2017-2019: Theories of divination in Late Antiquity and Early Byzantium (2nd-7th centuries)

Alexandru Dragomir - Institute for Philosophy's project

Project development

Scientific Report of the PCE Project Theories of divination in Late Antiquity and Early Byzantium (2nd-7th centuries), PN-III-P4-ID-PCE-2016-0712

 

2018

1) In 2018 has been organised the International Panel Divination, prophecy and providence in Byzantium within the Second Annual Conference of the Romanian Society for Byzantine Studies (Romanian Academy – N. Iorga Institute for History, Bucharest, November 2), and the Workshop Divination and Prophecy in Antiquity and the Middle Ages (Babeş-Bolyai University, Cluj, March 23).

The Panel Divination, Prophecy and Providence in Byzantium included a conference and six papers presented by researchers from France, Germany, Romania and Moldova: Paolo Odorico (EHESS, Paris), La rhétorique de la sainteté (keynote lecture); Bogdan Tătaru-Cazaban (Institute for History of Religions, Romanian Academy), Quel rôle pour les anges des nations? Providence et liberté chez Cyrille d’Alexandrie, Denys le Pseudo-Aréopagite et Sévère d’Antioche; Andrei Timotin, Artémidore et l’onirocritique byzantine; Florin Filimon (University of Münster), “When I Have Downright Prophetic Dreams and Oracular Responses”: John Tzetzes’ divinatory repertoire and imperial-decision making; Petre Guran (Institute for Southeastern European Studies, Romanian Academy), Les protagonistes de la fin du monde dans les Vies des saloi; Andrei Prohin (Chişinău State University), Historical Visions in the Byzantine Apocalypses from the Tulcea Codex (BAR, Slavic Ms. 649).

The Workshop Divination and Prophecy in Antiquity and the Middle Ages was organized in collaboration with the Center of Ancient and Medieval Philosophy at Babeş-Bolyai University and the University of Bucharest, the Religious Studies Program – Texts and Traditions. Eight papers were presented at this worshop, five of which by the members of the project: Marilena Vlad, Platon și arta filosofică a divinației: Apărarea lui Socrate; Andrei Man, Despre locul și rolul divinației în sistemul filosofic stoic; Alina Tăriceanu, Funcțiile sociale ale profeției. Construcția identității creștine în primele două secole; Andrei Timotin, Mihai Besoiu, Oracole și daimoni. Critici patristice ale divinației oraculare; Andrei Timotin, Manualele bizantine de interpretare a viselor (Pseudo-Daniel, Pseudo-Nichifor, Pseudo-Germanos). The papers presented at this worshop are the basis for articles that have been or are about to be submitted for publication in ISI indexed academic journals (see point 3 below).

2) In line with the project research plan for 2018, four papers were held at international conferences as follows:

  1. Andrei Timotin, Artémidore et l’onirocritique byzantine, paper presented at the Second Annual Conference of the Romanian Society for Byzantine Studies, Romanian Academy – N. Iorga Institute for History, Bucharest, November 2, 2018;
  2. Andrei Timotin, Sur la prière dans la tradition platonicienne, invited lecture at Atelier Platonisme et néoplatonisme Workshop, École Normale Supérieure, organizers: Luc Brisson, Philippe Hoffmann, Pierre Caye, May 7, 2018;
  3. Marilena Vlad, Perceiving the Divine. Dionysius the Areopagite, paper presented at the conference The Sense of Divinity. Perceiving God in Antiquity and Early Christianity, Faculty of Theology, University of Bern, 11-12 May 2018;
  4. Marilena Vlad, Dialectic and Philosophical Divination, paper presented at the Conference Dialectic Platonic – Inquiring Into the Nature of Things, University of Bergen, Norway, 31 May-2 June 2018.

Five other papers has been presented at the workshop Divination and prophecy in Antiquity and the Middle Ages (see above, point 1), and two other papers has been presented at national conferences by Andrei Man:

Andrei Man, Teoria stoică a divinației în Cicero, „Despre divinație”, Lectures programme of the Center of Ancient and Medieval Philosophy of the Babeş-Bolyai University in Cluj, November 13, 2018;

Andrei Man, Ordinea naturii și ordinea sufletului în stoicismul grec, paper presented at the conference Natură și ierarhie. Metamorfoze și (dis)continuități, “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University of Iasi, December 6, 2018.

Andrei Timotin also teaches The History of Religious Ideas at the Master of Religious Studies – Texts and Traditions Programme of the University of Bucharest, in the academic year 2018/2019. There he presents the history of the theories concerning the oracular divination in the Platonic tradition (Platon, Plutarchus and Iamblichus), contributing to the dissemination of the research carried out within the project.

3) In line with the research plan for the current year, Andrei Timotin and Marilena Vlad have conducted research in libraries abroad: at EHESS, Paris, the University of Freiburg and the University of Helsinki. These research trips provided the opportunity to prepare the papers and the articles produced within the project.

7 articles have been or will be submitted in the current year, four of which in international collective volumes and three in ISI indexed journals, as follows:

  1. Andrei Timotin, Divination et providence dans le néoplatonisme tardif, in Théories de la divination dans l’Antiquité tardive et à Byzance, eds. Paul Magdalino and Andrei Timotin, Seyssel, La Pomme d’or (article accepted for publication);
  2. Marilena Vlad, La divination du principe chez Damascius et le silence de Platon, in Théories de la divination dans l’Antiquité tardive et à Byzance, eds. Paul Magdalino and Andrei Timotin, Seyssel, La Pomme d’or (article accepted for publication);
  3. Andrei Man, Chrysippus’ Theory of Divination in Cicero’s De diuinatione, in Théories de la divination dans l’Antiquité tardive et à Byzance, eds. Paul Magdalino and Andrei Timotin, Seyssel, La Pomme d’or (article accepted for publication);
  4. Alina Tariceanu, Elements of Prophetic Discourse in Valentinian Gnosticism, in Théories de la divination dans l’Antiquité tardive et à Byzance, eds. Paul Magdalino and Andrei Timotin, Seyssel, La Pomme d’or (article to be finalized, to be submitted for publication);
  5. Andrei Timotin, Plutarque sur la divination oraculaire, in Revue de philologie, de littérature et d’histoire anciennes (ISI indexed journal) (article to be finalized, to be submitted for publication).
  6. Marilena Vlad, Socrates’ Apology and the philosophical art of divination: the oracle and the daimonion, in the International Journal of Platonic Studies (ISI indexed journal) (article to be finalized, to be submitted for publication);
  7. Andrei Man, The place of divination in the Stoic system, (article to be finalized, to be submitted for publication to an ISI indexed journal).

The volume Théories de la divination dans l’Antiquité tardive et à Byzance, eds. Paul Magdalino and Andrei Timotin, Seyssel, La Pomme d’or, will be submitted to the editor by the end of this year. The volume is over 300 pages and includes 17 articles from Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, UK, Romania and USA.

In 2018, according to the budget proposal, a number of books (including editions of primary texts) were purchased. They are important for the project and inaccessible in the Romanian libraries.

All the activities were carried out in accordance with the project plan and its objectives were fully achieved.

2017

The project Theories of divination in Late Antiquity and Early Byzantium (2nd-7th centuries), financed by CNCS-UEFISCDI, is in progress at the Institute for Philosophy “Al. Dragomir” from Bucharest since July 2017. The manager of the project is Dr Andrei Timotin. The main activities and objectives of the project mentioned in its plan for the year 2017 were: 1) organising the contests for the completion of the research team; 2)organising an international conference on the project’s topic; 3) running an activity of documentation in Romanian and foreign libraries and also sending two articles for publication (about Middle- and Neoplatonic theories on divination) in journals or collective volumes.

1) The contests for the completion of the research team were organized with celerity so that by 1stSeptember the team of the project was complete. There were organized three contests at the Institute for Philosophy “Al. Dragomir” on 21 August 2017 for the tenure of postdoctoral researcher corresponding to a full time job with the specialization on The Prophetic Discourse in the Gnostic texts from Nag Hammadi, and also two tenures of research assistant each corresponding to a half time job with the specializations on Divination in the Stoic Tradition and Divination in the Platonic and Patristic Theology. All three tenures are on a period of 15 months (until 30 November 2018). For the contests came three candidates who were successful following the examination: dr. Alina Tăriceanu (postdoctoral researcher), Andrei Man (research assistant) and Mihai Besoiu (research assistant). 

2) September and October were dedicated to the organization of the international conference scheduled in the project’s plan. The conference Théories de la divination dans l’Antiquité tardive et à Byzance / Theories of Divination in Late Antiquity and Byzantium took place on 17 and 18 November in the Faculty of Foreign Languages and Literatures of the University of Bucharest and was organized by the Institute for Philosophy “Al. Dragomir” in collaboration with The Master Programme Religious Studies – Texts and Traditions of the University of Bucharest. At the conference took part 14 professors and researchers from 7 countries(Belgium, Switzerland, France, Germany, Italy, Romania and United States of America) and 13 papers were presented (in English and French).

Among the objectives of the conference were: the examination of the way in which the divinatory practices, mostly the oracular ones are conceptualized and interpreted in Late Antiquity, the way in which the philosophical discourse acquires the form of an oracular revelation (phenomenon explored and synthesized by Luc Brisson); the analysis of the functions that the reference to the oracular practices acquires during this period in the polemic between Hellenism and Christianity: a polemical one, in the patristic discourse, e.g. Eusebius of Caesarea (the topic of Francesco Massa’s paper), but also a legitimating one (highlighted in Aude Busine’s paper), since the Christians attribute to Apollo prophecies about the birth and victory of Christianity; the conceptualisation and the use of divination, prophecy, oneiromancy and astrology in Late Antiquity and Byzantium (examined respectively by Paul Magdalino, Béatrice Bakhouche, Adrian Pirtea, Steven Oberhelman and Francesco Monticini).

Luc Brisson (CNRS, Paris, Emeritus) and Francesco Massa (Université de Genève) held also, outside the conference, within the Master Programme of Religious Studies two lectures organized within the project, in collaboration with the Institute for Philosophy “Al. Dragomir”:

Four papers from the conference programme belonged to the project’s team:

  • Andrei Timotin, Divination et providence dans le néoplatonisme tardif;
  • Marilena Vlad, Damascius: la divination du principe et la silence de Platon;
  • Alina Tăriceanu, Elements of Prophetic Discourse in Valentinian Gnosticism;
  • Andrei Man, Chrysippus’ Περὶ μαντικῆς in Cicero’s De diuinatione. Stoic Theories of Divination in Context.

Andrei Timotin analysed the theological systematisations of the types of divination in the works of Iamblichus and Proclus in connection with the Neoplatonic theory of providence showing how the latter structures the Late antique conceptualization of the divinatory and prophetical practices and the impact that this theory had in the Byzantine world (the analysis of a homily attributed to John Chrysostom). Marilena Vlad emphasized the metaphorical use of the reference to divinatory practices for naming the existence of the first principle of reality in the work of the last major figure of the Neoplatonic School in Athens, Damascius. Alina Tăriceanu examined the use of prophecy in the Valentinian Gnosticism. Andrei Man’s paper deals with the presence of Chrysippus’ theory of divination in Cicero’s De diuinatione. This presence has been detected both at the level of the method of argumentation (the theory of the ‘common opinion’ as a starting research point) and at the level of the theoretical content (the doctrine of the innate prophetical capacity of the soul based on the Stoic theory of the origin of the soul in the universal pneuma).

All four papers presented by the members of the project will be published in a book edited by Andrei Timotin and Prof. Paul Magdalino (University St. Andrews, Emeritus) in Switzerland (La Pomme d’or) during the first half of 2019.

3) Each of the five members of the project has carried during this period activities of research in Romanian and foreign libraries. Andrei Timotin, Alina Tăriceanu and Andrei Man went to Paris (EHESS, and also EPHE) and Berlin (Freie Universität). This research work has provided the possibility of preparing the papers for the conference, but also for further studies that will be developed during the project.

  1. Timotin’s research focuses on the one hand on the philosophical reflection with an emphasized polemical character on the divinatory practices (public and private oracles, oneiromancy, cledonomancy, astrology) in Late Antiquity and their impact on the Byzantine culture, and on the other hand on the convergences and divergences between the Middle Platonism conceptualization of the oracular practices and their reception in the patristic literature. This last enterprise is done in collaboration with Mihai Besoiu who has covered during this period both the Plutarch’s ‘Pythic dialogues’ and a corpus of relevant patristic texts.

The results of these researches are already under way for publication in a forthcoming book at Brepols and in four collective volumes, one of which being already published in December 2017 at Brepols:

Book:

  • Exégèse, révélation et formation des dogmes dans l’Antiquité tardive, A. Le Boulluec, Ph. Hoffmann, L. Soares Santoprete, A. Timotin (eds.), Turnhout, Brepols (coll. Études Augustiniennes), 2018, aprox. 310 p. (accepted for publication).

Articles:

  • Andrei Timotin, La voix des démons dans la tradition médio- et néoplatonicienne, in: Luciana Soares Santoprete, Philippe Hoffmann (eds.), Langage des dieux, langage des démons, langage des hommes dans l‘Antiquité, Turnhout, Brepols, 2017 (coll. Recherches sur les rhétoriques religieuses, 26), p. 137-152, ISBN: 978-2-503-57897-2;
  • Andrei Timotin, Le ‘signe démonique’ de Socrate dans la tradition platonicienne, de l’exégèse à la croyance, in: Exégèse, révélation et formation des dogmes dans l’Antiquité tardive, Alain Le Boulluec, Philippe Hoffmann, Luciana Soares Santoprete, Andrei Timotin (eds.), Turnhout, Brepols (coll. Études Augustiniennes), 2018, p. 58-69 (accepted for publication);
  • Andrei Timotin, Proclus’ Critique of Plotinus’ Demonology, in: Neoplatonic Demons and Angels, edited by Luc Brisson, Seamus O’Neill and Andrei Timotin, Leiden-Boston, Brill, 2018 (coll. Studies in Platonism, Neoplatonism, and the Platonic Tradition, 20) (accepted for publication);
  • Andrei Timotin, Le traité 52 (II, 3) de Plotin. Critique de l’astrologie et polémique anti-gnostique, in Philippe Hoffmann, Anna Van den Kerchove, Luciana Soares Santoprete (eds.): Plotin et les Gnostiques. Par-delà la tétralogie anti-gnostique, Paris, Presses de l’Université Paris Ouest-Nanterre, 2018 (accepted for publication).

Andrei Timotin also holds the course History of religious ideas within the Master Programme of Religious Studies – Texts and Traditions at the University of Bucharest. During the year 2017/2018 he presents a history of the theories of divination in the Platonic tradition, disseminating in this way in the university the research carried within the project.

On the same lines was also his lecture held at the International Summer School of Byzantine Studies, Étudier le monde byzantin. Méthodologies et interprétations, organized in Bucharest, at CEREFREA – Villa Noël, between 30 August and 5 September 2017: Les récits pseudo-prophétiques à Byzance: une approche historique.

For the preparation of the paper Elements of Prophetic Discourse in Valentinian Gnosticism held at the conference organized within the project, Alina Tăriceanu has carried out a research within the Ägyptologisches Seminar at Freie Universität in Berlin, where she worked under the supervision of Dr. Dylan Burns, using the electronic and material resources of the Seminar’s library.

Andrei Man’s research focuses mostly on the influence of Chrysippus’ philosophy in Cicero’s treatise On Divination. A. Man places the two authors in the frame of Greek and Roman theories on divination and he identifies the themes and the textual elements which may indicate a relation between them. A good part of the research undertaken during this period regards the contemporary studies on the Stoic theories of divination, especially concerning the presence in Cicero’s treatise of such theories (and themes). A. Man has prepared a corpus of ancient texts that had a direct influence on Cicero’s treatise and also a corpus of relevant secondary literature.

The activities held within the project were carried out according to the plan of the project and its objectives were entirely accomplished.