Lived Scriptures: Ascetics, Martyrs, and Miracle Workers in Late Antiquity

Project Details

Description

This project examines the use and interpretation of “biblical texts” in Late Antiquity when there was no “Bible” and the level of literacy was low. It asks in what various ways the ancients related to authoritative texts, how these ways shaped what they understood as biblical, and how the texts influenced their lives. The focus is on three interrelated phenomena: asceticism, martyrdom, and miracles.

The research combines recent trends in early Jewish and Christian studies by addressing textual fluidity of biblical texts in a novel way. Characterizing scriptures in antiquity as lived, it directs attention to the corporeality of practices described and implied in them. While acknowledging that sources do not represent all voices in equal measure, the project scrutinizes the variety of lived realities which these texts reflect and from which they emerge. Thus, the project contributes to a better understanding of the reciprocal relations between scriptures and their various users, and the formation of collections of authoritative texts.

The project studies early acta literature – apocryphal acts, martyr literature and hagiography – as biblical texts. In this way, the theological and historical significance of these sources is no longer downplayed as non-canonical; instead, the project highlights their importance as texts which build on biblical traditions and at the same time sustain and create them. Moreover, such sources could cross boundaries between religious traditions, as various biblical traditions shared by Jews, Christians, and Muslims attest.

The project promotes the notion of reception in order to expand the historical reality that surrounds texts from their primary producers to their audiences, including various users who partake in the constructions of their meanings. The research is informed by culture and gender critical approaches, appreciating the corporeality of the past, as well as the framework of lived religion. Focusing on biblical texts as lived scriptures, it takes into account the situatedness of each textual act in a particular sociohistorical, cultural and geographical location.

Academic study of biblical texts is not disconnected from their wider, popular reception in religious communities or politics and culture in general. The perspective of lived scriptures provides analytical tools to evaluate developing traditions critically, as well as to reassess contemporary readings which are on a continuum with the past.
StatusActive
Effective start/end date01/09/201831/08/2022

Funding

  • SUOMEN AKATEMIA: €480,000.00

Fields of Science

  • 614 Theology
  • Bible
  • scriptures
  • biblical interpretation
  • Hermeneutics
  • reception
  • biblical commentary
  • lived religion
  • asceticism
  • martyrdom
  • miracles
  • gender
  • sexuality
  • Early Christianity
  • Early Judaism
  • Late Antiquity

Research Output

  • 3 Chapter
  • 1 Book/Film/Article review

Hyve, sukupuoli ja suhteissa olemisen taito Neljännessä makkabilaiskirjassa

Rafael, A-L., 2019, Sukupuoli Raamatun maailmassa. Asikainen, S. & Uusimäki, E. (eds.). Helsinki: Finnish Exegetical Society, p. 115–32 18 p. (Suomen eksegeettisen seuran julkaisuja; no. 117).

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review

Näkökulmia sukupuolen, uskonnon ja historian risteyksestä

Alanko, V. L. I. & Hakala, A-R., 31 Jan 2019, Sukupuoli Raamatun maailmassa. Asikainen, S. & Uusimäki, E. (eds.). 1 ed. Helsinki: Suomen eksegeettinen seura, p. 19-31 13 p. (Suomen eksegeettisen seuran julkaisuja; no. 117).

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review

Activities

  • 8 Organisation and participation in conferences, workshops, courses, seminars
  • 3 Oral presentation
  • 1 Peer review of manuscripts
  • 1 Membership or other role in national/international committee, council, board

Late Ancient Feminist Exegesis? The Life of Saint Helia

Vilja Alanko (Attendee)
15 May 2019

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesOrganisation and participation in conferences, workshops, courses, seminars

Prob­lem­at­iz­ing He­ge­monic Mas­culin­ity

Vilja Alanko (Attendee)
25 Feb 201926 Feb 2019

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesOrganisation and participation in conferences, workshops, courses, seminars

Mothers and daughters in early christian hagiography: Mary of Egypt

Vilja Alanko (Speaker)
11 Nov 2019

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation

Press / Media

Tekla - Paavalin käännyttämä marttyyri ja ristiinpukeutunut opettaja

Vilja Alanko

28/11/2019

1 Media contribution

Press/Media: Press / Media