The Revd Dr Philip Jenson

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The Revd Dr Philip Jenson

Ridley Associate

Philip taught Old Testament at Ridley for 15 years before retiring in 2021, and continues his relationship with the college today as a Ridley Associate. He is secretary of the Grove Biblical Series and has written several booklets that are designed to help people grapple with difficult texts.

“What I most value about Ridley is the way in which studying, worshipping and living together helps us grow into the fullness of Christ, especially as we learn more about our strengths and weaknesses, our dreams and our fears.” Philip Jenson
Personal background

Personal background

Philip came to faith around the time he went to University. He eventually realized that studying Chemistry was not his key passion, so after a brief stint as a computer programmer, he came to Ridley as an ordinand. He has always found himself asking the hard questions, so finding the Tripos didn’t answer them all, he took a year out in New York to study that part of the Bible that raises the hardest questions, the Old Testament. This led not only to meeting his future wife, but also a decision that the notoriously challenging priestly writings in Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers deserved a little further study in the form of a doctorate. Finally finishing Ridley seven years after he began (a record?) he became a curate. He was then appointed to teach Old Testament at Trinity College, Bristol. Sixteen years later he returned to Ridley as Old Testament lecturer.

Philip is married to Ruth. They have three musical daughters. He enjoys playing tennis and occasionally finds an opportunity to play his bassoon.



  • PhD in Old Testament, University of Cambridge 1988 (Downing College)
  • STM Union Theological Seminary of New York, 1983
  • BA (Hons) in Theology: University of Cambridge 1982 (Downing College; MA, 1986)
  • BA (Hons) Chemistry: University of Oxford 1978 (Exeter College; MA, 1982)



  • Graded Holiness: A Key to the Priestly Conception of the World (JSOTSup, 106; Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1992).
  • Reading Jonah (Grove Biblical Series 14; Cambridge: Grove Books, 1999).
  • The Problem of War in the Old Testament (Grove Biblical Series; Cambridge: Grove Books, 2002).
  • Obadiah, Jonah, Micah: A Theological Commentary (LHBOTS 496; New York/London: Continuum, 2008).
  • How to Interpret Old Testament Law (Grove Biblical Series 58; Cambridge: Grove Books, 2011).
  • How to Read Leviticus (Grove Biblical Series 67; Cambridge: Grove Books, 2013).


  • ‘Poetry in the Bible’, in G.J. Wenham (ed.), New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition (4th edn.; Leicester: IVP, 1994), 453-58.
  • ‘The Levitical Sacrificial System’, in M.J. Selman (ed.), Sacrifice in the Bible (Carlisle/Grand Rapids: Paternoster/Baker Book House, 1995), 25-40.
  • ‘Ordination, I. Altes Testament’, TRE, 25/3-4 (1995), 334-37.
  • ‘Models of Prophetic Prediction and Matthew’s Quotation of Micah 5:2’, in G. J.Wenham (ed.), The Lord’s Anointed: Interpretation of Old Testament Messianic Texts (Carlisle/Grand Rapids: Paternoster/Baker Books, 1995), 189-211.
  • ‘A Way of Life: The Ten Commandments’, in D. Alexander (ed.), The Lion Handbook to the Bible (3rd edn.; Oxford: Lion, 1999), 170-72.
  • ‘Priesthood in the Old Testament’, in D. Alexander (ed.), The Lion Handbook to the Bible (3rd edn.; Oxford: Lion, 1999), 185-86.
  • ‘Review Article of Walter Brueggemann’s Theology of the Old Testament’, Anvil, 17 (2000), 45-52.
  • ‘Worship in the Old Testament’, in P.F. Bradshaw (ed.), The New SCM Dictionary of Liturgy and Worship (London: SCM Press, 2002), 340-41.
  • ‘Holiness in the Priestly Writings of the Old Testament’, in S.C. Barton (ed.), Holiness: Past and Present (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 2003), 93-121.
  • ‘Sin’, in B.T. Arnold and H.G.M. Williamson (eds.), Dictionary of the Old Testament: Historical Books (Leicester: IVP, 2005), 899-905.
  • ‘Interpreting Jonah’s God: Canon and Criticism’, in R.P. Gordon (ed.), The God of Israel (University of Cambridge Oriental Publications 64; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 229-45.
  • ‘Snakes and Ladders: Weighing and Ordering Biblical Law’ in Ethical and Unethical in the Old Testament: God and Humans in Dialogue, ed. Katharine Dell (LHBOTS 528; New York/London: T & T Clark, 2010): 187-207.
  • ‘“Kingdom of Priests”: What Is Priestly in Exodus 19:6?’ in On Stone and Scroll: Essays in Honour of Graham Ivor Davies, ed. J. K. Aitken et al. (BZAW 420; Berlin; Boston: De Gruyter, 2011): 239-52.
  • ‘Temple’ in Dictionary of the Old Testament: Prophets, ed. Mark J. Boda and J. G. McConville (Downers Grove, Ill.: IVP Academic, 2012): 767-75.
Research interests

Research interests

For his PhD Philip tackled the priestly writings in Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers, and remains fascinated by the different way in which these complex texts are interpreted and can inform worship today. He is also interested in how to think theologically about the whole Bible through Old Testament and Biblical Theology, hermeneutics, and metaphor.

He is a member of:

  • The Tyndale Fellowship
  • The Society for Old Testament Study