Philonica et Neotestamentica

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Monthly Archives: November 2008

Novum and LXX on Iphone

J. Moreau has a comment on a former posting of mine in which he tells us that the Novum Testamentum and LXX are now available in Greek for Iphone. See
But alas, the Greek is unaccented, Hopefully, there will be a better version out soon.

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.

Coming up

Next coming up on this blog is:
Recent Finnish scholarly works on Philo.

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Moses’ education

One of the most recent articles on Philo have read recently is the following by the Finnish scholar Erikki Koskenniemi (Helsinki-Finland);

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.

The purpose of this study is thus to analyze the kind of education Moses is provided in the Jewish texts before Mishnah (p. 283). Beginning with Ezekiel the Tragedian and Artapanus, Koskenniemi finds that Ezek Trag 36-38 presents Moses as getting “a royal upbringing and education”. That is most probably to be interpreted as a ‘Gentile education’, but nothing is said about the content of that education. Ezekiel himself most probably had received his education in some Greek gymnasium, and takes it for granted that Moses received a similar, that is, a goood Gentile education (284). Artapanus, does not argue, but presents Moses as the teacher of Orpheus (3,3-4): Moses is a master in everything, a master even in education. Artapanus also argues that the Gentile sentral aspects of culture, philosophy and religion not are original, but copies of the Jewish ones; hence Moses is the universal teacher of mankind (286).
The Book of Jubilees (pp 286-287)states it quite differently; Moses does not receive a Hellensitic education, but is part of a long chain of Hebrew Fathers, Jubilees is here part of an anti-Hellenistic agenda.
Philo (pp, 287-290), however, takes for granted that Moses received the best education (Mos 1,21). According to Koskenniemi takes Philo it for granted, that Moses received a Gentile education, and also that many Greek philosophers had found their wisdom in the Law of Moses. Koskenniemi also emphaisizes that Philo “uses a greek ideal to emphasize the unigueness of the Jewish Philosophy” (289), hence Moses is also an ‘autodidaktos’.
When one however turns to Liber Antiquitatum biblicarum and Josephus, one finds that they are silent about the education of Moses.

The final conclusion of Koskenniemi is thus that ” The early Jewish heritage apparently had no strong, unified tradition about Moses’ education, but every writer reflects his own view on how a man should be educated”(293). Furthermore, one can also see that “all texts written in Egypt take a good Greek education for granted” while the texts written in Palestine did not deal very much with the education of Moses.

Studia Philonica Annual

The Studia Philonica Annual is usually published around this time, or the time of the SBL Annual Meeting, and so it is this year too.

The contents of this year’s issue is given thus:
Burton Mack, Argumentation in Philo’s De Sacrificiis
James Scott, Dionysus in Philo of Alexandria. A Study of De vita contemplativa
Ilaria Ramelli, Philosophical Allegoresis of Scripture in Philo and its Legacy in Gregory of Nyssa
Cyril O’Regan, Hegel’s Retrieval of Philo: Constitution of a Christian Heretic

SPECIAL SECTION: Philo’s De Abrahamo
Gregory E. Sterling, Philo’s De Abrahamo: Introduction
David T. Runia, The Place of De Abrahamo in Philo’s oeuvre
James R. Royse, The Text of Philo’s De Abrahamo

Bibliography Section
D. T. Runia, E. Birnbaum, K. A. Fox, A. C. Geljon, H. M. Keizer,
J. P. Martín, M. R. Niehoff, J. Riaud, G. Schimanowski, T. Seland, Philo of Alexandria: An Annotated Bibliography 2005
Supplement: A Provisional Bibliography 2006–2008

Reviews by Randall D. Chesnutt, Ellen Birnbaum, Jutta Leonhardt-Balzer, John Dillon, Thomas H. Tobin S.J., Kenneth L. Schenck, L. Ann Jervis, Gregory E. Sterling, and David T. Runia

Bibliobloggers at SBL

A nice list of Bibliobloggers as presenters of papers at the upcoming SBL Annual Meeting is presented here.