Professor Alison Jack (MA BD PhD)

Professor of Bible and Literature and Principal of New College


Since studying the New Testament as an undergraduate at New College with Professor John O'Neill, I have been fascinated by the ongoing influence of biblical texts and the way they have teased and puzzled their readers. Throughout my academic career I have tried to integrate my interest in English and Scottish literature with my study of the Bible, and this has led me to focus on the fiction of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. My work in various parishes alongside my academic studies has offered me much fruitful engagement with committed and interested  readers of these biblical texts, in a wide variety of circumstances. The combination of roles has been stimulating and challenging. Other areas of research in Religious and Moral Education in primary and secondary schools have offered fresh insights into contextual readings of the Bible and other sacred texts. 

My recently published monograph, The Prodigal Son in English and American Literature (OUP, 2019), explores the rich connection between this biblical figure and a wide range of literature. I have also recently co-edited a book (with Caroline Blyth) on The BIble in Crime Fiction and Drama (Bloomsbury, 2018). 

I am Director of the newly formed Scottish Network for Religion and Literature.


MA BD PhD Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Authority 

Responsibilities & affiliations

External appointments

Chair of the Editorial Board of Theology in Scotland

Trustee of the Drummond Trust

Trustee of the Hope Trust

Council Member and Past President of the Church Service Society

Undergraduate teaching

I am Academic Cohort Lead for the MDiv and BD degrees. 

I teach a level 8 course on The Bible in Literature, as well as contributing to several other courses in the biblical/literary field.

I co-teach a course on Religious Identity through Story for the Edinburgh Futures Institute, as well as a level 7 course on Training to lead worship in a local context.

Postgraduate teaching

I am the Programme Director of the MTh/MSc in Religion and Literature.

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Areas of interest for supervision

I welcome applications from prospective postgraduate students keen to work in the fields of the reception history of the Bible, the Bible in Literature and the Bible in the context of ministry or education. The parables of Jesus are a further research interest.

Current PhD students supervised

Tristan McKenzie 

Emily Baylor

Caroline Collins

Gemma King

Edmund Leung

Past PhD students supervised

Sarah Agnew

Teresa McCaskill

Jamie Wright

Lois Wilson-McFarland

Research summary

Hermeneutics, with a particular interest in reception history, feminism and literary criticism; the intertextuality of the Bible, and in particular of the Gospels and Revelation; biblical allusions in English and Scottish fiction; Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Scottish fiction; the Gospels; parables of Jesus.



Current research interests

I am currently exploring the influence of the Bible on Twentieth Century poets from Scotland, Ireland and America. Other research interests include violence in the Bible, especially against women, and its relationship to the portrayal of women in crime fiction and drama.

Affiliated research centres

View all 38 publications on Research Explorer

Conference details

- Nov 19th: SBL Annual Meeting 2017 Boston: “Lost and Found”: The Bible as Artefact and Metanarrative in Crime Fiction, with Special Reference to Peter May’s Lewis Trilogy”, in the Bible and Popular Culture section.

In the press

I am a regular contributor to BBC Radio 4's Prayer for the Day and the Daily Service.