Prof. Peder Borgen turns 95 on Jan. 26!

The Methodist, ecumenist, churchman and New Testament scholar, Professor dr.theol & PhD, Peder Johan Borgen turns 95 on Thursday 26. January. After his theological education and doctoral studies, he was senior lecturer in Christian studies at the University of Bergen, and then professor of the New Testament and its Greco-Roman environment at the University of Trondheim from 1973 to 1993, ending his professional career there as a senior researcher in 1999.

As a New Testament researcher, Borgen has particularly focused on the Gospel of John, but also on other New Testament writings, and not least the Jew Philo of Alexandria (Egypt) who lived around the same time as Jesus and Paul, and who had a large literary authorship as a Jewish philosopher, politician and Bible interpreter. Borgen’s main work⸺his Norwegian doctoral thesis from 1966⸺is a study of the Gospel of John’s description of the bread from heaven (John 6), seen in the light of Philo’s theology and other Jewish writings. The thesis received a great deal of international attention, and is one of the few Norwegian PhD theses that has been published internationally as many as three times (1965, 1981, 2017). His later works on Philo of Alexandria have also helped to make Borgen well known, perhaps more internationally than in Norway. In Norway,his Free Church status and the fact that he did not work at any church related theological institution but in a Religious Studies University context, probably meant that he did not become more widely known in his native country. His professional works have also preferably been published abroad and in English. In 2020, however, a biography was published in Norwegian; in 2022, however, also this published in the USA.

His great anniversary will be spent in Lillestrøm together with his dear wife Inger and the rest of his closest family members.

We, his former students, doctoral students, and colleagues, congratulate him on this remarkable day, thanking him for his scholarly achievements. We thank him also for his mentorship, encouragement, and inspiration up through the years. Happy Birthday, Peder!

Philo : A Sourcebook

Philo of Alexandria: A Sourcebook. By Nelida Naveros Cordova, CDP, Lexington Books / Fortress Academic, 2023.197 pages. $100.00 (Hardback); $45.00  e-book.

“Nélida Naveros Córdova carefully draws from a variety of texts within the Philonic corpus to provide a complete sourcebook for an introduction to Philo. After a general introduction, she consolidates the major topics and themes commonly studied in Philo into seven chapters: Philo’s theology, his doctrine of creation, his anthropology, his doctrine of ethics, his metaphorical interpretation of biblical characters, his exposition of the Jewish Law and the Decalogue, and Jewish worship and major observances. For each chapter, Naveros Córdova provides a brief introduction and overview of the topics in their cultural and religious contexts highlighting Philo’s philosophical thought and the significance of his biblical interpretation. The sourcebook consists mostly of fresh translations with few authorial comments with an attempt to introduce and present Philonic texts to the introductory reader to give broad exposure to the nature of Philo’s literal and allegorical biblical interpretations. From start to finish, the book emphasizes the unity of the ethical character of Philo’s thought considered the basic spectrum of his biblical exegesis.”

As the editor states (p xiv), “this sourcebook is primarily for students who are studying Philo, are writing a master’s or doctoral thesis, and need an introductory source for the central topics and themes of Philo of Alexandria.” I presume that it will be most valuable to master students, but also to doctoral students, even though they are presumed to also read Philo in Greek. The volume contains 7 chapters, dealing with these topics: Philo’s Theology, Philo’s doctrine of Creation, Philo’s anthropology, Philo’s doctrine of ethics, Biblical Characters, Jewish Law and the Devalogue, and finally: Jewish Worship and major observances. Preceeding these there is a 10 pages long Introduction. Each main chapter is footnoted, and has a brief, but representative Bibliography. At the end to the volume there is a valuable topical Index.

I consider this a valuable help for students starting to understand Philo of Alexandria.

Jews and their Roman Rivals

I have just received my copy of the (in so many ways) great work of Katell Berthelot, Jews and their Roman Rivals. Pagan Rome’s Challenge to Israel (Princeton University Press: Princeton, 2021). I must still postpone indulging in the book for some days, but here and now I would just like to direct my readers to a website she mentions in the Bibliography of her book (cf. p. 436ff):

HTTP://www.judaism-and-rome.org

“On this website you will find useful resources for studying Roman imperial ideology, or Roman imperial discourses, artefacts and performances, displayed in literary records, epigraphy, numismatics, as well as through monuments, statues and other material artefacts. There is a particular focus on sources connected to the three sub-themes of the project, “Roman Power,” “Roman Law” and “Roman Citizenship”.
You will also find Jewish, Greek, Egyptian and Christian sources documenting the responses of some of the provincials of the Roman empire to the challenge of Roman domination. By “responses,” however, we do not intend only the provincial sources that explicitly mention Rome and address issues such as Roman law courts or grants of Roman citizenship. We also take into account the way the Roman imperial context led provincials to formulate their own conceptions of power, law, and citizenship or membership with a given group.”

“The website Judaism and Rome aims to:

  • give access to some important sources, providing as much information as possible: images, original text, translation…
  • provide the reader with an original and detailed analysis of each source, a service that is very rarely offered on the internet, and which makes this website comparable to a rich sourcebook
  • promote interdisciplinary discussion between scholars working on Roman history, Jewish Studies, Epigraphy, Numismatics, Classics, Patristics, History of Christianity, etc.”

There are multiple ways to perform a search and to find sources that are relevant to your specific interests.

A Great source, indeed!

Greek Migrant Literature

Casper C. de Jonge, ‘Greek Migrant Literature in the Early
Roman Empire,’ Mnemosyne 75 (2022) 10-36.

Abstract: “This article argues that the concept of migrant literature, developed in postcolonial studies, is a useful tool for analysing Greek literature of the Early Roman Empire (27 bc-ad 68). The city of Rome attracted huge numbers of migrants from across the Mediterranean. Among them were many writers from Hellenized provinces like Egypt, Syria and Asia, who wrote in Greek. Leaving their native regions and travelling to Rome, they moved between cultures, responding in Greek to the new world order. Early imperial Greek writers include Strabo of Amasia, Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Nicolaus of Damascus, Timagenes of Alexandria, Crinagoras of Mytilene, Philo of Alexandria and Paul of Tarsus. What connects these authors of very different origins, styles, beliefs, and literary genres is migrancy. They are migrant writers whose works are characterized by in-betweenness, ambivalence and polyphony.”

The Question of Coherence in Philo’s Cultic Imagery

An article that has gone under my radar for years is, alas, this:

Gupta, N. (2011). The Question of Coherence in Philo’s Cultic Imagery: A Socio-literary Approach. Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha20(4), 277–297.

Abstract: “This article examines Philo’s cultic metaphors with a view towards finding coherence. Many scholars have turned to the works of Philo for insight into the world of the New Testament or early Judaism, but a standard assumption is that the search for coherence in his works is a fruitless endeavor. However, using Philo’s temple, priesthood, and sacrificial metaphors as a specific subject of interest, a socio-literary approach is taken in an attempt to reassess this assumption. In particular, this article draws from insights gained from cognitive linguistics, where metaphors are viewed as resources that have the capacity to influence cognitive frameworks. From this perspective, Philo’s cultic metaphors are consistently used to engage rhetorically in a set of common problems, including his apologetic and tropological concerns.”

The Superiority and Universality of the Torah

Berthelot, K. (2022). “The Superiority and Universality of the Torah in Philo’s Life of Moses 2.12–24: The Significance of the Roman Context”. Jewish Studies Quarterly, 2022, 29 (3), pp. 217-241.

Abstract: “In the section of On the Life of Moses that deals with Moses as lawgiver, Philo praises the Torah as the most excellent legislation ever written and emphasizes its universal popularity among Greeks and barbarians alike. This article contends that these two claims are to a great extent novel compared to previous Jewish discourses about the Law. Earlier Jewish authors writing in Greek celebrated the Torah’s superior wisdom but did not compare it to other legal systems. Moreover, previous Jewish reflections on the Law’s universality emphasized its accordance with the law of nature, while Mos. 2.12–24 introduces a new notion: the universal adoption of some of the Mosaic precepts by non-Jews. This paper argues that Philo’s innovative statements in On the Life of Moses, which have parallels in Josephus’ Against Apion, are to be understood in the framework of contemporary perceptions of and discourses on Roman law and jurisdiction.” Doi.

Melos as Melody

Frederick, J. (2022). “Chapter 11 Melos as Melody: Moral Formation through Musical Metaphor in Colossians, Philo, and Ignatius of Antioch”. Ryan A. Brandt and John Frederick (eds.), Theological Interpretation of Scripture as Spiritual Formation. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, pp. 195–221.

Abstract: “In Colossians 3:5 the author exhorts his readers to “Put to death τὰ µέλη τὰ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς.” Throughout the history of interpretation, the noun µέλος has most often been taken to refer to “earthly members” (KJV, NASB) or more generally to “what is earthly in you” (NRSV). This chapter argues that µέλος is best translated “melody” in Colossians where it operates within a musical metaphor to express ethical realities. Two comparable musical and ethical usages of µέλος are offered and interpreted from Philo of Alexandria and Ignatius of Antioch. Finally, an assessment is provided which argues that the grammatical-historical exegetical method exhibited in the chapter should be considered as a key methodological model and instrument for spiritually formative theological interpretation of Scripture.”

Metaphor and intertextuality in Philo

Pieter B. Hartog, ‘ The Ship of State: Metaphor and intertextuality in Philo of Alexandria,’ Journal for the Study of Pseudepigrapha 32.2 (2022) 187-204.

Author’s Abstract: “This article discusses Philo’s use of the well-known state is ship metaphor. After offering a definition of topos and intertextuality, I discuss passages from the Philonic corpus in which this image features. I will argue that Philo’s use of the state is ship metaphor in most of his writings must be attributed to Philo’s familiarity with a literary trope rather than to intertextual borrowing. The exception is Philo’s Legatio ad Gaium where, I intend to show, Philo’s formulation of the metaphor draws an intertextual connection with Plato’s Republic.”

The StPhA 2022 is here

The Studia Philonica Annual 2022 is on its way from the press these days and is full of good reading stuff. Here is a list of its contents:

ARTICLES

Sean A. Adams, Treatise Order in the Greek Codices of Philo of Alexandria: Lists, Pinakes, and Manuscripts 1-31

Justin M. Rogers, Atheism in Philo of Alexandria 33-54

Giulia Guidara, Philon comme témoignage des présocratiques:
Mentions, citations et interprétations dans le Corpus Philonicum
55-92

Colten Cheuk-Yin Yam, Philo’s Knowledge of Physicians and Medicine in His Later Roman Writings 93-112

Markéta Dudziková, Seeing and Not Seeing in the Darkness: Philo of Alexandria and Gregory of Nyssa’s Exegeses of Exod 20:21 113-139

Jeffrey M. Hubbard, Philo’s Proselytes and “Paul within Judaism” 141-161

Per Jarle Bekken, The Jewish Debate on Gen 15:6 and Abraham’s Adequate Reward: Fresh Light on Romans 4:2–5 in the Jewish Context 163-188.

The follows a BIBLIOGRAPHY SECTION, containing an annotated bibliography of the works on Philo published in 2019, and then: a BOOK REVIEW SECTION dealing with:

Benjamin Schliesser, Jan Rüggemeier, Thomas J. Kraus, and
Jörg Frey, eds., Alexandria: Hub of the Hellenistic World
Reviewed by David T. Runia 263-66.

Bengt Alexanderson, Philon d’Alexandrie: Critique de texte et
interprétation
. Reviewed by James R. Royse 266-69.

Ellen Birnbaum and John Dillon, Philo: On the Life of Abraham
Reviewed by Martina Böhm 269-73.

Joan E. Taylor and David M. Hay, Philo of Alexandria On the Contem-
plative Life: Introduction, Translation, and Commentary
. Reviewed by Jutta Leonhardt-Balzer 273-75.

Ludovica De Luca, Il Dio architetto di Filone di Alessandria (De opificio mundi 17–20) Reviewed by Heleen Keizer 276-78

Philo van Alexandrië, De schepping van de wereld. Ingeleid, vertaald en toegelicht door Albert-Kees Geljon
Reviewed by Riemer Roukema 278-80.

John-Paul Harper, Paul and Philo on the Politics of the Land, Jerusalem,
and Temple.
Reviewed by Gregory E. Sterling 280-83.

Sébastien Morlet and Olivier Munnich, eds., Les études philoniennes: Regards sur cinquante ans de recherche. Reviewed by Justin M. Rogers 283-89.

Carl R. Holladay, Hellenistic Jewish Literature and the New Testament: Collected Essays. Reviewed by Justin M. Rogers 289-93.

Peder Borgen, Illuminations by Philo of Alexandria: Selected Studies on Interpretation in Philo, Paul and the Revelation of John.
Reviewed by Gregory E. Sterling 293-98.

Alan Taylor Farnes, Scott D. Mackie and David T. Runia, eds.,
Ancient Texts, Papyri, and Manuscripts: Studies in Honor of James R. Royse
Reviewed by Brent Nongbri 298-301.

Ze’ev Strauss, Aufhellung des Judentums im Platonismus: Zu den jüdisch-platonischen Quellen des deutschen Idealismus, dargestellt anhand von Hegels Auseinandersetzung mit Philon von Alexandria. Reviewed by Benjamin Pollock 301-305

The volume ends with some News and Notes, including words of memorial of 5 Philo scholars.

A Platonic Argument in Philo

Delgado, A. C. (2022). “The Presence of the Myth in the Pentateuch: A Platonic Argument in Philo of Alexandria”, [En:] Radka Fialová , Jiří Hoblík and Petr Kitzler (eds.), Hellenism, Early Judaism, and Early Christianity. De Gruyter, 29-44. https://www.degruyter.com/document/doi/10.1515/9783110796285/html#contents