Philonica et Neotestamentica

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Monthly Archives: April 2010

New Reviews on

The following new reviews have been added to the Review of Biblical Literature and listed on the RBL blog (

Paul N. Anderson, Felix Just, S.J., and Tom Thatcher, eds.
John, Jesus, and History, Volume 2: Aspects of Historicity in the Fourth Gospel
Reviewed by Tobias Hagerland

John Bodel and Saul M. Olyan, eds.
Household and Family Religion in Antiquity
Reviewed by Jason Lamoreaux

Jochen Flebbe
Solus Deus: Untersuchungen zur Rede von Gott im Brief des Paulus an die Römer
Reviewed by Wayne Coppins

George Kwame Agyei Bonnah
The Holy Spirit: A Narrative Factor in the Acts of the Apostles
Reviewed by Joshua Mann

Nancy C. Lee and Carleen Mandolfo, eds.
Lamentations in Ancient and Contemporary Cultural Contexts
Reviewed by Elizabeth Boase

George W. E. Nickelsburg and Michael E. Stone, eds.
Early Judaism: Text and Documents on Faith and Piety
Reviewed by Gerbern Oegema

Gail R. O’Day and David L. Petersen, eds.
Theological Bible Commentary
Reviewed by Harold W. Attridge

Dorothy M. Peters
Noah Traditions in the Dead Sea Scrolls: Conversations and Controversies of Antiquity
Reviewed by Claudia D. Bergmann

Baruch J. Schwartz, David P. Wright, Jeffrey Stackert, and Naphtali S. Meshel, eds.
Perspectives on Purity and Purification in the Bible
Reviewed by Jonathan D. Lawrence

Ben Witherington III
New Testament Rhetoric: An Introductory Guide to the Art of Persuasion in and of the New Testament
Reviewed by InHee Cho

Quote of the day

“I think that the Philonic corpus is the single most important body of material from Second Temple Judaism for our understanding of the development of Christianity in the first and second centuries. . . . I am convinced, that the Philonic corpus helps us to understand the dynamics of early Christianity more adequately than any other corpus.”

from G.E. Sterling, ‘“Philo has not been used half enough”: The significance of Philo of Alexandria for the Study of the New Testament,’ in Perspectives in Religious Studies 30 (2003):252.

On how to define Diaspora

Many studies on the Jewish Diaspora in antiquity do not define Diaspora or characterize what is typical for a Diaspora situation. Some more recent social studies have, however, dealt with such characterizations.
Robin Cohen (Global Diasporas. An Introduction (London: UCL Press, 1997) has tried to work out a typology of diaspora, and suggests that we might talk about five types: Victim, labor, trade, imperial and cultural diasporas. While clearly admitting that some groups may take dual or multiple forms, or change character over time, this typology is nevertheless relevant for a study of the Jewish Diaspora.

Cohen also suggests that if looking at some well-known diasporas, one might characterize them thus: Jewish, Africans and Armenians – victim diasporas; the British – imperial; the Indians – labor; Chinese and Lebanese – trading, and Caribbean abroad – cultural diaspora. When it comes to the ancient Jewish settlements in the western diaspora, one might probably find all of these various types represented. There were certainly periods of deportation into exile, hence ‘victim’ types, and later during the Ptolemaic and Seleucidian periods, as well as under the Romans, they suffered from time to time ‘imperial’ deportations, e.g., as slaves.
Furthermore, there were immigrations because of prospective trade and labor possibilities, as well as immigrations of those simply leaving their homeland for a variety of rather unspecified reasons; religious, cultural etc. The papyrii found in various locations in Egypt provide evidence for how the Jews were to be found in several social strata of the society in Egypt as well as in a variety of occupations.
Furthermore, drawing upon a work of W. Safran, Cohen is also able to suggest a more elaborate list of common features of a diaspora. Most of these, he suggests, should be present if we were to label it a diaspora community: They or their ancestors may have been dispersed, they might have a kind of collective memory about their homeland, they believe they are not fully integrated in their new host societies, their ancestral homeland is to some extent idealized, and they feel a certain commitment to it, as well as even thinking that one day they might return.

Cohen is spelling this out a little bit more in the ensuing table:
Common features of a diaspora:
1. Dispersal from an original homeland, often traumatically, to two or more foreign regions;
2. alternatively, the expansion from a homeland in search of work, in pursuit trade or to further colonial ambitions;
3. a collective memory and myth about the homeland, including its location, history and achievements;
4. an idealization of the putative ancestral home and a collective commitment to its maintenance, restoration, safety and prosperity, even to its creation;
5. the development of a return movement that gains collective approbation;
6. a strong ethnic group consciousness sustained over a long time and based on a sense of distinctiveness, a common history and the belief in a common fate;
7. a troubled relationship with host societies, suggesting a lack of acceptance at the least or the possibility that another calamity might befall the group; and
8. a sense of empathy and solidarity with co-ethnic members in other countries of settlement; and
9. the possibility of a distinctive creative, enriching life in host countries with a tolerance for pluralism.

There are, however, two aspects that are not covered by this general model. And these are very important when it comes to understanding the Diaspora of the Jews in the 1 century CE: The role of a common religious center and its location, and the role of its legitimating religious literature. Without these aspects, the role of e.g., Philo as Diaspora Jew can hardly be understood.

Philo after 38 CE

The dating of Philo’s works is dependent on one’s understanding of his life and work. If he were active in political functions and offices during most of his adult life it is not only possible but rather plausible that his work as an author and expositor of the Scriptures must have found place during a rather long period.
It is, alas, not possible to fit all his writings into a chronological scheme. The Legatione and Flaccum must, however, have been written after the events they inform us of, i.e., after 38 CE. Perhaps De Animalibus was written at the same time. We cannot place all his philosophical writings in the period of his younger age and the exegetical in the later. If De Animalibus, however, belongs to his later years it shows that his philosophical interest was very intact at that time. On the other hand, it is scarcely reasonable to place all his writings in his later years.

There is thus one date that must have been crucial for Philo, and that is the uprisings and the progrom-like persecutions of the Jews in Alexandria in 38f CE. How did these influence Philo’s life and work?
Here I find Michael F. mach’s suggestions challenging:

The well educated formerly wealthy member of the Jewish community finds himself driven out of the centre of Hellenistic learning in his home-town and seems to withdraw into the synagogue. Here he encounters Jews who had not yet become part of the broader Hellenistic philosophical culture. On the one hand he eagerly tries to make use of his acquired skills, he will even attempt to show how much Hellenistic philosophy and the teaching of Moses are basically one and the same; on the other hand he must reconsider his enthusiasm for the Greek culture from the position of a rejected outsider. Somewhat between these two points one may locate Philo’s longing for a better understanding of the high Jewish culture in the eyes of his former companions. This whole process takes place during years of ongoing social and political troubles (which have a direct impact on his and his family’s economic situation) ending in open riots and armed hostility. (Mach, Michael F., ‘Choices for Changing Frontiers: The Apologetics of Philo of Alexandria,’ In Yossef Schwartz and Volkhard Krech (Eds.), Religious Apologetics – Philosophical Argumentation. . Religion in Philosophy and Theology 10. Tübingen: J. C. B. Mohr (Siebeck), 2003), pp. 319-333. here p. 326.

The Legatione and Flaccum at least must have been written after this events, and these events are probably also pivotal in his changed attitude to the Romans and his more direct political agenda in these two works.
The challenging issue in Mach’s statement above, however, is that he also suggest a more far-reaching effect of these events in 38 and the immediate following years.

Hearing the Word: Teaching the Bible

On Thursday April 22, Prof. dr. David Rhoads, Professor of New Testament, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago , will held the Hein-Fry lecture at
Luther Seminary, St Paul, at 10.00-1050 am:

“Hearing the Word: Teaching the Bible in the Parish and Beyond”
in Chapel of the Incarnation.
The Hein-Fry lecture topic for 2010 is “Hearing the Word: Teaching the Bible in the Parish and Beyond.” This theme is designed to explore the various ways that diverse Lutheran communities teach biblical stories, truths and gospel messages.

At 11:00 – 12:00
Dr. Diane Jacobson, Professor of Old Testament, Luther Seminary will provide a response lecture:
“Hearing the Word: Teaching the Bible in the Parish and Beyond – A Response”
in Chapel of the Incarnation.
View live broadcast here.
Thursday, 4/22/2010
10-12 a.m. CST

Two new Greek lexica

Frederick William Danker
The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament
408 pages,
1 line drawing 6 x 9 © 2009. Cloth $55.00
ISBN: 9780226136158 Published November 2009
Fredrick William Danker, has recently published a small and handy lexicon on the New testament. It is not an abbreviation of the BDAG, but another lexicon. The Preface to the book is available as a .pdf file here.
Each entry includes basic etymological information, short renderings, information on usage, and plentiful biblical references. Greek terms that could have different English definitions, depending on context, are thoughtfully keyed to the appropriate passages. An overarching aim of The Concise Greek-English Lexicon is to assist the reader in recognizing the broad linguistic and cultural context for New Testament usage of words.
The Concise Greek-English Lexicon retains all the acclaimed features of A Greek-English Lexicon in a succinct and affordable handbook, perfect for specialists and nonspecialists alike.

The other Greek-English Lexicon published in recent months, is a lexicon to the Septuagint:

Takamitsu Muraoka,
A Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint.
Louvain/Paris/Walpole, MA: Peeters, 2009.
Pp. xl, 757. ISBN 9789042922488. $138.00.

According to the publishers, “* The entire Septuagint, including the apocrypha, is covered.
* For the books of Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, and Judges the so-called Antiochene edition is fully covered in addition to the data as found in the standard edition by Rahlfs.
* Also fully covered are the two versions of Tobit, Esther, and Daniel.
* Based on the critically established Göttingen edition where it is available. If not, Rahlfs’s edition is used.
* For close to 60% of a total of 9,550 headwords all the passages occurring in the LXX are either quoted or mentioned.
* A fully fledged lexicon, not a glossary merely listing translation equivalents in English.
* Senses defined.
* Important lexicographical data such as synonyms, antonyms, idiomatic expressions, distinction between literal and figurative, combinations with prepositions, noun cases, syntagmatic information such as what kind of direct or indirect objects a given verb takes, what kind of nouns a given adjective is used with, and much more information abundantly presented and illustrated with quotes, mostly translated.
* High-frequency lexemes such as prepositions and conjunctions fully analysed.
* Data on contemporary Koine and Jewish Greek including the New Testament taken into account.
* Morphological information provided: various tenses of verbs, genitive forms of nouns etc.
* Substantive references to the current scientific literature.”

A review of this volume is posted at BrynMawr.

Smart Amazon applet for Iphone has launched an applet for Iphone (and Ipod) that I find very smart and useful. In addition to the regular features you also find on Amazon’s webpage, this applet also utilizes the camera on Iphone.
If you see a book in a store or at an exhibition, or somewhere else, and you want to remember that book, perhaps buy it later, then take a picture of it: The applet sends the picture immediately to, and if the picture has a satisfying quality, Amazon finds the book, and returns all the relevant information about it to you, including the possibility to buy it online.

Very smart. Even if you go to the webside, you will see the books you took pictures of listed at the top of your page.
In this way, you don’t have to write down authors and titles anymore; just take a picture of it with your Iphone!