Some full text articles

The articles of Greek-Roman Byzantine Studies are available online. Get here!
Of special interest for Philo students, in addition to those mentioned in the former posting below, see especially:

  • Frankfurter, David, “Fetus Magic and Sorcery Fears in Roman Egypt,” 46 (2006) 37-62 Abstract / Full text
  • Kamesar, Adam, “The Logos Endiathetos and the Logos Prophorikos in Allegorical Interpretation: Philo and the D-Scholia to the Iliad,” 44 (2004) 163-181 Abstract / Full text
  • Zuiderhoek, Arjan, “On the Political Sociology of the Imperial Greek City,” 48 (2008) 417-445 Abstract / Full text

A New Testament student might find these interesting:

  • Kelhoffer, James A., “John the Baptist’s ‘Wild Honey’ and ‘Honey’ in Antiquity,” 45 (2005) 59-73 Abstract / Full text
    • “Suppressing Anger in Early Christianity: Examples from the Pauline Tradition,” 47 (2007) 307-325 Abstract / Full text

Symposium and Guilds in Roman Egypt

A couple of interesting articles related to Roman Egypt in the last issue of  Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies (50:2010) that you might like to read too:

Maren Niehoff, ‘The Symposium of Philo’s Therapeutae:Displaying Jewish Identity in an Increasingly Roman World,’ pp.95-116. (See my comments on her study here.)
Philip F. Venticinque, ‘Family Affairs: Guild Regulations and Family Relationsships in Roman Egypt,’ pp. 273-294 (get it here).

Kraft on dating Philo’s works

In a couple of postings below we have commented on issues relating to the adressees and dating of the works of Philo. See here and here. One of the more challenging views, and perhaps speculative, someone will say, is the view set forth – very tentatively – by Robert A. Kraft in a couple of articles.

Kraft, Robert A.
‘Philo and the Sabbath Crisis:Alexandrian Jewish Politics and the Dating of Philo’s Works.’ In The Future of Early Christianity. Essays in Honor of Helmut Koester. Ed. Birger A. Pearson. Pp. 131–141. Minneapolis: Fortress Press. 1991.
Kraft, Robert A.
‘Tiberius Julius Alexander and the Crisis in Alexandria According to Josephus.’ In Of Scribes and Scrolls. Studies of the Hebrew Bible, Intertestamental Judaism and Christian Origins. Presented to John Strugnell on the Occasion of His Sixtieth Birthday. Ed. Harold W. Attridge, John J. Collins and Thomas H. Tobin S.J. Pp. 175–184. Lanham, Ma: University of America Press. 1990.

The view set forth in the first of these articles, Kraft himself summarizes thus:
1. Philo’s negative treatments of Joseph as a symbol of the political person often reflect a specific set of political events experienced by Philo (in Egypt) involving problematic actions of a Jewish political figure.
2) Philo’s positive treatment of Joseph as a symbol of the (Jewish) political person was almost certainly written prior to the crisis reflected in the negative treatments.
3) Thus the most obvious candidate for sparking the negative treatment would seem to be Philo’s own nephew Tiberius Julius Alexander, who first appears in preserved sources as a major political figure around 42 CE and disappears from the sources shortly after 70.
4) If Philo is reacting to political activities of Tiberius Alexander, the date of the publication of Philo’s allegorical treatises may be considerably later than ususally has been assumed (p.132).

This has some specific consequences for the dating o fPhilo’s works. Kraft is pinpointing the problem when he asks (p. 140): “But is it possible that Philo could have written a large portion of his “allegorical” treatises after Tiberius Julius Alexander had gained the sort of power indicated in Dreams 2? The most obvious situation would be in the late sixties, when Tiberius Julius Alexander was prefect of Egypt.”
How old would Philo had been at that time? Kraft surmises: “Probably no younger than in his seventies.”

The consequences of such a view would on the one hand make Philo write his allegorical works much later in his life than usually considered, and Philo on his part may have lived longer than to max the early fifties as is usually taken for granted.

NotaBene 9.0

NotaBene, version 9.0 is now officially launched. If you don’t know this marvelous word-processor program, which includes a bibliography program and a text base as well,
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Nota Bene: a word processor for scholars … a bibliographic manager for those who are tired of typing/formatting their own citations and bibliographies … a personal search engine for those who want to find anything they’ve ever written in seconds … a database manager for those who have things to keep track of … a Hebrew, Greek, Cyrillic, IPA and (new!) Arabic word processor for those who want more than just fonts … an Internet search tool for those who need to find and capture bibliographic data … a set of tools for scholars who want to focus on their writing and research … a work of art for scholars who appreciate the finer things in life … a community of scholars.

Quote of the day

“Why do theological students in the West continue to spend countless hours learning about a few well-known, now deceased German theologians whose global devotees are actually quite small, and yet completely ignore over one billion living, breathing Muslims who represent on of the most formidable challenges to the Christian gospel today?”
from Timothy C. Tennent, Theology in the Context of World Christianity: How the Global Church Is Influencing the Way We Think about and Discuss Theology (Zondervan, 2007).

Does it matter?

Does it matter who Philo wrote his treatises for? That is; does it matter whether it was for Jews or non-Jews, or perhaps both? Many scholars argue that Philo wrote primarily for his fellow Jews, while some also argue that the non-Jews might at least be be among the intended readers for some works.
But in general, the search for the addressees of Philo’s works seems to end up at the doors of the Jews, having the Greeks as close neighbors. The quest was rather dead for some years, but was reopened by D. T. Runia and D. M. Hay: Does it really matter? Can’t Philo’s works be read and interpreted without regard to his intended audience? In 1986 Runia surmised:

Philo is writing his long series of treatises in the first place for himself. They are a material record of his quest to fathom the depths of wisdom contained in scripture, a quest the result of which he was prepared to share with others. The question of Philo’s projected audience needs to be borne in mind, but it is not, in my view, going to to play a decisive role when we confront the question of how we should read Philo.

In Runia’s article, this statement seems primarily to concern the allegorical treatises, while the addresses of the others will have been “…well-educated Jews, but he would have welcomed interest from sympathetic outsiders” (p. 192). D.M. Hay, in an article from 1991, took Runia’s viewpoint a little further. Drawing on the notions in recent literary theory of implied author and reader, he suggested that these aspects may prove rewarding in characterizing the projected readers. He seems to end up, however, with the suggestion that “…it seems likely that Philo wrote his treatises for an `open-ended’ readership, one not limited to Alexandria and, perhaps, not limited to his own time….Perhaps Philo deliberately avoided inserting any very particular description of intended readers in his treatises because he expected, or at least hoped for, a wide and continuing audience” (p. 2).

A quest for the implied reader in Philo’s work has not yet been carried out. It may prove rewarding in order to get a clearer view of how the reader as created by the texts might be. This reader(s) should not, however, be confused with the real reader, but might be used as a foil against which one might consider the historical reader. Historical studies should still have the priority in this quest.

The main reason for this reluctance is grounded in the nature of Philo’s texts, at least as far as they are represented by the Expositio. The Expositio is, as the label says, an expository work. The works contained therein are not narratives, but exegetical expositions. Philo interprets the Torah for his prospected readers. Hence he has little need to directly address and characterize his readers.

So again, we seem to end up knocking at the doors of the Jews, still wanting to know how they really were. Literary, historical and sociological studies should join in the efforts to find these readers. The quest for the readers of Philo works should still be discussed. And what did the events of 38-41 CE have to say for Philo as a writer?

The articles referred to are:

D. T. Runia,
How to read Philo,”
Nederlands Theologisch Tijdschrift 40 (1986), pp. 185-198.

D. M. Hay,
“Philo’s view of Himself as Exegete: Inspired, but not Authorative,”
The Studia Philonica Annual: Studies in Hellenistic Judaism
(Earle Hilgert Festchrift) 3 (1991), pp. 40-52.