After a BA degree at Auckland University, New Zealand, Joan completed post-graduate studies at the University of Otago, majoring in New Testament, and then went to the British School of Archaeology in Jerusalem (Kenyon Institute) as Annual Scholar in 1986. She undertook a PhD in early Christian history and archaeology at New College, Edinburgh University, and was appointed in 1992 to a position of lecturer (subsequently senior lecturer) at the University of Waikato, New Zealand, in the departments of both Religious Studies and History. In 1995 she won an Irene Levi-Sala Award in Israel’s archaeology, for the book version of her PhD thesis, Christians and the Holy Places (Oxford: Clarendon, 1993, rev. 2003). In 1996-7 she was Visiting Lecturer and Research Associate in Women’s Studies in New Testament at Harvard Divinity School, a position she held in association with a Fulbright Award. She has also been Honorary Research Fellow in the Departments of History and Jewish Studies at University College London. She has taught at King’s College London since 2009.
Joan’s approach is multi-disciplinary; she works in literature, language, history and archaeology. She has written numerous books and articles in her fields of interest.
- The New Testament and other early Christian texts within their wider social, historical and cultural contexts, with a special interest in archaeological evidence.
- The historical figures of Jesus of Nazareth, John the Baptist, Judas Iscariot, Paul, Pontius Pilate, Mary Magdalene, and other New Testament persons, both in terms of the ancient evidence and how they have been constructed over time, including in modern literature and film.
- Second Temple Judaism, particularly the Jewish legal schools (Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, ‘Zealots’) and popular religious movements.
- The Dead Sea Scrolls and the archaeology of Qumran.
- Alexandrian Judaism, Philo of Alexandria, and the ‘Therapeutae’
- Women and gender within early Judaism and Christianity, especially regarding women in leadership roles.
- Jewish-Christianity and early Christian constructions of history and orthodoxy.
- Comparative Graeco-Roman religion and philosophy: literary, epigraphical and archaeological evidence.
- The archaeology and history of Christian holy places and travel to Palestine over the centuries, with special interest in the sites of Golgotha, Gethsemane, -
- Eleona, Nazareth, Capernaum and Bethlehem, as well as historical geography.
- Reception exegesis: using creative artefacts to reflect on texts and history.