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John L. Thompson

Senior Professor of Historical Theology and Gaylen and Susan Byker Professor Emeritus of Reformed Theology

As senior faculty at Fuller, this professor primarily mentors students and only occasionally, if ever, teaches courses.

BA, University of Washington
MDiv, Fuller Theological Seminary
PhD, Duke University

Courses Taught

CH501: Patristic Theology
CH503: Medieval and Reformation Theology
CH505: Post-Reformation and Modern Theology
CH549: Presbyterian Creeds
CH575: Women in Church History and Theology
CH808/508: Historiography
TH832/522: Seminar in Reformed Theology
CH853/553: Calvin and Calvinism Seminar

Campus Affiliations

Center for Advanced Theological Studies

Areas of Expertise

Church history through the Reformation, gender issues, historical theology, John Calvin

“There is an undeniable strangeness about much traditional exegesis. Yet that strangeness may harbor surprises for us about the past, and it may offer unlooked-for readings of Scripture that draw us out of ourselves into other Christian minds.”


Dr. Thompson, in his book Reading the Bible with the Dead. Explore more voices reflecting on Scripture here.


John Thompson has taught at Fuller since 1989, and serves as professor of Historical Theology and Gaylen and Susan Byker Professor of Reformed Theology. He has taken an active role in the life of the seminary, providing leadership in the School of Theology by chairing the Theology Division as well as the Academic Affairs Committee. He has taught at several Fuller extension sites, including Orange County, Menlo Park, Colorado Springs, Tacoma, Seattle, Phoenix, and Houston, as well as in St. Petersburg, Russia. 

Dr. Thompson’s research and writing interests address exegetical history and gender issues, as well as the question of how the history of interpretation can serve as a resource for the proclamation of the gospel. Among his many essays and reviews, he has contributed to A Companion to Paul in the Reformation and The Cambridge Companion to John Calvin, and has written popular essays for Sacred History magazine and Modern Reformation. His study of the “texts of terror” in the history of exegesis appeared as Writing the Wrongs: Women of the Old Testament among Biblical Commentators from Philo through the Reformation in 2001, and he continued this line of inquiry in a more popular vein in Reading the Bible with the Dead: What You Can Learn from the History of Exegesis That You Can’t Learn from Exegesis Alone (2007). Most recently, he completed translating and editing the initial volume of The Reformation Commentary on Scripture (InterVarsity Press), on Genesis 1–11. 

Thompson was a research fellow with the Pew Evangelical Scholars Program in 1994–1995 and has twice received a Lilly Faculty Fellowship, in 1997 and in 2003. In 1994 his essay, “Patriarchs, Polygamy, and Private Resistance,” was awarded the Harold J. Grimm prize by the Sixteenth Century Studies Conference. He was a Pew Christian Scholars Lecturer in 2003, and in 2007 his colleagues at Fuller Theological Seminary selected him to receive the C. Davis Weyerhaeuser Award for Faculty Excellence.

Thompson is a member of the American Society of Church History, the Sixteenth Century Studies Conference, and the Calvin Studies Society, and participates in the International Congress for Calvin Research. He served for six years on the governing board of the H. Henry Meeter Center for Calvin Research and is a member of the editorial boards of several series, including Texts in Reformation and Post-Reformation Thought (Baker), Studies in Early Modern Religious Reforms (Springer), and The Reformation Commentary on Scripture (InterVarsity Press). Prior to beginning his graduate studies, Thompson spent seven years on staff with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship in Washington and California. An ordained minister of the Presbyterian Church (USA), he enjoys working closely with students preparing for ordination.

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