Symposium (English)

Voor een Nederlandse versie klik hier.

On the 13th of March 2018, the NWO-research project ‘Parables and the Partings of the Ways’ organizes a symposium on parables and fables in Graeco-Roman Antiquity. We would like to invite you to attend this symposium.

The purpose of the symposium is to broaden our understanding of the related literary genres of parables, fables, and similes in the context of the Graeco-Roman world. These genres, which make use of narrative analogy, appear in early Christian and Jewish (rabbinic) literature and in Graeco-Roman philosophical, oratory, and literary sources. However, despite the fact that these texts, their composers, and their first audiences, were part of the wider cultural context of Graeco-Roman Antiquity, they have not yet been thoroughly studied in relation to each other. In this symposium, we want to contribute to this underexplored field of research. We will tackle questions like: With which texts from Greek and Roman literature can early Christian and rabbinic parables be compared? How does the composition of fables and similes and their rhetorical use in Graeco-Roman philosophical, oratory, and literary sources relate to parable-telling in the Jewish and early Christian contexts? What similarities and differences can be found? How did the Graeco-Roman tradition of fables and similes influence the development of the genre of parable in the Jewish context? And, finally, how can the understanding of these groups of texts be improved by comparing them with one another? During this one-day symposium, a selection of scholars will shed light on these questions and discuss examples of fables, parables, and similes in various ancient sources. The full programme of the symposium can be found below.

The symposium takes place in the Aeneas-room of Tilburg University (Location Utrecht), Nieuwegracht 61, 3512 LG Utrecht.  Entrance, coffee/tea and a (light) lunch are free. However, registration is required (you can use the form at the bottom of the page). We hope to see you all at our symposium!


10.15h        Coffee/Tea

10.30h        Jonathan Pater, Albertina Oegema, and Martijn Stoutjesdijk (TiU and UU), “Introduction”

10.45h       Prof. Dr. Gerard Boter (VU), “Stoic Similarities: The Use of Similes and Parables in Epictetus’ Philosophical Teaching”

11.30h        PD Dr. Annemarie Ambühl (Mainz), “Animal Similes in Roman Imperial Epic in Their Literary, Cultural, and Political Contexts”

12.15h        Lunch

13.00h        Dr. Lieve Teugels (PThU), “Talking Animals in Parables: A contradictio in terminis?”

13.45h        Prof. Dr. Ruben Zimmermann (Mainz), “The Fables according to Babrius and New Testament Parables”

14.30h        Coffee/Tea

15.00h        Prof. Dr. Annette Merz (PThU), “The talking lion in the Acts of Paul: some considerations about genre”

15.45h        Prof. Dr. Peter Tomson (KU Leuven), “Concluding Remarks”

16.15h        Drinks


Yes, I would like to register for the symposium