Prof. Dr. Luca Arcari

Fellow (Max Weber Centre for Advanced Cultural and Social Studies)


Steinplatz 2, Raum 309

Visiting address

Universität Erfurt
Steinplatz 2
99085 Erfurt

Mailing address

Universität Erfurt
Postfach 90 02 21
99105 Erfurt

Prof. Dr. Luca Arcari

Personal information

Short CV

Luca Arcari (b. 1977) is Associate Professor of History of Christianity at the Department of Humanities of Federico II University in Naples, where he has been teaching since 2013. He studied Classics and Ancient History at the University of Naples "Federico II" (1996–2000) and he received his Ph.D. in Second Temple Judaism and Early Christianity at the Department of History "Ettore Lepore", University of Naples Federico II (2001). He also studied at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome (Biblical Hebrew, Aramaic, Coptic and Syriac; 2002-03) and he received scholarships from the Italian Academy of Lincei in Rome (2010-11) and the "Michele Pellegrino" Foundation (University of Turin, 2011-13).

His research interests lie mainly in the field of Jewish (and proto-Christian) visionary texts, Jewish-Hellenistic literature, New Testament and Early Christian Apocrypha and/or Pseudepigrapha. He is also interested in reception studies, mainly in the reception of ancient Jewish and Early Christian texts in European historiography between the 19th and the 20th cent.; in theories for the study of Religion/s; and in methodologies for the analysis of ancient religious groups in the Hellenistic-Roman cities. Prominent among his publications are the monographs "Una donna avvolta nel sole..." (Apoc 12,1). Le raffigurazioni femminili nell'Apocalisse di Giovanni alla luce della letteratura apocalittica giudaica (EMP: Padova, 2008); Visioni del figlio dell'uomo nel Libro delle Parabole e nell'Apocalisse (ANT 19; Morcelliana: Brescia, 2012); the recent Vedere Dio. Le apocalissi giudaiche e protocristiane (sec. IV a.C.-sec. II d.C.) (Frecce 291; Carocci: Roma 2020); and the edited book Beyond Conflicts. Religious and Cultural Cohabitations in Alexandria and Egypt between the 1st and the 6th cent. CE (STAC 103; J.C.B. Mohr Siebeck: Tübingen, 2013). Luca Arcari has also co-edited, with Alessandro Saggioro, the book Sciamanesimo e sciamanesimi. Un problema storiografico (Sapienza sciamanica 3; Bulzoni: Roma, 2012) and the proceedings of the international conference Signs of Cohabitations in the Urban Spaces of the Roman Near East (1st-6th cent. CE), Monographic section in "La parola del passato" 71/1-2, 2016. 

Luca Arcari is member of scholarly societies and institutions, such as the Enoch Seminar, the European Association for the Study of Religion, the Italian Group for the Study of Origen and the Alexandrian Tradition (GIROTA), the Italian Society for the History of Religions (SISR). Between 2013 and 2016 he was appointed by the Italian Ministry of the University and the Scientific Research as the general coordinator of the FIRB Project - Future in Research 2012 on "The Construction of Space and Time in the Transmission of Collective Identities. Religious Cohabitations and/or Polarizations in Ancient World (1st-6th cent. CE)". Luca Arcari is part of the scientific committee of the Annual Meetings on Christian Origins (Italian Centre for Advanced Studies on Religions [CISSR]) and he is member of the executive board of the journal “Annali di storia dell’esegesi” (EDB). At this time, Luca Arcari is also Fellow in the following international projects: "Jenseits des Kanons: Heterotopien religiöser Autorität im spätantiken Christentum", DFG-Kolleg-Forschungsgruppe (FOR 2770), Universität Regensburg; "Religion and Urbanity: Reciprocal Formations" - Humanities Centre for Advanced Studies/Kolleg-Forschungsgruppe (KFG) (FOR 2779), Max-Weber-Kolleg, Universität Erfurt.

Research project

Title: “Communication Practices and Early Christianity in Alexandria (2nd cent. CE). The Treatise on the ‘Divine Monarchy’ (De Monarchia) as a ‘Test Case’.”

With this project, I aim at analysing the appearance of the first groups of Jesus’ followers in the urban context of Alexandria starting from some of the methodological assumptions of the project “Religion and Urbanity. Reciprocal Formations”. The first question concerns what we mean with the term “religion”. As regards the Alexandrian urban context, this term implies a wide range of communication actions, which are more or less in connection with the hegemonic media system patronized by the Hellenic conquerors; in such a system, two elements appear as very relevant, the reinvention of a Greek-Athenian past as an instrument of self-definition, and the connections between this process of reinvention and some divine actors assumed as instruments of legitimation.

The second question concerns the problem of the presence of early Jesus’ followers in the Alexandrian media framework. It is widely agreed that everything that concerns the first Christian groups of the city is surrounded by myth, that it to say, nothing more than a later reconstruction without any historical foundation; it is not a chance that many scholars acknowledge that the history of early Christianity in Alexandria belongs to “dark” times. With this project, I aim at underling that it is impossible to debate about early Christianity in Alexandria separately from Jewish groups; for this reason, the communication system in use among the Jewish writers stands as a key element for the study of the early Christian presence in the city.

The third question concerns the typology of sources under discussion. The analysis of literary sources as media of communication implies their use as hegemonic symbols in a well-determined urban space. Literary works like commentaries, exegetical treatises, florilegia and other instruments of reinvention of the Greek past present only a limited, biased picture of that past, but they reveal what aspects of themselves people want to emphasize, which is in itself interesting enough, according to the specific audience to which a text is implicitly or explicitly directed. Alexandrian literary materials—or the supposed texts originated in the city—emerge as a kind of ‘test case’ for the study of connections between hegemony and the ‘local’ reactions to such a communicative framework.

The last question of my project concerns the relationships between cultural history and urban studies in light of communicative productions and/or actions; with this research project, I intend to cast light on such an aspect of the cultural history of the city between the Hellenistic and the Roman period. I aim at analyzing the presence of Alexandrine Jewish systems of communication in a very intriguing document, considering it a mirror of communicative actions carried out by the first Jesus’ followers in Alexandria: i.e. the treatise on the divine monarchy (De monarchia) later on included in the corpus attributed to Justin the Martyr, as well as its re-use and/or re-modulation in other Alexandrian texts of the Roman period.