The Sibyl and the Apocalypses: Generic Relationships in Hellenistic Judaism and Early Christianity

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Ideas and Society

The Sibylline Oracles Latin : Oracula Sibyllina ; sometimes called the pseudo-Sibylline Oracles are a collection of oracular utterances written in Greek hexameters ascribed to the Sibyls , prophets who uttered divine revelations in a frenzied state. Fourteen books and eight fragments of Sibylline Oracles survive, in an edition of the 6th or 7th century AD. They are not to be confused with the original Sibylline Books of the ancient Etruscans and Romans which were burned by order of Roman general Flavius Stilicho in the 4th century AD.

Instead, the text is an “odd pastiche” of Hellenistic and Roman mythology interspersed with Jewish, Gnostic and early Christian legend. The Sibylline Oracles are a valuable source for information about classical mythology and early first millennium Gnostic , Hellenistic Jewish and Christian beliefs. Some apocalyptic passages scattered throughout seem to foreshadow themes of the Book of Revelation and other apocalyptic literature.

the Third Sibylline Oracle and hence will examine issues raised by this abstract in order to reattempt a dating and localisation of Sib. Or. 3. 36 Geffcken,

Though the Jewish and Christian oracles contained in this collection are the only extant extended versions of the genre to survive, oracles of the Sibyl were extremely popular in Greco-Roman antiquity from the 5th century BCE onward. Caesar Augustus is said to have destroyed two thousand prophetic books, including some Sibylline Oracles, because of their subversive nature Seutonius, Augustus The earliest Sibyl was believed to have lived in Erythea in Ionia.

The proliferation of Sibyls led to various attempts to enumerate them. The most influential of these lists was that of Varro, who counted ten Lactantius DivInst. The prologue of the present collection repeats this list but associates the Persian Sibyl with an otherwise unknown Hebrew Sibyl. If, as is widely argued see below , books 3, 4 and 5 can be located in Egypt then these Sibyls significantly enrich our understanding of Egyptian Judaism during the Ptolemaic and Roman periods. Barclay, however has warned against making too much of this and suggests that both books 3 and 5 can be seen as popular literature of Alexandrian Judaism.

As such they attest to the cultural antagonism between Jews and their Gentile surroundings in that locale. This antagonism would later culminate in the Diaspora Revolt of CE. Many of the oracles contain a strong polemic against idol worship and homosexuality, which was a common feature in Jewish apologetic. Locating the date and provenance of the individual books within the collection is extremely difficult.

Sibyl and Sibylline Oracles

Woman who prophesied, while in a state of frenzy, under the supposed inspiration of a deity. The ancient sources differ as to the number and nativity of these sibyls. Plato speaks of only one sibyl, while Aristotle and Aristophanes mention several, and Varro in Lactantius, “Divinarum Institutionum,” i. The most interesting list from the Jewish point of view, however, is that of Pausanias, who enumerates the following four sibyls x. A late source, the “Chronicon Paschale,” which was composed in the sixth century of the common era, enumerates twelve sibyls ed.

Sibylline Oracle 3 – Many scholars date this book from the reign to Ptolemy VI Philometor. It is thought to have originated in Egypt because of the profusion of.

Please help support the mission of New Advent and get the full contents of this website as an instant download. The name given to certain collections of supposed prophecies , emanating from the sibyls or divinely inspired seeresses, which were widely circulated in antiquity. The derivation and meaning of the name Sibyl are still subjects of controversy among antiquarians.

Thus Varro, quoted by Lactantius Div. In pagan times the oracles and predictions ascribed to the sibyls were carefully collected and jealously guarded in the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus, and were consulted only in times of grave crises. Because of the vogue enjoyed by these heathen oracles and because of the influence they had in shaping the religious views of the period, the Hellenistic Jews in Alexandria, during the second century B. This custom was continued down into Christian times, and was borrowed by some Christians so that in the second or third century, a new class of oracles emanating from Christian sources came into being.

In many cases, however, the Christians merely revised or interpolated the Jewish documents, and thus we have two classes of Christian Oracles, those adopted from Jewish sources and those entirely written by Christians. Much difficulty is experienced in determining exactly how much of what remains is Christian and how much Jewish. Christianity and Judaism coincided on so many points that the Christians could accept without modification much that had come from Jewish pens.

It seems clear, however, that the Christian Oracles and those revised from Jewish sources all emanated from the same circle and were intended to aid in the diffusion of Christianity. Through the decline and disappearance of paganism , however, interest in them gradually diminished and they ceased to be widely read or circulated, though they were known and used during the Middle Ages in both the East and the West. Large collections of these Jewish and Christian oracles are still in existence.

In Xystus Betuleius Sixtus Birken published an edition of eight books of oracles with a preface dating from perhaps the sixth century A.


Sibylline Oracles , collection of oracular prophecies in which Jewish or Christian doctrines were allegedly confirmed by a sibyl legendary Greek prophetess ; the prophecies were actually the work of certain Jewish and Christian writers from about bc to about ad and are not to be confused with the Sibylline Books, a much earlier collection of sibylline prophecies see Sibyl.

The Jewish apologist Josephus and certain Christian apologists thought the works were the genuine prophecy of the sibyls and were greatly impressed by the way in which their doctrines were confirmed by external testimony. Both Theophilus of Antioch and Clement of Alexandria , 2nd-century Christian theologians, referred to the sibyl as a prophetess apparently no less inspired than the Old Testament prophets.

Image 1 of Greek Manuscripts Sibylline Oracles. Date: Manuscript/​Mixed Material. Image 2 of Greek Manuscripts Sibylline.

Jump to navigation. The Sibylline oracular tradition is ancient and extremely complex, and the product of constant redaction, reinvention and appropriation by different groups. The tradition was laid claim to over the centuries by communities interpreting and adding to the oracles according to their own worldviews on the development of the Sibylline tradition, see Herbert Parke, Sibyls and Sibylline Prophecy , David Potter, Prophecy and History , chapter 3, and Rieuwerd Buitenwerf, Book III , p.

Dionysus states that his main source of information was the writings of Varro quoted in Lactantius, Divine Institutions I. Subsequently, the collection travelled to Erythrae, and then on to Cumae. After BCE, a magistrature of ten, and later fifteen individuals of the patrician and plebeian senatorial aristocracy was created the decemviri sacris faciundis , who were responsible for the upkeep of the Sibylline Books.

This symbolic act indicated that the prophecies were now firmly the property of the emperor, and served him. Because of the popularity enjoyed by these pagan oracles, and their influence on the religious views of the period, Hellenistic Jews during the second century BCE wrote verses mirroring their form, and attributed them to the Sibyls in order to diffuse Jewish ideologies, doctrines, and prophecies, and Jewish and later Christian authors continued to compose and redact existing oracles in this manner until the second century CE.

The Sibylline Oracles are preserved in twelve books, which vary in length from to hexameters. In all of these, the Sibyl is presented as speaking in the first person, maintaining a predominantly future tense. The collection stems from two separate collections: 1 books , extant in a collection made by a fifth-century CE redactor, and 2 seven texts which came to light in the early-nineteenth century, labelled as books , but with only books of these representing different material from that in the first collection.

The Sibylline Oracles: Revised and Updated

VIAF: Related literature: Tiburtine Sibyl. The Sibylline Oracles are a collection of pseudepigraphic prophecies written over centuries by Jews and Christians in Greek hexameters and voiced by the figure of a sibyl.

The appearance of Sibylline oracles in Roman society dates back to the beginning of Roman history. According to legends, King Tarquinius.

The Sibylline Oracles are a collection of 14 books of which my paper concentrates on book The Sibyl was pictured as an old woman who spoke ecstatic prophecies, mostly of doom and woe. The most famous are the Cumaean and the Erythraean Sibyls. The official collection of sibylline oracles at Rome was granted great prestige and was consulted at times of crisis or disaster. These oracles have been lost except in the literary attestations. The Sibylline Oracles are attested to by many early Christian authors and several pre-Christian pagan and Jewish writers.

The earliest book is thought to be book 3. It is thought to have originated in Egypt because of the profusion of Egyptian references.

The Sibylline Oracles (Books 3-5)

The sibyl was a Greek prophetess-figure, apparently of Oriental origin. The sibyl utters her predictions not on being consulted, like established oracles, but spontaneously, in ecstatic exclamations. She is believed to dwell in grottos, to wander through many countries and to live for 1, years.

Download Citation | The Third Sibylline Oracle and Cleopatra Vii: Messianic Thoughts Although its date is uncertain (by necessity, though, after 63 BC and the.

Peterson and William J. All ancient societies looked to prophecy and divination to insure that their beliefs and activities were consistent with the will of the gods. Among the Romans, no prophetess was more important or famous than the Sibyl. The term is not a name, but is the title of a prophetic office always held by a woman. Throughout the ancient world at different times there were many women who were said to have been Sibyls, including a legendary Jewish Sibyl, the daughter-in-law of Noah who lived at the time of the Tower of Babel.

For the Romans, however, the most venerated Sibyl prophesied from a sacred temple-cave at Cumae, near modern Naples. The appearance of Sibylline oracles in Roman society dates back to the beginning of Roman history. According to legends, King Tarquinius Priscus early sixth century BC was approached by an old woman who brought nine scrolls containing the prophecies of the Sibyl, for which she demanded three hundred gold pieces.

The Sibylline Oracles

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sibylline oracles dating simulator In the Sibylline Oracles, these lines are used as “criteria” for the judgment just described (Collins, “Sibylline.

Raymond F. Surburg writes: “Book 1 begins with creation and relates the history of the human race till the exit of Noah from the ark. This is followed by the history of the life of Christ, a portrayal of His miracle of the loaves, His crucifixion, and the destruction of the Jews. In this book, Hades is derived from Adam [Thomson]. Like the Book of Enoch, it has an allusion to the holy watchers and an arithmograph which seems to be fulfilled in Theos Soter.

Book 2 is patterned afer the eschatological discourses of Jesus Christ, and there appear to be echoes of them in this book. Book 3 is by far the largest: it contains a mass of confused material. It has a number of historical allusions, for example, the building of the tower of Babel, the establishment of the Solomonic kingdom, as well as events of historical importance to other nations. There is an early reference to the conquest of Egypt by Rome, the siege of Troy, the conquests of Alexander the Great, a sketch of the history of the Jews up to the time of Cyrus, and a series of oracles predicting judgment against Babylon, Egypt, Gog, Magog, Troy, and Lybia for their sins of idolatry.

It also has prophecies directed against Antiochus Epiphanes, Phrygia, Cyprus, and the Hellenes, and predictions about the coming judgment against Babylon, Egypt, Gog, Magog, Troy, and Lybia for their sins of idolatry. It also has prophecies directed against Antiochus Epiphanes, Phrygia, Cyprus, and the Hellenes, and predictions about the coming judgment on a wicked world, terminating in the coming of the Messiah. In the prophecies the Jews are lauded as a people who are faithful to the law of God, and conversely, the paganism of other peoples is denounced, and the heathen are exhorted to embrace Judaism.

Sibylline Oracles

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