THEO 228  Apocalyptic Literature

Course Description and Schedule

Instructor: Dr. Andrei Orlov


Phones:  414-288-7649 (office); 414-962-3460 (home)

Office: Coughlin Hall, 217




The main objective of this course is investigation of the conceptual world of Jewish apocalypticism and its formative value for early Christian theology. Jewish apocalyptic thought, a major theological paradigm of the Second Temple period, exercised arguably an unmatched influence on early Christian authors and thus became, in the words of Ernst Käsemann, “the mother of all Christian theology.”



Seminar - a mixture of introductory lectures, discussions, and student led presentations.




Two short seminar papers/presentations (3-5 pages each); one longer course paper (15-20 pages).

  • The first short paper/presentation will be a status quaestionis (“state of the question” – “S.Q.”) report on an apocalyptic document discussed in this course. (Please announce your choices by Wednesday, September 8. I would prefer no duplication, so please discuss your preferences among yourselves). The report should attempt to address the following questions: What are the hypothetical date and the provenance of the text? In what languages has the text survived? State of preservation, critical editions, original language, structure, historical and theological importance, possible social groups behind the text, relation to other apocalyptic texts, the best secondary literature. You can start your preparation for the paper by reading introductions to the texts in Charlesworth’s The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha. However, since Charlesworth’s volume was published more than twenty years ago you will need to supplement it with a newer scholarship. If you are “at sea” about what sort of resources to use, you are welcome to confer with your instructor and may also wish to consult these bibliographical guides: J. H. Charlesworth with J. A. Mueller, The New Testament Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha: A Guide to Publications, with Excursuses on Apocalypses (American Theological Library Association Bibliography Series. Metuchen, NJ/London: American Theological Library Association and Scarecrow Press, 1987); J.-C. Haelewyck, Clavis Apocryphorum Veteris Testamenti (Brepols: Turnhout, 1998); A. Lehnhardt, Bibliographie zu den jüdischen Schriften aus hellenistisch-romischer Zeit (Gütersloh, 1999); L. diTommazo, A Bibliography of Pseudepigrapha Research 1850-1999 (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2001).

  • The second short paper/presentation will deal with the theological content of an apocalyptic document discussed during the course. Students cannot choose the same document they chose for their status quaestionis presentation. It will be ideal if a student can concentrate on one or two major themes in the document (such as the Heavenly Temple; the Son of Man; the Origin of Evil, the Heavenly Throne, the Divine Judgment, etc) and explore their backgrounds in other texts. I will suggest a list of possible major themes, but this list can be always supplemented with new themes suggested by students. Students are also encouraged to select a different major theme for each study so that we will have a chance to discuss as many theological themes as possible.  So please talk among yourselves and announce your choices by Wednesday, September 8. I will supply a preliminary bibliography that will introduce you to the literature related to some of the major themes. I realize that it can be difficult to make a synthetic study of major theme(s) in apocalyptic writing before their substantive discussion in class. Therefore students have an option to substitute the “theme” presentation for two book reviews related to the chosen texts and themes. I will supply the list of books for reviews.

  • The short papers/presentations should contain 3-4 pages of single spaced prose or outline format and a page of bibliography, to be passed out to all class-members one week before class discussion. Book reviews should be 1-2 pages of single space prose.

  • The major assignment will be a seminar paper of 15-20 pages, focusing on a literary, theological, social, or historical question pertaining to apocalyptic texts and traditions. The paper is due December 13. The topic of the final paper will be chosen by student. It can be based on student’s short papers/presentations. Your final paper should conform to the style sheet presented in the SBL Handbook of Style (Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson Publishers, 1999). The Handbook can be found in the library (CALL NUMBER: PN 147.S26) and on the Internet in the PDF format.

  • The initial paper proposal should be one or two pages of single space prose describing your topic and the aims of your project plus another page of preliminary bibliography. The paper proposal with bibliography is due to instructor on Monday, October 4.

  • The student will present a preliminary draft of the paper during the last weeks of the class. The preliminary draft will be passed out to all class-members one week before class discussion.

  • Attendance, assigned reading and active participation in seminar discussions are of primary importance. Note that assigned readings are to be completed before each session. Evaluation of the student’s performance will be based on class participation, paper-proposal, two short presentations/papers, preliminary paper-presentation and especially the final paper.



Hebrew and Greek would be useful to our study. Students will be encouraged to utilize relevant sources in French and/or German in preparation of their longer papers.




  • The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha (vol. 1): Apocalyptic Literature and Testaments (ed. J. H. Charlesworth; New York: Doubleday, 1985 [1983]). ISBN: 0385096305.

  • J. J. Collins, The Apocalyptic Imagination: An Introduction to Jewish Apocalyptic Literature (Eerdmans, 1998). ISBN: 0802843719.

  • Reserve Materials. Note especially The Encyclopedia of Apocalypticism (vol. 1) in the Raynor Library Reference Section, CALL NUMBER: Ref. BL501. E53 1998.

  • All electronic documents listed in the schedule are available for download only as *. pdf files. These files require free Adobe Acrobat Reader in order to be viewed.





Monday, August 30: Introduction to the Course

Introductions of Students and Instructor; Discussion of Syllabus


Wednesday, September 1: Literary Genre: What is an Apocalypse?



Monday, September 6: Labor Day – No class



Wednesday, September 8: Roots of Apocalypticism: Mesopotamian Traditions


Monday, September 13: Roots of Apocalypticism: Mesopotamian Traditions (cont.)


Wednesday, September 15: Roots of Apocalypticism: Biblical Traditions



Monday, September 20: Early Enochic Apocalypses I: The Book of the Watchers


Wednesday, September 22: Early Enochic Apocalypses II: Animal Apocalypse



Monday, September 27: The Book of Daniel

  • Daniel 7-9.

  • Collins, Apocalyptic Imagination, ch. 3.

  • J. Fitzmyer, S.J., "The New Testament Title ‘Son of Man’ Philologically Considered." In A Wandering Aramean: Collected Aramaic Essays. Missoula, MT: Scholars Press, 1979. pp. 143-60. 


Wednesday, September 29: The Book of Daniel (cont.)


Monday, October 4: Ascents of the Patriarchs and Prophets: Moses


Wednesday, October 6: Ascents of the Patriarchs and Prophets: Baruch


Monday, October 11: Qumran: The Treatise of the Two Spirits


Wednesday, October 13: Qumran: Songs for the Sabbath Sacrifice

  • Songs for the Sabbath Sacrifice. Part I. Part II.

  • C. Fletcher-Louis, “The Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice,” in: C. Fletcher-Louis, All the Glory of Adam: Liturgical Anthropology in the Dead Sea Scrolls (STDJ, 42; Leiden: Brill, 2002) 252-279.

  • Books for Review: C. Fletcher-Louis, All the Glory of Adam: Liturgical Anthropology in the Dead Sea Scrolls (STDJ, 42; Leiden: Brill, 2002); J. Davila, Liturgical Works (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000); F. García Martínez, Qumran and Apocalyptic (STDJ 9; Leiden: Brill, 1992); L. Schiffman, The Eschatological Community of the Dead Sea Scrolls (Atlanta: Scholars, 1989).


Monday, October 18: The Similitudes of Enoch

  • The Book of the Similitudes 71.

  • Collins, Apocalyptic Imagination, ch. 6.

  • J.J. Collins, “The Heavenly Representative: The “Son of Man” in the Similitudes of Enoch,” in: Nickelsburg and Collins (eds.) 1980, 111-133.

  • J. VanderKam, “Righteous One, Messiah, Chosen One, and Son of Man in 1 Enoch 37-71,” in: The Messiah: Developments in Earliest Judaism and Christianity. The First Princeton Symposium on Judaism and Christian Origins (eds. J. H. Charlesworth et al.; Minneapolis: Fortress, 1992) 169-91.


Wednesday, October 20: 4 Ezra


Monday, October 25: Apocalypse of Abraham

  • Apocalypse of Abraham. OTP, 1.689-705.

  • Collins, Ch. 7 (Apocalypse of Abraham)

  • Books for Review: R. Bauckham, The Fate of the Dead. Studies on the Jewish and Christian Apocalypses (SNT, 93; Leiden: Brill, 1998).


Wednesday, October 27: 2 Enoch


Monday, November 1: Selected Themes in the Gospels/Acts


Wednesday, November 3: Apocalyptic Paul


Monday, November 8: The Book of Revelation

  • Book of Revelation 1-11

  • A. Y. Collins, “The Book of Revelation,” in: EncApoc, 1.384-414.

  • D. E. Aune, “The Apocalypse of John and the Problem of Genre,” 65-96.

  • Books for Reviews: A. Y. Collins, The Combat Myth in the Book of Revelation (Harvard Dissertations in Religion, 9; Missouls, Mont.: Scholars, 1976); A. Y. Collins, Crisis and Catharsis: The Power of the Apocalypse (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1984).


Wednesday, November 10: The Book of Revelation (cont)

  • Book of Revelation 12-22

  • Books for Review: R. Bauckham, The Climax of Prophecy. Studies in the Book of Revelation (Edinburgh: Clark, 1993).


Monday, November 15: Christian Trajectories: Ascension of Isaiah

  • Ascension of Isaiah.

  • Books for Reviews: J. Knight, Disciples of the Beloved One: The Christology, Social Settings and Theological Context of the Ascension of Isaiah (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1996); J. Knight, The Ascension of Isaiah (Guides to Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1995); J. C. VanderKam and W. Adler, The Jewish Apocalyptic Heritage in Early Christianity (CRIANT, III.4; Assen/Maastricht: Van Gorcum; Minneapolis: Fortress, 1996).


Wednesday, November 17: Jewish Trajectories: Merkabah/Hekhalot Traditions

  • 3 Enoch 1-16. OTP, 1.255-270.

  • P. Alexander, "From Son of Adam to a Second God: Transformation of the Biblical Enoch," Biblical Figures Outside the Bible (ed. M.E. Stone and T.A. Bergen; Harrisburg: Trinity Press International, 1998) 102-111.

  • Books for Reviews: A. Segal,  Two Powers in Heaven: Early Rabbinic Reports About Christianity and Gnosticism (SJLA, 25; Leiden: Brill, 1977);  I. Gruenwaid, Apocalyptic and Merkavah Mysticism (Leiden: Brill, 1980); G. Scholem, Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism (Jerusalem: Schocken Publishing House, 1941).


Monday, November 22: Andrei Orlov in San Antonio for AAR/SBL annual meeting – No Class


Wednesday, November 24: Thanksgiving Holiday – No Class


Monday, November, 29

  • Preliminary Student Paper Presentation and Feedback


Wednesday, December 1

  • Preliminary Student Paper Presentation and Feedback


Monday, December 6

  • Preliminary Student Paper Presentation and Feedback


Wednesday, December 8

  • Preliminary Student Paper Presentation and Feedback


December 13: Final Paper Due

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