KU Leuven, Belgium, 30 September 2020
Deadline: 15 April 2020
One of the most recognizable figures in the Christian tradition, the extravagantly portrayed New Jerusalem of Revelation 21—22, was appropriated by Christians throughout the late-antique period to represent an array of meanings and support various priorities. The reception of these patristic notions of the New Jerusalem has had a direct, profound, and enduring influence on the idea of the holy city in both the West and East in many contexts and leaves a legacy that continues to shape our culture to this very day. For a variety of reasons, however, the foundational early-Christian understandings, uses, and abuses of the New Jerusalem idea have been mostly overlooked at an object of study in its own right. This symposium, therefore, seeks to refocus scholarly attention on the patristic reception of the biblical New Jerusalem.
Revelation’s New Jerusalem has been taken to signify inter alia the believer’s soul, the church universal, various ecclesiastical buildings, the present life of virtue, the future messianic reign, the coming reward of the just, and the consummated union of the virtuous with Christ in eternity. While in this symposium we will always center on the New Jerusalem as it appears in Revelation 21—22, we will also take into consideration accounts of the spiritual Jerusalem that emerge from a rich network of biblical, classical, and apocalyptic texts that ancient authors draw on in connection with the New Jerusalem. Examples of such sources include Paul’s “Jerusalem above” text [Gal. 4:26], the “heavenly Jerusalem” passage of Heb. 12:21-22, representations of a renewed Jerusalem in the Psalter and the Prophets, Virgil’s Eclogue 4, the Sibylline Oracles). Treatments of the New Jerusalem inspired by non-textual ancient sources will also be within our scope.
The focus of interest will be (1) the various late antique Christian interpretations of the New Jerusalem, the theological, ethical, and political priorities it has been enlisted to support, (2) the sources upon which these interpretations and appropriations were based, the earliest artistic realizations of the image, and, (3) the motivations of the actors involved. The period covered will be c. 150 – 800.
For details, see the full call for papers.