By Bob Allen
Peter Rhea Jones, a New Testament scholar and pastor known for his lifelong study of the parables, has announced plans to retire from Mercer University’s McAfee School of Theology at the end of July.
Jones, the J. Truett Gannon Professor of Preaching and New Testament, joined the faculty of the theology school founded in 1996 in the year 2000. Before that he served 21 years as pastor of First Baptist Church in Decatur, Ga., and 11 years on the faculty of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.
McAfee Dean Alan Culpepper described Jones as a prime mover in events that led to formation of the school, one of a number of theology schools aligned with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.
“He has distinguished himself as a New Testament scholar through his books on the parables, his commentary on the Johannine Epistles and his current writing on the Sermon on the Mount,” Culpepper said. “His teaching has molded the exegetical and homiletical skills of several generations of seminary students, for whom he has modeled the life of a Christian minister, and to whom he and his wife, Ellen, have opened their home.”
Jones’ books include Teaching of the Parables published in 1982, Studying the Parables of Jesus in 1999 and the Smyth & Helwys Bible Commentary on 1, 2 and 3 John in 2009. He has authored numerous articles and book chapters. Jones spoke regularly at Ridgecrest and Glorieta conference centers prior to the 1990s and has spoken at numerous colleges.
After graduating from Baptist-affiliated Union University in Jackson, Tenn., Jones earned a master of arts in English from the University of Mississippi; a master of theology in preaching from Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, N.J.; and the master of divinity and doctor of philosophy degrees from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Shortly after gaining his doctorate Jones joined the Southern Seminary faculty as assistant professor of New Testament interpretation in 1968. He left in 1979 to become pastor at First Baptist Church in Decatur, Ga.
He has held pastorates and interim pastorates at churches in Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, New Jersey and New York, and has taught as an adjunct professor at Columbia Theological Seminary, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Shorter College.