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ERC project “Judaism and Rome”

Due to a brief note on Larry Hurtado’s blog I became aware of an interesting project on Judaism and Rome, which I would like to point to here too.

The project has its own website here: Judaism and Rome. Re-thinking Judaism’s Encounter with Roan Empire, and is led by professor Katell Berthelot. She has an impressive lot of publications, which also include some dealing with Philo of Alexandria. I think this project should be of interest also to Philonic scholars.

I present here a section from the presentation on the web page: ” In the last decade, scholarship (on the history of the relationship between Rome and the Jewish people in Antiquity) has turned to a new research agenda less focused on conflict, along two intertwined lines of enquiry: 1) the Romanness of the Jews who lived in the Roman empire, and, in particular, that of the Palestinian Rabbis; 2) the impact of Roman values, norms, and institutions upon Judaism, mainly through the study of Jewish literary texts.

The ERC project “Judaism and Rome” builds upon this new trend of scholarship. Its starting point or fundamental hypothesis is that Roman imperialism—and, more specifically, Roman imperial ideology—represented a particular challenge for the Jews, even if the history of Israel was already rich in episodes of imperial domination, from the Assyrian empire to the Hellenistic kingdoms, via the Neo-Babylonian and Persian empires. What made the encounter with Rome special was the paradoxical similarity between Roman and Jewish self-perceptions, which from a Jewish perspective resulted in a sense of rivalry between Israel and Rome, which the rabbis adequately expressed through the identification of Rome with Esau, Israel’s twin brother. This identification can be traced back to a period during which Rome was still a “pagan” empire, and is thus not to be interpreted, originally, as a response to Christianity.

The ERC project “Judaism and Rome” examines how, because of this paradoxical similarity, Roman imperialism challenged Judaism —both rabbinic and non-rabbinic—on a political-religious level, and tries to assess how the Jewish encounter with (the pre-Christian) Rome contributed to shaping Judaism itself.”

The website provides, furthermore, a presentation of the project, links to pages containing lists of ‘Resources,’ ‘Events’, the ‘ERC Team’, ‘Collaborations’, a ‘Search’ function and a form for ‘Contact’.

All in all, a very nice and informative website presenting an interesting project.

Religio Licita?

The relation of the Roman state to Jewish settlements (and probably also vice versa), is a problem still debatable, and the first mentioned topic is still being discussed in scholarly studies. A collection of studies was published by DeGruyter this winter:

“Religio licita?”
Rom und die Juden
[Rome and the Jews]
Ed. Hasselhoff, Görge K. / Strothmann, Meret
Series: Studia Judaica 84. Berlin/New York; DeGruyter, 2016/2017. viii, 230 pages.89,95 € / $126.00 / £67.99

“This volume examines the pertinence of the designation religio licita to Judaism and its relevance for describing the relationship between the Roman state and Judaism. This question applies not only to Judaism but also to the process of differentiation between Judaism and Christianity, for from the beginning of the 3rd century, the term was used exclusively by Christian writers.” (publisher’s note)

Looking into the book at Google Books you can see the list the contents of this volume, and read some of its stuff.

 

 

Paul and the Gentiles in Acts

The Book of Acts has always been of a special interest to me, not only since the days of my dissertation work but even before. In fact, the very first article I wrote within the field of New Testament studies (and the second from my hand – the first was in Church History…), was on The Speeches in Acts, published when I was a student, trying to find my way.

DeGruyter is now announcing a new volume on Paul in Acts:

Tischler, Johannes Nikolai,
Diener des höchsten Gottes. Paulus und die Heiden in der Apostelgeschichte.
Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft 225. Berlin/New York, January 2017. 323 pages. ISBN978-3-11-045803-9. 99,95 € / $114.99 / £81.99.

I have not seen the volume yet, hence I have to rely on the publisher’s presentation of the volume, which in this case is rather brief: “The Acts of the Apostles include multiple episodes that narrate contentious encounters between Paul and the Gentiles. Its author uses these narratives as an opportunity to clarify the theological position of Luke’s Acts of the Apostles. What exactly is his position? The book addresses this specific question in the context of the thesis that Luke views Christianity as an integral part of Israel, linked to Old Testament tradition.”

 

More about Studia Philonica 2016

As mentioned in a posting below, the Studie Philonica has now been published, and the volume is organized as a Festschrift to David T. Runia. For more about the volume, see the following links provided by the publisher:

  • Download volume front matter, including table of contents and introduction.
  • Download a printable publication sheet that you can put in your files or give to your librarian or bookstore.

New review of 1 Peter commentary

My review of Vahrenhorst, Martin, Der erste Brief des Petrus (Theologischer Kommentar zum Neuen Testament, 19) Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 2015), has now been published by Review of Biblical Literature.

This commentary on 1 Peter is the ninth volume in a relatively new series, Theologischer Kommentar zum Neuen Testament, that is supposed to comprise twenty-three volumes. The first volume was published in 2003 (on Colossians). The author is now Privatdozent (New Testament) at Kirchliche Hochschule, Wuppertal, Germany. The series as such is thus quite new, and this is even the first volume to be presented in Review of Biblical Literature. In characterizing the series, the publisher says (on the back cover), that the commentary “steht in der Tradition klassischer historisch-kritischer Kommentarkultur der neutestamentlichen Wissenschaft.” At the same time, however, it is also stated that “Er nimmt jedoch erstmals die im christlich-jüdischen Gespräch behandelten Themen, den feministisch-theologischen Diskurs sowie sozialgeschichtliche Fragestellungen auf.”

For my comments to these claims, use the link above to read the review.

Archaeology and VR

VR (virtual reality) viewers and videos are getting increasingly popular these days, and one might presume that several Christmas gifts this year were related to VR.

What is VR? VR, according to Wikipedia, “typically refers to computer technologies that use software to generate realistic images, sounds and other sensations that replicate a real environment (or create an imaginary setting), and simulate a user’s physical presence in this environment, by enabling the user to interact with this space and any objects depicted therein using specialized display screens or projectors and other devices. VR has been defined as “…a realistic and immersive simulation of a three-dimensional environment, created using interactive software and hardware, and experienced or controlled by movement of the body”[1] or as an “immersive, interactive experience generated by a computer”.[2] A person using virtual reality equipment is typically able to “look around” the artificial world, move about in it and interact with features or items that are depicted on a screen or in goggles. Virtual realities artificially create sensory experiences, which can include sight, touch, hearing, and, less commonly, smell. Most 2016-era virtual realities are displayed either on a computer monitor, a projector screen, or with a virtual reality headset (also called head-mounted display or HMD). HMDs typically take the form of head-mounted goggles with a screen in front of the eyes. Some simulations include additional sensory information and provide sounds through speakers or headphones. Virtual Reality actually brings the user into the digital world by cutting off outside stimuli. In this way user is solely focusing on the digital content.”

There are several ways of viewing, e.g.,  VR videos. Old me even got a viewer to see videos on Iphone. There are, namely, several apps available for Iphone, that when viewed in a special viewer, can display simple VR videos. But of course, the better the equipment, the better the end result.

VR and the ancient world.  The main reason for this blog post is, however, a brief post recently by Jim Davila on his own blog, pointing to the existence of a new app ( http://www.lithodomosvr.com/ ) making it possible to ‘see’ ancient Jerusalem and other sites from the ancient Greek and Roman world.

One might surmise that here may lay great opportunities for educational valuable devices. Or, to quote from the Lithodomus website: “Archaeology and virtual reality are changing the way we view and understand history. From excavated remains we can reflect centuries of history, from Classical Greece to the Roman Empire, and deliver it seamlessly in a virtual reality headset.”

A bookreview

On Bookreviews.org., Harold Attridge has a review of the latest book published by Peder J. Borgen:

The Gospel of John: More Light from Philo, Paul and Archaeology: The Scriptures, Tradition, Exposition, Settings, Meaning (Supplements to Novum Testamentum, 154; Leiden: Brill, 2014 pp. xxi + 329. $162.00.

The publisher presents the book thus:

To Paul the traditions from and about Jesus had authority similar to that of the Scriptures: a logion or story served as text for paraphrastic expositions. Such expositions are also seen in John’s Gospel. – It is insufficient to discuss ‘John and the Synoptics’. A better scope is ‘John within early gospel traditions’.- Paul and Philo maintain a cosmic understanding of Jesus and the Jewish people, respectively. Correspondingly, Jesus is seen in cosmological perspective in John’s Prologue. Philo illuminates the role of God’s logos relative to creation and revelation. – Archaeology testifies to the reliability of John’s topographical references. Both John and Philo can combine theological and ideological elaborations with specific geographical references, historical events and religious feasts. The study has brought in material and perspectives which strengthen the view that the Gospel of John was independent of the other three written gospels.

In his review, Attridge concludes thus:

Although the presentation in this volume, based on several previously published pieces, involves a certain amount of repetition, the abundance of comparative data is valuable for any student of the Fourth Gospel. The reading of the cultural background of John in Hellenized Judaism is largely persuasive, although more could be done with the conceptual elements of that milieu. The analysis of the relationship of John to the Synoptics unduly minimalizes the parallels in both form and content, but Borgen’s suggestions will no doubt stimulate further fruitful debate on this and other crucial issues.

 

 

 

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