Ancient Jewish and Christian Apocalypses: Inquiry into Their Prophetic Roots


In the study of Jewish and Christian apocalyptic literature, it is often suggested that they are in some way rooted in Jewish prophetic literature. Harold Henry Rowley (The Relevance of Apocalyptic, 1963) goes as far as calling it “the child of prophecy”. This workshop aims at exploring how these two literary genres relate, with emphasis on identifying both continuities and discontinuities. To what extent can Jewish and Christian apocalypses—canonical and non-canonical—be seen as heirs of Jewish prophetic literature? This issue shall be addressed from various angles: what is prophetic and apocalyptic literature? Are there specific apocalyptic and/or prophetic concerns? Do they relate with each other? What about the respective background (social, political, historical, etc.) of these texts? What are the literary characteristics of each of these genres, including the strategies of authority employed? To what extent does the figure of the seer parallel the figure of the (Israelite) prophet? Can one identify prophets in early Christianity? Further, could the study of divination practices in other cultural contexts (e.g., Greek and Roman) help us to grasp the framework of this topic? Can we find examples in which prophetic and apocalyptic genres interplay? As these questions illustrate, the issue of the boundaries between the prophetic and the apocalyptic literary genres guides our workshop. In this respect, we are also interested in asking if we can identify elements that draw a clear line of separation between these two genres. Or, are the boundaries rather vague in practice, meaning that we should better think about this relationship in terms of a continuum?


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

Syracuse 2023 Call for Papers

For this workshop, we welcome papers that explore the link between prophetic and apocalyptic literature, in terms of continuities and discontinuities. We wish to pay particular attention to the issue of the boundaries between these two literary genres, with the underlying question of how apocalypses (either Jewish or Christian) are rooted, or not, in Jewish prophetic literature. Papers may address any aspect of this link, e.g., social, political and religious contexts of production, comparison between the figure of the seer and that of the prophet, literary strategies of authority, respective concerns and topics that these two literary genres address (such as cosmic and human battles, divine election, conceptions of temporality, eschatology, etc.). Speakers can either focus on a particular text (whether an apocalypse or an apocalyptic passage within a prophetic book) or a small group of texts, or explore the topic more transversally by crossing elements from different texts and traditions.