What a great site!

I just stumbled over a great biblical German site! In fact, most of the interesting websites I visit are in English; I know a couple or more in German, and no French. But this one is in German, and well worth a further consideration. You’ll find it at http://www.bibelwissenschaft.de/.

1. First: you will find a lot of Bible editions, both in the original languages and German translations:
Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia
Novum Testamentum Graece (ed. Nestle-Aland), 27. Auflage
Septuaginta (ed. Rahlfs/Hanhart)
Vulgata (ed. Weber/Gryson)

Luther Bibel 1984
Gute Nachricht Bibel
Menge Bibel

The Hebrew text is of course vocalized and the greek texts accented. If you find that the text is somewhat small and dificult to read, you just change the size in your browser. If you register at the site you are given access to several other impressive information sources like a search function or info about e.g., the New Testament. and lots of information about digitalized version, for instance, for your Palm.

2) Then there is also a Bibelkunde section. Here you will find extensive information about all the books of the Bible, including an exposition of several biblical themes.

3) Thirdly, there is also a great Lexicon available:Das wissenschaftliche Bibellexikon im Internet (WiBiLex). A test on this demonstrated that if you, for instance, read about Aaron, the article has several subdivisions like 2. Aaron im Alten Testament 3. Zur Geschichte der Aaroniden, 3.1. Die Priesterschrift von Bethel während der Königszeit 3.2. Die Priesterschrift Israels in exilisch-nachexilischer Zeit, 4. Aaron im Neuen Testament,5. Aaron im Judentum
6. Aaron im Islam, 7. Aaron in der Kunst, Literaturverzeichnis, 1. Lexikonartikel, 2. Weitere Literatur, and # Abbildungsverzeichnis.

Impressive indeed. I must admit I know of no other Bible web-site providing a comparable extensive range of texts and valuable information. Please use the Comment field below if there is any other ‘out there’ of equal scope and value. Of course, you need to be able to read German,  but that is still nevertheless a must for a biblical scholar. Others unable to read German, but haveing a reading ability in Greek or Hebrew might still find the Bible editions available here useful.

The site contains also a reference to anothe Bible site:
www.die-bibel.de. Here you can find find a lot of material relevant for your church, your pastor or other pesons engaged in church work. There even is a link to how you can get German translations on your Iphone!

Visitors to these sites are to be grateful to the deutsche Bibelgesellschaft.

Logos bargain

Logos is announcing a great sale offering over at their blog: through the end of the year, they are having a sale on the 59-volume Word Biblical Commentary series. This digital set retails for $1,199.99, but is available for a limited time for only $599.95! And not only the set, but if you just want some volumes, you can get them at 50% off.
I use their Bible software a lot, and do think that Logos Bible Software is a terrific software; now you also may save a lot of money on this offer.

More on Synagogues

The Sweedish scholar Prof. em. Birger Olsson, himself an expert on the development of the synegogues, has a review on the SBL Review of Biblical Literature website on a recent book about reconstructing the First-Century Synagogue:

Stephen K.Catto,
Reconstructing the First-Century Synagogue: A Critical Analysis of Current Research
Library of New Testament Studies, 363
London: T&T Clark, 2007, pp. xxii + 226.
$130.00. Hardcover.

The Review can be found here. Prof Olsson summarizes some of his impressions thus:
“Catto’s investigation is well-structured with many good summaries. The emphasis on the geographical location of every piece of evidence from the first century is excellent and gives a healthy reminder of the fact that every synagogue is to some degree an expression of local conditions (cultural, religious, social, economic, architectural, and so on). I also appreciate that Catto attempts to find out what can be said about the worship of the synagogue at this time. His presentation of synagogue sources from the first-century period is, however, not new. We have already good ones in Binder’s dissertation and also in Claussen’s work. There are no new philological insights in Catto’s work, as far as I can see, or any conclusive analysis of the genre or literary and situational context of different passages that would advance the current state of research. More interest must be directed to the problem of definitions. Like A. Runesson, Catto uses “synagogue” within quotation marks to draw attention to the fact that the word may refer to different things (a gathering or a building), but he does not present or discuss the important distinction in Runesson’s doctoral thesis between different kinds of institutions (public synagogues and association synagogues). Nothing is said about the use of various interpretative models and theories from other disciplines in synagogue research of today. Such models and theories are of decisive importance when we want to reconstruct the very complex phenomenon we call the ancient synagogue.”

Mentioning the synagogues, it might useful also to point out some other studies on the Synagogues, published in recent years:
L. I. Levine, The Ancient Synagogue: The First Thousand Years, 2000 (rev.ed. 2005),
D. D. Binder, Into the Temple Courts: The Place of the Synagogues in the Second Temple
A. Runesson, The Origins of the Synagogue: A Socio-historical Study (2001),
C. Claussen, Versammlung, Gemeinde, Synagoge: Das hellenistisch-jüdische Umfeld
B. Olsson & M. Zetterholm eds., The Ancient Synagogue from Its Origins until 200 C.E. (2003).
A. Runesson, D. D. Binder, and B. Olsson, eds., The Ancient Synagogue from its Origins to 200 C.E.: A Source Book (2007).

Das paulinische Eikon-Konzept

Doing some searches on the Mohr Siebeck webpages, I came over this volume that is relevant for a Philo bibliography – and an Apostle Paul bibliography as well:
Das paulinische Eikon-Konzept.
Semantische Analysen zur Sapientia Salomonis, zu Philo und den Paulusbriefen
Mohr Siebeck, 2008. XIV, 304 pages. WUNT II 250.

It is written in German, but the publisher provides the following intro in English:
“By analyzing the meaning of the word εìκών and its semantic cognates, Stefanie Lorenzen reveals the mental concept of the likeness of man to God in the Wisdom of Solomon, the texts of Philo of Alexandria and the Pauline homologoumena. The comparison shows for the first time that Paul’s concept differs from Jewish-Alexandrian ideas, since it also includes the human body. While the Jewish-Alexandrian texts draw men in the image of God as a perfect spiritual response to a spiritual mediator (e.g. logos or sophia), for Paul the body is a medium of the Christ event and thus an essential part of the likeness of man to God or Christ.”

New Dissertation on 1 Peter

On Dec. 9 there will be a public disputatio (public defence) at MF – Norwegian School of Theology in Oslo (Menighetsfakultetet), where cand.philol. Eirin Hoel Hauge will defend her dissertation on 1 Peter:

Turn Away from Evil and Do Good! Reading 1 Peter in Light of Psalm 34.” A resyme of her work can be found here. (English version on p 2).

According to the Norwegian system, there will be two test lectures the day before the defence, then the  public disputatio that may last up to 4-5 hours, where the candidate will discuss her dissertation with two opponents.  Alas, the info page at MF does not contain any info about the topics of the test lectures, nor the names of the opponents.

David Hellholm is retiring

Yesterday, Wednesday 19, the Norwegian New Testament society (Norsk Nytestamentlig FagForum) had its autumn meeting at the Faculty of Theology, University of Oslo.

Immediately following, the Faculty of Theology arranged the ‘retirement lecture’ of Prof. teol.dr. David Hellholm. Friends and collegues from all over Norway had gathered to attend and thus celebrate prof. Hellholm.

David Hellholm has been professor in the New Testament at this Faculty for the last 18 years, and before that he worked for some time at the University in Bergen. Prof. Hellholm will be well known for his works on Apocalypticism, but also on Paul the apostle, and now in more recent years on the historical and theological questions related to the Christian baptism. The latter is a project that will still go on for a couple of years, involving several other scholars too. A bibliography of his published works can be found here.

As a topic for his retirement lecture, prof Hellholm had chosen  “Paulus och den urkristna doptraditionen” (Paul and the early Christian traditions of baptism). It was a discussion of some central texts in the letters of Paul, especially Gal 3,27-28; 1 Cor 12,13 and 6,11, just as thorough as all of us who has the privilege of knowing prof. Hellholm could have expected. An expert at work!

In an additional session, also in honour of prof Hellhol, three younger scholars presented aspects from their own research. The way they did it, and the topics the presented, turned out to be really interesting.

  • Vemund Blomquist provided insight into his reseach on Euthalius, and his work on a series of “Argumenta” or short summaries which are placed as introductions or summaries to the different books of the New Testament.
  • Kirsten Marie Hartvigsen presented  aspects from her work on “”Prepare the Way of the Lord”. Towards a Cognitive Poetic Analysis of Audience Involvement with Characters and Events in hte Markan World.”
  • Marianne Bjelland Kartzow presented ideas from a most recently inaugurated project on “Jesus in cultural complexity,” a project that involves several scholars.

After these events, there was a Reception for prof Hellholm, in which several of his colleagues and friends presented words of praise in honour of him; all well deserved.

Abstinentia SBL-iensis

In these days people are getting ready to attend the SBL Annual Meeting in Boston, USA (Oct. 21-25), but I am to stay at home, suffering from pains of abstinentia . . . . My wife tells me I am saving money by not travelling that far away,- but show me the money…. And what about missing all those great discounts on the SBL book marked?
But there is hope; Next year, next year in New Orleans…..

I’ll miss the Philo sessions. This year the following sessions are especially relevant for Philo fans:
SBL22-132 Religious Experience in Early Judaism and Early Christianity Section
4:00 PM–6:30 PM
Theme: Case Studies in Religious Experience

The third paper in thiss Section is to be:
Catherine Playoust, Jesuit Theological College, Melbourne
Beholding the Teachings of Wisdom:Allegorical Scriptural Interpretation as Religious Experience in Philo’s De vita contemplativa (20 min)

De Vita Contemplativa is also in focus in another Section, namely in the Philo of Alexandria Group’s second session on Monday 24:
SBL24-36 Philo of Alexandria Group
9:00 AM–11:45 AM
Theme: Interpreting Philo’s De vita contemplativa

Ellen Birnbaum, Cambridge, MA, Presiding
Joan E. Taylor, Waikato University, New Zealand
Philo of Alexandria, On the Contemplative
Life: Commentary
(30 min)
Joseph Sievers, Pontifical Biblical Institute
Philo and the Therapeutae: A Response to Joan E. Taylor (30 min)
Break (15 min)
Steve Mason, York University
Response to Joan Taylor on De vita contemplativa (30 min)
Lutz Doering, King’s College London
Philo’s Therapeutae and Jewish Law (30 min)
Ross S. Kraemer, Brown University
Philo’s Representation of the Therapeutrides, Reconsidered (30 min)

Later on Monday there will also be another paper on Philo, see
SBL24-136 Scripture in Early Judaism and Christianity Section
4:00 PM–6:30 PM.

The second paper here, by Dragos-Andrei Giulea, Marquette
University, is to be on Passover/Paschal Hermeneutics: The Allegory and Typology of Exodus 12 from Philo to Origen (30 min)

But before that,  the first session of the Philo of Alexandria group is scheduled for Sunday afternoon, a Joint session with the Letters of James, Peter and Jude section:
SBL23-130 Joint Session: Letters of James, Peter, and Jude Section / Philo of
Alexandria Group
4:00 PM–6:30 PM
Theme: The Formation of the Soul in Hellenistic Judaism and James

Stanley Stowers, Brown University, Presiding
Hindy Najman, University of Toronto
“Living in the Soul Alone”: Philo of Alexandria on Soul Formation (30 min)
Gretchen Reydams-Schils, University of Notre Dame
Philo of Alexandria on the Contemplative and the Active Lives (30 min)
Break (10 min)
John S. Kloppenborg, University of Toronto
Stoic Psychagogy and the Letter of James (30 min)
Luiz Felipe Ribeiro, University of Toronto
Self-Mastery, Apatheia, Metriopatheia, and Moral Theory in the Epistle of James
(30 min)
Discussion (20 min)

Then, on the last day of the Annual Meeting, there is a the final session this year of the Philo of Alexandria Group:
SBL25-18 Philo of Alexandria Group
9:00 AM–12:30 PM

Sarah Pearce, University of Southampton, Presiding
Katell Berthelot, National Center for Scientific Research
Philo’s Perception of the Roman Empire (30 min)
Tzvi Novick, Yale University
Allegory and God: A Study in Philonic Exegesis (30 min)
Erin Roberts, Brown University
Reconsidering the Value of Hope (30 min)
Break (15 min)
George H. van Kooten, University of Groningen
Philo on Man as God’s Likeness and the Platonic Notion of Becoming Like God (30
Beth Berkowitz, Jewish Theological Seminary of America
Clement’s Use of Philo and Claims about Jewish-Christian Difference (30 min)
Business Meeting (45 min)

Philo studies in Finland

erkkiThe finnish scholar Erkki Koskenniemi
is an interesting scholar I have been more aware of recently, not at least because he has published several works on Philo of Alexandria in the most recent years.
Erkki Koskenniemi (b. 1956) started his studies with Classical studies at University of Turku (mag. phil 1979, liz. phil. 1985). He became mag. theol. 1984, liz. theol. 1988 and doctor 1992 (Åbo Akademi), and he is Adjunct Professor at University of Helsinki since 1999, at University of Joensuu 2004 and at Åbo Akademi Univeersity since 2004. During the year 2003 he was professor of Biblical studies at University of Joensuu.

His main publications, he says, have dealt with miracles: The first two, Der philostrateische Apollonios and Apollonius of Tyana in der neutestamentlichen Exegese: Forschungsbericht und Weiterführung der Diskussion, were about Apollonius of Tyana, the famous Cappadocian miracle worker. The third, The Old Testament Miracle-Workers in Early Judaism, presented how Old testament miracle workers were treated in Early Judaism. His next book, The Exposure of Infants among Jews and Christians in Antiquity, illuminates what the Jews and the Christians thought about the Gentile practice to abandon the new-born children they did not want. It should be printed in 2008 (Sheffield Phoenix Press). Furthermore, he has also published several articles. A full bibliography can be studied here.

I have not seen his latest book yet, but according to the publishers announcement, “In this novel and penetrating study, Koskenniemi reviews the evidence for the practice from Graeco-Roman, Jewish and Christian sources, and then, in the major part of the book, examines the rejection of the custom by Jewish authors like Philo and Josephus and by Christian writers such as Clement, Justin, Tertullian, Origen, Chrysostom and Augustine, many of whom adopted the arguments of their Jewish counterparts.”

His third book (published 2005), however, deals with the somewhat neglected topic of how other Jewish writers described and theologized on the Old Testament Miracle-Workers. It has 8 main chapters that deal with the works of Ben Sira, The Book of Jubilees, Ezekiel the Tragedian, Artapanus, Philo, The lives of the Prophets, Liber Antiquitatum Biblicarum and Josephus.

In its chapter on Philo (pp. 108-159), Koskenniemi deals with with the stories about Moses. First he investigates the literal interpretation of the miracle stories (pp. 110-129), then the allegorical interpretations (pp. 129-145), and he ends up with some sections discussing aspects as “Miracles explained rationally?” (146-148); “Miracles of the prophet” (148-151); “God or Moses?” (151-155); “Miracles and legitimisation” (155-156), and then the “Conclusion” (156-159).

I am not here to indulge in an extended review of this work, but his readings are certainly impressive, and his judgements seem sound and reliable. Koskenniemi’s interest in this topic of miracle workers is certainly triggered by the prevalence in some works of the model of a ‘theios aner’ ideology as a key to understanding the Jesus figure of the Gospels. Hence it is interesting to note his conclusions in this regard concerning Philo (p. 158-159):” Although Philo was once an important piece of evidence for the ‘theios aner’ theory, he cannot be used for this purpose. Philo admittedly honours Moses in an exceptional manner, but he is not responsible for Moses being called a god . . . .Moses of course, is the best example of a wise man and ‘homoiwsis thew’, but Philo here uses the biblical miracle stories sparingly and favours other ways to emphasize Moses’ special status.”

His next work on Philo is an article from 2006: “Philo and Classical Drama”, in Ancient Israel, Judaism, and Christianity in Contemporary Perspective: Essays in memory of Karl-Johan Illman, ed. by Jacob Neusner, Alan J. Avery-Peck, Antti Laato, Risto Nurmela, and Karl-Gustav Sandelin (Lanham: University Press of America 2006), pp. 137-152.Here he presents and birefly discusses Philo’s references to persons of classical drama. Here Koskenniemis classical education proves itself very useful as he works his way through the references of Philo to classical dramatists. I don’t know of many other works on Philo and classical dramatists; the only one I am able to remember here and now is Francesca calabi’s study on ‘Theatrical Language in Philo’s In Flaccum,’ (published in the volume edited by her as Italian Studies on Philo of Alexandria (Studies in Philo of Alexandria and Mediterranean Antiquity Vol 1, Leiden, Brill, 2003, pp. 91-116)).

Below I have also briefly presented another study of Koskenniemi, namely his article on ‘Moses – A Well-Educated Man: A Look at the Educational Idea in Early Judaism,’
in Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha 17.4 (2008):281-296.

Looking at Koskenniemi’s bibliography, I realize there are certainly other works dealing more or less with Philo; I might here especially refer to “Joseph and Potiphar’s Wife (Gen. 39:6b-20): A Retold Story Used in Early Jewish Ethical Instruction”, in Erkki Koskenniemi and Pekka Lindqvist (eds), Rewritten Biblical Figures, Studies in Rewritten Bible 3 (in press), and even others. But these have not, alas, been available to me so far. Mea culpa.
I hope this brief introduction demonstrates that Philo studies are not forgotten in Finland, but is alive and well. And more is to come. Watch out for studies by both Karl-Gustav sandelin and Erkki Koskenniemi in the future.
But more on that in a later posting.