1 Samuel 17:50 and the Problem of Misreading David's Victory over Goliath. In On Stone and Scroll: Essays in Honour of Graham Ivor Davies. Aitken, James, K., Dell, Katharine J. & Mastin, Brian A. de Gruyter. 329-342.
  • Moberly, R.W.L. (2011). Miracles in the Hebrew Bible. In The Cambridge Companion to Miracles. Twelftree, Graham H. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 57-74.
  • Moberly, R.W.L. (2011). Prophecy. In Cambridge Dictionary of Christian Theology. McFarland, Ian,, Fergusson, David,, Kilby, Karen, & Torrance, Iain Cambridge UP. 413-414.
  • Moberly, R.W.L. (2011). What is Theological Commentary? An Old Testament Perspective. In Theological Commentary: Evangelical Perspectives. Allen, R. Michael T. & T. Clark International. 172-186.
  • Moberly, R.W.L. (2010). Abraham (in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam). In Cambridge Dictionary of Christianity. Patte, Daniel Cambridge UP. 2-3.
  • Moberly, R.W.L. (2010). Is Election Bad for You?. In The Centre and the Periphery: A European Tribute to Walter Brueggemann. Middlemas, Jill, Clines, David J.A. & Holt, Else K. Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press. 95-111.
  • Moberly, R.W.L. (2010). Preaching Christ from the Old Testament. In 'He Began with Moses.': Preaching the Old Testament Today. Kent, Grenville J.R., Kissling, Paul J. & Turner, Laurence A. Nottingham: Inter-Varsity Press. 233-250.
  • Moberly, R.W.L. (2010). The State of the Art in Biblical Hermeneutics. In Communion Already Shared and Further Steps: 20 Years after the Meissen Declaration. Hill, Christopher,, Kaiser, Matthias,, Nathaniel, Leslie, & Schwoebel, Christoph. Frankfurt: Otto Lembeck. 247-264.
  • Moberly, R.W.L. (2009). Exemplars of Faith in Hebrews 11: Abel. In The Epistle to the Hebrews and Christian Theology. Bauckham, Richard, Driver, Daniel R., Hart, Trevor A. & MacDonald, Nathan Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. 353-363.
  • Moberly, R.W.L. (2009). How Should One Read the Early Chapters of Genesis? In Reading Genesis After Darwin. Barton, Stephen C. & Wilkinson, David New York: Oxford University Press. 5-21`.
  • Moberly, R.W.L. (2009). Pentateuch. In The New Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible: Me-R: Volume 4. Sakenfeld, Katharine Doob. Nashville: Abingdon Press. 430-438.
  • Moberly, R.W.L. (2009). The Use of the Old Testament in Pope Benedict XVI's Jesus of Nazareth. In The Pope and Jesus of Nazareth. Pabst, Adrian. & Paddison, Angus. London: SCM. 97-108.
  • Moberly, R.W.L. (2008). Isaiah and Jesus: How Might the Old Testament Inform Contemporary Christology? In Seeking the Identity of Jesus: A Pilgrimage. Hays, Richard & Gaventa, Beverly Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. 232-248.
  • Moberly, R.W.L. (2008). Johannine Christology and Jewish-Christian Dialogue. In Scripture's Doctrine and Theology's Bible: How the New Testament Shapes Christian Dogmatics. Bockmuehl, Markus & Torrance, Alan J. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic. 45-58.
  • Moberly, R.W.L. (2008). On Interpreting the Mind of God: The Theological Significance of the Flood Narrative (Genesis 6-9). In The Word Leaps the Gap: Essays on Scripture and Theology in Honor of Richard B. Hays. Wagner, J.Ross, Rowe, C.Kavin & Grieb, A.Katherine Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. 44-66.
  • Moberly, R.W.L. (2007). “Is Monotheism Bad for You? Some Reflections on God, the Bible, and Life in the light of Regina Schwartz’s The Curse of Cain”. In The God of Israel. Gordon, R. P. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 94-112.
  • Moberly, R.W.L. (2007). Is Monotheism Bad for You? Some Reflections on God, the Bible, and Life in the Light of Regina Schwartz's The Curse of Cain. In The God of Israel. Gordon, R.P. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. 94-112.
  • Moberly, R.W.L. (2007). On Learning Spiritual Disciplines: A Reading of Exodus 16. In Reading the Law: Studies in Honour of Gordon J. Wenham. McConville, J.G. & Moeller, K. New York & London: T. & T. Clark International. 213-227.
  • Moberly, R.W.L. (2007). Who is Jesus Christ for Us Today? Peter's Confession (Matthew 16:13-28) Reconsidered. In Christology and Scripture: Interdisciplinary Perspectives. Lincoln, Andrew T. & Paddison, Angus London: T. & T. Clark International. 7-21.
  • Moberly, R.W.L. (2004). “The Canon of the Old Testament: Some Historical and Hermeneutical Reflections from a Western Perspective”. In Das Alte Testament als christliche Bibel in orthodoxer and westlicher Sicht. IZ Dimitrov, JDG Dunn, U Luz & KW Niebuhr WUNT 174; Mohr Siebeck. 239-257.
  • Moberly, R.W.L. (2004). How appropriate is ‘monotheism’ as a category for biblical interpretation?. In Early Jewish and Christian monotheism. Stuckenbruck, Loren T. & North, Wendy E. S. London: T&T Clark. 216-234.
  • Moberly, R.W.L. (2003). “Holy, Holy, Holy: Isaiah’s Vision of God”. In Holiness Past and Present. Barton, S.C. London: T & T Clark. 122-140.
  • Moberly, R.W.L. (2003). How Can We Know the Truth? A Study of John 7:14-18. In The Art of Reading Scripture. Davis, Ellen F. & Hays, Richard B. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. 239-257.
  • Moberly, R.W.L. (2003). Jonah, God’s objectionable mercy and the way of wisdom. In Reading texts, seeking wisdom: scripture and theology. Ford, David F. & Stanton, Graham. London: SCM Press. 154-168.
  • Moberly, R.W.L. (2003). Living Dangerously: Genesis 22 and the Quest for Good Biblical Interpretation. In The Art of Reading Scripture. Davis, Ellen F. & Hays, Richard B. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. 181-197.
  • Moberly, R.W.L. (2001). The Christ of the Old and New Testaments. In The Cambridge Companion to Jesus. Bockmuehl, Markus Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 184-199.
  • Moberly, R.W.L. (1999). 'On Learning to be a True Prophet: The Story of Balaam and his Ass'. In New Heaven and New Earth: Prophecy and the Millennium: Essays in Honour of Anthony Gelston. Harland, Peter J. & Hayward, Robert Leiden: Brill. 1-17.
  • Moberly, R.W.L. (1999). 'Solomon and Job: Divine Wisdom in Human Life'. In Where Shall Wisdom Be Found?. Barton, S.C. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark. 3-17.
  • Moberly, R.W.L. (1999). 'Theology of the Old Testament'. In The Face of Old Testament Studies: A Survey of Contemporary Approaches. Baker, David W. & Arnold, Bill T. Grand Rapids: Baker Books. 452-478.
  • Moberly, R.W.L. (1999). 'Toward an Interpretation of the Shema'. In Theological Exegesis: Essays in Honor of Brevard S. Childs. Seitz, Christopher & Greene-McCreight, Kathryn Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. 124-144.
  • Moberly, R.W.L. (1998). ''God is not a Human that He Should Repent' (Numbers 23:19 & 1 Samuel 15:29)'. In God in the Fray: A Tribute to Walter Brueggemann. Linafelt, Tod & Beal, Timothy K. Minneapolis: Fortress. 112-123.

Journal Article