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Sharing and Hiding Religious Knowledge. Strategies of Acculturation and Cultural Resistance in Early Jewish, Christian, and Islamic Traditions (22-24 april)

When:We 22-04-2015 14:00 - 19:00
Where:Groningen, Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, Old Courtroom
  • 22-24 April 2015
  • Department of Jewish, Christian, and Islamic Origins
  • Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Groningen

Knowledge in Antiquity was always cherished as a scarce good and its character and transmission always tainted with an esoteric allure. Not only the production and cultivation of knowledge took place within the reduced circle of “initiated”; also its diffusion was channeled by the close relationship teacher–disciple.

The esoteric aspect plays a central role in scholarly, scribal, religious and philosophical contexts. Not only was knowledge intended for a reduced group of followers; it also seemed to provide a higher form of consciousness that not everyone was willing or able to bear. If from an existential perspective, knowledge provides individuals with a holistic framework to supersede a fragmented reality, from a social viewpoint, it provides them with the means to advance in the social hierarchy. On the one hand, possessing or lacking knowledge determines social status; on the other, sharing or hiding knowledge is used in strategies of inclusion and exclusion that are highly productive both at micro (within religious communities themselves) and at macro level (within multicultural societies at large).

Whether religious knowledge could or should be shared with others or rather kept for oneself was one of the central issues by which Jews, Christians and Muslims defined themselves in relation to each other and the world around them. The formative stages of these traditions were characterized by a wide diversity of attitudes towards and means of knowledge sharing and hiding.


  • Mladen Popović
  • Lautaro Roig Lanzillotta


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Wednesday 22 april

Time Speaker
Venue Groningen, Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, Old Courtroom
14:00-14:45   Kocku von Stuckrad (University of Groningen): Opening and Introduction

Mladen Popović (University of Groningen): Multilingualism, Competing Writing Systems and Knowledge Transfer in the Dead Sea Scrolls and Early Judaism in their Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Contexts

15:30-16:00 Break
16:00-16:45     Jacques van Ruiten (University of Groningen): Sharing and Hiding Knowledge in the Book of Jubilees
16:45-17:30 Wout van Bekkum (University of Groningen): The Elect and the Eclectic: The Poet’s Choice in Hebrew Hymns
19:00     Dinner

Thursday 23 April

Time Speaker
Venue Groningen, Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, Old Courtroom
9:00-9:15 Coffee/tea
9:15-10:00   Katell Berthelot (CNRS, Aix-en-Provence): Torah Between Revelation and Concealment in Rabbinic Traditions Pertaining to the Conquest of the Promised Land
10:00-10:45 Annette Yoshiko Reed (University of Pennsylvania): Jewish Identity, ‘Jewish-Christian’ Succession, and the Rhetoric of Hidden Know ledge in the Epistle of Peter to James
10:45-11:15 Break
11:15-12:00 Lautaro Roig Lanzillotta (University of Groningen): Ancient Greek Patterns of Knowledge Transmission and their Continuity in Gnostic Esotericism
12:00-12:45 Delfim Leão (University of Coimbra): Alexandria, Diaspora and patrioi nomoi
13:00-15:00 Lunch
Venue Groningen, Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, Room 130
15:00-15:45   George van Kooten (University of Groningen): Sharing and Hiding Religious Knowledge in the Gospel of John: John’s Narratological Strategy in the Light of Heraclitus’s Axiom ‘The Lord whose prophetic shrine is at Delphi neither tells nor conceals, but signifies’ (fragm. 93)
15:45-16:30   Adriana Destro and Mauro Pesce (University of Bologna): Towards an Understanding of the Transmission of Knowledge within the Johannine Community
19:00 Dinner

Friday 24 April

Time Speaker
Venue Groningen, Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, Room 253
8:30-9:00   Coffee/tea
9:00-9:45 Christian Lange (University of Utrecht): The Origins of Islamic Eschatology: Reflections on the Development of the Early Islamic Literature on Paradise and Hell
9:45-10:30 Clare Wilde (University of Groningen): ‘They wish to extinguish the light of God with their mouths’ (Q 9:32): A Qur ʾ ānic Critique of Late Antique Scholasticism?
10:30-11:00   Break
11:00-11:45 Paul Walker (University of Chicago): Techniques for Guarding and Restricting Esoteric Knowledge in the Ismaili Daʿwa during the Fatimid Period and before
11:45-12:30 Gerhard Böwering (Yale University): Sufi Qurʾan Exegesis from Iraq to Spain
12:30-13:30   Conclusion and lunch