Messianism is one of the most fraught topics in the history of ancient Judaism and Christianity. This seminar will trace the development of the many different ideas of the messiah—his (unhappily, gender never seems to have figured) character, his fate, his role in history—from the the Hebrew Bible into Jewish and Christian traditions up until the rise of Islam. We will also pay attention to parallel developments within the Hellenistic and Roman imperial cultures. Topics to be studied include the semi-divinity of the messiah, the idea of the suffering or dying messiah, and the relationship between messianism and apocalyptic eschatology. Readings will include primary sources as well as the relevant secondary literature. All primary source readings will be provided in English translation. Depending on the make-up of the class, the instructors will make special provisions (like an extra class hour) for those students interested and able to read the primary sources in their original languages (Greek and Hebrew). Students will be expected to make regular presentations in class.