‘GOD HAS HAD MERCY ON ME’

Scott D. Mackie, ‘GOD HAS HAD MERCY ON ME’:THEOLOGY AND SOTERIOLOGY IN PHILO OF ALEXANDRIA’S DE SACRIFICIIS ABELIS ET CAINI, In The Journal of Theological Studies, nov. 2021

Abstract

Philo of Alexandria’s treatise De sacrificiis Abelis et Caini offers a rich example of his theology and soteriology. The majestic God of De sacrificiis is transcendent, omnipresent, and absolutely unique. Anthropomorphic and anthropopathic conceptions of God also are memorably discussed and dismissed. Standing in tension with these ontological characteristics are relational attributes of God, which often are expressed in redemptive acts. Thus, the merciful God of De sacrificiis ‘transcends his transcendence’, and compassionately reaches out to humans in need. A full array of soteriological themes populate the pages of the treatise, including the war against the passions, the allegory of the soul, transformative revelatory experiences, salvific worship, contemplative ascent, and the vision of God. Furthermore, the agential acts and roles played by God and humans are complexly intertwined, demonstrating a sophisticated, experientially informed soteriology. Though these important Philonic themes typically are interpreted thematically and systemically, thus ‘ironing out’ any idiosyncrasies, this essay closely attends to the particular thought of this treatise. As a consequence, unique elements and emphases emerge, which in addition to distinctive depictions of divine compassion and soteriological agency, include a Stoic emphasis on reason, the relative absence of mediatorial figures, and a rare portrayal of an unequivocal visio Dei.

Happiness in Second Temple literature

Daniel Maier, Das Glück im antiken Judentum und im Neuen Testament. Eine Untersuchung zu den Konzepten eines guten Lebens in der Literatur des Zweiten Tempels und deren Einfluss auf die frühchristliche Wahrnehmung des Glücks, Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 2. Reihe (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2021)

A recent publication by Mohr Siebeck on ‘Happiness in Second Temple literature’ contains also an extensive chapter on Philo of Alexandria, and should thus be of special interest to Philo scholars.

Annotated Bibliography 2007-2016

The long-awaited annotated bibliography on Philo of Alexandria, comprising works published in 2007-2016 is now about to be released from the press:

Philo of Alexandria: an Annotated Bibliography 2007-2016

With addenda for items earlier than 2006. Series:  Vigiliae Christianae, Supplements, Volume: 174. Editor: David T. Runia. Publisher: Brill, Leiden, 2021.

This volume is a further continuation of the annotated bibliographies on the writings and thought of the Jewish exegete and philosopher Philo of Alexandria, following those on the years 1937–1986 published in 1988, 1987–1996 published in 2000 and 1997–2012 published in 2012. Prepared in collaboration with the International Philo Bibliography Project, it contains a complete listing of all scholarly writings on Philo for the period 2007 to 2016. Part One lists texts, translations, commentaries, etc. (75 items). Part Two contains critical studies (1143 items). In Part Three additional items up to 2006 are presented (27 items). In all cases, a summary of the contents of the contribution is given. Six indices, including a detailed Index of subjects, complete the work.

The Book of Exodus in Philo

Sean A. Adams, ‘The Book of Exodus in Philo of Alexandria,’ in: Beate Kowalski and Susan Docherty, eds., Let my People go: The Reception of Exodus Motifs in Jewish and Christian Literature. Themes in Biblical Narrative, Vol 30. Leiden: Brill, 2021, pp. 177-192.

Intro: “The book of Exodus and its interpretation are prominent in Philo’s corpus. So frequently did Philo cite or allude to this book that few scholars have attempted to discuss this topic as a whole. A full discussion of Philo’s engagement with Exodus is not possible in the limits of this study. In this chapter, I begin with a general discussion of the reception of the Exodus narratives in Philo’s writings. From this broad overview, I divide my study into two parts. The first focuses on specific instances where Exodus material is employed by Philo across multiple treatises and the second examines how specific Exodus passages are interpreted by Philo in the Allegorical Commentary. The chapter concludes with a reflection on how Exodus was used by Philo as part of his wider practice of interpreting the works of Moses.”

The book is to be published in October 2021; Hardback and E-Book (pdf).

Philo on LegAll 3,169-178

New article on Philo recently published:

Beatrice Wyss, ‘Die Brotrede Philons aus Alexandreia in Legum Allegoriae 3,169-178,’ Early Christianity vol 12.2, 2021, pp. 200-227.

Summary: “In Leg.3.169–178, Philo of Alexandria gives a dense and concise sketch of his theory of the logos. In this essay, first I show the scriptural basis of Philo’s interpretation of manna as God’s word or logos (Leg.3.173–174). Second, I offer a running commentary of Leg.3.169–178, discussing different aspects of Philo’s theory of the logos hinted at in this passage. In the Jewish scriptures, Philo found God’s word as active in the process of creation and identical with God’s law and as a chastising force, each aspects he includes in his theory of the logos. Furthermore, he adds the pagan concept of Hermes as Zeus’s word, Zeus’s son, and Zeus’s messenger (e. g., Cornutus 16). Sapiential literature is important here, because Philo uses and reworks crucial concepts of God’s wisdom in his theory of the logos (as already shown by Burton Mack). Third, I demonstrate the liturgical setting of Philo’s exegesis, namely Passover (Leg. 1.165) and Yom Kippur (3.174). Fourth, I situate Philo’s exegesis in Leg.3.169–178 in a wider context within his exegesis of Exodus, arguing that Israel’s exodus out of Egypt is to be understood as an encounter with God’s logos in different dimensions. The essay concludes with a few remarks about John 6:22–58. I propose that Philo’s exegesis in Leg.3.169–178 provides hermeneutical assistance toward amore accurate understanding of this New Testament passage.”

New book: Paul and Philo on Abraham

The Norwegian scholar, Per Jarle Bekken has written another study on Paul, and one in which he draws heavily on Philo as a significant part of his Jewish context:

Bekken, Per Jarle. Paul’s Negotiation of Abraham in Galatians 3 in the Jewish Context: The Galatian Converts — Lineal Descendants of Abraham and Heirs of the Promise (Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft 248; Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter, 2021).

 https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110722109

de Gruyter: “This work offers a fresh reading of Paul’s appropriation of Abraham in Gal 3:6–29 against the background of Jewish data, especially drawn from the writings of Philo of Alexandria. Philo’s negotiation on Abraham as the model proselyte and the founder of the Jewish nation based on his trust in God’s promise relative to the Law of Moses provides a Jewish context for a corresponding debate reflected in Galatians, and suggests that there were Jewish antecedents that came close to Paul’s reasoning in his own time. This volume incorporates a number of new arguments in the context of scholarly discussion of both Galatian 3 and some of the Philonic texts, and demonstrates how the works of Philo can be applied responsibly in New Testament scholarship.”

Some recent articles on Philo

Bednarek, T. (2021). “Philo of Alexandria, De Cherubim (1-39)”. Vox Patrum, 79, 505-522. DOI: https://doi.org/10.31743/vp.9683

Niehoff, M. R. (2021). “A Roman Portrait of Abraham in Paul’s and Philo’s Later Exegesis”. Novum Testamentum, 63(4), 452-476. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1163/15685365-12341713

Yli-Karjanmaa, S. (2021). “Hiding One’s Tolerance: Cyril of Alexandria’s Use of Philo”. Lehtipuu, O., Labahn, M. (eds.), Tolerance, Intolerance, and Recognition in Early Christianity and Early Judaism. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, pp. 169-194. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/9789048535125-009

Yli-Karjanmaa, S. (2021). “Returning from the Diaspora of the Soul: Eschatology in Philo of Alexandria”. Marlow, H., Pollman, K. & van Noorden, H. (eds.), Eschatology in Antiquity: Forms and Functions (Rewriting Antiquity). Londres: Routledge. ISBN 9781138208315

Vibe,  Klaus, ‘Freedom from Necessity in Philo of Alexandria’s Ethical Thought’, JGRChJ 17 (2021), pp. 9-37

Wasserman, E. (2021). “Philosophical cosmology and religious polemic: The “worship of creation” in the writings of Philo of Alexandria and the Wisdom of Solomon”. Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha, 31(1), 6–28. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/09518207211041308

Illuminations by Philo

A new collection of articles on Philo and the New Testament was published most recently by Brill:

Peder Borgen, Iluminations by Philo of Alexandria. Selected Studies on Interpretation in Philo, Paul, and the Revelation of John. Edited by Torrey Seland (Studies in Philo of Alexandria 12: Leiden; Brill, 2021).

The volume contains 17 articles, all previously published in various Journals and Festschriften, and not always easy to track or find. Hence this new volume brings some of the most recent studies by prof. P. Borgen. David E. Aune introduces the volume by summarizing each article in the collection.

For further info about what particular studies are included in this volume, go here.

Torah, Temple, Land

The general topic of this book as such should be interesting to students of ancient Judaism and Philo. In addition the volume also contains one article dealing specifically with Philo:

Marcus Witte, Jens Schröter and Verena Lepper, eds, Torah, Temple, Land. Constructions of Judaism in Antiquity. Texts and Studies in Ancient Judaism184. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck. 2021. Pp. 316. ca. 135 €.

Contents:

Markus Witte, Jens Schröter, Verena Lepper
Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Peter Schäfer
Judaism or Judaisms: The Construction of Ancient Judaism . . . . . . . . . . . 9
Benedikt Hensel
Debating Temple and Torah in the Second Temple Period:
Theological and Political Aspects of the Final Redaction(s)

of the Pentateuch . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
Sebastian Grätz
The Golah, the Temple, and the Torah in the Book of Ezra: Biblical
and Religious-Historical Perspectives on Judah and Jerusalem
in Postexilic Times . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49
Stefan Schorch
“Mount Gerizim is the house of God and the dwelling place for
his glory”: The Origins and Early History of Samaritan Theology
. . . . . . 61
Karel van der Toorn
The Religion of the Elephantine Jews . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79
Charlotte Hempel
The Dead Sea Scrolls: Challenging the Particularist Paradigm . . . . . . . . . 91
John J. Collins
Jewish Communities in the Dead Sea Scrolls . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 105
Robert Kugler
Finding “Judaism” in Documentary Papyri: The Case of the
Petitions from the Herakleopolis Archive
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 117
Lutz Doering
Torah and Temple in Judean Pseudepigrapha: From Jubilees to
Fourth Ezra and Second Baruch
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 137
Gabriele Boccaccini
What Does the Forgiving Jesus Have to Do with the Unforgiving
Enoch? Forgiveness of Sins in the Enochic Traditions
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 157
Maren R. Niehoff
Constructing Temple and Torah in Philo of Alexandria . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 173

Martin Goodman
Paul as Persecutor and the History of Judaism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 189
Adela Yarbro Collins
What Sort of Jew Is the Jesus of Mark? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 197
René Bloch
Jew or Judean: The Latin Evidence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 229
Werner Eck
Die – fast – unsichtbare jüdische Diaspora im Westen des
Imperium Romanum vor der Spätantike . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 241
Shaye J. D. Cohen
Jews and Judaism in Antioch as Portrayed by John Chrysostom
and the Rabbinic Sages . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 257
Catherine Hezser
The Contested Image of King David in Rabbinic and Patristic
Literature and Art of Late Antiquity . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 277

For further info, see this link.