(email@example.com), University of Pennsylvania, Fall 2005
227 Logan Hall; tel. 215 898-5827
Instructor's home page and 2004 general class home page, plus pre 2004 class home directory
The main objective of this course is to become acquainted with "apocalyptic" movements in early Judaism and early Christianity within the context of development of the various threads that together came to be known as "Christianity" during the formative period prior to the official recognition and consolidation as a religious option under Constantine (ca 325 CE). There will be a strong emphasis on "methodological selfconsciousness" in a historical framework -- that is, how do we know what we think we know about the period and its participants, and especially those associated with "apocalypticism"? What is meant by the use of such terminology as "apocalypse," "apocalyptic," and "apocalypticism"? Familiarity with the surviving literature and other historical artifacts from the period will be basic to the investigation, as well as an attempt to understand these materials from the perspectives of the people who originally produced them.
In addition to regular class attendance and participation, including
assisting with class minutes/notes and attention to email
communications, students taking the course for credit will
(1) submit a research paper (about 15 old-style pages = 5000 words) on an approved topic (choice of topic by mid-term, completed paper or full draft by the final exam period);
(2) participate in the class project (electronic summaries of early texts relevant for the study of "Apocalyptic") or present an in-class review (also to be submitted in writing) of an approved modern publication on the subject; and
(3) sit for a one-on-one comprehensive oral "exit interview" with the instructor (about half an hour in length) after the research paper has been evaluated and returned and all other required work is finished.
NOTE: supplementation and/or revision and resubmission of
problematic work is encouraged (no penalty) when appropriate.
Preliminary drafts may be submitted for the instructor's comment.
Electronic submission ("text only," not attachments; or by way of your
web page) is also acceptable.
Selected Primary Sources (Jewish
and/or Christian) with Apocalyptic Focus:
Most of these writings have been transmitted to us through Christian filters (copied in Christian contexts, perhaps also translated or even "authored" by Christians), which sometimes have left clear traces. Since we are focusing on Christian apocalyptic, they are all relevant as used by Christians (except "3 Enoch"), even if of Jewish origin. convenient listings of most early Jewish writings and early Christian writings, with links to other resources, have been created by Peter Kirby and are frequently referenced below.
Read Felix Just's presentation and at least two Encyclopedia articles on "Apocalyptic" and related terminology and be prepared to compare them. What is the difference (if any) between "eschatological" and "apocalyptic"? Identify four different COLLECTIONS of literature (groupings; e.g. "New Testament") containing apocalyptic material used by early Christians and be prepared to give at least one in-depth example of an apocalyptic writing or section from each. How, in general, does each collection relate to "apocalyptic" materials (if at all)?
[Suggestion: look at tables of contents of Primary Source Collections]
Further questions of definition:
* What does the Greek word "apocalypse" mean?
* Were there Christian critics of "apocalypticism" in the early period?
* What are the main ideas associated with "apocalypticism" by modern scholars?
Identify four different TYPES of FOCUS within early "apocalypticism" (e.g. who is judged and how? how is information conveyed? what is the expected or desired outcome?) and be able to describe in some detail at least one ancient source that provides information on each type.
[Suggestion: work from tables of contents of Secondary Syntheses, with help from Secondary Anthologies and general definitional articles as necessary]
Further questions of identification:
* In what ways do early "apocalyptic" groups or representatives differ from each other?
* Are there particular locations in which "apocalypticism" seems to have flourished more than in others?
* Is there evidence that apocalyptic ideas circulated outside of circles influenced by Judaism?
Identify four different key EVENTS that helped shape the development of early Christian apocalyptic texts or concepts and conjecture how such developments might have influenced (or created) "apocalyptically oriented" followers of Jesus.
[Suggestion: look for turning points suggested by the organization of the Secondary Syntheses]
Further questions of historical development:
* How did "apocalyptics" deal with the Jewish calamaties of the first two centuries?
* How did "apocalyptics" react to persecution of Christians by Rome?
* Can we hope to learn anything from similar modern reactions to crises?
Identify four types of non-"apocalyptic" contemporaries (at least two of which are also non-Christian) in the early period (up to about 306 CE) and describe each position vis-a-vis "apocalyptic" Christianity. Do the same for four specific individuals.
[Suggestion: pay special attention to "backgrounds" treatments in
the Secondary Syntheses (e.g. on Greco-Roman
and on Jewish
aspects), and follow up in the Secondary Anthologies; e.g.
familiarize yourself with
the philosophical schools and religious options, as well as such sources as:
Philo (Hypothetica, on Human Freedom and on the Contemplative Life),
Josephus (on Palestinian Jewish groups [see also]) ,
Lucian of Samosata (on Alexander of Abonoteichos and Peregrinus),
Philostratus on Apollonius of Tyana (also here)]
Some further observations and questions:
* Why did the "anti-chiliasts" have such objections to "apocalyptic"?
* How appropriate was the attempt by certain Christian authors to identify "apocalypticism" with Judaistic perspectives?
Identify four different early Christian explanations of who Jesus is and how he is related to apocalyptic expectations. To what extent have existing "apocalyptic" interests been modified or adjusted in these contexts?
[Suggestions: consider such passages as
GMk 12 and parallels in GMt 21-22 and GLk 20,
GMk 13 and parallels,
Paul/2 Cor 5.16 in context,
1 Timothy 3.16,
"GHebrews" Coptic fragment,
Ascension of Isaiah 11,
GLk 7.1-35 and parallels in GMt 11;
see also Kraft article on Joshua-Messiah]
Identify four different ways in which Jesus is depicted as a "revealer" of special "knowledge" and/or material to his disciples (pay attention to chronological [i.e. at what point in his career, broadly speaking] and geographical/physical issues [where, in what forms] as well as to audience and content).
[Suggestions: compare the approaches in such sources as
Paul (Gal 1.16, 2 Cor 12),
GThomas (and "Q"),
Epistle of the Apostles (see 2 Pet 1.16-18),
Dialogue of the Savior (NHL),
Sophia of Jesus Christ (NHL),
Clement of Alexandria --]
What else, besides revealing hidden knowledge, does Jesus do as a participant in the apocalyptic events according to early Christian sources? How would a typical early Christian "apocalyptic" thinker interpret each role or function within the larger context of Christian ideas and expectations (e.g. does Jesus as "judge" operate only at the end of time? does this role differ from Jesus as intercessor? as "savior"?)?
[Suggestions: explore such passages as
Paul/1 Cor 15 (end time victor),
Paul/Rom 5-8 (victor over sin),
Paul/Gal 2 ("in me"), 3 (curse);
?Paul/Phlp 2.1-13 ("mind");
"Paul"/1 Tim 1.12-2.7,
"Paul"/2 Tim 2.8-13,
1 Pet 1;
1 Jn 1.5-2.17;
Heb 1-2 (pioneer), 5, 7.20-8.13, 12.1-11;
GJn 1.1-18 (logos), 6.35-65 (nourishment), 17 (model?), 19 (kingdom);
ApcrJn start (NH -- and other materials mentioned above under #6);
1 Clem 36;
Barn 8 (scapegoat);
2 Clem 3-4; Irenaeus (on substitution and ransom to devil)]
Explore the use and meanings in early Christian writings of such terms as "kingdom of God/Heavens," "parousia," "second coming" or "return" of Christ, "last days/times," "antichrist" and related imagery, "day of the Lord" (or "of judgment"), and the like. How do the non-apocalyptic sources handle such terms and ideas?
[Suggestions: use a concordance for NT and Apostolic Fathers;
look at Paul/1 Cor 7, 15;
?Paul/1 Thess 5;
GMk 8.34-9.1 (and parallels);
"Paul"/1 Tim 4;
2 Pet 3; Heb 1;
2 Clem 17;
Identify four instances in which apparent frustration of apocalyptic hopes led to the modification of existing ideas/practices or the development of new ideas/practices in early Christian circles.
[Suggestions: explore the implications of the synoptic
"transfiguration" accounts (compare 2 Pet 1),
Paul/1 Cor 15 (resurrection past),
?Paul/1 Thess 4-5 (end anticipation),
1 Jn (antichrist),
2 Pet (delay of end);
consider how early Christians related "kingdom of God" to human institutions or to citizenship ideals]
Identify four different early Christian community practices or ritual developments, and be prepared to discuss the background of at least one of them and their use in "apocalyptic" circles.
Paul, 1 Corinthians 5, 8-11,
Paul, Romans 6.1-11,
Didache (entire -- see also its relationship to Barnabas),
Hebrews 3.13 and 10.25 & Barnabas 4.10 (avoid isolation),
Pliny to Trajan (what Christians actually do),
1 John 1.9 (confession?) and passim, on (not) sinning ,
Justin, Apology 61-67,
Gospel of Philip [Nag Hammadi] 64-71,
synoptic sending out of the 12 (GMark 6.7ff and parallels) and/or the 70 (GLuke 10),
GMatthew 28 "great commission"]
Early Christians imitated, adapted and created various approaches
and arguments in defense and/or explanation of their positions. What
patterns and principles of interpretation and presentation are
recognizable in the following examples (focus
especially on "apocalyptic" approaches or orientations):
9-11 (what about Judaism, finally?)
GMatthew 1-2 (fulfilment texts), 5.17-48 ("fences" around the laws)
Revelation/Apocalypse 13 (compare 4 Ezra [2 Esdras] 11-12) (Jewish apocalyptic traditions)
1 Clement 7-12 (heros of the Jewish tradition as models)
Barnabas 7-8 (Jewish liturgy typology), 9-10 ("real" circumcision), 18-20 ("Two Ways" ethic)
Didache 3 ("fences" around the laws)
Justin, Dialogue with Trypho 1-7 (searching for "truth")
Origin of the World [Nag Hammadi] (start) (cosmogeny through philosophical mythology)
[Suggestions: Be alert to patterns that might suggest educational influences, "school type" activities, philosophizing commonplaces, scriptural associations/allusions, and the like]
In what ways, and for what reasons, did early "apocalyptic" Christians attempt to distance themselves from the world in which they found themselves and in what ways did they acknowledge and affirm it? Pay attention to attitudes regarding social contacts and meetings, citizenship, military service, attendance at theater and/or the games and banquets (note accusations of misanthropy, atheism, secret orgies, and the like).
Paul, Galatians 5-6.10 (eschatological mysticism and ethical admonition)
Paul, 1 Corinthians 7 (marriage advice in the last days)
Paul, Romans 13 (don't rock the boat -- obey the civic authorities, pay taxes)
"Paul," 1 Timothy 4-6 (too much of too little is too bad -- practice community order)
Hebrews 13 (show hospitality, live orderly and restrained)
1 Peter 1-4 ("Haustafel" ethics, in and out of the community; see also "Paul's" Colossians-Ephesians)
1 John 4-5 (avoid deception, overcome the world)
Revelation/Apocalypse 22.6-21 (the time is at hand -- how to act)
Didache (a handbook of basic ethics, liturgy, end time expectation)
Justin (accusations) (Christian atheism, cannibalism, sexual excesses, etc.)
2 Clement 5-7 (exhortations in the shadow of the end)
Diognetus 5-6 (Christianity within the ordinary world)
see also Marcion (following the God of love, not the God of justice),
Tertullian (and Montanism) (radical living awaiting the radical end),
"encratism" (Tatian) (avoid anything beyond the bare necessities)]
Reconstruct four different uses of "apocalyptic" Christianity in the early period and show how each has its own identity/personality in relation to the others, to non-"apocalyptic" Christian groups, and to the extra-Christian worlds. Try to choose varieties sufficiently different from each other that they probably would have argued (or did argue) strongly (or at least loudly) against each other.
[Suggestion: review all the relevant materials and imagine how each position would relate to the others.]
Encyclopedia of Apocalypticism, ed. John J. Collins and Bernard
McGinn (3 vols; Continuum 1998).
Mitchell G. Reddish, ed.. Apocalyptic Literature. A Reader (Abingdon 1990; Hendrickson 1995). [A selection of Jewish and early Christian apocalyptic texts with brief commentary.]
John J. Collins, The Apocalyptic Imagination: An Introduction to Jewish Apocalyptic Literature. 2nd edition. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998.
John J. Collins, editor. Apocalyptic: The Morphology of a Genre.
Semeia 14 (1979)
Some other relevant works, in reverse chronological order:
Boustan, Ra'Anan S. and Annette Yoshiko Reed, editors, Heavenly Realms and Earthly Realities in Late Antique Religions ( New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004) pp. xiii + 335.
Grabbe, Lester L, Robert D Haak (eds)
Knowing the End From the Beginning: The Prophetic, Apocalyptic, and their Relationship
(JSP Supplement 46; T & T Clark International, 2003). Pp. xii + 226.
Much study has taken place of the prophetic and apocalyptic writings in recent decades, but the relationship between the two has been little explored. A major explicit debate on the question is very much needed and is now provided. This collection of essays addresses the subject from a variety of points of view, including studies on the issues of definitions, ancient Near Eastern "prophecies", social anthropology and modern apocalyptic movements. In the introduction, Lester Grabbe argues that many scholars operate with subconscious assumptions about how apocalyptic writings relate to the prophetic writings, but that many of these assumptions now need to be questioned in the light of the essays in this volume. Such a comprehensive attempt to tackle the main theoretical issues arising from the study of the prophetic and the apocalyptic has not been attempted for some time. This volume brings fresh questions and insights that both specialists and students will want to consider.
Pate, C. Marvin and Douglas W. Kennard. Deliverance Now and Not Yet: The New Testament and the Great Tribulation, Studies in Biblical Literature 54. New York: Peter Lang, 2003.
Dubis, Mark. Messianic Woes in First Peter: Suffering and Eschatology in 1 Peter 4:12-19, Studies in Biblical Literature 33. New York: Peter Lang, 2002.
Duff, Paul B. Who Rides the Beast? Prophetic Rivalry and the Rhetoric of Crisis in the Churches of the Apocalypse. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.
Friesen, Steven J. Imperial Cults and the Apocalypse of John: Reading Revelation in the Ruins. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001.
Norman Cohn, Cosmos, Chaos and the World To Come: The Ancient Roots of Apocalyptic Faith. 2nd edition. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001 .
Carroll, John T. et al., ed. The Return of Jesus in Early Christianity. Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson, 2000.
Court, John M. The Book of Revelation and the Johannine Apocalyptic Tradition, JSNTSup 190. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2000.
Malina, Bruce J. The New Jerusalem in the Revelation of John, Zacchaeus Studies, New Testament. Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 2000.
Ehrman, Bart D. Jesus, Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.
Frances Carey, ed., The Apocalypse and the Shape of Things to Come. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1999.
Rossing, Barbara R. The Choice Between Two Cities: Whore, Bride and Empire in the Apocalypse, Harvard Theological Studies 48. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Trinity Press International, 1999.
Sacchi, Paolo. Jewish Apocalyptic and Its History, JSOTSup 20. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1999
Bauckham, Richard. The Fate of the Dead: Studies on the Jewish and Christian Apocalypses, Novum Testamentum Supplement 93. Leiden: Brill, 1998.
Collins, John J. Jerusalem and the Temple in Jewish Apocalyptic Literature of the Second Temple Period, International Rennert Guest Lecture 1. Ramat Gan: Bar-Ilan University Press, 1998.
Oegema, Gerbern S. The Anointed and His People: Messianic Expectations from the Maccabeees to Bar Kochba, JSPSup 27. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1998.
Collins, John J. Seers, Sibyls and Sages in Hellenistic-Roman Judaism, SupJSJ 54. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1997.
Collins, John J. Apocalypticism in the Dead Sea Scrolls. New York: Routledge, 1997.
Carrell, Peter R. Jesus
and the Angels: Angelology and the Christology of the Apocalypse of John,
SNTSMS 95. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997. [review by Adrian Austin]
Hill, Robert Allan,
An examination and critique of the understanding of the relationship between apocalypticism and gnosticism in Johannine studies (Lewiston, N.Y.: Mellen University Press, c1997). Pp. iii, 258. [review by Liz Rosado]
S. L. Cook, Prophecy and Apocalypticism. (Augsburg Fortress 1996). [Connects apocalyptic writings with priestly groups in power, not with disenfranchised groups as Hanson does.]
Collins, Adela Yarbro. Cosmology and Eschatology in Jewish and Christian Apocalypticism, SupJSJ 50. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1996.
Holman, Charles L. Till Jesus Comes: The Origins of Christian Apocalyptic Expectation. Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson, 1996.
Peerbolte, L. J. Lietaert. The Antecedents of Antichrist: A Traditio-Historical Study of the Earliest Christian Views on Eschatological Opponents, SupJSJ. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1996.
Trevett, Christine. Montanism: Gender, Authority and the New Prophecy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996. [review by Kat Korzow]
James C. VanderKam and William Adler, editors, The Jewish Apocalyptic Heritage in Early Christianity (Compendia Rerum Iudaicarum Ad Novum Testamentum 3.4, Jewish Traditions in Early Christianity; Fortress/van Gorkum 1996).
[The volume contains five chapters which investigate the early Christian appropriations of Jewish apocalyptic material. An introductory chapter surveys ancient perceptions of the apocalyses as well as their function, authority, and survival in the early Church. The second chapter focuses on a specific tradition by exploring the status of the Enoch-literature, the use of the fallen-angel motif, and the identification of Enoch as an eschatological witness. Christian transmission of Jewish texts, a topic whose significance is more and more being recognized, is the subject of chapter three which analyzes what happend to 4,5 and 6 Ezra as they were copied and edited in Christian circles. Chapter four studies the early Christian appropriation and reinterpretation of Jewish apocalyptic chronologies, especially Daniel's vision of 70 weeks. The fifth and last chapter is devoted to the use and influence of Jewish apocalyptic traditions among Christian sectarian groups in Asia Minor and particularly in Egypt. Taken together these chapters written by four authors, offer illuminating examples of how Jewish apocalyptic texts and traditions fared in early Christianity" (publisher's blurb).]
Collins, John J. The Scepter and the Star: The Messiahs of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Other Ancient Literature, ABRL. New York: Doubleday, 1995.
Cook, Stephen L. Prophecy and Apocalypticism: The Postexilic Social Setting. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1995.
Bernstein, Alan E. The Formation of Hell: Death and Retribution in the Ancient and Early Christian Worlds. Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1993.
Himmelfarb, Martha. Ascent to Heaven in Jewish and Christian Apocalypses. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.
Hill, Charles Evan. Regnum Caelorum: Patterns of Future Hope in Early Christianity. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992.
Russell, David Syme. Divine Disclosure: An Introduction to Jewish Apocalyptic. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 1992.
Kvanvig, Helge S. Roots of Apocalyptic: The Mesopotamian Background of the Enoch Figure and of the Son of Man, WMANT 61. Keukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener, 1988.
P. D. Hanson, Old Testament Apocalyptic. Interpreting Biblical Texts Series (Abingdon 1987).
Juel, Donald. Messianic Exegesis: Christological Interpretation of the Old Testament in Early Christianity. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1987.
Alexander, Paul J. The Byzantine Apocalyptic Tradition. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985. [review by Sevile G. Mannickarottu, 15 Nov 2005]
Beale, Gregory K. The Use of Daniel in Jewish Apocalyptic Literature and in the Revelation of St. John. Lanham, Maryland: University Press of America, 1984.
VanderKam, James C. Enoch and the Growth of an Apocalyptic Tradition, Catholic Biblical Quarterly Monography Series 16. Washington, D. C.: Catholic Biblical Association, 1984.
Aune, David Edward. Prophecy in Early Christianity and the Ancient Mediterranean World. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1983.
Himmelfarb, Martha. Tours of Hell: An Apocalyptic Form in Jewish and Christian Literature. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1983.
S. Niditch, The Symbolic Vision in Biblical Tradition. Harvard Semitic Monographs 30 (Scholars 1983)
C. Rowland, The Open Heaven: A Study of Apocalyptic in Judaism and Early Christianity (Crossroad 1982).
R. R. Wilson, "From Prophecy to Apocalyptic: Reflections on the Shape of Israelite Religion." Semeia 21 (1981) 79-95.
D. S. Russell, Apocalyptic: Ancient and Modern (Fortress 1978). [Condensed from his 1964 book, with special attention to the enduring significance of apocalyptic literature.]
Gager, John G. Kingdom and Community: The Social World of Early Christianity. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1975.
W. Schmithals, The Apocalyptic Movement (Abingdon
P. D. Hanson, The Dawn of Apocalyptic.The Historical and Sociological Roots of Jewish Apocalyptic Eschatology. (Fortress 1975). [Finds the roots of apocalypticism in a disenfranchised group associated with the Jerusalem temple.]
Collins, John J. The Sibyline Oracles of Egyptian Judaism, 1972. See also his article in 2004: "The Third Sibyline Revisited" [review by Caroline Kelly, Nov 29th]
Levey, Samson H. The Messiah: An Aramaic Interpretation; The Messianic Exegesis of the Targum. Cincinnati: Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, 1974.
K. Koch, The Rediscovery of Apocalyptic (SCM 1972).
Aune, David Edward. The Cultic Setting of Realized Eschatology in Early Christianity, NovTSup 28. Leiden, Brill, 1972.
Hartman, Lars. Prophecy Interpreted: The Formation of Some Jewish Apocalyptic Texts and of the Eschatological Discourse in Mark 13 particularly, trans. Neil Tomkinson. Lund: CWK Gleerup Lund, 1966.
D. S. Russell, The Method and Message of Jewish Apocalyptic: 200 B.C.-A.D. 100 (Westminster 1964).
Klausner, Joseph. The Messianic Idea in Israel, from Its Beginning to the Completion of the Mishnah, 3d Hebrew edition, trans. W. F. Stinespring. New York: Macmillan, 1955; Hebrew original.
H. H. Rowley, The Relevance of
Apocalyptic (Lutterworth 1944).
See also the "Apocalypse and Millennium" Bibliography by Ted Daniels
Catherine Murphy's Bibliography
Online courses in similar topics:
http://www.philipharland.com/RELI629QApocalypticism.html (Philip A. Harland)
http://myweb.lmu.edu/fjust/THST398Apoc.htm (Felix Just)
http://www.theology.edu/apocaly.htm (Jim West)
http://myweb.lmu.edu/fjust/Apocalyptic_Links.htm (Felix Just)
(see also above for Catherine Murphy's course, "Apocalypse Now")