June 25, 2019


Name Dr Elsa Simonetti Email elsa.g.simonetti@durham.ac.uk Categories Conference / workshop , DCAMP event



Ancient Revelation: Divination, Prophecy and Epiphany

The objective of this conference is to explore the reasons for the paramount success that the concept of ‘revelation’ enjoys during the first Imperial era. Its chronological focus is placed on the I-IV centuries AD, an age in which the notion of ‘revealed truth’ is appropriated by different religious, ethnic, and cultural groups (such as Jews, Christians and pagans), who employ it to define their respective identities and traditions, to articulate their reciprocal (and not always peaceful) interactions, and more broadly to construct their own worldview — a far-reaching endeavour, whose effects are still visible today.

The main questions that the workshop will address include the following: what made the notions of ‘revelation’ and ‘revealed truth’ so suitable to define the battlefield and the very terms of the momentous confrontation between diverse religious, philosophical and cultural strands in this age? How does this dynamic relate to the complete ‘paradigm shift’ prto which ancient forms of prophecy and divination undergo in the II-III centuries AD? How were the crucial parameters of ‘authority’ and ‘authenticity’ defined in this context, as applied to charismatic individuals as well as divinely inspired texts? Which conceptual systems were developed to frame the interplay between rational investigation and inspired ways knowledge acquisition? And, more broadly, is the modern dichotomy, and hierarchical relationship, between ‘rationality’ and ‘irrationality’ really effective when it comes to our study of the philosophical-religious beliefs of the ancient world?



This event was made possible thanks to the generous support of the British Academy, the British Society for the History of Philosophy, the Classical Association, the Mind Association, the Past and Present Society, and the Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies, as well as DCAMP, the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, and the Department of Classics and Ancient History at Durham.


Birley Room, Hatfield College, Durham DH1 3RQ, UK.