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Richard B. Hays

Visiting Scholar

Richard B. Hays is the George Washington Ivey Professor Emeritus of New Testament at Duke University. Born in 1948, he attended Yale University, where he received his B.A. in English literature (1970), as well as the M.Div. degree from Yale Divinity School (1977).  In 1981, he completed his doctoral thesis at Emory University.  The thesis was subsequently published in the SBL Dissertation Series as The Faith of Jesus Christ: The Narrative Substructure of Galatians 3:1-4:11

Hays was appointed to the faculty of Yale Divinity School in 1981, where he served first as Assistant Professor then as Associate Professor until 1991, when he accepted a professorial appointment at Duke University.  In 2002 he was promoted to a senior chair at Duke as the George Washington Ivey Professor of New Testament, a position he held until his retirement in 2018.  From 2010-2015, he served as Dean of Duke Divinity School.

Professor Hays’s work has bridged the disciplines of biblical criticism and literary studies, exploring the innovative ways in which early Christian writers interpreted Israel’s Scripture.  He has also consistently sought to demonstrate how close reading of the New Testament can inform theological reflection.  His most important books include Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul (1989), The Moral Vision of the New Testament: Community, Cross, New Creation (1996), First Corinthians (Interpretation Commentary, 1997), The Conversion of the Imagination: Paul as Interpreter of Israel’s Scripture (2005), Reading Backwards: Figural Christology and the Fourfold Gospel Witness (2014), Echoes of Scripture in the Gospels (2016), and Reading with the Grain of Scripture (2020). 

Hays has taken a leadership role in collaborative scholarly projects and in professional societies.  He was Senior Scholar in Residence at the Center of Theological Inquiry in Princeton, where he co-convened research projects that produced two volumes of essays: The Art of Reading Scripture (co-edited with Ellen Davis, 2003) and Seeking the Identity of Jesus: A Pilgrimage (co-edited with Beverly Gaventa, 2008).  His collaborations with Prof. Stefan Alkier of Frankfurt likewise yielded two co-edited volumes: Die Bibel im Dialog der Schriften: Konzepte intertextueller Bibellektüre (2005) and Revelation and the Politics of Apocalyptic Interpretation (2012).  As Dean of the Divinity School at Duke, he played a significant role in launching Duke Initiatives in Theology and the Arts.

Professor Hays has chaired the Pauline Epistles Section of the Society of Biblical Literature, as well as the Seminar on New Testament Ethics in the Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas.   Further, he has served on editorial boards for the SNTS, Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft, the Journal of Biblical Literature, Zeitschrift für Neues Testament. and other scholarly journals.

In 2007, Professor Hays received an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from St. Mary’s Seminary and University (Baltimore, Maryland), and in 2009 he was awarded the Dr. theol. honoris causa  from the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany.  He is a Life Member of Clare Hall, University of Cambridge.