Following graduation from Harvard Divinity School and the University of Oxford, R. Joseph Hoffmann was tutor in Greek at Keble College and Senior Scholar at St Cross College, Oxford, and Wissenschaftlicher Assistent in Patristics and Classical Studies at the University of Heidelberg.
He began his teaching career at the University of Michigan as Assistant Professor of Near Eastern Studies where he developed the undergraduate and graduate program in Christian origins. From 1991 to 1999, he was Senior Lecturer in New Testament and Church History at Westminster College, Oxford. Hoffmann has also taught at Cal State Sacramento, the American University of Beirut and Wells College, where he was Campbell Professor of Religion and Human Values until 2006 and Distinguished Scholar at Goddard College in 2009.
He has held visiting positions at universities in Africa (Malawi, Zimbabwe, and Botswana), the Middle East, the Pacific (Australia and Papua New Guinea) and South Asia, most recently as Visiting Professor of History at LUMS in Lahore, Pakistan and as Professor of Historical Linguistics at the Graduate University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing, Beyond academe, he is well known for his advocacy of the humanist tradition. He was Chair of the Committee for the Scientific Examination of Religion until 2010, a senior vice president of the Center for Inquiry until 2008 and a founding faculty member (1986) of the Humanist Institute. In his recent work, Hoffmann has turned increasingly to the work of “humanist restoration”–a project designed to reconsider the richness of the humanist legacy in the arts and sciences apart from recent attempts to emphasize the purely rationalistic and naturalistic varieties of humanism that emerged in the late twentieth century.
Hoffmann has focused on the controversial aspects of Christian origins, with special reference to early heresies, gnosticism, and the pagan philosophical critiques of the Christian movement. His most recent books include an edited volume entitled Just War and Jihad: Violence in Judaism, Christianity and Islam (2006) and Sources of the Jesus Tradition (2010.)
His study of the concept of the right to life in early Christianity, Faith and Foeticide, will be published in 2012, along with another in his series of translations of the classical philosophical critiques of the Christian movement: Christianity: The Minor Critics.
With Maurice Casey, Stephanie Fisher, and James Crossley, he is a director of The Jesus Process, a consultation of scholars committed to non-parochial and non-theological investigations of the early Jesus traditions.