Time: 10:30 - 16:30
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
Course Code: RC619
Duration: 1 session
What is the course about?
The course will explore a wide range of imaginative literature from the ancient world concerned with ‘souls journeys’ and the experience of otherworldly journeys and visions: either going upwards to ‘heaven’, or going down to ‘hell’, in an attempt to describe the complex history of the world of the dead. We will trace the importance of this literary and theological trope to the ancient near-east (Mesopotamian and Egyptian texts) while focusing on Jewish texts arising form the Hellenistic period and the Greco-Roman world, as well as early Christian and Muslim texts. This literature forms the basis of mystical literature and tradition which will flourish in Western Europe from the Medieval period onwards.
This is a live online course. You will need:
- Internet connection. The classes work best with Chrome.
- A computer with microphone and camera is best (e.g. a PC/laptop/iMac/MacBook), or a tablet/iPad/smart phone/iPhone if you don't have a computer.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.
What will we cover?
The day will be divided into two parts: the first part will look at a number of texts depicting heavenly journeys (either undertaken from an individual’s initiative or from a heavenly, divine call). We will analyse the texts with reference to their socio-historical, literary and cognitive context, and will look for the communality of themes. Examples will include the Parables of 1 Enoch, various apocalyptic texts (the Testament and the Apocalyse of Abraham; The second part will explore ‘tours of hell’, a type of literature which imaginatively explore the descent of the soul to a mythic place (and its fate). Its ancient origins in the Egyptian Book of the Dead, Plato’s myth of Er and the Bible (e.g. Gen 28:11-19; Ezekiel 1) in particular will help us to understand their appeal and reception in later mystical literature. Examples will include the book of the Watchers in 1 Enoch, the Apocalypse of Peter, the Apocalypse of Paul, 3 Baruch and The History of the Rechabites.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
• Understand the reasons for the emergence of a literature concerned with exploring a mythical geography of ‘heaven’ and ‘hell’.
• Identify the main literary themes;
• Be aware of the socio-historical context of the relevant texts.
• Place this type of literature within the context of mystical explorations.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
The course is open to everyone and does not require any specific studies. Some knowledge of the Bible, but more importantly an openness of mind and a willingness to engage with a variety of views will help you get the most out of this class.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
The class will be based around PowerPoint presentations, and discussion groups.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
Please bring a copy of the Bible and writing material, if you wish to take notes.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
Other courses on Biblical stories and Biblical Hebrew classes starting in January and April.
Dr Ann Jeffers taught Biblical Studies (Hebrew Bible and Second Temple Judaism) at Trinity College Dublin and Heythrop College, University of London for 30 years. She is now Research Fellow at Roehampton University. Her research interests, and publications are in the field of magic and divination in the Bible and the ancient world, feminism and reception history of the Bible mostly in literature and the visual arts. She also belongs to an interdisciplinary research group, ‘Media and Religion’.
Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.