The Fifth Annual Borsch-Rast Lecture

Thursday, March 31st 2022, 6:00pm
Online Event, 2400 Ridge Rd Berkeley, CA 94709

The Graduate Theological Union is pleased to host Dr. Ashley L. Bacchi (GTU, PhD 2015), Assistant Professor of Jewish History and Ancient Mediterranean Religions at Starr King School for the Ministry, as the fifth annual Borsch-Rast Lecture for her 2020 work, Uncovering Jewish Creativity in Book III of the Sibylline Oracles: Gender, Intertextuality, and Politics (Brill).

In Uncovering Jewish Creativity in Book III of the Sibylline Oracles, Dr. Bacchi reclaims the importance of the Sibyl as a female voice of prophecy and reveals new layers of intertextual references that address political, cultural, and religious dialogue in second-century Ptolemaic Egypt. Uncovering Jewish Creativity has been praised for its solid scholarship and innovative challenges to long-held beliefs about gender roles in the ancient world, reorienting the discussion around the desirability of the pseudonym to an issue of gender. Dr. Bacchi is the first scholar to explore the significance of women and power in the Hellenistic world, and how this inspired Jewish writers to choose the female Sibyl as their prophetic voice, claiming her as the daughter-in-law of Noah and the prophetess of the One True God.

“Dr. Bacchi’s book is deeply grounded in succinctly and knowledgeably described feminist discourse,” said Dr. Margaret Miles, a member of the Borsch-Rast selection committee, former GTU Dean (1996–2001) and GTU Professor Emerita of Historical Theology. “Bacchi’s book seeks to open research, discussion, and debate not only on her source, but on historical interpretation more generally. She proposes that scholarly discourse can impact popular attitudes and allegiances in lively and productive ways.”

“In the Sibylline Oracles I have found a concern for what we would categorize today as social justice and equity issues framed against an apocalyptic backdrop. I think my book’s realignment onto gender allows for the whole Sibylline corpus to be re-evaluated for fresh insights that could speak to the anxiety, fear, as well as how to envision possibilities for hope that we are all grappling with right now,” Dr. Bacchi said. “I hope that [this book] makes scholars question long standing academic assumptions about identity that undergird much of ancient Jewish and Early Christian literature and open themselves up to the possibilities that looking beyond constructed boundaries has to offer.”

Dr. Bacchi will be joined by Dr. Erich S. Gruen, Professor Emeritus of History and Classics of U.C. Berkeley, and Dr. Annette Yoshiko Reed, Professor in the Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies and Department of Religious Studies at New York University and, beginning fall 2022, Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Harvard Divinity School, who will be responding to her book.

Register to attend here.

The event will be hybrid with a limited in-person audience located in the GTU Dinner Board Room, Flora Lamson Hewlett Library. Contact Sabrina Kennedy at if you would like to attend in person.

Read the GTU News announcement of the fifth annual Borsch-Rast Lecture and Book Prize here.

Check out the recent GTU Voices interview with Dr. Bacchi, where she discusses her book, the wider corpus of the Sibylline Oracles, and why she feels they matter today.

Learn more about the Borsch-Rast Book Prize and Lectureship here.

This event is online only