John Dominic Crossan was born in Nenagh, Co. Tipperary, Ireland, in 1934. He was educated in Ireland and the United States, received a Doctorate of Divinity from Maynooth College, Ireland, in 1959, and did post-doctoral research at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome from 1959 to 1961 and at the École Biblique in Jerusalem from 1965 to 1967. He was a member of a thirteenth-century Roman Catholic religious order, the Servites (Ordo Servorum Mariae), from 1950 to 1969 and an ordained priest from 1957 to 1969. He joined DePaul University, Chicago, in 1969 and remained there until 1995. He is now a Professor Emeritus in its Department of Religious Studies.
He was Co-Chair of the Jesus Seminar from 1985 to 1996 as it met in twice-annual meetings to debate the historicity of the life of Jesus in the gospels. He was Chair of the Parables Seminar in 1972-76, Editor of Semeia. An Experimental Journal for Biblical Criticism in 1980-86, and Chair of the Historical Jesus Section in 1993-1998, within the Society of Biblical Literature, an international scholarly association for biblical study based in the United States. He was elected Vice President of that Society for 2010-2011 and President for 2011-2012.
He has received awards for scholarly excellence from the American Academy of Religion in 1989, DePaul University in 1991 and 1995, and an honorary doctorate from Stetson University, DeLand, FL, in 2003.
He has lectured to lay and scholarly audiences across the United States as well as in Ireland and England, Scandinavia and Finland, Australia and New Zealand, Brazil, Japan, and South Africa. He has been interviewed on 200 radio stations, including four times on NPR’s “Fresh Air” with Terry Gross. He has been interviewed on television networks in England--such as Weekend TV, Channel 4 and the BBC; also in the United States--such as ABC’s PrimeTime, Peter Jennings Reporting, and Nightline, CBS’ Early Show and 48 Hours, NBC’s Dateline, and Fox News’ The O’Reilly Factor, as well as on cable programs such as A&E, History, Discovery, and the National Geographic Channel.
He has written twenty-eight books on the historical Jesus, the apostle Paul, and earliest Christianity, and his work has been translated into thirteen foreign languages, including Polish, Hungarian, Russian, as well as Korean, Chinese, and Japanese.
Five of those books have been national religious bestsellers for a combined total of twenty-four months. The scholarly core of his work is the trilogy from The Historical Jesus: The Life of a Mediterranean Jewish Peasant (1991) through The Birth of Christianity: Discovering What Happened in the Years Immediately After the Execution of Jesus (1998), to In Search of Paul: How Jesus’s Apostle Opposed Rome’s Empire with God’s Kingdom, co-authored with the archaeologist Jonathan L. Reed (2004).
Along with Marcus Borg, he has co-authored a series of books: The Last Week: A Day by Day Account of Jesus's Final Week in Jerusalem (2006); The First Christmas: What the Gospels Really Teach about the Birth of Jesus (2007); and The First Paul: Reclaiming the Radical Visionary Behind the Church's Conservative Icon (2009).
His most recent publication is How to Read the Bible and Still Be a Christian: Struggling with Divine Violence from Genesis through Revelation (March, 2015).
From Byzantine Tiber to Syriac Tigris and Russian Neva to Coptic Nile, 20 research trips around Eastern Christianity between 2002 and 2015 will result in a book, not of texts illustrated with images, but of images discussed by texts: Resurrecting Easter: How the West Lost and the East Kept the Original Vision, by John Dominic Crossan & Sarah Sexton Crossan, from HarperOne of San Francisco, for Easter 2018.