Born in Dodgeville, Wisconsin. Jones entered Platteville Teachers’ Training College in 1907. In 1911, he went on to Northwestern University and Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary. Upon graduation, he furthered his studies at the University of Chicago. Jones came to China (Fukien Hinghwa) in 1915 for mission work. In 1930, during his furlough, he studied at Union Theological Seminary in New York and obtained a master of sacred theology degree.
In the same year, upon his return to China, he taught at Nanking University and served on a hymnal committee, which included Bliss Wiant, to produce the final version of Pu tian song zan (Hymns of Universal Praise). In 1937, he taught New Testament studies at Nanking Theological Seminary and founded the seminary’s school of sacred music. In 1938, Jones started to read for his doctoral degree at Union Theological Seminary. During the Sino-Japanese War, he went to Szechwan Chentu and began work in translating and editing Christian classical literature. The original plan was to produce 54 volumes of classics, but it had to be shelved as a result of political changes.
In 1951, Jones returned to America and taught at Drew Theological Seminary. He also worked as chief editor for China’s News in Brief for 11 years. He retired in 1960 but continued his translation work with Xu Mu Shi and Xie Fu Ya in the Association of Theological Schools in South East Asia. His translations included works of E. D. E. Schleiermacher and Von Hugel. His contribution was commended as equivalent to that of Kumarajiva, who in the Tang dynasty translated major classical works of Buddhism.