Loading Events

« All Events

45th European Studies Conference

October 2

This interdisciplinary gathering of scholars has facilitated an active exchange of ideas, insights and reflections for over forty years. We are now looking forward to another stimulating and productive series of sessions that will focus upon multifaceted perspectives on the present, past and future of the European continent. The 45th annual European Studies Conference, slated to take place at the Milo Bail Student Center on the campus of the University of Nebraska at Omaha, will be moved fully online this year.


‘The Mediaeval Apocalyptic Tradition’

Panel Description:

The correspondence among the apocalyptic texts of eastern Christianity, western Christianity, Judaism, and Islam during the “mediaeval millennium” (late fourth/fifth to fifteenth centuries) is so great in terms of its geographic extent and historical persistence that we can identify a “common mediaeval apocalyptic tradition” that transcended region, language, culture, religion, and social class. The ubiquity of this common apocalyptic tradition was such that it may be regarded as an essential part of what defines the “mediaeval millennium” and the many societies that constituted it. We may detect two phases in its history: i) its genesis, spread, and zenith from the end of late antiquity to the twelfth century; and ii) its subsequent evolution, fragmentation, and dissolution, to the Reformation. These two explanatory functions inform the purposes of this panel, as well as the volume co-edited by Lorenzo DiTommaso and Colin McAllister—The Mediaeval Apocalyptic Tradition: From the Twilight of the Roman Empire to the Dawn of Early Modern Europe (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2022). Contributions feature studies that describe the contours of the common medieval apocalyptic tradition with attention to the “big questions” and special reference to case studies where apocalyptic texts, traditions, and themes crossed boundaries.

This panel is moderated by Lorenzo DiTommaso and Colin McAllister and will be followed by a Q&A and round-table discussion with panelists and audience.


  • The Common Mediaeval Apocalyptic Tradition (Lorenzo DiTommaso, Concordia University Montréal)


A foundational essay which outlines the overarching nature of our proposal, including: i) the contours of the common mediaeval apocalyptic tradition in terms of its chronology, geographic scope, and primary characteristics; ii) a discussion of its supporting evidence and utility as a diagnostic model; iii) a detailing of the main vectors of its transmission as a product of the social settings of the age; and iv) an historical overview from its emergence to its dissolution.


  • Revelation Commentaries, East and West (Colin McAllister, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs)


The Book of Revelation was disseminated and accepted as canonical early on in the Western Roman Empire, and a robust Latin commentary tradition ensued from the third century. Beginning with the works of Victorinus (subsequently emended by Jerome) and Tyconius (later absorbed by Augustine) this paper will engage with the wealth of recent scholarship to outline common paths of interpretation up to the twelfth century in the West, while also touching on the much sparser arena of Greek commentaries in the East (beginning with the sixth-century exegetes Oecumenius and Andrew of Caesaria), where the acceptance of Revelation was much more convoluted.


  • The Fifteen Signs of Doomsday (Brandon W. Hawk, Rhode Island College)


The Fifteen Signs of Doomsday was composed in the ninth century and is extant in four or five major versions. It was translated into at least a dozen languages, from Old Irish to Armenian. Accordingly, the Fifteen Signs represents one of the parade examples of the cross-cultural transmission and reception of the common mediaeval apocalyptic tradition via the medium of a stand-alone text (as opposed to a suite of eschatological themes or expectations).


  • The Four-Kingdom Schema of Daniel in Early Mediaeval Apocalyptica (Christopher Bonura, University of California, Berkeley)


The four-kingdom schema of Daniel 2 and 7 operated as the chief apocalyptic historiographic framework of the common mediaeval apocalyptic tradition. Its benefits were many. It had its basis in the Hebrew Scriptures, making it acceptable to Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike. It could be adapted to any historical circumstance with little effort. It also could be expressed either in its original “revolutionary” voice (of socially marginalised groups, often under threat  of identity extinction, looking to the radical overthrow of the present order) or in its imperial voice (of stakeholder groups who sought to promote their own claims or to maintain the status quo in view of then looming eschatological horizon).


  • Sibylline Texts and Traditions (Anke Holdenried, Bristol)


The corpus of post-classical Sibylline texts (that is, neither the Libri Sibillini of the classical Romans nor the Sibylline Oracles of early Judaism and Christianity) is large and diverse. Byzantium was its primary locus in the early mediaeval world, but from the tenth to twelfth centuries works such as the Greek Sibilla Tiburtina were translated into Latin, and therein precipitated the production of a distinctively western group of Sibylline prophecies. By the fifteenth century, these prophecies, now with an iconographic dimension, were again re-purposed in service of apocalyptic speculation based on newfound hermetic assumptions.

Discussion / Q&A – 20min.


University of Nebraska, Omaha
6001 Dodge St.
Omaha, NE 68182 United States
+ Google Map