NA 28 now available on the Net

The Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece is now available on the net. No footnotes etc, but the main text is clear and readable. Go here.
The German Bible Society, furthermore, announces that the Nestle-Aland digital will be available as download for Microsoft Windows, OS X, iOS and Android in 2013.

The 28th edition of the Nestle-Aland had to accomplish two different tasks. First, the apparatus had to be revised thoroughly to give it more clarity and make it easier to use. Secondly, the text-critical in-sights and decisions resulting from work on the Editio Critica Maior of the Greek New Testament had to be incorporated. As a consequence of these alterations, which so far concern only the Catholic Letters, the Nestle-Aland has for the first time in its history a different presentation for different parts of the text. The Catholic Letters were revised according to a fundamentally new concept which in the long run will be adopted for the entire edition. The revision of the remaining texts was confined to a thorough inspection and rearrangement of the apparatus, while the basic structure was left untouched (adopted from the publisher’s announcement).

New books on Philo

bildeAs many of us know, the SBL Annual Meeting is an excellent place and occasion to get your hands on new books. Here are the new books on Philo that I carried with me in my suitcase back home, presented from the one on the top of the pile on the picture:

Hans Svebakken,
Philo of Alexandria’s Exposition of the Tenth Commandment.
Studia Philonica Monographs 6
Society of Biblical Literature, Atlanta, 2012.

Mireille Hadas-Lebel,
Philo of Alexandria. A Thinker in the Jewish Diaspora
Studies in Philo of Alexandria 7
Brill; Leiden, 2012 (orig published in French in 2003)

Karl-Gustav Sandelin,
Attraction and Danger of Alien Religion. Studies in Early Judaism and Christianity
Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 290
Mohr-Siebeck; Tubingen, 2012

Albert C. Geljon and David T. Runia,
Philo of alexandria On Cultivation. Inroduction, Translation and Commentary
Philo of Alexandria Commentary Series 4
Brill; Leiden, 2013

Svebakken’s book is the revised and updated version of his dissertation, carried out under the mentorship of Thomas Tobin. It deals with Philo’s exposition of the tenth Commandment, beginning with an overview of its content, context and place in previous research. Chapter Two deals with Philo on desire (pp 33-80); Chapt Three is about Philo on Self-control and practice (pp. 81-108), and then the Fourth chapter is a translation and commentary on Philo’s exposition of the tenth commandment (pp. 109-183), followed by a brief summary and lines of further research.
As mentioned above, the book on Philo by Hadas-Lebel was published in French in 2003; those of us not mastering French as well as we ought to, should be happy for this translation. The book will surely have to be listed among the several readable Introductions to Philo that is available now, and more is to come.
K.-G. Sandelin has published several articles on Philo, on Philo and the New Testament, and on topics from the New testament. His first collection of these articles, a collection of his articles written in Sweedish, was published in 2008 (Sophia och hennes värld. Exegetiska uppsatser från fyra årtionden. Studier i exegetik och judaistik utgivna av Teologiska fakulteten vid Åbo Akademi Nr. Teologiska Fakulteten, Åbo Akademi; Åbo, 2008). The present volume is a collection of ten his articles, originally published in English. Five of these deals directly with Philo, but Philo is drawn upon also in some of the others.It is good to have these articles of the Finnish scholar gathered in these two volumes.
This year saw the publication of another volume from the Philo of Alexandria Commentary Series. Hopefully there will be another out next year(?). The one published this year deals with Philo’s work De Agricultura/On Cultivation, a text dealing with Genesis 9:20a!

I must admit, I have been so busy after I returned home from Chicago that there has not been much time for reading; I intend, however, to return to some of these books in later postings.

And then I bought some books related to the New Testament too, but the disclosure of these titles will have to wait for my next blogpost…. Stay tuned……..

Reading Philo in Greek

James F. McGrath has an interesting and relevant posting on his blog Exploring our Matrix on Nov 27: “I just recently started meeting with some colleagues and a student in a Greek reading group. I suggested to a colleague in Classics that it might be interesting to read Philo of Alexandria together, and she got very excited about the idea, and some other colleagues in Religion also expressed an interest.
And so lately, I have felt disconcertingly like I am back in Greek class, wondering why the verses that I end up with when it is my turn to read and translate are so difficult, while those others end up with seem comparatively easy. Of course, if I had been preparing …… Read more here.
May be some more should try to get together reading Philo in Greek?

Philo dinner


Every year during the SBL Annual Meeting, some Philo scholars use to get together and go out for dinner. This time we went to the Italian Village Restaurant on West Monroe Street, ca 15 of us.

It was not easy to get a picture, and I only had my Iphone available, but it should be possible to see the following persons here:
From left; me (T.Seland), then alas, F. Calabi is hidden behind the head of F.E. Brenk, furthermore, on the other side of the table; P.N Hernandez, J. Otto, D.Konstan, S. Gambetti; on the other side of the table from right, you might see R. Bloch, E.Birnbaum, A.Geljon, and C. Carlier. Then in addition, the following persons were present; R. Cox, J. Reddoch, and AM Seland.

New Commentary on Philo

Brill is publishing a new commentary on Philo’s De Agricultura (I’m not sure if there ever has been a commentary on this text before, at least not in English):

Albert C. Geljon and David T. Runia,
Philo of Alexandria, De Agricultura
Introduction, Translation and Commentary
Philo of Alexandria Commentary Series Vol 4.
Leiden, Brill 2012 (Nov).Approx. 305 pp.

Hopefully, it will be out and available at the SBL Annual Meeting at the end of this week.
Bring some extra money (!), it’s not cheap: €112.00 //$156.00.
The publisher presents the volume thus:”The present volume contains the first translation and commentary in English on his treatise De agricultura (On cultivation), which gives an elaborate allegorical interpretation of Genesis 9:20. Noah’s role as a cultivator is analysed in terms of the ethical and spiritual quest of the soul making progress towards its goal. The translation renders Philo’s baroque Greek into readable modern English. The commentary pays particular attention to the treatise’s structure, its biblical basis and its exegetical and philosophical contents. The volume will be valuable for the insights it gives into an unusual but highly influential method of biblical interpretation.”

Philo at SBL I (corrected)

Due to the fact that Sarah Pearce is not able to attend the SBL Annual Meeting this year, there will be a slight change in the Philo session on Sunday morning:
S18-137 Philo of Alexandria
11/18/2012 9:00 AM to 11:45 AM
Room: S103d – McCormick Place
Theme: Philo’s Graeco-Roman Readers

The aim of this panel is to open up new evidence or revisit old questions about who read and made use of Philo’s writings in the past.
Torrey Seland, School of Mission and Theology, Norway, Presiding
James R. Royse, Claremont, CA
Did Philo Publish His Works? (25 min)
Gregory Sterling, University of Notre Dame
“A Man of the highest Repute”: Did Josephus know the Works of Philo of Alexandria? (25 min)
Frederick E. Brenk, Pontifical Biblical Institute, Rome
Philo and Plutarch on the Nature of God (25 min)
Break (15 min)
Jennifer Otto, McGill University
Philo, Judaeus? A re-evaluation of why Clement calls Philo “the Pythagorean” (25 min)
Gretchen Reydams-Schils, University of Notre Dame
Calcidius, Philo, and Origen (25 min)
Discussion (25 min)


Thanks to a message from James McGrath on FaceBook, I became aware of the fact that AAR/SBL have now issued their new Annual Meeting 2012 app for Iphone/Ipad. This is the second time we have such an App, and the former, issued last year, was very helpful when trying to make a schedule of what/where/when  to attend a particular session.

Description (taken from their webpage)
EventPilot® conference app is your full featured guide to manage your conference attendance. App features include:
• Native app: No wifi connection required to access the conference program, schedule or animated maps.
• Now: Stay informed about hot issues, event program changes, your upcoming sessions and organizer messages.
• Program: Browse the entire event program to build your personal schedule, bookmark sessions or speakers, or access session handouts as available.
• Take notes and email them as part of your trip report for reference.
• Exhibitors, Maps, related conference info and much more.

Philo at SBL III

In addition to the main Philo sessions at the SBL Annual Meeting in Chicago in mid-November this year, listed below (scroll down to see), there are several other sessions that include one or more papers dealing with Philo. Here is what I found relevant and interesting when I searched the Annual Meeting Program Catalog (if you have found any other papers dealing with Philo, please inform me):

Saturday 17
S17-128Second Corinthians: Pauline Theology in the Making
11/17/2012. 9:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Room: N139 – McCormick Place

Reimund Bieringer, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Presiding
Volker Rabens, Ruhr-Universität Bochum:
Transformation through Contemplation: New Light from Philo on 2 Corinthians 3:18 (30 min)

In 2 Corinthians 3 Paul compares and contrasts the effects of his ministry with that of Moses, which leads up to the much debated climactic statement: “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord as in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit” (v.18). In this paper I will argue that a number of intertextual echoes from the writings of Philo of Alexandria shed new light on the interpretation of this text. Next to some verbatim parallels to 2 Corinthians 3:18 (cf. Post. 12–13), Philo provides a broad textual basis for the thematic connection of (1) the work of the Spirit who enables (2) an intimate, mystical beholding of God that leads to (3) a virtuous life (e.g., Mos. 2.69; Gig. 54–55; QE 2.29; cf. Migr. 36). My paper will demonstrate that studying Philo on this issue provides us with deeper insights into the making of Paul’s theology in 2 Corinthians 3:18 where he describes the same causality, ascribing like Philo a transforming role to intimate beholding of the divine which is enabled by the Spirit. Moreover, reading 2 Corinthians 3:18 in the context of this Philonic tradition helps us to guard against one-sided comprehensions of the nature of “beholding” (reception of cognitive revelation [F. Back] vs. Damascus-Road-encounter [A.F. Segal, S. Kim]). Philo’s notion of beholding encompasses both a cognitive-noetic as well as an existential-mystical dimension. Accordingly, I will demonstrate that it is fitting to speak of transformation through contemplation with regard to Philo as well as 2 Corinthians 3:18.

S17-344Wisdom and Apocalypticism in Early Judaism and Early Christianity
11/17/2012 4:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Room: E258 – McCormick Place

Theme: Paideia and “Internalized Apocalypticism”

Matthew Goff, Florida State University, Presiding
Jason M. Zurawski, University of Michigan
Mosaic Torah as Encyclical Paideia: Reading Paul’s Allegory of Hagar and Sarah in Light of Philo of Alexandria’s (25 min)

Philo’s allegorical reading of Genesis’ Hagar, Sarah, and Abraham narrative deals with the advantages, and possible disadvantages, of a Greek education. In his reading, Hagar represents encyclical paideia, or what we might call liberal arts, subjects pertaining to a specifically Greek education such as grammar, rhetoric, or music. For Philo, this education (i.e. Hagar) was an absolutely essential step for Abraham in the attainment of his true desire, virtue or wisdom (i.e. Sarah), the former preparing him for the latter. While for Philo, Greek paideia was an often necessary means to attaining wisdom, there were dangers involved, namely becoming too devoted to the maidservant to the detriment of the mistress. Sarah banished Hagar because once Abraham obtained wisdom, he no longer had need for the encyclical studies. Paul’s reading of the narrative, on the surface, seems completely unrelated, and scholars, not surprisingly, have almost universally rejected any connection between the two. While I do not suggest that Paul was necessarily reading Philo, I do believe there is good reason for attempting to understand Paul’s exegesis in light of Philo’s. Two popular topics of conversation among Jews in the Diaspora were, one, Mosaic Law as a means to obtaining wisdom, and two, Greek paideia as a more cautious means to wisdom. Paul’s reading, then, becomes part of this conversation, yet with some fairly drastic innovation due precisely to his new understanding of wisdom, fully available now only as or through Christ. Paul conflates the two paths to wisdom, Mosaic Torah and Greek paideia, the Torah itself becoming Hagar, Philo’s encyclical studies. It has a definite purpose, but once the goal of wisdom is reached, it is no longer needed. Paul, therefore, warns the Galatians of the dangers of returning to the Mosaic Law, as pedagogue and paideia, once having attained true wisdom via Christ. This reading of the allegory shows a consistency in Paul’s argumentation in the letter which has been lost due to the more typical interpretations of the allegory.

S19-104Ancient Fiction and Early Christian and Jewish Narrative
11/19/2012 9:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Room: E260 – McCormick Place

Theme: Borders, Boundaries, Crossings
Janet Spittler, Texas Christian University, Presiding (5 min)
James Petitfils, University of California-Los Angeles
A Tale of Two Moseses: Philo’s De Vita Mosis and Josephus’ Ant. 2-4 in light of the Roman Discourse of Exemplarity (25 min)

The preferred moral curriculum of a Roman education largely consisted of exemplary narratives of Rome’s native heroes. Elite and non-elite Romans would regularly encounter these carefully-emplotted heroes both audibly, in frequently repeated—and specifically crafted—ancestral anecdotes and visually, whether by means of prominently displayed ancestral masks (imagines), conspicuously storied statuary, or a host of easily narrativized monuments ornamenting the urban landscape. In short, when Roman writers, orators, or parents wished to articulate or inculcate their conceptions of virtuous “Roman” leadership, they consistently deployed exempla as rhetorical vehicles of the mos maiorum. In dialogue with recent scholarship in the field of Classics (especially the work of Matthew Roller and Karl-Joachim Hölkeskamp), the proposed paper will examine the way in which Philo of Alexandria (De Vita Mosis 1-2) and Flavius Josephus (Antiquities 2-4) appropriate and redeploy the narrative features characterizing this “Roman Discourse of Exemplarity” as they showcase their paradigmatic “Jewish” leader, Moses. I will explore the way in which these authors, in their efforts to establish clear cultural boundaries and prescribe distinctively “Jewish” leadership ideals ironically employ characteristically “Roman” narrative strategies and affirm a number of traditionally “Roman” leadership preferences. This study will also examine the virtues of ideal “Jewish” leadership shared by the respective Moseses as well as those more uniquely Philonic or Josephan priorities. In the end, this presentation will highlight both the permeability of ancient cultural boundaries, as well as the ironic utility of Hellenistic and Roman discursive practices and approaches to narrative for the construction of Jewish identity/ies.

Francoise Mirguet, Arizona State University
Emotions Retold: Emotional Discourse in Judeo-Hellenistic Rewritten Bibles (25 min)

In line with the proposed theme of “Borders, Boundaries, and Crossings,” this paper will explore a particular effect of narratives crossing cultural and linguistic boundaries. It will examine how rewritten biblical stories, from the Hellenistic period, transform or expand character’s emotions. The license with which Hellenistic authors rewrite emotions is noteworthy, and may suggest the construction of a new emotional discourse. I will consider for example Josephus’ retelling of Amnon’s desire for Tamar (Ant. 7:163, based on 2 Sam 13:1-2), Philo’s description of Abraham’s self-mastery when preparing to sacrifice Isaac (Abr. 1:170, based on Gen 22), or the story of David’s thirst in 4 Macc 3:6-18 (based on 2 Sam 23:13-17 and 1 Chr 11:15-19). Combining literary analysis with a study of social constructions and historical context, I will examine the literary expression (vocabulary, figures of speech, etc.), the use of the body, and the kind of emotionality promoted in the rewritten biblical stories—control of the passions appearing as the mainstream ideal. Comparing this emotional discourse with the somewhat later Hellenistic novels, I will suggest that emotions are conceived as a mirror of the self, and the body as a mirror of the emotions. The paper is part of a larger study on emotions in Judeo-Hellenistic literature, and is inscribed within the emerging discipline of emotional history (see Stearns [1994], Reddy [2001], and Rosenwein [2006]).

P19-145Society for Ancient Mediterranean Religions
Joint Session With: Society for Ancient Mediterranean Religions, Greco-Roman Religions
11/19/2012 9:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Room: W190b – McCormick Place

Theme: Divination in Ancient Mediterranean Religions
Eric Orlin, University of Puget Sound, Introduction (5 min)
Jason Reddoch, Colorado Mesa University
Cicero’s De Divinatione and Philo of Alexandria’s Criticism of Artificial Divination (20 min)

This paper will present Philo of Alexandria’s critical remarks about divination against the backdrop of Cicero’s De Divinatione. According to Cicero, there are two types of divination: natural and artificial. Natural divination is described as a spontaneous experience of divine inspiration such as predictive dreams or other prophecy. Artificial divination is described as a skill based on human observation, and includes, for example, haruspicy and augury. Philo recognizes the same distinction but tends to distance the two categories and is very critical of artificial divination. Philo accepts its legitimacy but thinks that it is theologically dangerous since it neglects the importance of personal divine agency. Both Cicero and Philo describe the Stoic concept of cosmic sympathy (sympatheia), which refers to the organic and determinate structure of the universe and was often used to validate divination. There is no question of Philo’s acceptance of the doctrine of cosmic sympathy since he explicitly says that Moses approved of it (Migr. 180). However, whereas Cicero relates cosmic sympathy to both artificial and natural divination, Philo avoids the explicit language of cosmic sympathy when discussing natural divination and prefers instead to emphasize the internal experience of the separation of the soul from the body. Philo associates artificial divination with the Chaldeans and claims that they are very successful at observing the sympathetic connections in nature; however, he complains that they have overlooked the fact that these connections are a product of God extending his powers into the world. The Chaldeans, he insists, have confused God with nature itself. Thus Philo’s rejection of artificial divination can be understood as the product of an inherent difference between monotheism and polytheism in terms of their theological implications. As a pious monotheist, Philo was uncomfortable with pantheism or an impersonal view of God, both of which were more easily reconciled with polytheism, in which natural phenomena could be identified with the gods. In other words, although Philo accepted the limited effectiveness of artificial divination and its theoretical basis (i.e. cosmic sympathy), he disapproved of its tendency to ignore the personal aspect of divine agency. Philo’s criticism of artificial divination also illustrates his general inclination towards mysticism and his preference for divine experience over human knowledge.

S19-222Hellenistic Judaism
11/19/2012 1:00 PM to 3:30 PM
Room: E264 – McCormick Place

Theme: Egypt in the Jewish Imagination
René Bloch, Universität Bern – Université de Berne, Presiding
Stewart Moore, Yale University
Lepers and Beast-worshippers: Did Hellenistic Judeans and Egyptians Really Hate Each Other? (20 min)

Sonja Ammann, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen
A Case of Mimicry? Jewish Polemic against Animal Worship in the Roman Period (20 min)
Discussion (10 min)

Tom McGlothlin, Duke University
The Fragility of Diaspora Security in 3 Maccabees (20 min)

J.R.C. Cousland, University of British Columbia
Poison Ivy: The Dionysiac Brand in 3 Maccabees (20 min)

Discussion (10 min)
Nathalie LaCoste, University of Toronto
“There shall be blood throughout the land of Egypt”: The First Plague in Jewish Hellenistic Literature from the Second Temple Period (20 min)

Kimberly Stratton, Carleton University
Memorializing Violence in Hellenistic Accounts of the Exodus (20 min)
Discussion (10 min)


New book on Philo

The Society of Biblical Literature announces that they are publishing a new book on Philo; this time it is the PhD diss of Hans Svebakken that soon will be out in the stores:

Hans Svebakken, Philo of Alexandria’s Exposition on the Tenth Commandment.
Studia Philonica Monographs 6. Paper $29.95 • 250 pages. Atlanta, GA. 2012.

The publishers characterization runs thus:
“In his comprehensive exposition of the Tenth Commandment (Spec. 4.79–131), Philo considers the prohibition “You shall not desire”: what sort of desire it prohibits (and why) and how the Mosaic dietary laws collectively enforce that prohibition. This volume offers the first complete study of Philo’s exposition, beginning with an overview of its content, context, and place in previous research. In-depth studies of Philo’s concept of desire and his concept of self-control provide background and demonstrate Philo’s fundamental agreement with contemporary Middle-Platonic moral psychology, especially in his theory of emotion (pathos). A new translation of the exposition, with commentary, offers a definitive explanation of Philo’s view of the Tenth Commandment, including precisely the sort of excessive desire it targets and how the dietary laws work as practical exercises for training the soul in self-control.”