Anthropology, History, Jewish studies, Medieval studies, Philosophy, Political science, Religious studies, Theology

In co-operation with the Center for Jewish Studies, The Gerst Program for Political, Economic, and Humanistic Studies, Center for International Studies at Duke University (USA). Supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Course date

5 July - 16 July, 2010
Application deadline
15 February, 2010
Course Director(s): 

Michael Miller

Nationalism Studies Program, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary

Matthias Riedl

Department of History, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary
Course Faculty: 

Ida Fröhlich

Hebrew Studies, Pazmany Peter Catholic University, Budapest, Hungary

Michael A. Gillespie

Department of Political Science, Duke University, Durham, USA

Malachi Hacohen

Department of History, Duke University, Durham, US

Moshe Idel

Jewish Thought, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel

Vlad Naumescu

Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary

This course will explore the ancient messianic idea, its spatial expansion, and its ideational development up to the present. The topic will be approached from a wide variety of disciplines (Political Science, History, Philosophy, Anthropology), sharing a common focus on the messiah as a central and enduring symbol of Jewish and Christian societies and their interconnected eschatological expectations.

The main aim and objective of this course is to provide a solid knowledge of the role of messianism in shaping Jewish and Christian traditions in order to

  • relate this knowledge to phenomena in modern society and thought,
  • create the ability to evaluate the ongoing relevance of the messianic traditions in modern thought and politics, and
  • identify the religious dimensions in seemingly secular ideologies and movements.

This summer school is divided into two one-week sections. The first week covers the ancient oriental origins of the messianic idea and its articulation in Judaism and Christianity up to the Late Middle Ages. The second week focuses on the messianic symbolisms in modern Christians and Jewish societies but also in the political visions of liberalism and socialism, in Romantic literature, as well as in idealist and existential philosophy.

Applications are invited from junior faculty and advanced graduate students.

The Faculty

The faculty unites four globally renowned senior scholars and three enthusiastic junior scholars from CEU.

Ida Fröhlich is Professor of Hebrew Studies and Ancient Near Eastern History in the Pázmány Péter Catholic University, Budapest, is a celebrated scholar who has been in the forefront of the remarkable development of Hebrew and Jewish studies in recent decades in Hungary. Among her important publications are 'Time and times and half a time': Historical Consciousness in the Jewish Literature of the Persian and Hellenistic Eras (1996), and, more recently, the first translation of the corpus of the Dead Sea Scrolls into Hungarian. Her current major project is, in collaboration with a group of younger scholars, to prepare a Hungarian translation of all the apocryphal and pseudepigraphical materials.

Michael Gillespie is the Jerry G. and Patricia Crawford Hubbard Professor of Political Science and professor of philosophy at Duke University. He has written and lectured extensively on how concepts of personal liberty and responsibility have developed, been expressed, and influenced human thinking and identity since antiquity. Gillespie has recently published the internationally acclaimed monograph The Theological Origins of Modernity (Chicago 2008). Earlier monographs are on Hegel, Heidegger and the Ground of History, and Nihilism before Nietzsche. He is also co-editor of Nietzsche's New Seas: Explorations in Philosophy, Aesthetics, and Politics, and Ratifying the Constitution. He has published articles on Montaigne, Hegel, Nietzsche, Heidegger, and various topics in American political thought, as well as on the relation of religion and politics. Gillespie also is the Director of the Gerst Program in Political, Economic, and Humanistic Studies.

Malachi Haim Hacohen (Ph.D., Columbia), is an Associate Professor of History, Political Science and Religion & Bass Fellow, teaches European intellectual history and Jewish history. He has taught at Columbia University, New York University, and Reed College. His research focuses on Central Europe and includes social theory, political philosophy, and philosophy of science. He is presently interested especially in the Central European Jewish intelligentsia, the dilemmas of the nation state, Jewish- Christian relations and the relationship of cosmopolitanism, multiculturalism, and Jewish identity. Hacohen's Karl Popper - The Formative Years, 1902-1945 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000) has won the Herbert Baxter Adams Prize of the AHA and the Victor Adler- Staatspreis (Austrian state-prize). He was a fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences in Palo Alto in 2006-07, at the National Humanities Center in 2002-03 and at the IFK (Internationales Forschungszentrum Kulturwissenschaften) in Viennain 2001. He is currently working on the monograph Jacob and Esau Between Nation and Empire: The Central European Jewish Intelligentsia, 1781-1968 (forthcoming 2010).

Moshe Idel is one of the most eminent and influential scholars of Jewish mysticism in the world. He is the Max Cooper Professor of Jewish Thought at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He holds a Ph.D. in Kabbalah and has served as visiting professor and researcher at many universities and institutions worldwide, including Yale, Harvard and Princeton Universities in the USA and Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris. His numerous publications include Kabbalah: New Perspectives and Messianic Mystics (both by Yale University Press), and Hassidism: Between Ecstasy and Magic (SUNY, Albany). In 1999, Prof. Idel received the prestigious Israel Prize for excellent achievement in the field of Jewish Philosophy.

Michael L. Miller is Assistant Professor in the Nationalism Studies Program at the CEU. He received his Ph.D. in History from Columbia University, where he specialized in Jewish and Central European History. His research focuses on the impact of nationality conflicts on the religious, cultural and political development of Central European Jewry in the nineteenth century. He has contributed to Kotowski, Schoeps, Wallenborn, Handbuch zur Geschichte der Juden in Europa (Darmstadt: Primus Verlag, 2001), Biographisches Handbuch der Rabbiner. Teil 1: Die Rabbiner der Emanzipationszeit (Munich-New York: K.G. Saur, 2004), and the YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe (Yale, 2008). He has recently published articles in Slavic Review, Austrian History Yearbook, Simon Dubnow Institute Yearbook, and Múlt és Jövő. His book manuscript, Rabbis and Revolution, is currently under review.

Vlad Naumescu is Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology at the CEU. He received his PhD from the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology and Martin Luther Universitaet, Halle/Saale, Germany. His research focuses on Eastern Christianity, monasticism and religious transmission in the postsocialist context, and he is currently finishing up a project on Old Believers in Romania. He is the author of a monograph, Modes of Religiosity in Eastern Christianity: religious processes and social change in Ukraine (Lit 2007) and co-editor of Churches In-Between: Greek Catholic Churches in Postsocialist Europe (Lit 2008).

Matthias Riedl is Assistant Professor at the CEU History Department and Chair of Comparative Religious Studies. He holds a PhD from University, Erlangen-Nuremberg/Germany. Since 2000 he is co-organizer of the interdisciplinary and intercivilizational Eranos Conferences in Ascona/Switzerland and co-editor of the Eranos series. Before coming to Budapest he taught at University Erlangen-Nuremberg (Germany) and Duke University (North Carolina). His research interests are in the history of Western Christianity, the relation of religion and politics, and political theology in intercivilizational perspective. He is author of a monograph on the 12th century apocalyptic writer Joachim of Fiore (2004), author of many essays on Christian eschatology, and co-editor of volumes on Prophets and Prophecies (2005), Humans at War, at Peace with Nature (2006), Religions - The Religious Experience (2008), God or Gods? (2009), The Apocalyptic Complex and Brill's Companion to Joachim of Fiore (both forthcoming).