David J. Downs

Associate Dean for the Center for Advanced Theological Studies and Associate Professor of New Testament Studies

BA, Clemson University
MDiv, Fuller Theological Seminary
PhD, Princeton Theological Seminary

Courses Taught

NE506: NT Exegesis: 1 Corinthians (Greek text)

NE506: NT Exegesis: Pastoral Epistles (Greek text)

NE517: NT Exegesis: 1 Corinthians (English text)

NS500: New Testament 1: Gospels and Acts

NS501: New Testament 2: Romans–Revelation

NS522: Wealth and Poverty in the New Testament

NS531: Pauline Theology

NT500: New Testament Introduction

NT826: Advanced Greek: Apostolic Fathers (PhD Seminar)

NT866: Critical Issues in the Study of Paul (PhD Seminar)

Campus Affiliations

Areas of Expertise

Pauline epistles, Gospels, New Testament Greek exegesis, economic issues in early Christianity, Greek epigraphy, the Apostolic Fathers and Christianity in the second century, cultural hermeneutics, biblical interpretation and public health


“What seemed like a reasonably simple query could not adequately be answered without careful attention to a cluster of related issues such as cultural hermeneutics, ecclesiastical practices, Christian identity in a pluralistic setting, strategies for the promotion of public health measures, qualitative research methods, and the relationship between theology and medicine. . . . reading Scripture in a cross-cultural setting can be an immensely challenging yet deeply rewarding experience.”


Dr. Downs, in an essay exploring Tanzanian interpretations of the book of Galatians, available here.


David Downs joined the Fuller faculty in 2007 and was appointed associate dean for the Center for Advanced Theological Studies (CATS) as of September 1, 2016. Prior to coming to Fuller, he was a teaching fellow at Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, New Jersey, and a visiting assistant professor at College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Dr. Downs’s research has focused on Pauline theology, economic issues in the New Testament and early Christian literature, and the Apostolic Fathers. His dissertation, The Offering of the Gentiles: Paul’s Collection for Jerusalem in Its Chronological, Cultural, and Cultic Contexts, was published by Mohr Siebeck in 2008 and reprinted (with a foreword by Beverly Gaventa) by Eerdmans in 2016. In 2013, Downs and Matthew L. Skinner edited The Unrelenting God: Essays on God’s Action in Scripture in Honor of Beverly Roberts Gaventa (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans). Downs’s most recent book is Alms: Charity, Reward, and Atonement in Early Christianity (Waco: Baylor University Press, 2016).

Downs has also published articles in numerous peer-reviewed journals such as Catholic Biblical QuarterlyHorizons in Biblical TheologyJournal for the Study of the New TestamentJournal of Biblical LiteratureJournal of Early Christian StudiesJournal of Theological InterpretationJournal of Theological Studies, and New Testament Studies. He has contributed essays to Engaging Economics: New Testament Scenarios and Early Christian ReceptionThe Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels (2nd ed.), The Background of the New TestamentThe New Interpreter’s Bible One Volume CommentaryThe New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the BibleThe Dictionary of Scripture and Ethics, and The Apostolic Fathers and Paul.

In 2011, Downs and his wife, Jen, a doctor of infectious diseases and a clinical medical researcher, were awarded a Lilly Theological Scholars Collaborative Research Grant for a cross-disciplinary project entitled “New Creation Is Everything: Christian Identity, Male Circumcision, and HIV/AIDS in Northwest Tanzania.” Part of this research was published in the British Medical Journal Open. As a result of this collaborative research project, the Downses, along with Tanzanian colleagues Dr. Samuel Kalluyva and Rev. Dr. Agrey Mwakisole, were awarded a 2014–2015 Grand Challenges Explorations Grant by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for a project entitled “From Obstacles to Opportunities for Male Circumcision in sub-Saharan Africa.” This grant allowed the team to conduct a cluster randomized trial in northwest Tanzania that demonstrated that an intervention to educate religious leaders about male circumcision led to an absolute increase of 23 percent in the total population of men in the village who sought male circumcision in the intervention versus control villages. This research was published in The Lancet.

The Downses spend several months a year living in Mwanza, Tanzania, where David regularly volunteers as a teacher at St. Paul College (formerly P.A.G. Bible College).

Downs is a member of the Society of Biblical Literature, the Catholic Biblical Association, and the North American Patristics Society. In 2014 he was elected as a member of the Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas. Downs also serves on the editorial board of the Catholic Biblical Quarterly.

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