From the experts:
In the Old Testament, Joel was one of King David's 'mighty men' and the name was taken up by the Puritans of the sixteenth century. In the mid 1960s, Joel entered the Top 100, and stayed there for about twenty years, as parents tried to jazz up and formalize old standby Joe by reviving this biblical name.
Current notable bearers include entertainer Joel Grey, half of the filmmaking Coen brothers, musician Joel Madden, and TV's Joel McHale. Joel Chandler Harris created Uncle Remus.