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Professor Joan Taylor

Research interests

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Research interests

  • 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.

Joan’s contextualising approach is multi-disciplinary; she works in literature, language, history and archaeology. Joan has written numerous books and articles in her fields of interest, and is currently completing two large projects. The first is a book with OUP, The Essenes, the Scrolls and the Dead Sea. This reviews the literary evidence for the Essenes, and then focuses contextually on a few key features: the position of the Essenes west of the Dead Sea, their interest in healing and pharmacology, and their endorsement by Herod the Great and his dynasty. Because of the discussion of pharmacology, this project has been supported a Wellcome Research Grant and also by the International Society for the History of Pharmacy. In addition, Joan is writing a commentary (for SBL/Brill) on Philo of Alexandria’s De Vita Contemplativa, supported in part by a grant from the British Academy. She has also worked on subjects outside her primary research areas: on the Elizabethan English traveller and adventurer Henry Timberlake, and the early Danish Unitarian Cecilie Hertz.

Types of Public engagement and outreach - Media article or participation

Documentary - Jesus' Female Disciples

Joan Taylor (Presenter)

Activity: OtherTypes of Public engagement and outreach - Media article or participation

Fern Britton's Holy Land Journey

Joan Taylor (Advisor)
Oct 2016Apr 2017

Activity: OtherTypes of Public engagement and outreach - Media article or participation

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