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HIST1102 The End of the World: Apocalyptic Visions of History

Module Overview

Apocalyptic texts are important because they represent an expression of political turmoil or social and cultural fears. They shed light on attitudes to historical events and to surrounding cultures at crucial periods in the development of world history. ‘The End of the World’ introduces you to the cultural and historical contexts of apocalyptic ideology in Late Antiquity (Palestine under Greek and Roman rule up to the rise of Islam). It explores how concepts of the end of time and afterlife present a response to historical events such as the Jewish War against Rome or the Muslim Arab conquests. This module examines the Jewish and Christian communities that produced apocalypses, the historical value of apocalypses for the period of Late Antiquity, and what they teach about intercultural relations in this period.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

• To give a detailed understanding of Jewish and Christian apocalypses and their significance. • To outline the development of apocalyptic thought up to the rise of Islam. • To examine the historical and cultural background of Late Antiquity. • To explore the relationship between apocalyptic literature and historical events. • To examine the relevance of apocalypses to the development of Judaism and Christianity and to investigation of the relationship between these groups in Late Antiquity.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • Key events and environments in history of the Roman and Byzantine Near East in Late Antiquity.
  • The genre of apocalyptic.
  • The relationships between Jews and Christians in Late Antiquity and their attitudes to historical events.
  • Key primary sources and literature that provide evidence for relations between Jews and Christians and their neighbours, and contribute to knowledge of Late Antiquity.
  • The latest research on the subjects of apocalyptic, the history of Late Antiquity and Jewish-Christian relations.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Organise and structure material to write and present confidently.
  • Analyse critically primary and secondary material.
  • Participate actively in group discussions and debate.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Discuss the historical background of Jewish and Christian apocalyptic thought and literature in Late Antiquity.
  • Express familiarity with the content of apocalyptic writings and themes from Late Antiquity.
  • Analyse the relationship of Jewish apocalyptic literature to Christian apocalyptic texts and motifs.
  • Explain the significance of apocalypses for the history of Late Antiquity, and for understanding of the relationship between groups of Jews and Christians and their attitudes to the rise of Islam.
  • Evaluate critically the theoretical and methodological approaches used by scholars working on apocalyptic.
  • Interpret critically a variety of primary sources from Late Antiquity.
  • Explain your own views on debates within the fields of apocalyptic and Jewish-Christian relations in Late Antiquity.

Syllabus

This module will explore the nature and significance of Jewish and Christian apocalyptic traditions in Late Antiquity up to and including the rise of Islam. The module will examine the communities that produced apocalypses, their historical value for the period of Late Antiquity, and what they teach about the relationship between Jews and Christians in the period and their attitudes to historical events. The module will begin by asking you to discuss and evaluate the genre and significance of apocalyptic. The distinctive characteristics of Jewish and Christian apocalyptic will be considered, with reference to themes such as messianism, life after death and justice and injustice. The module will then focus on a series of case studies, which will explore the theological, sociological, political and historical significance of apocalyptic traditions with reference to key events in the Roman and Byzantine Empires. This will include topics such as the Jewish War against Rome, Byzantine-Persian wars and the rise of Islam. The module will introduce you to the cultural and historical contexts of apocalyptic in Late Antiquity as well as exploring how concepts of the end of time and afterlife evolved in dynamic interaction with socio-historical circumstances. Apocalypses are important because they represent an expression of social and cultural concerns, but also are of great significance for shedding light on attitudes to historical events and to surrounding cultures at a crucial period in the development of world history.

Special Features

Students will have access to the unique and world famous Parkes Library.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include: • A weekly two-hour class incorporating lecture and seminar elements • Lecturer-led examination and discussion of sources Learning activities include: • Preparatory reading before each seminar • Participation in group and class discussion • Independent reading of the sources provided and of related secondary works • Short oral presentations on primary sources • Independent research of additional information and source materials Lecture elements will provide you with general knowledge and understanding about chronology, sources and key concepts. This will be consolidated through readings and seminar discussions of primary and secondary source material. Discussion in seminars will help you to develop your own ideas about a topic, to analyse a range of source material and to articulate a critical argument.

TypeHours
Teaching24
Independent Study126
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Bockmuehl M. and J. Carleton Paget (2007). Redemption and Resistance: The Messianic Hopes of Jews and Christians in Antiquity. 

Levine, L. I. (ed.) (1999). Jerusalem: Its Sanctity and Centrality to Judaism, Christianity and Islam. 

Schäfer, P (1995). History of the Jews in Antiquity. 

Russell, D.S (1992). Divine Disclosure: An Introduction to Jewish Apocalyptic. 

Reeves, J.C (2006). Trajectories in Near Eastern Apocalyptic: A Postrabbinic Jewish Apocalypse Reader. 

Cameron, A., and I. Conrad (1992- 95). The Byzantine and Early Islamic Near East I-III. 

Kaegi, W (1992). Byzantium and the Early Islamic Conquests. 

Olster, D (1994). Roman Defeat, Christian Response, and the Literary Construction of the Jew. 

Charlesworth, J. H (1985). The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha vol.1-2. 

Gil, M (1992). A History of Palestine 634-1099. 

Hoyland, R.G (1997). Seeing Islam As Others Saw It: A Survey and Evaluation of Christian, Jewish and Zoroastrian Writings on Early Islam. 

Collins, J.J (1984). The Apocalyptic Imagination. 

Rowland, C.C (1982). The Open Heaven. 

Wilken, R.L (1992). The Land Called Holy. 

Mulder, M.J. and H. Sysling (eds) (1988). Mikra: Text, Translation, Reading and Interpretation of the Hebrew Bible in Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity. 

Assessment

Assessment Strategy

Assessments designed to provide informal feedback: • You will engage in small group exercises, focusing on specific formative tasks, which will be reviewed in class • You will be encouraged to discuss preparation for your formal assessment with your tutor • You will have the opportunity to seek individual advice on your work in progress from your tutor • Guidance and advice in class on preparation, completion and presentation of assignments will be available to you The formal assessments will promote skills of analysis and critical thinking. They will also reinforce organisational, planning and writing skills.

Summative

MethodPercentage contribution
Commentary exercise  (1000 words) 20%
Essay  (2000 words) 40%
Examination  (3 hours) 40%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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