Revelations of Ideology: Apocalyptic Class Politics in Early Roman Palestine


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships


Religious Studies


This project presents a new model of the relationship among apocalyptic textual production, class relations, and socioeconomic change in early Roman Palestine (63 BCE-70 CE). To demonstrate changing class relations, it marshals evidence from three neglected Jewish apocalyptic texts (Psalms of Solomon, Parables of Enoch, and Testament of Moses), the “Q source,” and archaeological sources. Theorizing class as a subjective social category constrained by economic structures, but also socially and culturally produced by social actors, it challenges the idea that apocalyptic texts represent popular resistance to economic oppression. Instead, it demonstrates that the producers of apocalyptic texts were politically invested sub-elites who strategically revealed the ideology of the emergent aristocracy as false in order to advance their own interests. In the process, they influenced the class dispositions of their audiences and induced a class struggle against their aristocratic rivals waged through material and ideological tactics rather than physical resistance.