Philip Francis Esler (born 27 August 1952) is Portland Chair of New Testament Studies at the University of Gloucestershire. He is an Australian-born Higher Education administrator and academic who became the inaugural Chief Executive of the UK's Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) in 2005, remaining in that role until 2009. From 1995 to 2010 he was Professor of Biblical Criticism at St Andrews University. From 1998 to 2001 he was Vice-Principal for Research and Provost of St Leonard’s College at St Andrews. During the years 1999 to 2003 he served as a member of the Board of Scottish Enterprise Fife. From October 2010 to March 2013 he was Principal and Professor of Biblical Interpretation at St Mary’s University College Twickenham. He had an earlier career as a lawyer, working in Sydney during 1978-81 and 1984-92 as an articled clerk, then solicitor and barrister.
Esler is a leading figure in the social-scientific interpretation of biblical texts, with an international reputation.[1] He applies ideas and perspectives from disciplines such as social psychology, anthropology and sociology to Old and New Testament texts to gain a better sense of what they meant to their original audiences. He has also published in the areas of New Testament theology and the Bible and the visual arts. He holds a Doctor of Divinity from the University of Oxford, by submitted work (2008), and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (elected 2009).

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