1. Philo Group session at SBL

In this picture above (click on it to enlarge it), you see from left: Maren Niehoff, Albert Geljon, David T. Runia, Kenneth Schenk, David Konstan and James R. Royse.

The Philo Group had two meetings at the SBL Annual Meeting in New Orleans this month; the first was on Sunday and was devoted to discussing ongoing work on Philo’s book De Agricultura.
Kenneth L. Schenck (Indiana Wesleyan University), was presiding, and Albert Geljon (Christelijk Gymnasium Utrecht)
presented a Sample Translation and Commentary on Philo, De Agricultura 1-25 (25 min), from the commentary he is working on together with David T Runia.
David T. Runia (Queen’s College, University of Melbourne) read a paper on The Structure of Philo’s Allegorical Treatise De Agricultura (25 min). After a short break, James R. Royse, (Claremont, CA) and David Konstan, (Brown University), respondented to the papers. Sarah Pearce (University of Southampton) was supposed to be a third respondent, but was not able to attend. In her place, Maren Niehoff had a response.

I was not able to attend this session because of other sessions had to be prioritized this time. Some of those who were present, however, said they were very satisfied with the seminar, its papers and discussions.

The Presidential address

I am one of those who found the Presidential Address at the SBL’ Annual Meeting this month somewhat surprising but also a refreshing event; surprising because – as usual- I was expecting to hear some lecture from the scholar’s special field of studies; refreshing, because Prof. Clines presented a very good lecture on student focused teaching:

David J. A. Clines, University of Sheffield
Learning, Teaching, and Researching Biblical Studies, Today and Tomorrow

I must admit that when I later attended some paper presentations, I could not avoid thinking about this lecture of Prof. Clines and wonder if the presenter had attended it.

I still become frustrated when I am listening to scholars who, being given 20 minutes to present a paper, go on reading as fast as they can (and sometimes even faster) as if they were to present a 45 minutes paper in 20 minutes.
It annoys me, and frustrates me, and keeps me wondering; have they ever thought about the fact that there might be persons in the audience who do not have English as their first language. If they looked up from their manuscript, they might have seen people in the lecture hall coming from Asia or Africa, and there might as well have been some from Europe (even Norway), who were struggling hearing and/or understanding what was said.

I know I had a posting on this some years ago, but I see little improvement. Nor see I much improvement in using pedagogical devices as Powerpoint or good hand-outs.

Hence prof Clines presidential address was an refreshing experience. I enjoyed it.

On my way to New Orleans

On my way to this year’s SBL Annual Meeting in New Orleans, I have made a stop-over in Indianapolis at my youngest brother.
Monday is supposed to be devoted to golfing, Thursday we are leaving for New Orleans.
Looking forward to buy Logos4 and some books I have on my list; to see friends and colleagues, and even to listen in on some lectures, preferably on Philo, and on the NT and postcolonialism. And best of all: for the first time my wife is attending me to the SBL Annual Meeting!

Divine and Human Agency

SBL’s Bookreviews.org has published a review on a book that also contains a chapter on Philo; I have not seen the book yet, but the topics as such and the books looks interesting:

Barclay, John M. G., and Simon Gathercole, eds.
Divine and Human Agency in Paul and His Cultural Environment
New York: T&T Clark, 2008. Pp. x + 208. Paper. $44.95.
ISBN 0567084434.

The relevant chapter on Philo is this:
John Barclay, “”By the Grace of God I am what I am,” Grace and Agency in Philo and Paul.” (pp. 140-157).

The reviewer presents this chapter thus:
“John Barclay compares constructions of agency in Philo and Paul. In Philo’s view, God as creator is the gracious cause of all that exists. A key passage occurs in Legum allegoriae, book 4, in which Philo states that Moses “ascribes the powers and causes of all things to God, leaving no work for a created being but showing it to be inactive and passive” (145–46). What, then, is one to make of Moses’ legal/ethical injunctions? Such injunctions
serve merely as a “useful rhetorical pretense” designed for those who have not been, in Philo’s words, “initiated into the great mysteries” about the sole sovereignty of God and the “exceeding nothingness” of that which God has created, in that the latter lacks independent agency (146). Paul’s view of agency is exemplified in passages such as Gal 2:19–21. There Paul describes himself as crucified with Christ, with the result that the human “self” “is reconstituted in such a fashion that one has to speak thereafter of dual agency, and not simply of one operating in partnership with the other, but of Christ operating ‘in’ the human agent. But this new power is clearly non-coercive: Paul entertains the real possibility … that one can reject the grace of God” (152). In a finely nuanced reversal of the usual grace/works dichotomy, Barclay concludes, “If the ideal for Philo is the resting sage, who approaches the vision of God in pure passivity [i.e., by accepting the vision as gracious gift], Paul’s is the obedient Adam, Christ” (157). Paul’s view requires that human agency be located within the noncoercive agency of the Spirit by which it is transformed. Both “grace” (divine agency) and “works” (human agency) are simultaneously operative.”

You can read the rest of the review here.

Filon de Alejandria: Obras completa

The second volume of the new Spanish translation of Philos works has not been published:

Filón de Alejandría
Obras completas, Volumen V

Edición de José Pablo Martín
Trotta Editorial, 2009, 360pp.

This volume comprises De vita Mosis, Vita contemplativa, Contra Flaccum, and Legatio ad Gaium. For those of you who read Spanish, here is the publisher presentation:
“El presente volumen V continúa el proyecto de edición en castellano de las Obras completas de Filón de Alejandría. Se contienen en él los tratados que pueden ordenarse en el género histórico-teológico. Se los considera históricos porque contienen documentación, descripción e interpretación de eventos del pasado y del presente del pueblo de Israel, de la ciudad de Alejandría y del Imperio romano. Sin embargo, no pueden ser considerados netamente historiográficos porque en estos tratados subyace una argumentación que los estudiosos han calificado con diversos conceptos: escrito teológico, filosófico, apologético, bíblico.” See further here.

More places to find Philo at the SBL Annual Meeting

In addition to the Philo seminar (see below) there are several other papers and lectures that deal with issues in Philo’s works. I list here those I have found. See the links to the Abstracts to check the relevance.
If I have missed some papers, please inform me using the comments field below.

Saturday Nov. 21
21-214 Early Jewish and Christian Mysticism
11/21/2009 1:00 PM to 3:30 PM
Room: Napoleon D3 – SH

Reviews of Christopher Rowland and Christopher Morray-Jones’ book, The Mystery of God: Jewish Mysticism and the New Testament (Brill, 2009), and responses by the authors.

Silviu Bunta, University of Dayton, Presiding
Alan Segal, Columbia University, Panelist (10 min)
Kevin Sullivan, Illinois Wesleyan University, Panelist (10 min)
Charles A. Gieschen, Concordia Theological Seminary – Fort Wayne, Panelist (10 min)
James R. Davila, University of St. Andrews, Panelist (10 min)
Christopher Morray-Jones, California, Respondent (15 min)
Discussion (20 min)
Break (15 min)
Elizabeth Morton, McGill University
The Role of Ecstasy in the Formation of Abraham, the Sage (25 min)
Dragos-Andrei Giulea, Marquette University
The Noetic Turn in Jewish-Christian Mysticism: Revisiting Esoterism, Mysticism, and Internalization with Philo, Clement, and Origen (25 min)
Discussion (10 min)
21-220Intertextuality in the New Testament
11/21/2009. 1:00 PM to 3:30 PM
Room: La Galerie 1 & 2 – MR

Theme: Blendings and Combinations in Pauline Intertexts
The third paper in this session might be of interest to Philo scholars:
Max J. Lee, North Park Theological Seminary
Negotiating Desire: Epicurean, Diaspora Jewish, and Pauline Traditions on Idol Food in 1 Corinthians 8-10 (25 min)
21-316 Future of the Past: Biblical and Cognate Studies for the Twenty-First Century
11/21/2009: 4:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Room: Balcony L – MR

Theme: Literary Imitation in Antiquity
Christine Shea, Ball State University, Presiding
Again, the third paper in this session is relevant:
Ruben Rene Dupertuis, Trinity University
Imitating Socrates’ Utopia in Philo and Acts (20 min)
No abstract available.

Monday Nov 23.

23-109Art and Religions of Antiquity
11/23/2009: 9:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Room: Rhythms Ballroom 3 – SH

Theme: Imaging Gods in Greco-Roman Antiquity (#1)
Zsuzsanna Gulacsi, Northern Arizona University, Presiding
Richard Freund, University of Hartford
Greco-Roman Gods and Goddesses in the Daily Life of the Jew in the Greco-Roman Period (30 min) = 1st paper in this session.
23-116Construction of Christian Identities
11/23/2009: 9:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Room: Southdown Room – SH

Theme: Rituals, Texts, Individuals and Associations: Competing Ways to Construct Identities? (2)
Adriana Destro, University of Bologna, Presiding
See the fourth paper here:
Nina E. Livesey, University of Oklahoma
Paul, a Philonic Jew (Philippians 3:3-21) (25 min)
23-117 Corpus Hellenisticum Novi Testamenti
11/23/2009: 9:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Room: Studio 6 – MR

Paul Holloway, University of Glasgow, Presiding
Second paper here is:
Emma Wasserman, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
Does Paul Have a Consistent Anthropology? Appropriation and Synthesis of Philosophical Traditions in Romans 7 and 2 Corinthians 4–5 (25 min) Discussion (5 min)
23-144aSabbath in Text, Tradition, and Theology
11/23/2009: 9:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Room: Grand Ballroom C – SH

Theme: The Sabbath During the Period of the Second Temple: Jewish Sources
Robert Goldenberg, Stony Brook University, Presiding
Consider the fourth paper in this session:
Aaron D. Panken, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion
Higher Virtue, History, or Halakhah?: Some Diverse Approaches to the Sabbath in the Late Second Temple Period (15 min)
Discussion (20 min)
23-312Early Jewish and Christian Mysticism
11/23/2009: 4:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Room: Southdown Room – SH

Theme: Mysticism in Early Judaism
Silviu N. Bunta, University of Dayton, Presiding
See the second paper here:
Rebecca Lesses, Ithaca College
Female Jewish mystics in late antiquity: real women or literary construction? (25 min)
Discussion (15 min), then Break (15 min)
23-313Early Jewish Christian Relations
11/23/2009: 4:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Room: Lagnaippe – SH

Christine Shepardson, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Presiding
The third paper in this session deals with Philo:
Terence L. Donaldson, Wycliffe College
Priest to the Nations, Light to the World, Guides in Life for All Mortals (25 min)
Discussion (5 min)

Where to find Philo at SBL

The primary place ‘to find Philo’ at The SBL Annual Meeting is of course in the Philo Seminar; Then there are several other papers to be given that deal directly with Philo, and some other dealing with him to only some extent.

Here is the time and place of the Philo Seminar:


Philo of Alexandria
9:00 AM to 11:45 AM
Room: Balcony L – MR


Theme: Interpreting Philo’s De Agricultura
Kenneth L. Schenck, Indiana Wesleyan University, Presiding
Albert Geljon, Christelijk Gymnasium Utrecht
Sample Translation and Commentary on Philo, De Agricultura 1-25 (25 min)
David T. Runia, Queen’s College, University of Melbourne
The Structure of Philo’s Allegorical Treatise De Agricultura (25 min)
Break (10 min)
James R. Royse, Claremont, CA, Respondent (20 min)
David Konstan, Brown University, Respondent (20 min)
Maren Niehoff, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Respondent (20 min)
Discussion (30 min)
Business Meeting (15 min)


Philo of Alexandria
9:00 AM to 11:45 AM
Room: Napoleon C2 – SH


Theme: Philo and the Bible of Alexandria

Robert A. Kraft, University of Pennsylvania, Presiding
Tessa Rajak, University of Reading
Philo’s Hebrew: The Etymologies Once Again (30 min)
Benjamin G. Wright III, Lehigh University
The Septuagint in Philo: Translation and Inspiration (30 min)
Gregory E. Sterling, University of Notre Dame
Which version of the Greek Bible did Philo Read? (30 min)
Break (15 min)
Maren Niehoff, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Did Alexandrian Jews apply text-critical methods to their Bible? (30 min)
Hans Svebakken, Loyola University Chicago
Philo’s Reworking of a Traditional Interpretation of ‘Clean’ and ‘Unclean’ Winged Creatures (30 min)

Next posting of mine will give other occasions to ‘find Philo’ at the SBL Annual Meeting!

New Logos 4

Just to follow up my former posting below on Logos now becoming available on Iphone, Logos has now also launched a new version of their Bible Study Program. The Iphone version is supposed to be able to be syncronized with this new Logos 4 version, not the older Libronix version. In fact, Logos 4 seems to be like a new program as it does not update the present Libronix version, but runs on your computer alongside this; hence as a new program.
On the other side, those having Libronix are getting discount prices.

Further information are to be found on their special page; Logos 4.

See also the review by Ruben Gomez here.

NT personal names in ancient inscriptions?

While wandering around in Corinth las September, looking for  various inscriptions, I started thinking over again: how many inscriptions do we in fact have that contains names of persons also mentioned in the New Testament pages?

I must admit, that while being there, trying to recapitulate from memory, only three inscriptions came to my mind. Of course, one should probably leave out of such a consideration the names of the emperors (Luke 2:1; 3:1) and other Roman official persons as the procurators, including even the inscription concerning Pontius Pilate, and  Gallio (Acts 18:12) even though this lastmentined is very important for the dating of Paul.

I was, and am, however, more thinking about Jewish and Christian persons mentioned in the NT:

  • The Erastus inscription, on this see a posting of mine below. Erastus probably had some sort of official position in Corinth, but the point is, that if he is identical with the Erastus mentioned in the NT, he was also a Christian (cf. Acts 19:22; Rom 16:23; 2 Tim 4:20).
  • The Caiaphas ossuary, one of the High priests in Jerusalem ( Matt 26:3.57; Luke 3:2; John 11:49; 18:; Acts 4:6). The authenticity of this inscription is still dicussed.
  • The famous, not to say infamous James ossuary, having an inscription mentioning  James, brother of Jesus (Gal 1:19).

A search through Deissmann, Light from the Ancient East, and the volumes of New Documents Illustrating Early Christianity (so far 9 volumes), did not provide any more inscriptions.

Looking into the book of Craig A. Evans,  Ancient Texts for New Testament Studies; a guide to the background literature (Peabody, Ma; Hendrickson, 2005), pp. 306ff. (on Google), I see he has not much more; but he is more positive concerning the two ossuaries.

The conclusion then is disappointing; while the two ossuary inscriptions are questionable, and it is possible that the Erastus mentioned in the Corinthian inscription might not be the one mentioned by Paul, what are we then left with?

Close to nothing; the Erastus inscription being the only one being close to a plausible inscription mentioning a person, even a Christian,  also mentioned in the New Testament.

Those of  who remember the immense interest the presentation of the James ossuary received some years ago, would know that these facts are some of the reasons for the enormous interest this ossuary arose.

Logos on Iphone!

Thanks to a message from Ruben Gomez on FaceBook, I became aware of the fact that Logos has made an Logos application for Iphone.

Great news as I have used Iphone in a year now, and Logos Bible Software for years, and love them both! More information is available on the Logos Forums.

The app. can be downloaded for free from Itunes.

It has an ability to log in, in order “to sync your app with your desktop”, but the fulll meaning of that seems to be something belonging to the future.
What is possible now is to access some of the free books from Logos, and among these are books as Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartiensa, Tischendorf’s Greek New Testament, Westcott-Hort’s Greek NT, Elzevirs Textus Receptus, Ramsay’s Paul the Traveller, and several more.
I presume the application will be extensively developed in the coming months.