The CEU Center for Religious Studies
cordially invites you to a lecture by
(Eötvös Loránd Tudományegyetem)
Julian the Apostate and the Pagan Interpretation of the Bible in Late Antiquity
Thursday, October 31, 2013
CEU, Nádor u. 9
Reception to follow
Abstract: The Greek translation of the Torah in Ptolemaic Alexandria inaugurated a process which was to make the Bible known in most parts of the Greco-Roman world. Partly due to an extensive interpretative activity by both Jews and Christians, the Bible in Late Antiquity was beginning to overshadow all other prestigious scriptures and traditions of old, prompting reactions by pagan intellectuals. In order to point out the values of their own traditions, these Hellenistic thinkers challenged the authority of the Bible, thereby inevitably offering their own Biblical interpretations. I will discuss these alternative interpretations of the Bible, focusing especially on the works of Emperor Julian (361-363), an apostate from Christianity and a disciple of the Neoplatonic school of the Syrian Iamblichus. After an introduction to the religious ideas and exegetical methods of Iamblichus’ school, I will offer analyses of key passages in the Emperor’s oeuvre where the way in which he read the Bible becomes manifest. I will argue that in most cases it is on the surface only that the Emperor rejects the Bible outright. On a deeper level he was interested in a polemical, yet often quite creative reinterpretation and appropriation of the Biblical material.
Gábor Buzási is assistant professor at ELTE, Budapest, and recurrent visiting professor at CEU. After studying in Budapest and Leuven, he defended his doctoral dissertation on Neoplatonic solar theology at the Catholic University of Leuven (2009). He teaches Hellenistic Jewish literature, Biblical interpretation, Greek and Hebrew text seminars on sources related to religion in Late Antiquity, and Ancient Greek. His research focuses on the interactions between Hellenism, Judaism and Christianity in Late Antiquity.
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