Philip Jenkins was born in Wales in 1952. He was educated at Clare College, in the University of Cambridge, where he took a prestigious "Double First" degree-that is, Double First Class Honors. In 1978, he obtained his doctorate in history, also from Cambridge. Since 1980, he has taught at Penn State University, and currently holds the rank of Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of the Humanities. He is also a Distinguished Senior Fellow at Baylor University's Institute for Studies of Religion.
Though his original training was in early modern British history, he has since moved to studying a wide range of contemporary topics and issues, especially in the realm of religion.
Jenkins is a well-known commentator on religion, past and present. He has published 24 books, including The New Faces of Christianity: Believing the Bible in the Global South and God's Continent: Christianity, Islam and Europe's Religious Crisis (Oxford University Press). His latest books, published by HarperOne, are The Lost History of Christianity and Jesus Wars (2010).
His book The Next Christendom in particular won a number of honors. USA Today named it one of the top religion books of 2002; and Christianity Today described The Next Christendom as a "contemporary classic." An essay based on this book appeared as a cover story in the Atlantic Monthly in October 2002, and this article was much reprinted in North America and around the world, appearing in German, Swiss, and Italian magazines.
His other books have also been consistently well received. Writing in Foreign Affairs in 2003, Sir Lawrence Freedman said Jenkins's Images of Terror was "a brilliant, uncomfortable book, its impact heightened by clear, restrained writing and a stunning range of examples."
Jenkins has spoken frequently on these diverse themes. Since 2002, he has delivered approximately eighty public lectures just on the theme of global Christianity, and has given numerous presentations on other topics. He has published articles and op-ed pieces in many media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, New Republic, Foreign Policy, First Things, and Christian Century. In the European media, his work has appeared in the Guardian, Rheinischer Merkur, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Welt am Sonntag, and the Kommersant (Moscow). He is often quoted in news stories on religious issues, including global Christianity, as well as on the subject of conflicts within the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion, and controversies concerning cults and new religious movements. The Economist has called him "one of America's best scholars of religion."
Over the last decade, Jenkins has participated in several hundred interviews with the mass media, newspapers, radio, and television. He has been interviewed on Fox's The Beltway Boys, and has appeared on a number of CNN documentaries and news specials covering a variety of topics, including the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church, as well as serial murder and aspects of violent crime. The 2003 television documentary Battle for Souls (Discovery Times Channel) was largely inspired by his work on global Christianity. He also appeared on the History Channel special, Time Machine: 70s Fever (2009).
Jenkins is much heard on talk radio, including multiple appearances on NPR's All Things Considered, and on various BBC and RTE programs. In North America, he has been a guest on the widely syndicated radio programs of Diane Rehm, Michael Medved, and James Kennedy; he has appeared on NPR's Fresh Air, as well as the nationally broadcast Canadian shows Tapestry and Ideas. His media appearances include newspapers and radio stations in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, Australia, Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands, and Brazil, as well as in many different regions of the United States.
Because of its relevance to policy issues, Jenkins's work has attracted the attention of government and official agencies. He has lectured and participated in seminars for the U.S. State Department and the RAND Corporation, on issues of religious conflict and change, religious violence and terrorism. He has testified twice to Congressional committees: once on Internet pornography, once on designer drugs.
To date, his books have been translated into eleven languages: Chinese, Estonian, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Serbian, and Spanish.
Philip Jenkins lives in State College, Pennsylvania. He is married, and has two adult daughters.