The Right Reverend Tom Wright, will step down on August 31.
Dr Wright, who will be 62 this autumn, is returning to the academic world, and will take up a new appointment as research professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at the University of St Andrews in Scotland.
"This has been the hardest decision of my life," said Dr Wright.
"It has been an indescribable privilege to be the Bishop of the ancient diocese of Durham, to work with a superb team of colleagues, to take part in the work of God's kingdom here in the North-East, and to represent the region and its churches in the House of Lords and in General Synod.
"I have loved the people, the place, the heritage and the work.
"But my continuing vocation to be a writer, teacher and broadcaster for the benefit (I hope) of the wider world and church, has been increasingly difficult to combine with the complex demands and duties of a diocesan bishop.
"I am very sad about this, but the choice has become increasingly clear."
Dr Wright, a lifelong Newcastle United fan who was born in Morpeth, Northumberland, has been Bishop of Durham since 2003.
BB NOTE: I agree with Grant LeMarquand, who writes at SF, "this is a matter of fulfilling a vocation. Tom believes that he has a few more things to say to the academy and the next generation of theological students and scholarts. He enjoyed being bishop of Durham and is very proud of the diocese and the work the clergy and people do there in one of the poorest parts of the UK, but he will be 62 this year and the big book series (the little books are great too, but the big set ‘Christian Origins and the Question of God’) may still have several volumes still to be born. The next violume is his magnum opus on Paul (actually it will be two volumes) and then at least a volume on the evangelists (as opposed to ‘the historical Jesus’)." There are many ways to confront the crises facing the communion and a major one is raising up the next generation of theological and pastoral leadership. Tom Wright appears to be making the decision to invest in the theological education - a great, great decision for the church.