Philonica et Neotestamentica

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Philo at SBL II

October 2012
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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)


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