Miracles and Paradoxography in Biblical Reception from Late Antiquity


This research unit is intended to host conversations between texts of biblical reception (broadly conceived) and so-called paradoxography, an ancient genre invested in cataloguing and describing what we moderns would call natural wonders. Thematically, these collections include accounts of animals, plants, rivers, or peoples and their customs. The recently renewed focus in Classics on paradoxography has demonstrated that fascination with marvels impacted many different literary productions, and may, at times, be responsible for the apparent increase in fantastic and super-human motifs in late antique literature. The research unit encourages scholars to engage with paradoxographies and related literature to study the attitudes of authors toward marvellous and paradoxical phenomena, and to reflect on their prospective literary influence. It is our contention that a basic understanding of the genre of paradoxography might in many cases be imperative to locate any miraculous story in its literary context and to put an author’s literary creativity under perspective.


Marvels, Wonders, Miracles, Paradoxography, Reception History


Monika Amsler
University of Bern

Carl Johan Berglund
Åbo Akademi University

Marion Pragt
KU Leuven

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Toulouse 2022 Call for Papers

Collecting and Organizing Miracles

The writing of works that participate in the genre of paradoxography by necessity involved the collection of relevant material, and the organizing of such into a logical order. For this year, we invite papers reflecting on principles or criteria ancient authors used for the inclusion or exclusion of particular miracles, and the principles they used to organize their material. Relevant research questions include, but are not limited to the following: How did the collection and organization of miracles differ from other areas of knowledge? Do the manuscripts reveal how miracles were organized? What aims and interests motivated the collection of miracles? Was the collection of miracles a preliminary step for a future composition, or considered the finished literary product?