Professor David J.A Clines

Department of Philosophy

Emeritus professor

SCIBS professor David J.A. Clines
Profile picture of SCIBS professor David J.A. Clines

Full contact details

Professor David J.A Clines
Department of Philosophy
45 Victoria Street
S3 7QB

Professor David Clines’s degrees are in Greek and Latin from the University of Sydney and in Oriental Studies (Hebrew, Aramaic and Syriac) from St John’s College, Cambridge.

He was appointed to the Department in 1964, and has spent his whole career here. He was Head of Department in 1994–2001, and has been a Publisher and Director of Sheffield Academic Press from 1976 to 2001, and of Sheffield Phoenix Press since 2004.

His specialism has always been the Hebrew Bible, and his distinctive contribution has been the introduction of new methods of biblical criticism (e.g. rhetorical criticism, reader-response criticism, deconstruction, feminist criticism, ideological criticism). At the same time, he has made significant contributions to traditional forms of study, for example his commentary on Job and his editorship of the Dictionary of Classical Hebrew.

Research interests
  •  Hebrew lexicography. He is currently engaged in a full-scale revision of The Dictionary of Classical Hebrew.
  • The detection and exposure of ideology in the Bible. His forthcoming book, Play the Man! Biblical Imperatives to Masculinity is an example of this interest.
  • David Clines posts most of his current research (including forthcoming papers) on, from where they can be downloaded.

The work of Professor Clines has centred around four themes:

  • Commentary on the biblical text. In addition to his commentary on Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther (New Century Bible, 1984), his major work has been a three-volume commentary on the book of Job (Word Biblical Commentary series, 1989–2011).
  • New methods in biblical criticism. A central thrust of his work has been the promotion of approaches to biblical interpretation that derive from general literary theory and procedures. The first approach to the biblical text, he believes, should be a literary one, rather than an historical or a theological one. In general, all approaches to the Hebrew Bible that could be labelled ‘postmodern’ have attracted his attention, and he entitled a two-volume collection of his papers On the Way to the Postmodern: Old Testament Essays, 1967–1998. A key paper in that collection was ‘The Pyramid and the Net: The Postmodern Adventure in Biblical Studies’ (Presidential Address to the Society for Old Testament Study, 1996).
  • Masculinity. A key interest, arising from his commitment to feminism, has been how masculinity is constructed in the biblical texts, and how pervasive masculine thinking is throughout the Bible. Ten papers on this theme are being collected into a volume entitled Play the Man: The Masculine Imperative in the Bible.
  • Hebrew language. His formation as a linguistically oriented scholar is responsible for his lifelong fascination with words and meanings, which has borne fruit in his creation of the eight-volume Dictionary of Classical Hebrew (1993–2011). This dictionary is the first ever published of the ancient Hebrew language as a whole.
  • Publishing

Professor Clines has been engaged since 1976 in academic publishing, in the conviction that academic authors should have control of the means of publication of their research. There is an important role for scholars to be themselves the disseminators of scholarly research, he believes, especially for the sake of the production of scholarly monographs, which are not welcomed by the generality of publishers, even those of academic books. In 1976 Clines, together with two colleagues in the Department of Biblical Studies in Sheffield (David M. Gunn and Philip R. Davies), founded the Journal for the Study of the Old Testament, the first journal devoted to publishing research articles on the Old Testament in English; it is now one of the leading international journals in Biblical Studies.

From that journal there grew Sheffield Academic Press, which by 2000 was publishing more academic books in Biblical Studies than any publisher in the world. After it was bought by Continuum (now Bloomsbury), he founded with two Sheffield colleagues, J. Cheryl Exum and Keith W. Whitelam, Sheffield Phoenix Press, which has now published about 300 titles, making Sheffield again one of the leading sources of new research for the scholarly community.

Teaching activities

Professor Clines has played a full part in the development of the Department of Biblical Studies, editing, with Stephen D. Moore a volume entitled Auguries: The Jubilee Volume of the Sheffield Department of Biblical Studies (1998) and serving as Head of Department from 1994 to 2001, during which time the Department gained the top grade in the RAE (Research Assessment Exercise) and in the Subject Review (Teaching Quality Assessment).

He has long been a promoter of student-centred learning and teaching, and an enthusiast for the unity of teaching and research. He entitled his 2009 SBL Presidential lecture ‘Learning, Teaching, and Researching Biblical Studies, Today and Tomorrow’.

Professional activities and memberships

David Clines was President of the (British and Irish) Society for Old Testament Study in 1996, and President of the US-based Society of Biblical Literature in 2009, the first person from outside North America to serve the Society in that role. In 2001 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Amsterdam (citation: ‘for unique contributions to biblical criticism and cultural analysis, inspiring teaching, innovative research, and leadership of a scholarly publishing house’).

In 2003 he was presented with a Festschrift entitled Reading from Right to Left: Essays on the Hebrew Bible in Honour of David J.A. Clines (ed. J. Cheryl Exum and H.G.M. Williamson), and in 2014 with a second Festschrift, Interested Readers: Essays on the Hebrew Bible in Honor of David J.A. Clines (ed. James K. Aitken, Jeremy M.S. Clines and Christl M. Maier).


The Disjoined Body: The Body and the Self in Hebrew Rhetoric (PDF38.2KB)

He-Prophets: Masculinity as a Problem for the Hebrew Prophets and their Interpreters (PDF 46.7KB)