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.