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The Benefit of the Doubt. Between Scepticism and Godlessness, Critique or Indifference in Ancient Mediterranean Religious Traditions - 21-22/02/2019, Berlin (Germany)







It is safe to say that critique of religion is as old as religion itself. In this workshop we want to bring together scholars from various fields of Ancient Studies (Ancient History, Ancient Near Eastern Studies, Classics, Egyptology, Early Judaism and Christianity, Religious Studies and related fields) to exchange about critical discourses on religion prevalent in their field of interest. One basic presumption to start from is to assume that the parameters of proper religious behaviour in a given political or ethnic community are set and there exist implicit and self-evident social expectations that are not necessarily written down in manuals – though in some cases normativising texts were produced.


FECHA/ DATE/DATA: 21-22/02/2019


LUGAR/LOCATION/LUOGO: Humboldt Universität zu Berlin (Berlin, Germany)

ORGANIZADOR/ORGANIZER/ORGANIZZATORE: Dr. Nicole Hartmann (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin); Dr. Franziska Naether (Universität Leipzig)


INFO:  web -




Se ruega enviar un email a /please contact /sono pregati di inviare una e-mail a Dr. Nicole Hartmann ( or Dr. Franziska Naether (




Thursday, 21 February 2019

13.30  Registration

14:00-14:30  Welcome and Introduction: Nicole Hartmann and Franziska Naether

14:30-15:15  Kenneth Yu (University of Toronto): Ritual Lament and Blasphemy in Plato’s Laws (7, 800b8-e9)
15:15-16:00  John Gee (Brigham Young University): Internal and  External Critiques of Egyptian Religion in the Graeco-Roman Period

16.00-16:30  Coffee

16:30-17:30  PhD-Panel:

Giulia Fiore (Universitá di Bologna): „Why should I dance? The worship of the god is perishing“ Doubting the Divine in Sophocles’ Oedipus  Tyrannus
Ramón Soneira Martínez (Max Weber Kolleg Erfurt): Ἡ νόσος of declaring that gods do not exist. Condemnation and persecution of atheist  positions in Plato’s Laws
Punsara Amarasinghe (School of Advanced Studies Pisa): Understanding Pyrrho’s Skepticism parallel to Madhyamika School in Buddhism
Pablo Pinel Martínez (Universidad Complutense Madrid): The Quest for  Arguments for Disbelief in Ancient Greece

17:30-18:00  Response: Michael Satlow (Brown University)

18:30-19:30  Public Lecture: Nickolas P. Roubekas (Vienna University):  Doubting vs. Explaining Religion. From 'Atheism' to Theorizing about  Religion in Antiquity

20:00  Common Dinner

Friday 22 February 2019

09:30-10:15  Livio Warbinek (Tel Aviv University): Hittites and their  Oracles. They believed in them, although they did not trust them
10:15-11:00  Franziska Naether (Leipzig University): Doubting Priests   and Practitioners in Ancient Egyptian Religion

11:00-11:30 Coffee

11:30-12:15  Darja Šterbenc Erker (Humboldt University Berlin):  Skepticism and Doubt in Religious Traditions in Rome: Deification of  Mortals
12:15-13:00  Fernando Bermejo-Rubio (Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia Madrid): Laughing at the Promised Salvation – Doubters and  Scoffers in Early Christianity

13:00-14:30  Lunch

14:30-15:15  Ioannis Papadogiannakis (King’s College London): The  Greek Christian Literature of Questions-and-Answers (erotapokriseis)  as Literature of Doubt
15:15-16:00  Reuven Kiperwasser (Hebrew University Jerusalem):  Chatting with God and the Benefit of the Doubt. Skeptical Theism in  Late-Antique Rabbinic Stories

16.00-16:30  Coffee

16:30-17:15  Nicole Hartmann (Humboldt University Berlin): Exploring the Dimensions of Godlessness in the Roman Empire
17:15-17:45  Final Discussion

19:00  Possibility for Common Dinner



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