Philonica et Neotestamentica

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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.”

Philo at SBL II

There will also be an morning session on Tuesday 20th on Philo;
S20-123. Philo of Alexandria
11/20/2012 9:00 AM to 11:45 AM
Room: W184d – McCormick Place
Theme: Philo’s Legum Allegoriae 1-3, Session 2

Ellen Birnbaum, Cambridge, Massachusetts, Presiding
Thomas H. Tobin, S.J., Loyola University of Chicago
Neuralgic Issues in the Interpretation of Philo of Alexandria’s treatises Legum Allegoriae (30 min)

One of the most vexing issues in the interpretation of Philo’s treatises Legum Allegoriae is the extent to which he has succeeded in creating a fairly consistent pattern of allegorical interpretation into which he has integrated and reinterpreted other kinds of interpretations. Using Leg. 1.43–55, 90–108 as an example, I shall argue in this paper that Philo does indeed present a complex yet consistent pattern of interpretation

Ronald Cox, Pepperdine University, Respondent (20 min)
Sarah Pearce, University of Southampton, Respondent (20 min)
Break (15 min)
Manuel Alexandre Jr., Universidade de Lisboa
Philo’s Rhetorical Strategies in the Allegorical Interpretation of Genesis 2:1-3:19 (20 min)

To say with Émile Bréhier that the Legum Allegoriae are “the most important for knowing Philo’s ideas” is as true as to say that these treatises are “the most important for knowing the intellectual and religious personality of their author”, as Claude Mondésert quotes and comments in the introduction to his translation in French (Legum Allegoriae I-III, Paris: CERF, 1962, p. 15). And, if that is clear through a philosophical reading of their contents, is it not even clearer through the rhetorical analysis of each unit in their allegorical interpretation of the biblical text? I hope to demonstrate in my paper that Philo’s exegetical exposition of Genesis 2:1-3:19 clearly reflects the influence of ancient rhetorical theory, both in terms of argumentative structures of interpretation, and in terms of strategies of persuasion, in order to implant understanding in those who are without knowledge. And I will do it, analyzing some relevant passages of these three works of Philo, in light of the main patterns of argumentation taught by rhetoricians and sophists in his cultural milieu. It is, in fact, my conviction that Philo makes prolific use of the canons of rhetoric taught in the paideia schools of his time, to disclose and prove the philosophical ideas he saw in the text, putting rhetoric’s patterns of argumentation at the service of his exegetical exposition, mainly in the allegorical interpretation of Scripture.

Discussion (45 min)
Business Meeting (15 min)

The Studia Philonica Annual 2012 is available

The Studia Philonica Annual 2012, published by Society of Biblical Literature, Atlanta GA, USA is already available. The volume is as usual presenting some articles, then there is a special section providing studies presented in a preliminary form at a seminar at SBL Annual Meeting (this time in Atlanta 2010), a Bibliography section, and a Book Review Section.

The main content in this volume is thus:
James R. Royse, Philo of Alexandria, Questiones in Exodum 2.62-68: Critical Edition (pp. 1-68)
Rene Bloch, Alexandria in Pharaonic Egypt: Projections in De Vita Mosis (pp. 69-84)
Trent A. Rogers, Philo’s Universalization of Sinai in De Decalogo 32-49 (pp. 85-106)
Peter W. Martens, On the Confusion of Tongues and Origen’s Allegory of the Dispersion of Nations (pp. 107-127)
Special section: Philo and Roman Imperial Power
Sarah J. K. Pearce, Introduction (pp.129-133)
Erich S. Gruen, Caligula, the Imperial cuilt, and Philo’s Legatio (pp. 135-148)
Daniel R. Schwartz, Philo and Josephus on the Violence in Alexandria in 38 CE (pp. 149-166)
Joshua Yoder, Sympathy for the Devil? Philo on Flaccus and Rome (pp. 167-182).

Resource Pages for Biblical Studies resurrected!

Scan this QR to get the url.
Hey,- my Resource Pages for Biblical Studies are now up again and running!

The site has been moved to a new provider, and the webpages have been completely renovated; they have got a new design, a somewhat changed structure, and a lots of dead links have been removed. All the links in the present version have been tested and found working.

Furthermore, the focus of the present version is a bit narrower that the former old on; now the focus is more strict on Biblical texts, on the social world of the New Testament, and then -of course- on Philo of Alexandria.

I find it close to impossible for one man to keep up with all the studies – books and articles- that are now being published on the Internet related to the New Testament: Hence I have skipped most of these if they not fit my main focuses indicated by my headlines on the main page. Readers will still find that Mark Goodacre’s website (do I have to say the name?) is still The Best for such searches.

The new url is now very similar to the former:
Those who use the old urls (each of the 5 pages had a different one), should now be immediately redirected to this new one.

There are still some links to be added, and more will come in the future. But I would like to publish it now in this form and format. If you have some links to suggest please use the mail adress at the bottom of my website.

Philo at SBL I

For some of us it’s soon time to begin one’s preparations for the SBL Annual Meeting in Chicago in November.

It was not my intention to participate this year, but as it now turns out, I’ll be going there this year too. And one issue I’ll be looking for is the lectures focusing on Philo of Alexandria. First of all, we have the Philo Seminar; then there are some lectures scattered around in several sessions.

Here is the Philo Seminar program:
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.
Sarah Pearce, University of Southampton, Presiding

James R. Royse, Claremont, CA
Did Philo Publish His Works? (25 min)

This paper will present some reasons to believe that Philo did not publish his works, but rather developed them within his own circle of discussion and study. First, the evidence for any use of Philo prior to Clement is very debatable and elusive. Second, there is some evidence that Philo’s cross-references to his various works are in fact circular. This is what one finds in Aristotle’s works as well, and indicates (as with Aristotle) that Philo’s works were revised rather than published (where an earlier work could not refer [except as a prediction] to a later work). The context of Philo’s works may thus be a philosophical circle of discussion, rather than publication.

Gregory Sterling, University of Notre Dame
“A Man of the highest Repute”: Did Josephus know the Works of Philo of Alexandria? (25 min)

Josephus openly cited non-Jewish sources in his histories; however, he was far more reticent with respect to Jewish predecessors. Relatively little attention has been devoted to Josephus’ possible use of the writings of Philo of Alexandria. Josephus knew who Philo was and celebrated his social standing (AJ 18.259-60). The historian spent some time in Alexandria (V 415-16; CA 1.48) and extended time in Rome where he would have had access to works of Philo. This paper will explore whether Josephus knew and used Phlio’s treatises and their possible significance for his histories.

Frederick E. Brenk, Pontifical Biblical Institute, Rome
Philo and Plutarch on the Nature of God (25 min)

In 1969, John Whittaker wrote an illuminating article entitled “Ammonius On the E at Delphi (Classical Quarterly 19, 185-192). On several specific points, he noted strong correspondences with statements in Philo. Among these are: the equation of God with Plato’s Being, rendered through the Greek participle “being” (or as “the really being”) both in the neuter and in the masculine singular ; the unity of God, rendered as “the one” (neuter) or as “one” (masculine); the One as a-polla “not many” (a-privative and polla from “Apollo”); the interpretation of the name Ieios as “the one and only;” and the exaggerated description of the mutability of human beings. Whittaker attributed some of these correspondences to Neopythagorean teaching in Alexandria, and believed that some probably derived from Eudorus of Alexandria, considered the founder of Middle Platonism. The terminology for God has resonances in many philosophers, while that on the mutability of human beings appears in Ovid and Seneca as well as in Plutarch. More recently, Rainer Hirsch-Luipold (who does not cite Whittaker) has concentrated on the notion of the One God (“Der eine Gott bei Philon von Alexandrien und Plutarch,” in R. Hirsch-Luipold, ed., Gott und die Götter bei Plutarch. Götterbilder, Gottesbilder, Weltbilder [Berlin 2005] 141-168). The matter is very important for the discussion of “pagan monotheism,” since opponents of this term refuse to see pagan monotheism as religious. Plutarch’s approach, like Philo’s, however, is distinctively religious. Thus, at least indirectly, Philo may have been an important influence on the religious thought of Graeco-Roman intellectuals. He offered a theological model for those who wanted to worship a monotheistic God whose nature had been elaborated in Middle Platonism.

Break (15 min)

Jennifer Otto, McGill University
Philo, Judaeus? A re-evaluation of why Clement calls Philo “the Pythagorean” (25 min)

The first Christian to cite Philo explicitly, Clement of Alexandria, twice calls him “the Pythagorean.” I contend that both the explicit use of this epithet and implicit evidence in the Stromateis suggest that Clement reads Philo’s writings as belonging to a philosophical tradition that associated Philo with Pythagorean esotericism and exegesis rather than as representative of a specifically Judaeo-Christian exegetical tradition. My investigation proceeds along three lines. First, I explore Clement’s conception of the “Pythagorean” through an analysis of the eighty-one explicit descriptions of Pythagoras and Pythagoreans in the Stromateis. I then compare my results with Clement’s Philonic borrowings, mapping the overlap between Philonic material and Pythagorean references and demonstrating the continuity between Clement’s depiction of Philo as a Pythagorean and as an interpreter of the Pentateuch’s esoteric philosophy. I then provide an overview of his usage of the terms “Jew”, “Hebrew”, “Israel”, and their cognates, and argue that Clement primarily associates contemporary Judaism with incorrect Biblical exegesis. Finally, I investigate the social and intellectual contexts in which Clement reads Philo’s treatises. Taking into account the internal evidence of the Stromateis, I submit a reconstruction of the chain of transmission between Philo and Clement challenging the prevailing theory that Clement located Philo’s works in a specifically Judaeo-Christian tradition and that Clement’s Philonic borrowings constitute evidence for the social and/or institutional continuity between the Jewish Synagogue and the church in Alexandria.

Gretchen Reydams-Schils, University of Notre Dame
Calcidius, Philo, and Origen (25 min)

This paper reexamines the influence of Philo of Alexandria on the section in Calcidius’ Commentary on Plato’s Timaeus that appears to refer to Origen’s Commentary on Genesis (chs 276-278). Contrary to common assumptions, there is more of Philo and less of Origen to be found in these chapters. This conclusion also has implications for Calcidius’ alleged Christian identity

Discussion (25 min)

S18-239 Philo of Alexandria
11/18/2012 1:00 PM to 3:30 PM
Room: E258 – McCormick Place

Theme: Philo’s Legum Allegoriae 1-3, Session 1

Walter Wilson, Emory University, Presiding
Francesca Calabi, University of Pavia, Italy
Adam’s solitude in Philo (30 min)

My aim is to analyse Philo’s Interpretation of Gen 2,18 in Leg. II. 1-18. I mean to see Adam’s solitude as a human condition contrasted with God’s being unique and with the situation of mankind after Eve’s birth. At the beginning Adam was alone and his status made him similar to God, he was nearer to perfection. How did his duality work before the creation of Eve? And which is the relation between his being alone and God’s status? There is a problematic position in Philo’s praise of Adam’s being alone, which assimilates him to God, makes him superior to the men who will come later and, at the same time, sets him in a state of lack and need. Duality is essential to the man, both when we speak of gegonos anthropos and of peplasmenos one. This aspect can be seen in the necessity of a helper which is more recent than the man. We have here a duality in time which is particularly interesting if we consider that, while speaking of God’s solitude, Philo says that in God’s eternity there is nobody/nothing else. On the contrary, man cannot be alone and duality and alterity are essential parts of his being, together with his being plunged in temporality and becoming. My aim is to analyse the words expressing solitude, monadic condition, simplicity and to see how their meaning changes when related to God or to the man. The meaning of the term monos must be considered also in relation with monas and with heis: it can mean alone, unique, simple, haplos. I mean also to see how these terms change in connection with eternity and with temporality. The meaning of “helper” should also be studied, in relation both to Eve and to the animals and their receiving a name.

Valéry Laurand, Université Michel de Montaigne Bordeaux 3
Giving of names and double meaning in Legum allegoriae (II, 14-18) (30 min)

While commenting on Gen. 2, 19, Philo makes the most of an obscurity of the Greek text to move from the literal meaning to the moral one. According to the first, Adam is « beginning of conversation », because, contrary to what former philosophers have written, language must come from a single man: hence, the same name symbolizes the same thing (Op. 148-149 throws more light on this issue). In order to turn to the second meaning, Philo refers to the « ti » (what) of the Greek text, which he understands as « dia ti » (why): God wants to see not really what name is given to one animal or another, but the frame of mind in which Adam gives a name, calls or greets (Philo plays on the range of meanings of kaleô) the assistants which God has made for him, i.e.: the sensible forms of passions. I wonder if it would be possible to find here a kind of pattern of the allegorical method, since we move from an evident meaning to another one, determined by the object and its use. Passions can be morally wrong, but necessary and useful (for instance, pleasure, which is not a Stoic indifferent). Thus, revising and changing significantly the Stoic distinction between good and indifferents, Philo invents a class of double meaning, where the same word doesn’t always mean the same thing but qualifies both the object and the one who uses it. After having determined this pattern, I’ll turn to the double meaning of the nakedness and of the snake, with an assumption: that we can draw an underlying theory of the subject from this use of double meaning.

Break (15 min)

Hans Svebakken, Loyola University Chicago
Middle-Platonic Moral Psychology as a Unifying Theme in Philo’s Allegorical Interpretations of Genesis 2:21 and Deuteronomy 23:13 (30 min)

In the course of an allegorical interpretation of Gen 2:21, Philo cites in Leg. 2.27-30 the allegorical interpretation of a different text, Deut 23:13, to elaborate his train of thought. This paper considers why Philo associates the two texts, noting first the absence of any literal features (either wording or content) to account for the association. Instead, Philo bases his citation of Deut 23:13 on relevant features of his Middle-Platonic moral psychology—in particular, convictions regarding bipartition of the soul and the proper management of non-rational emotion (pathos). In other words, the logic of Philo’s association operates entirely at the level of allegorical content, not biblical text. Two fundamentally disparate texts become perfectly complementary in light of Philo’s coherent Middle-Platonic moral psychology, which provides an overarching primary framework to which the biblical texts are secondary.

Caroline Carlier, Independent Scholar
Pleasure and Self-Mastery in Allegorical Interpretation II 71-108 (30 min)

In Book II of Allegorical Interpretation, Philo comments on the beginning of Genesis and suggests recognizing in Adam and Eve an allegory of two Greek philosophical concepts: mind and sense-perception. In § 71, he quotes Gen 3:1: “Now the serpent was the most subtle of all the beasts on the earth, which the Lord God had made.” Influenced by Cynic philosophy, he then describes the serpent as pleasure and explains that pleasure is necessary so that mind and sense-perception might be united. Still, like the Cynics, Philo uses the adjective poikilos to describe the serpent; this adjective has different meanings: “variable”, “complex”, “tortuous”, “cunning”. So what is Philo’s idea of pleasure — and likewise of virtue, since he uses the same adjective in speaking of self-mastery (§ 79)? Philo opposes to Eve’s serpent, which he considers to be useful but which gnaws at the human soul by overstepping its functions, a symbol of salvation: the bronze serpent of Moses (Num 21:8), which represents self-mastery. Between these two serpents, and with the help of other biblical passages with serpents on which Philo comments in our passage § 71-108, is it possible first to discover an Epicurean influence that has perhaps been falsified, knowing that Philo elsewhere defends necessary pleasures over against superfluous pleasures? Secondly, in view of the meaning of poikilos when speaking of self-mastery, must not the various stages of moral progress inspired by Stoicism be linked: those progressing, the ascetics, and the perfect? If for philosophy, wisdom is possible but rarely realizable, for Philo, who is a believing Jew, this wisdom is attained thanks to divine intervention.

Discussion (15 min)

A Historical Jesus blog

People are still establishing and launching new Blogs; this one is about the historical Jesus:
The Jesus Blog:

The most interesting aspect about this blog is probably the fact that it is run by two younger scholars who have the potentiality of offering new viewpoints to an old debate. Their list of publications so far are indeed both interesting and impressive.