Professor R. S. Sugirtharajah BD, MTh (Serampore), PhD (Bham)

Department of Theology and Religion
Emeritus Professor of Biblical Hermeneutics

Contact details

ERI Building
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

He was born in Sri Lanka and had his postgraduate education in India and the UK. He is author and editor of significant volumes on biblical studies. He is particularly known for two pioneering works. One was his introduction of a new critical category to biblical studies, namely postcolonial criticism which has been receiving wide recognition both within and outside the discipline. His application of this critical category has helped to create for the discipline a new interpretative environment. 

The second ground breaking work drew attention to marginal interpretative voices not normally visible or heard in mainstream circles. The volume which encapsulated this stance and with which he seems to be especially identified is Voices from the Margin (1991), a Catholic Book Award winner.

This volume has gone through several reprints, with updated editions in 1995, 2007 and 2016 (twenty-fifth anniversary edition). It reflects the changing contours of contextual hermeneutics, has become a modern classic and is a required classroom text in the USA. He has been honoured by several articles and two festschrifts that explore his contributions to biblical studies.

His work ranges across many disciplinary borders and has been translated into Spanish, Italian, Japanese and Malay. Among his editorial responsibilities, he is the Series Editor for the Bible and Postcolonialism series published by Continuum. Besides his academic work, he contributes a regular cultural column for a leading Tamil journal in Chennai, India. He has also published a collection of short stories and seven volumes of  essays in Tamil.


  • Postcolonial theory and biblical studies
  • History and politics of the Bible translation
  • The Bible and popular culture; Asian, African, Caribbean, Pacific and Latin American biblical interpretations and theologies
  • Diasporic hermeneutic and theologies
  • Theology and literature
  • Ideological presuppositions of western biblical interpretation
  • Contextual Christologies
  • Portrayals of the historical Buddha and the historical Jesus


  • Jesus in Asia, Harvard University Press, 2018
  • The Brahmin and his Bible: Rammohun Roy’s Precept's of Jesus 200 years on, T&T Clark, Bloomsbury, 2019.
  • Exploring Postcolonial biblical Criticism: History, Method, Practice. Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, 2012.
  • Troublesome Texts: The Bible in Colonial and Contemporary Culture, Sheffield: Phoenix Press, 2008.
  • The Bible and Empire: Postcolonial Explorations, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2005.
  • Postcolonial Reconfigurations: An Alternative way of reading the Bible and doing theology, SCM Press, London, 2003. American edition: Chalice Press.
  • Postcolonial Criticism and Biblical Interpretation, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2002.
  • The Bible and the Third World: Precolonial, Colonial and Postcolonial Encounters, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2001.
  • Asian Biblical Hermeneutics and Post colonialism: Contesting the Interpretations, Orbis Books, Maryknoll, NY., 1998 

Recent edited and contributed volumes

  • The Oxford Handbook of Postcolonial Biblical Criticism, Oxford University Press, 2023.
  • Caught Reading Again:Scholars and their Books, SCM Press, London, 2009.
  • Still at the Margins: Biblical Scholarship Fifteen Years After the Voices from the Margin,T&T Clark, London, 2008.
  • A Postcolonial Commentary on the New Testament Writings, Continuum, London 2007.
  • Voices from the Margin: Interpreting the Bible in the Third World. Revised and Expanded Third Edition, Orbis Books, Maryknoll, NY. 2006.
  • Postcolonial Biblical Reader, Blackwell Publishing, Oxford, 2006.
  • Wilderness, T&T Clark International, London, 2005.
  • Dictionary of Third World Theologies, Orbis Books, Maryknoll, NY. 2000. Translated into Spanish, Italian. UK edition: SCM Pres, 2002.
  • Postcolonial Bible, Sheffield Academic Press, Sheffield, 1998.
  • Vernacular Hermeneutics,  Sheffield Academic Press, Sheffield, 1999.
  • Voices from the Margin: Interpreting the Bible from the Third World. Revised Edition Orbis Books, Maryknoll, NY. 1995 (1991). Catholic Book Club winner.
  • Asian Faces of Jesus, Orbis Books, Maryknoll, NY.1993  8th imprint 2005.
  • Caught Reading Again:Scholars and their Books, SCM Press, London, 2009.