Professor Paul Foster (BSc DipEd BEd BD MSt DPhil)

Professor in New Testament Language, Literature & Theology


My motivation for undertaking theological studies was to be able to read the Bible in its original languages.

Although achieving this goal was not something that was quickly realised, the benefits have been enormous.

Reading the New Testament in the very words that the authors penned opens up new horizons of understanding, it helps one see the original writers' concerns more clearly, and brings the world of the New Testament alive.

I enjoy working across a range on New Testament and Early Christian literature, since that permits a holistic view of the development and emergence of the early Jesus movement. In particular in relation to the New Testament. I have worked on pre-gospel sources such as Q, and the M source although I am sceptical that the latter ever existed as a coherent source. In relation to the New Testament writing a long term interest is the Gospel of Matthew, and several letters of Paul including Colossians and the Thessalonian epistles. Furthermore, the phenomenon of wider gospel literature, known as the non-canonical gospels, is also another area that has fascinated me as a window into the piety of early believers. I have written extensively on the text known as the Gospel of Peter, as well as a range of other non-canonical gospels. A final major area of interest in my academic biography is collection of writings known as the Apostolic Fathers. These writings reflect the emergence of structures that became foundational in the early church. In particular the writings of Ignatius and Polycarp depict early Christianity in the first half of the second century.

Together these interests permit an overview of Christianity in the first two centuries of its existence.



BSc DipEd BEd BD MSt DPhil

Undergraduate teaching

New Testament (particularly Synoptic Gospels)

Koine Greek

Textual Criticism

Non-canonical gospels

Postgraduate teaching

New Testament (particularly Synoptic Gospels)

Koine Greek

Textual Criticism

Non-canonical gospels

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Areas of interest for supervision

I welcome enquires for prospective PhD students from all over the world. I have supervised approximate 50 PhD students, many of whom now hold positions teaching New Testament in various schools and departments around the world.

I have supervised in the following areas:

1. The Gospels - including topics on canonical and non-canonical gospels

2. New Testament textual criticism.

3. The Letters of Paul

4. The General or Catholic Epistles

5. The writings of the Apostolic Fathers

6. The Nag Hammadi texts

I am open to supervising full-time students on campus and students for the part time distance PhD programme.

Research summary

My doctoral research focused upon Matthew's gospel and the community for whom he wrote.

I was interested in the way the source material the evangelist inherited was reshaped to address the pastoral and pedagogical needs of his fledgling community and the issues they were facing.

Related to the work on Matthew, my next area of research focused on the Gospel of Peter. This resulted in the publication of a major monograph comprising introduction, edition of the text and commentary. This is now the standard work on the Gospel of Peter. Furthermore, I have conducted published research on several other non-canonical gospel texts.

More recently, I published a major commentary on the Letter to the Colossians. See:

Currently I am working on a commentary on the Gospel of Matthew and a major work on the writings of the Apostolic Fathers.



More information about research projects by Professor Foster are available on his Edinburgh Research Explorer profile.

Current research interests

Gospels Synoptic Problem and Q Judaism in the Greco-Roman world Gospel of Peter Textual criticism Ignatius of Antioch

View all 83 publications on Research Explorer