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 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.
In the last forty years he has written twenty-five books on the historical Jesus, earliest Christianity, and the historical Paul. Five of them 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). His work has also been translated into twelve foreign languages, including Korean, Chinese, Japanese and Russian.
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 also been interviewed on television networks 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, and on cable programs such as A&E, History, Discovery, and the National Geographic Channel.
His most recent book, The Greatest Prayer: Rediscovering the Revolutionary Message of the Lord’s Prayer, was published by HarperOne, San Francisco, on September 7, 2010. His next book is The Power of Parable: How Fiction by Jesus became Fiction about Jesus (publication by HarperOne in 2011 or 2012). He has just been elected Vice President of the Society of Biblical Literature for 2010-2011 and President for 2011-2012.