John W. Martens


A teacher, researcher, administrator, and theologian Dr. John W. Martens was appointed the founding Director of the Centre for Christian Engagement in 2021. John is a theologian with an expertise in biblical studies, including New Testament, early Judaism, and Children in the Bible. All his degrees are from Canadian universities (PhD- McMaster University: 1992; M.A. – McMaster University: 1986; B.A – St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto: 1984), with stops to do research at Haifa University (1987) and Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen (1989-90).  

He was born in Vancouver and raised in South Vancouver and Richmond, though, and his educational path in biblical studies began with a course on Christianity taught by the late Fr. James Roberts at Langara.  After he received his PhD, he began to teach at several institutions in Winnipeg but spent most of his time teaching at the University of Winnipeg. While in Winnipeg, he also started a crisis line at Salvation Army and worked as a crisis counsellor at Klinic Community Health Centre.  

In Winnipeg, he and his wife Tabitha entered the Catholic Church at St. Ignatius Church and soon after moved to the Twin Cities of Minnesota where he began teaching biblical studies at the University of St. Thomas. He taught at UST for twenty years, rising in the ranks to Full Professor and Director of the MA in Theology program at St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity. 

For more than 15 years Martens has written for America Magazine, been a regular guest on Spirit Radio Network and other podcasts and radio shows, and published his own Bible biog  ( to present Catholic biblical scholarship in a serious, accessible and inviting manner.  

His vision: “We want the Centre to be a place to create community not just at the Colleges or for local people of faith and local Catholics–but for all those interested in spirituality and in the questions that give us meaning, purpose and hope.”  

With his leadership, the college, community, and local/global audience has been able to engage with over 60 speakers, and 30 public lectures, with 2100 livestreams and over 1500 in-person attendees. In addition, over ten thousand people have listened to and connected to the Centre’s bi-weekly podcast and YouTube channel. 

He writes, “Apart from my academic pursuits and the CCE, which I continue to love, I love dogs, especially Emerald, our four-year-old German Shepherd mix, and our late beloved German Shepherd Hunter, who lived to thirteen years old. I also love to garden, especially vegetables and fruit, and love to can what I grow. I love reading novels, including detective and fantasy novels, excellent TV shows (The Americans, The Sopranos, Flea Bag, Catastrophe, Better Call Saul) and foreign films, and the Vancouver Canucks and the Minnesota Timberwolves. Most of all, though, I love my wife Tabitha, my two sons Jake and Sam, and my large extended family and wonderful friends spread all over the Lower Mainland, North America, Europe, Asia, and beyond.” 


  •  “Fathers and Daughters in 1 Corinthians 7:36-38: The Social Implications of Marriage in Early Christian Families,” in T&T Clark Handbook of Children in the Biblical World, eds. Sharon Betsworth and Julie Faith Parker (London: T&T Clark, 2019) 335-355. ISBN: 978-0-567-67257-5 
  • “Methodology: Who Is a Child and Where Do We find Children in the Greco-Roman World?,” in T&T Clark Handbook of Children in the Biblical World, eds. Sharon Betsworth and Julie Faith Parker (London: T&T Clark, 2019) 223-243. ISBN: 978-0-567-67257-5 
  • “Childhood and Sexuality” in Oxford Encyclopedia of the Bible and Gender Studies  eds., Todd Penner and Davina Lopez (Oxford University Press, 2014) 55-60. 
  • “The Pope and the Bible” in A Big Heart Open to God (New York: HarperOne, 2013) 113-122.
  • “Do Not Sexually Abuse Children: The Language of Early Christian Sexual Ethics” in Children in Late Antique Christianity eds., Cornelia B. Horn and Robert Phenix (Tübingen: Mohr-Siebeck, 2010).
  • “‘But from the beginning it was not so’: The Jewish Apocalyptic Context of Jesus’ Teaching on Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage” in Journal of Moral Theology (Vol. 10, No. 2 (2021) 5–33.
  • “Are Enslaved Children Called to Come to Jesus? Freeborn and Enslaved Children in John Chrysostom’s On Vainglory” in Biblical Interpretation Vol 28(5) 2020, 584-607.
  • “Matthew’s Vision of Church” in The Bible Today Volume 58 (Jan/Feb 2020) 7-13.
  • “Catholic Hermeneutics of the New Testament” in St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Quarterly 63:2 (2019) 213-235.
  • “Leadership in Absentia (Paul)” in The Bible Today Volume 56 (July 2018) 235-244.
  • “A Burning Question in Romans 12:20: What do the “Coals of Fire” Mean?” in Catholic Biblical Quarterly 76.2 (April 2014) 291-305. 


Professional Societies 

SNTS (Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas) 

  • Society of Biblical Studies 
  • Catholic Biblical Association   
  • Canadian Society of Biblical Studies 


Current Research
  •   Sexuality, Celibacy and Marriage among the Early Christians (contracted with Routledge Press, January 2025) 
  • “Present Parents, Absent Children in 1 Peter” for Families in the New Testament: Global Perspectives (eds. Amy Allen and Sung Uk Lim) 
  • “Which Children Are Being Educated in the Qumran communities? for Dead Sea Discoveries 2025 (eds. Hanna Tervanotko and Elisa Uusimäki) 
Books & Links
  •  John W. Martens and Paul V. Niskanen, eds. The Transcendent Mystery of God’s Word (St. Paul Seminary Press, 2024)  

  • Liturgy and Life Study Bible general eds. John W. Martens and Fr. Paul Turner. (Liturgical Press, May 2023). ( 

  • John W. Martens and Kristine Henriksen Garroway (eds.), Children and Methods: Listening To and Learning From Children in the Biblical World (Brill’s Series in Jewish Studies) (Boston: Brill, 2020). ISSN: 0926-2261 

  • David Landry and John W. Martens, Inquiry into the New Testament: Ancient Context to Contemporary Significance (Anselm Academic, 2018)  ISBN-13: ‎ 978-1599821740 

  • The Word on the Street, Year C: Sunday Lectionary Reflections (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2018). ISBN-13: 978-0814649657 

  • Paul, Pastoring God’s People (Alive in the Word) (Little Rock Scripture Study, 2018) ISBN-13: 978-0814645062 

  • The Word on the Street, Year B: Sunday Lectionary Reflections (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2017). 

  • The Word on the Street, Year A: Sunday Lectionary Reflections (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2016). 

  • The Gospel of Mark: A Bible Junkies Complete Online Commentary (Delta, B.C.: Red Maple Press, 2013) i-xii, 13-271. 

  • With Cornelia Horn: “Let the Little Children Come to Me”: Children and Childhood in Early Christianity (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University Press of America, 2009) ISBN: 978-0-8132-1674-4.

  • One God, One Law: Philo of Alexandria on the Mosaic and Greco-Roman Law (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 2003) ISBN: 0-391-04190-8. 

  • The End of the World: The Apocalyptic Imagination in Film and Television (Winnipeg: J. Gordon Shillingford Press, 2003). ISBN: 0-920486-29-0. 

Contact Info

John W. Martens, PhD

Professor of Theology 

Director of the Centre for Christian Engagement

St. Mark’s College at UBC

5935 Iona Drive

Vancouver, BC V6T 1J7 CANADA


320 Vancouver School of Theology

6015 Walter Gage Road 

Vancouver, BC V6T 1Z1 CANADA

Office Phone:

604-822-6862 Ext. 120