Ancient Jewish and Christian Apocalypses: What is at Stake?


The global crises that affect the environment, health, or even nations – through wars – give rise to conspiracy theories sometimes inspired by Jewish and Christian apocalypses. They also join the quest for immortality and the correlated issue of a limited existence, which has been one of the major concerns of human literary works since the famous epic of Gilgamesh up to the present day. These preoccupations demonstrate the rhetorical power of ancient apocalypses and the need for careful scholarly analysis that takes into account the socio-historical context of production of these texts. Classically, following John J. Collins’s definition (1979), the apocalyptic genre is understood as reflecting on both temporal and spatial limits. This three year research unit builds on the need for an expanded definition focused on the function of apocalypses that drove Adela Yarbro Collins (1987), among others, to aim at exploring the sources, specific features and purposes of apocalyptic literature. The scope of this research unit includes ancient canonical and apocryphal apocalypses from a Jewish and/or Christian background. Each year, a specific topic will be proposed to guide the discussion. The first session (2023) will focus on the link between apocalypses and resistance. The second one (2024) will deal with spatiality and temporality, and the third one (2025) will shed light on the positive outlooks of apocalypses.


Apocalyptic Literature, Jewish Apocalypses, Christian Apocalypses, Socio-Historical Settings, Eschatology



Luc Bulundwe

University of Geneva


 Daniel Maier

University of Zurich

 Priscille Marshall
University of Lausanne

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