Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

Religious Studies

First Advisor

Peter T. Struck

Second Advisor

Annette Y. Reed


This dissertation explore constructions of prophethood and prophecy among a diverse set of late antique Syrian communities, including communities commonly labelled as “Manichaean,” “Jewish Christian,” “Para-Rabbinic,” and “Neoplatonist.” This dissertation aims to go beyond critiques of the “cessation of prophecy” narrative by offering a historical representation of the development of “prophecy” and the emergence of a discourse of “prophethood” in late antiquity. Methodologically, this dissertation heeds repeated calls for the inapplicability of “religion” as an operative category for the study of the past and adopts instead the parameters of time and place – late antique Syria – as an alternative framework within which to navigate through the archive of ancient texts and across a range of disciplines. As such, this dissertation forefronts the following texts emerging from and at play within this milieu: Cologne Mani Codex, the Kephalaia of the Teacher, the Pseudo-Clementine Homilies, Iamblichus’ De Mysteriis, and the Sar Torah macroform from the Hekhalot corpus. The first section of this dissertation centers on the emergence of “prophethood” as an object of disembedded discourse, from its emergence among the early followers of Mani (Cologne Mani Codex) to its continued transformations among “Manichaeans” living in the Eastern Roman Empire (Kephalaia of the Teacher). It then maps the effects of this discourse of prophethood on local Syrian theorizations of prophethood and prophecy (Ps.-Clementine Homilies). The second section of the dissertation pivots the discussion to the concept of prophecy, primarily by attending to semantic broadening of the Greek/Coptic word prognosis. It argues that a range of late antique Syrian communities like those responsible for the Ps.-Clementine Homilies, Neoplatonists like Iamblichus, and Syrian Manichaeans began to theorize prognosis along converging lines and through similar discursive and rhetorical strategies. The dissertation concludes by contextualizing the Sar Torah macroform in Hekhalot literature alongside these broader intellectual shifts regarding the nature of revelation and the acquisition of divine knowledge.