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Interdisciplinary book on Eschatology in Antiquity

A new book co-edited by AIAS Fellow Helen Van Noorden is the first large-scale multidisciplinary volume on ancient eschatology, the study of the end of things.

Image: Book cover of Eschatology in Antiquity. Forms and Functions.

Helen Van Noorden, a Classicist, has collaborated with Biblical Studies scholar Hilary Marlow (University of Cambridge) and Late Antique historian Karla Pollmann (University of Bristol) to steer this collection of 42 essays by leading and emerging scholars. The result, Eschatology in Antiquity. Forms and Functions (Routledge, 2021), explores the rhetoric and practices 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. 

This research-led handbook provides 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.

It is aimed at readers from a wide range of academic disciplines, not only Biblical Studies, Classics and Ancient History, but also Ancient Philosophy, Ancient Near Eastern Studies, Art History, Late Antiquity, Byzantine Studies and Cultural Studies. 

Traditionally, the study of “eschatology” has been pursued mainly by scholars of Jewish and Christian scripture. By broadening the disciplinary scope, Eschatology in Antiquity offers comparisons and contrasts, as well as exchanges of thought and transmission of eschatological ideas across Antiquity and beyond. 

‘We steer clear of “grand narratives” that generalise about the evolution of beliefs in world-end. Instead we highlight the variety of the material and functions of world-end discourse in antiquity and its later legacies. By paying attention to language and target audiences we can better understand the literary and practical contexts in which people were raising the subject of world-end,” commented Helen Van Noorden, Fellow at the Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies and Senior Lecturer in Classics at Girton College, University of Cambridge. 

More about the book via

Eschatology in Antiquity. Forms and Functions edited by 

Hilary Marlow, Karla Pollmann, Helen Van Noorden. Routledge: 2021.



Helen Van Noorden, AIAS Fellow & Senior Lecturer in Classics, Girton College, University of Cambridge, UK 
E-mail: hvn@aias.au.dk

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