1st Edition

Eschatology in Antiquity Forms and Functions

Edited By Hilary Marlow, Karla Pollmann, Helen Van Noorden Copyright 2021
    654 Pages 27 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    654 Pages 27 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This collection of essays explores the rhetoric and practices surrounding views on life after death and the end of the world, including the fate of the individual, apocalyptic speculation and hope for cosmological renewal, in a wide range of societies from Ancient Mesopotamia to the Byzantine era.

    The 42 essays by leading scholars in each field explore the rich spectrum of ways in which eschatological understanding can be expressed, and for which purposes it can be used. Readers will gain new insight into the historical contexts, details, functions and impact of eschatological ideas and imagery in ancient texts and material culture from the twenty-fifth century BCE to the ninth century CE. Traditionally, the study of “eschatology” (and related concepts) has been pursued mainly by scholars of Jewish and Christian scripture. By broadening the disciplinary scope but remaining within the clearly defined geographical milieu of the Mediterranean, this volume enables its readers to note comparisons and contrasts, as well as exchanges of thought and transmission of eschatological ideas across Antiquity. Cross-referencing, high quality illustrations and extensive indexing contribute to a rich resource on a topic of contemporary interest and relevance.

    Eschatology in Antiquity is aimed at readers from a wide range of academic disciplines, as well as non-specialists including seminary students and religious leaders. The primary audience will comprise researchers in relevant fields including Biblical Studies, Classics and Ancient History, Ancient Philosophy, Ancient Near Eastern Studies, Art History, Late Antiquity, Byzantine Studies and Cultural Studies. Care has been taken to ensure that the essays are accessible to undergraduates and those without specialist knowledge of particular subject areas.

    List of figures

    List of tables

    List of contributors


    List of abbreviations


    Helen Van Noorden, Hilary Marlow and Karla Pollmann

    Section 1: Ancient Near East and Hebrew Bible

    1 Beyond the Future: Mesopotamian Perceptions of the Very End

    Dina Katz

    2 Individual and Universal Eschatology in Zoroastrianism

    Leon Goldman

    3 Egyptian Oracles and the Afterlife

    Alexandre Loktionov

    4 Eschatology in the Book of Isaiah: Multiple Perspectives on the Promised Times

    Uta Schmidt

    5 "As I Looked": Visionary Experiences and Conceptions of Place in the Book of Ezekiel

    Hilary Marlow

    6 Daniel and Daniel Apocalyptica

    Lester L. Grabbe

    Section 2: Greek World

    7 Beyond the Stream of the Ocean: Hades, the Aethiopians and the Homeric eschata

    George A. Gazis

    8 ‘Orphic’ Eschatologies? Varying Visions

    of the Afterlife in Greek Thought

    Radcliffe Edmonds

    9 Eschatological Visions in Pindar and Empedocles

    Chiara R. Ciampa

    10 Plato’s Myths, the Soul and its Intra-cosmic Future

    Alex Long

    11 Contemplating the End of Roman Power: Polybius' Histories in Context

    Nicolas Wiater

    Section 3: Jewish Texts of the Hellenistic and Roman Periods

    12 Protology and Eschatology in the Enochic Traditions

    Gabriele Boccaccini

    13 Dreams and Visions of Eschatological Trees in The Book of the Watchers (1 Enoch 1-36)

    Frances Flannery

    14 Apocalyptic Eschatology in the Dead Sea Scrolls: The End as Counter-Cultural Discourse on Society and Creation

    Albert Hogeterp

    15 Returning from the Diaspora of the Soul: Eschatology in Philo of Alexandria

    Sami Yli-Karjanmaa

    16 End Times and Ending Times in 4 Ezra

    Carla Sulzbach

    17 Eschatology in the Early Jewish Pseudepigrapha and the Early Christian Apocrypha

    Lorenzo DiTommaso

    Section 4: Etruscan and Roman Worlds

    18 Etruscan eschata

    L. Bouke van der Meer

    19 Hope and Empire in Ciceronian Eschatology

    Jed W. Atkins

    20 Lucretius ‘On the Nature of Things’: Eschatology in an Age of Anxiety

    Alessandro Schiesaro

    21 Eschatological Temporalities in Vergil’s Elysium

    Giovanna Laterza

    22 The End is the Beginning is the End: Apocalyptic Beginnings in Augustan Poetry

    Elena Giusti

    23 Eschatology in Seneca: The Senses of an Ending

    Gareth Williams

    24 Enduring Death and Remembering the Apocalypse: Identity, Timespace, and Lucanian Paradoxes

    Katharine M. Earnshaw

    25 Popular Eschatological Visions in the Roman Empire

    Jerry Toner

    26 Four Eschatological Emperors: Augustus, Nero, Vespasian and Hadrian

    Christopher Star

    Section 5: New Testament texts

    27 The End of the Temple or the End of the World? 1st Century Eschatology in the Gospels of Mark and Matthew

    Sarah Underwood Dixon

    28 The End—What and When? Eschatology in Luke-Acts

    Steve Walton

    29 Eschatology in the Gospel of John and the Johannine Epistles

    Jörg Frey

    30 Eschatology—Pauline and Catholic Epistles

    Eve-Marie Becker

    31 The Book of Revelation: The Apocalypse of Jesus Christ

    Christopher Rowland

    Section 6: Late Antiquity and Byzantine World

    32 Eschatology in Origen from Alexandria

    Anders-Christian Jacobsen

    33 Eschatology in Early Christian Poetry

    Nikolaus Klassen

    34 The Eschatological Thought of Basil the Great and Gregory of Nyssa

    Sergey Trostyanskiy

    35 Knowing One’s Place: Eschatological Thought in Augustine

    Karla Pollmann

    36 Eschatological Motifs and Patterns of Thought in Christian Hagiography

    Peter Gemeinhardt

    37 Syriac Eschatology in Antiquity

    Witold Witakowski

    38 Eschatology and Anti-Jewish Polemic: Examples from the Armenian Tradition

    Zaroui Pogossian

    39 Early Muslim Apocalypses and their Origins

    David Cook

    40 Christian Eschatology in Late Antique/Byzantine Egypt

    David Frankfurter

    41 Symbols, Icons, Liturgy: Eschatology in Early Christian Art

    Vladimir Cvetkovic

    42 Eschatology in the Apocalyptic Revival in Judaism (6th-9th centuries CE) in its Historical Context

    Philip Alexander

    Index of names and subjects


    Hilary Marlow is Fellow, Director of Studies and Tutor at Girton College, Cambridge, UK, and teaches Hebrew Bible in the Faculty of Divinity, University of Cambridge, UK. Her research interests include nature in the Hebrew Bible, ecology and the Bible and prophetic texts of the Hebrew Bible. She is author of Biblical Prophets and Contemporary Environmental Ethics (2009) and numerous articles and essays.

    Karla Pollmann is Dean of the Faculty of Arts at the University of Bristol, UK, and Professor of Classics and Theology. She is also an honorary member of the University of Aarhus, Denmark, and the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa, and a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Green College, UBC, Vancouver, Canada. Her research interests span Classical and Late Antique literature and culture, and their reception. In 2020, she was awarded a Humboldt Research Prize in recognition of her internationally leading work. Major publications include The Oxford Guide to the Historical Reception of Augustine, 3 vols (2013) as Editor-in-Chief, and The Baptized Muse (2017).

    Helen Van Noorden is Senior Lecturer in Classics and Wrigley Fellow at Girton College, Cambridge, UK, and in 2020–2022 is Associate Professor and AIAS-COFUND Fellow at the Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies, Denmark. She is the author of Playing Hesiod: the ‘Myth of the Races’ in Classical Antiquity (2015). Her current focus is a monograph study and translation of Books 3–5 of the Sibylline Oracles.

    "[N]ot only does Eschatology in Antiquity provide an up-to-date examination of specific eschatological texts/themes/materials from across antiquity, it also creates a unique opportunity for comparison and contrast across an extensive breadth of cultural and historical milieux.... The significance of this volume’s unique scope cannot be overstated and should be considered the culmination of several recent trends in eschatological scholarship... [T]he volume is highly accessible to both non-specialists and undergraduates... In sum, Eschatology in Antiquity will be a valuable resource for anyone broadly interested in eschatology in the ancient world. Not only does this volume provide accessible, up-to-date examinations of key texts, cultures, and materials but it combines this with a previously unrealised opportunity for comparison and contrast via its unprecedented breadth of scope (geographically, temporally, and culturally)." - Bryn Mawr Classical Review

    "The volume is an impressive collection of studies...even in cases where I disagree with the conclusions, the papers are stimulating food for thought." - The Classical Review