I am an American living in Berlin with my wife Theresa and our three children, and am a philologist and a scholar of ancient literature at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. Currently I am a research fellow on the European Research Council-funded project From Texts to Literature: Demotic Egyptian Papyri and the Formation of the Hebrew Bible (DEMBIB) at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (PI Bernd U. Schipper). I trained as a biblical scholar (Hebrew Bible/Old Testament) and Egyptologist at the University of Chicago, Department of Near Eastern Languages, and received my PhD in 2022. My dissertation was entitled “The Poetics of Plot in the Egyptian and Judean Novella.” Prior to Chicago, I studied classics and theology.

My primary scholarly interest is the literature of storytelling, both its poetics and its socio-cultural setting. Currently, I am researching novellas in the Achaemenian and Hellenistic southeastern Mediterranean. More generally, I am interested in developing critical approaches to storytelling literature from antiquity and beyond, and ultimately hope to contribute to new paradigms of understanding and interpreting the construction of fictional literature cross-culturally. In support of this, I also actively engage in historicizing past literary criticism and histories of literature, especially in the disciplines of biblical studies and Egyptology, in the context of 18th-19th century (especially German) intellectual history, and in theoretical currents of the 20th century.

I am also interested in the interaction and parallels between Ancient Egyptian culture and Ancient Israel, the Hebrew Bible, and the ancient Levant: particularly, I am involved in furthering textual, philological, and interpretive work on the corpus of Northwest Semitic texts found in Egyptian inscriptions and documents, in elucidating Egyptian backgrounds and parallels in magical practice evidenced in the Hebrew Bible and early Jewish literature, especially in processes of textual transformation spanning praxis and reading, and, finally and most generally, in pursuing the comparative philology of the Egyptian and Northwest Semitic languages.

Previously, I was a Public Outreach and Content Specialist for the Education Department of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago from 2015-2020, where I taught continuing education courses, gave public lectures on the Ancient Near East throughout the Chicago area, and provided expertise for the museum’s docent program. Additionally, I conducted research for the Chicago Demotic Dictionary and for the Critical Editions for Digital Analysis and Research project at the Oriental Institute. From 2016-2018, I taught in the Writing Program at the University of Chicago and won the Karen Dinal Memorial Award. From 2018-2020, at the University of North Carolina Asheville, I taught Latin in the Dept. of Classics and The Ancient World in the Humanities Program.


  • Ph.D. (2022) – University of Chicago, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations (Egyptology and Hebrew Bible)

  • M.A. (2015) – University of Chicago, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations

  • M.A. (2011) – University of Dallas (Theology)

  • B.A. (2006) – University of Texas at Austin (Classics)

Other Publications

Journal Articles (Peer Reviewed)

(Forthcoming) “Mouvance and the Art of Fiction in Performance in Manuscripts of a Demotic Novella,” Manuscripts and Text Cultures

Book Chapters

(Forthcoming) “The Corpus of Northwest Semitic in Egyptian Script,” in Susan Hollis, ed., The Oxford Handbook of Ancient Egypt and the Hebrew Bible

Book Reviews 

(2020) Claudia Suhr, Die Ägyptische “Ich-Erzahlung”: Eine Narratologische Untersuchung, 2016 (Review of Biblical Literature, 3/2020) https://www.bookreviews.org/bookdetail.asp?TitleId=11560

Other Articles

(2022)  “The Teaching of Amenemope,” in Global Humanities Reader: Engaging Ancient  Worlds and Perspectives, ed. Brian S. Hook, Sophie Mills, Katherine C. Zubko, Keya Maitra, 77-79.

(2022) “Egyptian Love Poetry,” in Global Humanities Reader: Engaging Ancient Worlds and Perspectives, ed. Brian S. Hook, Sophie Mills, Katherine C. Zubko, Keya Maitra, 98-100.

(2022) “The Epic of Gilgamesh,” in Global Humanities Reader: Engaging Ancient Worlds and Perspectives, ed. Brian S. Hook, Sophie Mills, Katherine C. Zubko, Keya Maitra, 236-238.

(2019 “Missing Pages: Two Manuscripts of the Samaritan Torah in the Oriental Institute,” Oriental Institute News & Notes 242, pp.6-15

Blog Posts

    Upcoming Talks and Conferences

    • “A ‘véritable cycle romanesque’? The Relationship between P. Krall and P. Spiegelberg Reconsidered.” 14th International Demotic Congress, Heidelberg (Sept. 5th)

    • “Novella Literature in the Southeastern Mediterranean after the Iron Age: Overview and Prospects.” First Workshop of the DEMBIB Project, Paris, College de France (September 30th)

    Joseph Cross

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