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In: Protestant Bible Scholarship: Antisemitism, Philosemitism and Anti-Judaism
In: Protestant Bible Scholarship: Antisemitism, Philosemitism and Anti-Judaism


This chapter examines the four kingdoms motif in Sib. Or. 4, which in its current form probably dates from the late first century CE. I consider the motif looking backwards, breaking the text of Sib. Or. 4 apart into recon-structed redactional layers, and forwards, analyzing the sibylline temporali-ty that emerges from the book’s current form, including its literary seams. Engaging Paul Kosmin’s recent proposal that the four kingdoms motif is primarily an anti-Seleucid response to imperial periodized time, this chapter revisits the redactional proposals of John Collins and David Flusser regard-ing the motif’s origin and transformation in Sib. Or. 4. While our knowledge of the earlier form of the four kingdoms motif in Sib. Or. 4 is too speculative to be conclusive, it is just as possible that the underlying motif was an-ti-Macedonian, rather than anti-Seleucid. Turning to sibylline temporality in book 4, I argue that the literary transformation of the four kingdoms motif proposed by Collins and Flusser constructs a temporality that is multiple, fragmented, and less linear, even as it employs periodized time. Such a sibylline temporality could have had the effect of reinforcing the chaos of a world under divine judgment for ancient audiences.

Open Access
In: Four Kingdom Motifs before and beyond the Book of Daniel


This article examines Apollo’s prophecy at Delphi as well as prophecy in ancient Judaism and ancient Christianity in light of recent scholarship on the demise of religions. I argue that two questions remain about ancient narratives of decline amidst the scholarship on the death of religions. First, how should scholars engage ancient narratives of decline that threaten to erase other practices, beliefs, and rhetoric? Second, what about the challenges of defining a ‘religion’ that declines? Brent Nongbri has suggested that categories other than religion may provide more fruitful avenues for describing antiquity; I argue that prophecy is one such category.

In: Religion and Theology