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Institute of Advanced Study

Past Events

Figuring Futures Seminar - Figuring the Future via Exegesis of Scripture: The Political Dimension of Prophecy up to the English Civil War

1st March 2011, 17:30 to 18:30, Dr Andreas Pecar (University of Rostock)

This is the tenth seminar in the Figuring Futures Seminar Series.

A typical mode of figuring the future in the 17th century was the reading of the Bible. The Bible was one of the most dominant cultural scripts which enabled specific social groups or individuals to represent themselves as Prophets visualizing for their audiance the future of England. This had a political impact at all times, but particularly shortly before and during the English civil war, 1642-1649. 

This seminar shall demonstrate two different modes of dealing with Scripture to provide knowledge about the future: the Old Testament mode stresses the covenant between God and the people and focuses on the consequences of this covenant; the apocalyptic mode concentrates on the book of Revelations, concerning the end of the world. Both ways of political exegesis had significant responsibility for the outbreak of the civil war and the execution of Charles I.

A particular focus of these seminars is the intersection of classical and Christian ideas concerning the future and the ordering of the world, and their development across the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Recurrent themes are divinity and divination, Apocalypticism, Fortune, astrology and prophecy. A key emphasis is the political power of prophecy and the desire of rulers to control such knowledge or to influence prediction. The prophet or prophetess is a compelling yet marginalized and sometimes shameful figure. Papers treat ideas of apocalypse and nature, portent and prophecy, exegesis and politics, and visionary writing.

Contact david.ashurst@durham.ac.uk for more information about this event.