John Templeton Foundation
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John W. Bowker, an Anglican priest and honorary canon of Canterbury Cathedral, is a pioneering religious studies scholar who has written on the Bible and other sacred texts, the origins of religion, contemporary religious beliefs, and moral judgment in the light of science, as well as editing widely-read surveys of world religions. A graduate of Worcester College, Oxford University, where he studied theology and Oriental languages, Canon Bowker did graduate work in theology at Ripon Hall in Oxford and was ordained in 1961. The next year he was the Henry Stephenson Research Fellow at Sheffield University and served as deacon and curate of St. Augustine's Church in Brocco Bank. In 1962, he went to Cambridge University as a fellow, director of studies, and dean of chapel at Corpus Christi College, posts he held for the next twelve years. He was appointed a lecturer in the Cambridge Faculty of Theology in 1965 and introduced religious studies as a subject of study at the university. In 1974, Canon Bowker accepted a professorship of religious studies at Lancaster University where he was instrumental in establishing formal exchange programs with universities in Thailand, India, Greece, and the United States. He returned to Cambridge as a fellow, director of studies, and dean of chapel at Trinity College in 1984. He became Gresham Professor of Divinity at Gresham College, London University, in 1992, a position he held until his retirement five years later. While at Corpus Christi and then at Lancaster, Canon Bowker was also the Wilde Lecturer at Oxford University for three years. He has given numerous invited lectures in the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States, including the 2003 Hensley Henson Lectures at Oxford. An academic fellow of the Institute of Religion in the Age of Science, he has served as president of Christian Action and AIDS, honorary president of Stauros, an institute concerned with medical ethics, vice president of the Culture and Animals Foundation, and as a consultant on various Church of England commissions. He helped establish the Academy of Moral Sciences in Beijing and, as a consultant to UNESCO, wrote the draft resolution for the United Nations Declaration on Religions and Apartheid and a feasibility study on the possibility of reconciliation among religions using as a focus Jerusalem. In addition to numerous articles published in academic journals, Canon Bowker is the editor of five books, including The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions (1997 and 1999), The Complete Bible Handbook (1998 and 2001), and The Cambridge Illustrated History of Religions (2002). He is also the author seventeen other books, including Problems of Suffering in the Religions of the World (1970, 1975, and 1990), The Meaning of Death (1991 and 1993), which won the HarperCollins Prize Religious Book Award, and, God: A Brief History (2002). His latest book, The Sacred Neuron: Amazing New Discoveries Connecting Science and Religion, a study from the perspective of modern neuroscience on the link between emotions and reason in forming human opinions and judgments, was published last month by IBTauris.