15th Nangeroni Enoch Seminar Meeting
“‘Listen to the Sibyl in All Things’:
Reconsidering the Sibylline Oracles”

Naples, 5-8 June, 2023
Universita’ di Napoli L’Orientale and the University of Naples Federico II

Chairs: Olivia Stewart Lester, Hindy Najman, and Gabriele Boccaccini
Secretary: Joshua Scott

— The Nangeroni Meetings are organized by the Enoch Seminar, with the support of the Nangeroni International Endowment, in memory of Alessandro Nangeroni (1940-1999), a renown Italian journalist, writer and University professor, who devoted his life to the Jewish-Christian-Muslim trialogue. —

This conference will bring scholars of ancient Judaism, Classics, and early Christianity together for an interdisciplinary re-examination of the Jewish-Christian Sibylline Oracles. These texts, historically underappreciated by biblical scholars and classicists, are becoming a site of growing interest as both disciplines increasingly turn to texts outside of their own canons, more deeply integrate gender into the study of antiquity, further their exploration of the themes of authenticity and forgery, and reassess relationships between Jews, Christians, and their neighbors across the ancient Mediterranean world.

— The conference is organized in collaboration with the Universita’ di Napoli L’Orientale and the University of Naples Federico II. Special thanks goes to Profs. Giancarlo Lacerenza and Luca Arcari for their generous support.

Some of the topics we will explore include:

  1. The Figure of the Sibyl: What roles does gender play in the presentation of sibylline prophecy across the collection? What are the political and literary implications of taking up a sibyl as a figure for producing Jewish and Christian prophecy?
  2. Sibylline Pseudepigraphy: How does the ongoing production of Sibylline Oracles relate to larger Hellenistic, Roman, Jewish, and Christian practices of pseudepigraphic writing? How do the Sibylline Oracles resemble or participate in Jewish prophetic pseudepigraphy, and how might they have been shaped by Hellenistic and Roman educational techniques?
  3. Sibylline Interpretation: How do the Sibylline Oracles reinterpret Greek mythology, poetry, and philosophy, on the one hand, and Jewish and Christian scriptures, on the other? How has the language of the Sibylline Oracles been inflected by surrounding literature, including the Septuagint and Homeric epic?
  4. Sibylline Oracles as Oracles: How do the Sibylline Oracles resemble or differ from other oracle collections in antiquity? Why might the oracle as a literary type have appealed to ancient Jewish and Christian sibylline writers?
  5. Time in the Sibylline Oracles: How is time constructed within the collection: past, present, and future? In what ways do the Sibylline Oracles participate in the tropes of apocalyptic eschatology, and how do they transform them?
  6. Judaism and Christianity in the Sibylline Oracles: What can we learn from the Sibylline Oracles about intellectual and literary interactions between Jews and Christians in antiquity? How do we make sense of the distinct Jewish and Christian layers of the text alongside the Christian preservation of these texts as a collection?​​​​

** Times listed according to Central European Standard Timezone (Naples’ Time Zone)**

** LOCATIONS – SEE MAP: Monday and Tuesday, the Main Conference Hall at the Orientale University (Via Chiatamone 61/62 – Red Circle 3 on Map); Wednesday and Thursday, Federico II University (Via Porta di Massa 1 – Red Circle 2 on Map)***


Monday, June 5 Tuesday, June 6 Wednesday, June 7 Thursday, June 8

Opening Remarks by:


  • Gabriele Boccaccini (University of Michigan), with Gabriella Nangeroni
  • Hindy Najman (University of Oxford) & Olivia Stewart Lester (Loyola University, Chicago)
  • Joshua Scott (Augsburg University)

Session 8:


  • Chair: David Potter (University of Michigan)
  • 9:00–9:20am  Luigi Santopaolo (Pontificio Istituto Biblico; in-person), “‘Apocalyptic Iconogenesis’: a comparative analysis of the imagery evolution in the Aramaic Daniel and in the Sibylline Oracles” [Handout]
  • 9:20–9:40am  Ollie Parkes (University of Cambridge; in-person), “Mapping eschatology: the spatio-temporal co-ordinates of Jerusalem and the heavenly kingdom in the Sibylline Oracles” [Handout]
  • 9:40–10:30am  Discussion

Session 1


  • Chair: Hindy Najman
  • 9:30–9:50am  Yelena Baraz (Princeton University; in-person), “The Sybil and female prophets in Lucan’s Civil War” [Handout]
  • 9:50–10:10am  Olivia Stewart Lester (Loyola University Chicago; in-person), “Not Parting, but Process: Sibylline Oracles and the ‘Parting of the Ways’” [Handout]
  • 10:10–11:00am  Discussion





Coffee break
—- 10:30-10:45am
Coffee break

Session 2:


  • Chair: Ashley Bacchi (Starr King School for the Ministry)
  • 11:15–11:35am  Helen Van Noorden (University of Cambridge; in-person), “Visible Eschatology in the Sibylline Oracles” [Handout] [Powerpoint]
  • 11:35am–11:55pm  Robert Hall (Hampden-Sydney College; in-person), “Listening to Divine Speech: Does Sibylline Oracles 5 Invite Revelatory Inquiry?” [Handout]
  • 11:55–12:45pm Discussion

Session 5:


  • Chair: Helen Van Noorden
  • 10:45–11:05am  Xavier Lafontaine (Université du Havre; in-person), “The Sibylline Collection in Byzantium: A Many-Faced Sibyl?” [Handout] [Powerpoint Presentation]
  • 11:05–11:25am   Ashley Bacchi (Starr King School for the Ministry; in-person), “Recentering from the Margins: The Sibyl, Feminist Discourse, & Future Potential”
  • 11:25am–12:15pm  Discussion

Session 9:


  • Chair: Olivia Stewart Lester (Loyola University Chicago)
  • 10:45–11:05am  Daniel C. Smith (Whitman College; in-person), “Some Shall Say in Hellas that I am of Foreign Land: Exotic Prophecy in Sibylline Discourse”
  • 11:05-11:25am  Timothy B. Sailors (University of Tübingen; in-person), “Sibylline Books and the Christian Sibylline Oracles”
  • 11:25-12:15pm Discussion


Session 10:


  • Chair: Hindy Najman (University of Oxford)
  • 10:45–11:05am  Luke Neubert (LMU Munich; in-person), “Oracular and Prophetic Literature in an Egyptian Context: the 3rd Sibylline Oracle in Conversation with Demotic Texts” [Handout]
  • 11:05–11:25am  David Potter (University of Michigan; in-person), “Sibylline Personalities: Alternative Appropriations of Prophetic Authority” [Handout] [Powerpoint]
  • 11:25–12:15pm  Discussion

Session 3:


  • Chair: Olivia Stewart Lester (Loyola University Chicago)
  • 2:30–2:50pm  John Collins (Yale University; virtual), “Why Did Jews Write in the Name of the Sibyl?”
  • 2:50–3:10pm  Lorenzo DiTommaso (Concordia University; virtual), “The Post-Classical Sibylline Tradition”
  • 3:10–4:00pm  Discussion

Session 6:


  • Chair: Daniele Minisini (Sapienza University of Rome)
  • 2:00–2:20pm  Vicente Dobruruka (Universidade de Brasilia; virtual), “The ‘King from the Sun’: an Eastern title as it appears in the Sibylline Oracles”
  • 2:20–2:40pm  Giovanni Bazzana (Harvard University; virtual), “Pseudepigraphy and Politics. Observations on the Transmission of the Sibylline Oracles in the Early Roman Period”
  • 2:40–3:30pm  Discussion

Optional Excursion


  • We will gather near our meeting room at Federico II University and walk together to the bus to begin our excursion to the Cuma Archaeological Park, Lake Averno, and the Baia Archaeological Park. Our group will be dropped off near the restaurant around 7:00pm for a group dinner. Spouses/Partners are welcomed and encouraged to attend. We request a 30 euro fee per person to help with the expense of the tour bus, guide, and entrance fees into the sites.

Session 11:


  • Chair: Olivia Stewart Lester (Loyola University Chicago)
  • 2:00–2:20pm  Oana Capatina (Harvard University; in-person), “Rethinking the Reception of the Sibylline Oracles: Early Christian Apologists and Material Evidence” [Handout]
  • 2:20–2:40pm  Jean-Michel Roessli (Concordia University; in-person), “The Reception of the Sibylline Oracles in 17th- and 18th-Century England” [Handout]
  • 2:40–3:30pm  Discussion

    Coffee break

    Coffee break
    —- 3:30-3:45pm
    Coffee break

    Session 4:


    • Chair:  Robert Hall (Hampden-Sydney College)
    • 4:15–4:35pm   Francis Borchardt (NLA University College; in-person), “The Sibylline Library from Myth to History” [Powerpoint Slides]
    • 4:35–4:55pm  Simon Goldhill (University of Cambridge; virtual), “The Precarity of the Conditional”  [Handout]
    • 4:55–5:45pm  Discussion

    Session 7:


    • Chair: Hindy Najman (University of Oxford)
    • 4:00–4:20pm  Erich Gruen (University of California, Berkeley; virtual), “The Sibyl, Cassandra, and Rome”
    • 4:20–4:40pm  Max Leventhal (Center for Hellenic Studies, Washington D.C.; virtual), “The Sibyl in Search of Perfect Language” [Handout]
    • 4:40-4:45pm  Break
    • 4:45-5:05pm  RESCHEDULED John Collins (Yale University; virtual), “Why Did Jews Write in the Name of the Sibyl?”
    • 4:40–5:30pm  Discussion

    Session 12:

    • Chair: Yelena Baraz (Concordia University)
    • 3:45–4:05pm  Kenneth Atkinson (University of Northern Iowa; virtual), “Periodization in the Sibylline Oracles: Insights from Pseudo-Seneca’s Octavia”  [Powerpoint]

    • 4:05-4:25pm  Jane Lightfoot (University of Oxford; virtual), “Τί ἐστιν ἀλήθεια; Sibylline truths” [Handout]


    • 4:25-5:15pm  Discussion
    Dinner (on your own)
    Dinner (on your own)


    Vitto Pitagorico,
    Piazza Museo, 15, Via Enrico Pessina, 55, 80135 Napoli NA

    Closing Session

    Closing remarks: Yelena Baraz, Olivia Stewart Lester, Helen Van Noorden, Robert Hall, Ashely Bacchi, David Potter, Hindy Najman, and Gabriele Boccaccini

    • Orientale University: Via Chiatamone 61/62
    • Federico II University: Via Porta di Massa 1
    • Hotel Europeo: Via Mezzocannone 109/c
    • Istituto Femminile San Giovanni Bosco: Via Giovanni Paladino 20
    • Santa Maria Cappella: Vicolo S.M. a Cappella Vecchia 11, Piazza dei Martiri
    • Mimì Terrace: Via Portanova, 25
    • SanGregoRooms: 24 Via San Gregorio Armeno 3, Naples Historical Centre
    • Dinner Wednesday night: Vitto Pitagorico, Via Enrico Pessina, 55, 80135 Napoli NA