International Conference "Dreams, Visions, Imaginations: Jewish, Christian and Gnostic Views of the World to Come"
The International Conference "Dreams, Visions, Imaginations: Jewish, Christian and Gnostic Views of the World to Come" will focus on the historical origin, religious outlook and social function of ancient Jewish and Christian texts, including so-called “Gnostic” writings, which are often labeled as “apocalyptic literature”.
Although it is disputed whether there was a genre of “apocalyptic literature,” it is obvious that numerous texts from ancient Judaism, early Christianity and other religious milieus share a specific view on history and the world to come. Many of these writings are presented in form of a heavenly (divine) revelation, mediated through to an elected human being who discloses this revelation to his recipients in written form.
Against this general background the conference will focus on the following questions in particular:
- Why were apocalyptic writings produced at all?
- Why did “apocalyptic” interpretations of history originate in Second Temple Judaism, in early Christianity, in “Gnostic” writings, but also in Greco-Roman religion, in Manichaeism and even early Islam?
- How can the view on history developed in these writings be described in more detail?
- Does the relationship between the upper world and the earthly realm as it is described in these writings point to a common worldview in different religious milieus?
- Is the “apocalyptic imagination” attractive until today because it provides an idea about eternal reward and punishment and the final victory of divine justice?
- Last, but not least: What does it mean for contemporary interpretation and usage of apocalyptic texts that not a few of them contain violent, sometimes even brutal descriptions of the devastation of the contemporary world and the punishment of those who do not obey the will of God?