Guest lecture: Gerhard van den Heever on the topic "Hybrid Identities"

Prof. Gerhard van den Heever, University of South Africa, Pretoria, holds a lecture on the topic "Hybrid Identities: An Early Christian Cult Group Taking Shape in the Context of Roman Imperial Cult".


Recent theories of religion explain religion/religious discourses as mythmaking in service of social formations. Related to that, postcolonial theories posit hybridity as the identity condition occasioned by a location in one social and cultural discourse in the context of another hegemonic discourse.

Drawing on these theoretical frames, this paper suggestively reads the Gospel of John as the artefactual remains of a mythmaking–social formation project of an early Christian cult group in the city of Ephesus/province of Western Asia Minor. The choice of Ephesus/Western Asia Minor is not definitive, but an attempt to effect a material understanding of the operation of the discourse embodied in the text (since there is at least some early Christian tradition locating the textual tradition in this context, and because the discourse of John’s Gospel has been so foundational to the development of early Christianity).

In pursuing this material understanding of Johannine discourse, aspects of the communication of the text are read alongside inscriptions and other artefactual remains of imperial cultic veneration in this context. The argument is made that the formation of the discourse of the Christ cult group in Ephesus/Western Asia Minor significantly mirrors that of the imperial cult.  

All are welcome!

For more information, please contact Prof. Anders Runesson


Dr. Gerhard van den Heever is Professor of New Testament and Early Christian Studies at the department of Biblical and Ancient Studies in the School of Humanities, UNISA. His academic interests include Cult formation in the Early Roman Empire, The Gospel of John as Imperial text, as well as Critical Spatial Theory applied to Literary studies, and New Religious Movements. His most recent publications include “The Origins and Growth of Christianity in Egypt: An Early Centre of Creative Production and Diversity,” and “Spatializing Practices at the Intersections: Representations and Production of Spaces – Theorizing an Approach” (both with Routledge). He is the Executive Editor of Religion & Theology. A Journal of Contemporary Religious Discourse (Brill).

Published Oct. 20, 2017 2:34 PM - Last modified Oct. 23, 2017 10:24 AM