John Hayes, the Franklin N. Parker Professor of Old Testament Emeritus at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology, and a PTS alumnus, made his first visit back to campus last May to talk about the Bible with PTS’s Biblical Studies faculty.


John Hayes
Photo: Kim Schmidt

Hayes graduated from PTS in 1960 with a Bachelor of Divinity degree and received his Doctor of Philosophy degree in 1964. His is a long and prolific career as a historian of ancient Israel and an interpreter of the Old Testament. He has written numerous books in biblical studies, including Understanding the Psalms and Introduction to the Bible. He also wrote If You Don’t Like the Possum, Enjoy the Sweet Potatoes: Some Principles for Travel Along the Road of Life (Pickwick, 2010).

Born seventh of eight children to an Alabama sharecropper, Hayes said “there were advantages to being dirt poor: when the Depression hit, we never knew it occurred!” After graduating from Samford University, Hayes studied at Edinburgh on a Fulbright scholarship before coming to Princeton. About his area of study, Hayes quipped, “I went into Old Testament because of the money.” A professor had alerted Hayes that nobody was writing the Old Testament thesis, which offered a $1,000 award. “It sounded good to me,” Hayes said, “so I did it.”

The Biblical Studies Department was glad to welcome a colleague and teacher back, and listen to Hayes’s humorous anecdotes about seminary life in the 1960s.