John Kloppenborg

John Kloppenborg

Department for the Study of Religion

Faculty of Arts & Science


Professor John Kloppenborg graduated with a major in history from the University of Lethbridge in 1969, followed by an MA in 1977, and then a PhD in 1984, both from the University of St. Michael’s College. After appointments as an Assistant and Associate Professor at the University of Windsor, he became an Associate Professor, then Full Professor, at the University of St. Michael’s College before joining the Department for the Study of Religion at the University of Toronto in 2002, where he has served as the department chair since 2007.

Professor Kloppenborg is considered by many national and international scholars of religion to be the leading Canadian academic of Christian origins and among the most influential of those working in this area. His innovative scholarship has helped develop a novel approach to the study of Christian origins, situating early Christian discourse and social practice within two ancient Mediterranean contexts: second temple Judaism and Greco-Roman thought and practices. Professor Kloppenborg’s research focuses on the little-explored epigraphical and papyrological materials that illuminate practices in non-elite sectors of ancient Mediterranean society.

Professor Kloppenborg has contributed to Christian Origins and New Testament scholarship in four main areas. First, the development and formation of early gospel traditions in the first century CE, through a comprehensive treatment of the Saying Source and the place that scholarship on Q occupied in the history of 19th- and 20th-century theological scholarship. Professor Kloppenborg is one of three editors of the Critical Edition of Q, which is now the standard reconstruction of the lost Q document.

The second area of Professor Kloppenborg’s work focuses on the exploration of early second-century Christian documents and their intersection with an emerging Christianity in the context of Greek philosophy and Roman social practices.

The third area is examining the role of Graeco-Egyptian papyri in the interpretation of early Christian documents. This is a key aspect of Kloppenborg’s work on understanding the social, economic, and cultural worlds presupposed by early Christian discourse, in particular in the parables of Jesus.

The fourth area of Professor Kloppenborg’s contributions are focused on defining associative practices in ancient Mediterranean society.

He is currently editing a five-volume collection of epigraphical and papyrological documents from the Greek and Roman associations, as well as an English sourcebook designed for teaching purposes, and a series of essays and articles. His latest monograph, tentatively entitled Early Christians in the Ancient City, focuses on early Christian associative practices.

Professor Kloppenborg has supervised 28 doctoral students, 15 master’s students, and 3 MDiv students, and he has served as associate editor for a number of major journals in his field. He has also been an invited visiting scholar at institutions in Canada, the USA, the UK, and Israel. At the University of Toronto, he is a 13-time winner of the Dean’s Special Merit Award and in 2014, he was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.