Jodi Magness is the Kenan Distinguished Professor for Teaching Excellence in Early Judaism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She previously taught at Tufts University. She received her B.A. in Archaeology and History from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (1977), and her Ph.D. in Classical Archaeology from the University of Pennsylvania (1989). From 1990-92, Professor Magness was Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellow in Syro-Palestinian Archaeology at the Center for Old World Archaeology and Art at Brown University.
Magness has participated in 20 different excavations in Israel and Greece. She co-directed the 1995 excavations of the Roman siege works at Masada. From 1997-99 she co-directed excavations at Khirbet Yattir in Israel. Since 2003 Professor Magness has been the co-director of the excavations in the late Roman fort at Yotvata, Israel. In 2011 she began to dig at Huqoq.
Magness is an extremely popular professor whose "unique teaching style of using vivid anecdotes [keeps] students on the edge of their seats."
At the time of The Lost Tomb of Jesus controversy, Magness was widely quoted noting "that at the time of Jesus, wealthy families buried their dead in tombs cut by hand from solid rock, putting the bones in niches in the walls and then, later, transferring them to ossuaries." Whereas "Jesus came from a poor family that, like most Jews of the time, probably buried their dead in ordinary graves. "If Jesus' family had been wealthy enough to afford a rock-cut tomb, it would have been in Nazareth, not Jerusalem," she said. Magness also said "the names on the Talpiyot ossuaries "indicate that the tomb belonged to a family from Judea, the area around Jerusalem, where people were known by their first name and father's name. As Galileans, Jesus and his family members would have used their first name and hometown."
- The Archaeology of Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2002) --winner of the 2003 Biblical Archaeology Society’s Award for Best Popular Book in Archaeology and an “Outstanding Academic Book for 2003” by Choice Magazine.
- The Archaeology of the Early Islamic Settlement in Palestine (Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 2003), 2006 Irene Levi-Sala Book Prize.
- Debating Qumran: Collected Essays on Its Archaeology (Leuven: Peeters, 2004); Hesed ve-Emet, Studies in Honor of Ernest S. Frerichs (co-edited with S. Gitin; Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1998)
- Jerusalem Ceramic Chronology circa 200-800 C.E. (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic, 1993)
- Nefta, Deborah (April 11, 2007). "Students enraptured by Magness' teaching style". The Daily Tar Heel. Retrieved April 16, 2011.
- Cooperman, Alan (February 28, 2007). "'Lost Tomb of Jesus' Claim Called a Stunt". Washington Post. p. A03.