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Aim of the project

While the political, geographical, religious, literary, and social processes of the period, including the phenomenon of ancient epistolography, have been studied (thus Deissmann, Koskenniemi, Thraede, Malherbe; Klauck; Morello/Morrison, Sarri, White, Stirewalt, and Henderson), our project on Epistolary Visions of Transformational Leadership intends to take new steps in at least two ways:

First, the EVTL project brings together leading international researchers from three major research disciplines to study Cicero, Paul, and Seneca in a joint venture. By continually converging philological, historical, and hermeneutical methods, the project aims to drive New Testament studies, classical philology, and ancient history towards true interdisciplinarity, where a completely new study of the development of epistolary, visionary leadership can be accomplished.

Secondly, the interdisciplinary and comparative reading of Cicero's, Paul's, and Seneca's letter writing will be guided by "transformational leadership theory" as a heuristic key and a structuring principle. At previous workshops held by the EVTL research group and other experts (Göttingen, 2016; Atlanta, 2017), it turned out that the four main research questions we identified as interpretative pointers to the comparative study of Cicero, Paul, and Seneca, reflect precisely the four types of behaviour included in the theory of transformational leadership (cf. on transformational leadership):

a) What ideas and visions about governance, government, religion, and management were developed and passed on to their respective audiences by Cicero, Paul, and Seneca?

b) To what extent were these ideas and visions mediated by the letter writer's acting as the personal role model?

c) To what extent were these ideas and visions part of greater philosophical and religious discourses in antiquity? And how will the three authors offer intellectual stimulation? What types of philosophical ideas or intellectual trends do the authors refer to?

d) How is the concept of epistolary leadership - in the case of Cicero, Paul, and Seneca - created around "coaching" and "mentoring" of individuals; To what extent do the writers want to consider individual needs?

Thus, the project will not only benefit from the insights into concepts of leadership offered by transformational leadership theory but will also contribute to contemporary studies in leadership: overall, EVTL will show how transformational leadership theory is already presented in ancient letter writing.