For the registration and application procedure, please see this page.
Call for Papers opens: February 20, 2017.
Call for Papers closes: April 30, 2017.
Notification of acceptance by May 15, 2017.
Programme Units (2017)
Programme Unit responsibles and email addresses are indicated in parentheses. Programme Units are listed in alphabetical order.
Ancient Intellectual Culture
This unit explores ancient intellectual culture – literature, rhetoric, philosophy – and its engagement by early Christ-groups and other new eastern cults.
⇒ The session will include only invited papers.
Anthropology of Religious Forms and Identities
Written and Spoken Words. The profound and problematic interconnection between orality and writing will be at the center of the anthropological session. The confrontation of “written words” and “oral words” is always underway; rather regularly, it re-emerges to the forefront. We do not want to interpret the former in the light of the latter or attribute priority to some “words” rather than to others. We think appropriate to consider these two expressive forms as strategically and dynamically bound. Our idea is to explore relevant peculiarities of the mentioned interconnection, within specific documented cases. We want to emphasize ethnographic materials—regarding visions, memories, discourses, debates, habits etc.—in order to enhance the analysis of different historical-cultural environments (in ancient and contemporary times).
⇒ Special attention will be paid to the anthropology of writing and memory.
Archaeology and Christian Origins: Epigraphic Practices, Literary Sources, and Iconography in the First Three Centuries
Objective of this unit is to investigate and evaluate the importance of archaeological, epigraphic and figurative evidence in relation to the various issues connected with Christian origins. For this purpose, it is necessary first of all to examine the historical background of the documentation that is useful to our task, namely to investigate chronology, context, functions of all forms of monumental evidence. On the other hand, for a methodologically correct approach to the study of historical context of archaeological or epigraphic or figurative evidence, it is also necessary to take into consideration literary testimonies that are relevant for the history of Christian origins. In fact, monumental and literary evidence are not to be analyzed monolithically, but must be considered and understood as products of the cultural-historical context to which they belong. Particular attention in our research project will be given to the presence of Christians in Rome in the first three centuries.
⇒ This year, we will focus especially on the archaeology of Ostia in the first century.
Christian Origins: Modern Myths and Historical Representations
The section invites papers dealing with the birth of modern scholarship on early Christianity. The main purpose is to reconstruct the ways in which covert apologetic agendas, both religious and secular, may have led to the construction of different myths of Christian origins. Proposals will be welcomed on: (a) the emergence in early modern Europe of a specific interest in the problem of origins; (b) the historical investigation on Early Christianity and “biblical” Judaism as a mirror of doctrinal disputes; (c) the modern rediscovery of apocryphal texts and traditions; (d) the contributions of Catholic and Reformed intellectuals to the rise of the comparative study of religion; (e) the relationship between modern religious imagery and the historical or pseudo-historical representation of Christian origins.
Discussion of Recent Books
⇒ This is an invitation-only book review panel.
Early Christ Groups and Epigraphy
This unit looks broadly at epigraphy and its contributions to the study of early Christ groups.
⇒ Only invited papers will be presented.
Early Groups of Jesus’ Followers
This research unit aims to re-explore the social world of the early groups of Jesus’ followers (1st–2nd cent.), re-describing the emergence of Christianity in terms of anthropology, social history, and cultural studies. Proposals are welcomed on any aspect related to the social forms and composition of the early Christian groups (types of gathering, in-group and out-group relationships, gender dynamics), their continuity or discontinuity with Jesus’ practice of life, their relationship with other groups and institutions of the ancient Mediterranean world (forms of cohabitation, negotiation, and conflict), their production and use of texts, their conceptions of space and time, as well as the reconstruction of their communicative networks. Preference will be given to papers that focus on new approaches or under-explored subjects, reflecting comparative and/or interdisciplinary research.
Gospel of Thomas, Nag Hammadi, and Gnosticism
This unit welcomes contributions on the Coptic Gospel of Thomas, the Nag Hammadi texts and other Gnostic documents (e.g. Codex Tchacos, Codex Bruce). In this first year the unit does not aim to investigate a specific theme, but is open to contributions that take into account both specific and cross-cutting issues, from whatever critical perspective (literary, socio-anthropological, historiographical, pragmatic…). Interdisciplinary approaches and methodological renewal are strongly encouraged.
We suggest contributions on (a) Jesus’ eschatology (imminence of the kingdom, Jesus’ second coming, Jesus’ eschatological conceptions, Jesus and the Son of Man); (b) the death of Jesus; (c) Jesus’ religious experiences; (d) Jesus and John the Baptizer. Also welcome are papers about (e) memory studies and the historical Jesus; (f) critical theories about religious texts.
History of the Research on Jesus in Modern and Contemporary Times
From the late-fifteenth century to the end of the eighteenth, several factors determined a new analysis of the figure of Jesus in the modern age. First of all, from the beginning of the fifteenth century, Humanism, with its insistence on reading the texts in original language, had a far-reaching effect on biblical research. A second factor was the Protestant idea of discontinuity between medieval theology and Christian origins, or better, Word of God. This principle of discontinuity was a powerful urge in the search for the authentic character of Jesus, beyond the later false theological representations. The Catholic theology emerging from the Council of Trent set in motion a dynamic of mistrust towards a search for the historical figure of Jesus. A third factor was the emergence of a comparative perspective, linked to the increasing awareness of the existence of new religions after discovery of the Americas and the colonial conquests. A fourth factor was the reflection of politology, which, starting from the sixteenth century, became one of the privileged places for a renewed interpretation of the religious traditions of Christianity, the Sacred Scripture and the function of Jesus, as distinct from that of the Church. A fifth factor was a new way of thinking about classical antiquity, which developed in Europe around the 1730s, thanks to archaeological discoveries, particularly of ancient Rome. Finally, a Jewish presence in the scholarly culture of Europe, posed the need for a Jewish reading of the Bible and a Jewish interpretation of Jesus.
⇒ A special panel will be devoted to the discussion of the following books:
- Omero Proietti, Exame das tradiçoẽs phariseas / Esame delle tradizioni farisee (1624). Saggio introduttivo, testo critico, traduzione e commento (Macerata: Eum, 2014)
- Philippe Bobichon, Controverse judéo-chrétienne en Ashkenaz (XIIIe siècle). Florilèges polémiques : hébreu, latin, ancien français. Paris, Bnf Hébreu 712, Fol. 56v/57v – 66v/68v. Edition, traduction, commentaires (Turnhout: Brepols, 2016)
- Francesco Quatrini, The book on Jesus of Adam Boreel (1602-1665) (forthcoming)
- Eleonora Travanti, Spinoza and the Idealization of Jesus (forthcoming)
⇒ We encourage papers on Jewish interpretations of Jesus in modern times.
Jewish History and Hellenistic Judaism
In the first years, the panel “History of the Jews and Judaism in the Hellenistic-Roman period” has been focusing on relationship and dialogue of Jews with other cultures and on Jewish identity in the ancient world. In the years 2017-2019 the focus will be on the dialectics within the Jewish world and, in particular, on groups, sects and trends which animated the Jewish world in the centuries I BCE – I CE.
⇒ Recent studies have definitely undermined the traditional image of a sectarian Judaism. So a complex and lengthy process of redefinition of the “parties” started and today the making is in progress. We therefore invite scholars to present:
a) Works that deal with the theme of socio-political-religious context of Judea, the nature and organization of social groups operating there since the first century BCE to the first century CE.
b) “Case studies”, i.e. research paths that deal with specific situations helping to shed light on groups and tendencies within the Jewish world.
Mark and the Other Gospels
Aim of this unit is to provide an interdisciplinary forum for ongoing research on both canonical and extra-canonical Gospels. We encourage papers that employ innovative reading strategies, suggest new areas of inquiry, and/or offer new perspectives on enduring questions. Especially welcomed will be proposals on: (a) The reconstruction and localization of Mark’s sources; (b) The reception of Mark in the first three centuries; (c) Gospels and method: current trends in biblical studies; (d) The relationship between canonical and extra-canonical materials; (e) The socio-cultural context of miracle stories in the gospel tradition; (f) Women and the Jesus’ movement: gender issues in gospel texts.
Methodological Questions: Memory, Cognitive Studies, Sociology, Anthropology
Principal aim of our thematic session is to promote research with different disciplinary backgrounds and inspired by an instance of radical de-metaphysicization of the processes of creation, transmission, commitment to memory and consolidation/survival of religious representations made by Jesus’s followers in the Mediterranean world and Middle East between the first and third century CE. Because we are sure of the epistemological compatibility among some perspectives too often opposed each others, and at the same time we are not able to draw a precise threshold of distinction and transition between nature and culture, bios and nomos, in order to make a reconstruction of the formation dynamics of symbolic systems, our interest will be focused, at the same level, on cognitive and bio-cultural approaches, historical discourse analysis, post-colonial studies and sociological field theories. More generally, we would like to contribute to the creation of a trans-disciplinary area where a new scientific policy in the research on Christian origins will be available.
Oral and Written Sources of the Gospels and of Early Christian Texts
Papers are invited on the following topics: (a) oral and/or written sources of apocryphal and canonical Gospels and of individual early Christian writings; (b) relations between these sources; c) relations between Gospels’ sources and groups of Jesus’ followers. Particularly welcomed will be papers about the sources of Matthew, Luke, John, Thomas, Gospel of the Hebrews, Gospel of Peter. (Publications of the papers is envisaged.)
Papyrology and Early Christianity
This unit is aimed at investigating the use of papyri, ostraca and related material to illumine the text, language, society, and thought of the writings of the followers of Jesus in the first 150 years. Regarding documentary papyrology, we invite papers dealing with the methodology of comparing texts in general as well as with particular genres (e.g., private and official letters, deeds, contracts etc.) and topics, and how and inasmuch they can be compared with New Testament and other early Christian writings or passages. Of course, also papers on recently identified or edited papyri and parchments containing texts of the New Testament and other early Christian literature as well as subliterary or documentary Christian texts are more than welcome.
Re-Dating the Early Christian Texts
This unit aims to (re)discuss the date of composition of the Gospels and other proto-Christian texts. We invite papers moving from the recent suggestions of P.F. Beatrice, M. Klinghardt, D.R. MacDonald, M. Vinzent, and Th. Witulski.
Religious Practices and Experiences in Hellenistic-Roman Judaism and Early Christianity (2nd cent. BCE – 4th Century CE)
For a long time history of Judaism and ancient Christianity has been analyzed as a process of evolving debates and ideological conflicts around ‘orthodoxy’ matters. Such an approach was the product of the traditional exegetical paradigm focused on literary and theological profiles of ancient Jewish and/or Christian authors and groups. As far as historical sources allow it, with this panel we shall attempt instead to identify and describe multifarious religious practices documented for Jewish and early Christian groups between the 2nd cent. BCE and the 4th cent. CE, both in the context of the social formations they developed and as integral part of the wider Graeco-Roman environment. Moving beyond the classical literary and narrative paradigm, scholars are therefore invited to look at texts as complex socio-cultural artifacts and therefore present papers aiming at ‘seeing’ through texts, and reconstructing baptismal praxis as well as other initiation rituals, banquets as well as cultic meals and gatherings, teaching practices, experiences of contact with the world of numinous power (visions, heavenly journeys, dreams, glossolalic phenomena and speeches, divination and prophecy), prayers, dietary habits, healings and exorcisms, funerary rites, and so on. Finally, particular attention will be reserved to discursive modalities through which Jewish and/or proto-Christian religious experiences are re-codified and rendered in cognitive as well as in cultural terms.
⇒ Papers will be delivered partly on invitation, partly by application and submission of an abstract.
Transmission of Jesus’ Words
Reconstructing the transmission of Jesus’ words is nowadays at the centre of the scholarly debate on Christian origins. First of all, it is necessary to study all the available materials, overcoming the anachronistic distinction between apocryphal and canonical sources. Materials coming from ancient Christian literature (especially in Syriac, Coptic, and Armenian) still require close attention: we also need to reconstruct their trajectories and areas of transmission. Equally necessary would be a critical theory of memory, memorization, and the oral and written modes of transmission. Finally, how the shift from Jesus to Christianity has resulted in a change of the words of the historical Jesus, is yet another question of great importance, where current research once again measures itself against the exegesis of the 19th and 20th centuries.
Women in Ancient Mediterranean Cultures and in Early Christianity
This is an invitation-only panel on the book of Leo Peppe, Civis Romana. Forme giuridiche e modelli sociali dell’appartenenza e dell’identità femminili in Roma antica (Lecce: Grifo, 2016).