Jarold Knox Zeman was born as Jaroslav Zeman in 1926 at Semonice, Czechoslovakia, now in the Czech Republic. In 1945 Zeman attended the Charles University in Prague and primarily studied theology. In 1948, the World Council of Churches awarded Zeman a scholarship to continue studies at Knox College in Toronto. After finishing his studies in 1949, Zeman received a warning about the danger in returning to Czechoslovakia. Instead of returning home Zeman decided to stay in Canada, becoming a citizen in 1955 and changing his name to Jarold Knox Zeman.
From 1949 to 1955 Zeman pastored at the Czechoslovak Baptist Church in Toronto serving Czech speaking immigrants, while during this period in 1951 he married Lilian Koncicky of Esterhazy, Saskatchewan eventually having four children. After 1955 Zeman became pastor for an English-speaking congregation at the Villanova Baptist Church in Brantford, Ontario, while also working with Czech speaking immigrants in London, Ontario until 1959. From 1959 to 1968, Zeman worked for the Baptist Convention of Ontario and Quebec Home Mission Board.
In 1969, Zeman joined the newly reorganized Acadia Divinity College of Acadia University as an associate professor, from then until 1991 teaching a variety of courses in Church History. While teaching at Acadia Divinity College Zeman wrote many of his works on the history of Canadian Maritime Baptists and on the Anabaptists, Czech Brethren, and Hussites of Reformation Bohemia and Moravia. In addition to these responsibilities, Zeman was heavily involved in a variety of Baptist conferences and organizations in North America including from 1979 to 1982 serving as president of the Baptist Federation of Canada. After retiring from his position as professor, Zeman founded and served as director of the Acadia Centre for Baptist and Anabaptist Studies from 1991 to 1996. Jarold Knox Zeman passed away on September 18, 2000 in Wolfville, Nova Scotia.