Prophetic Knowledge - Figurations of Prophecy and Transfer of Divine Knowledge in Premodern Traditions

Nov 04, 2019 - Nov 06, 2019
Enoch ascends to Heaven, Bible Moralisée de Jean de Bon

Enoch ascends to Heaven, Bible Moralisée de Jean de Bon
Image Credit: Bibliothèque nationale de France / gallica.bnf.fr (open source)

Conference organized by the projects B03 "Imaginatio. Knowing about Imaginative Visions. Theories of Mental Imagery in Medieval Philosophy and Theology" (Head: Prof. Dr. Anne Eusterschulte) and A08 "Early Islamic sciences of the Qurʾān in light of late antique commentary cultures" (Head: Dr. Nora Schmidt) in cooperation with Nora K. Schmid, University of Oxford, Faculty of Oriental Studies, "Qur’anic Commentary: An Integrative Paradigm (QuCIP)"

        

Prophetic knowledge plays a decisive role in premodern religions, appearing as mediation of divine revelation, legal instructions, proclamations, apocalyptic signs or visions of the future. In many cases, this has direct effects on religious and political dimensions and institutionalizations of knowledge and authority.

Prophecies are of central importance not only in the monotheistic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, but also in the religious contexts of the ancient Near East and in ancient Classical traditions, as they convey a divine message through the figure of a prophet. Such prophetic messages raise the question of the status of the prophet and his calling or justification. For example, what qualifies a prophet as a recipient of divine messages and a mediator of a religious or political community? How can the specific mental or psychic disposition of a prophet be determined, and how can he or she identify his- or herself to the addressees as a legitimate messenger? The question also arises in which forms of mediation or genres prophecies are made public and kept present. As prophecies are always in need of interpretation and often do not convey explicit statements, but rather evoke interpretations and verifications and shape narrative genres and traditions of interpretation, competing truth claims often arise here, and the question occurs how prophetic instructions can assert themselves against other forms of knowledge as a specific kind of wisdom. But how can the epistemic status of prophecy be identified?

Which forms of experience, for example in the form of prophetic visions, dreams, oracles, inspirations, or visionary experiences, come into play here as mediation of divine knowledge, and by which processes are they proven to be valid? What knowledge is included in the performance of prophetic instructions or their traditions of interpretation? How does this show a transfer of knowledge, for instance with regard to the intertwining of ancient and Abrahamic models of the prophetic, or with regard to outstanding figures of the prophet or the prophetess?

If prophetic knowledge is understood as the proclamation of a higher truth that can only be given through this mediator, what role do modes of experience or mental states such as inner 'seeing', 'hearing' or modes of a supersensible 'experience' play? How do passivity/receptivity and activity of the receiver of divine instructions behave, and how do prophets qualify in contrast to false prophets?

In what way are prophetic forms of knowledge fixed, written, transmitted and handed down? This also raises the question of aesthetic and performative modes of presentation of mediation and transmission. (recitation, text transmission, ritual reenactment, liturgical practice, etc.) What relevance do they gain as an instance of a critical review of the past, the present or an expected future? Based on these questions, political and institutional strategies as well as reform claims will have to be examined and discussed.

From a comparative perspective, the international conference will examine different modellings of prophetic knowledge in premodern traditions. Experts from different contexts of premodern cultures and disciplines are invited to discuss the epistemic status of prophetic instructions or culture-specific figurations of the prophet.

The relationship between orality and scripture becomes just as relevant as the investigation of media and material modes of manifestation of prophetic knowledge, in which a divine message is addressed. We will compare different figurations of the prophetic as well as presentations and models of prophetic knowledge and ask about the specific status of knowing, as well as about the transcultural transfer of knowledge formations, i.e. about new contextualizations, forms of negation, absorption, hybridization or re-presentation of knowledge traditions.

Program

Monday, 4/11/19

9:30 Reception
10:00

Prophetic Knowledge – Conceptual Introduction (Anne Eusterschulte, Hanna Zoe Trauer, Beate La Sala, Nora K. Schmid, Samuel Wilder, Nora Schmidt)

10:45

Martin Treml: Radical Knowing: The Prophet as a Figure of Cultures of Religion between Pre- and Postmodernity

11:30

Coffee Break

12:00

Umar Ali de Unzaga: Between Legislator and Source of Ethics: The Rank of the Prophets and the Nature of the Language of Revelation in the Epistles of the Pure Brethren and Other Ismaili Texts

12:45

Lunch Break

14:30

Lukas Mühlethaler: Moshe Ibn Ezra on Poetic Dreams and Prophetic Knowledge

15:15

Olga Lizzini: Between Imagination and Intellection: some remarks about the Philosophical Idea of Prophecy

16:00

Coffee Break

16:30

Susanne Gödde: Destructive Knowledge: Prophecy and Sacrifice in Greek Tragedy

17:15

Refreshments

19:00

Hana Gründler: Prophecies of an Unknown Everyday: Art as Disruptive Practice in Eastern Europe, 1960-1989


Tuesday, 5/11/19

10:00

Yehuda Halper: Is Logic useful for Prophetic Knowledge? Jacob Anatoli on Science and the Torah

10:45

Nora Schmidt: Transcribing Wisdom: The Prophecy of Joseph in the Quran

11:30

Coffee Break

12:00

Heidrun Eichner: Competing Conceptions of Prophetic Knowledge in the later Islamic Theological Tradition

12:45

Lunch Break

14:30

Yossi Schwartz: Prophecy and Eschatology: Inter-Religious Interpretations of Moses’ Figure

15:15

Angelika Neuwirth: “Prophet knowledge”. The Perception of Prophethood in a contemporary Urban Space

16:00

Coffee Break

16:30

Eveline Goodman-Thau: On the Politics of Prophecy and Revelation in Religious and in Rabbinic Thought

20:00

Conference Dinner


Wednesday, 6/11/19

10:00

Samuel Wilder: A Prophet's Other: Umayyad-era Poets on the Theme of Prophecy

10:45

Wilhelm Schmidt-Biggemann: Prophetic Knowledge of the Third Reign. Joachim of Fiore and his Followers.

11:30

Coffee Break

12:00

Zishan Ghaffar: The Scope and Limits of Prophetical Knowledge in the Qur'an

12:45

Concluding discussion

Time & Location

Nov 04, 2019 - Nov 06, 2019

Freie Universität Berlin
SFB 980 "Episteme in Bewegung"
Schwendenerstraße 8
14195 Berlin-Dahlem

Further Information

For further information and in order to register, please, get in touch with Jacob Veidt: Jacob.veidt@gmail.com