Birger Gerhardsson 1926 – 2013.

Memory and manuscript By way of a note in Facebook (by Gunnar Samuelsson), I become aware of the sad fact that prof. emeritus teol.dr.  Birger Gerhardsson died the night between 24 and 25 of December.
Birger Gerhardsson was born Sept. 26th, 1926 in Vesterbotten. He was ordained as pastor in 1953, became teol.lic. 1956, teol.dr. in 1961 at Uppsala University, and professor in New Testament exegesis in at Lund University in 1965. He worked here until his retirement. Prof. Gerhardsson was to some extent influenced by Harald Riesenfeld (Uppsala) and his views of the gospel traditions, but developed his own viewpoints much further in his dissertation of 1961 : “Memory and Manuscript; Oral Tradition and Written Transmission in Rabbinic Judaism and Early Christianity.” Thesis, Uppsala., 1961. In his thesis he argued for the need to take advantage of the views of the rabbis on how traditions were formed and transmitted, and applied this to the gospel traditions (cp 1 Cor 15:1ff). His views were further developed in his Tradition and Transmission in Early Christianity, Coniectanea Neotestamentica, 20. Lund,: C.W.K. Gleerup, 1964, and these two works were later republished in one volume by Eerdmans (19 98; see picture above). Gerhardsson here argued for the use of memorization by the early Christians, partly influenced by rabbinic methods of learning in the transmission of the Jesus tradition. This thesis came under severe criticism claiming that he was guilty of projecting post-135 CE views on tradition back in to the pre-70 CE period. But Gerhardsson never claimed that the rabbinic methods as a whole could be traced back to before 70 CE, he always distinguished materials about education from the Tannaitic and Amoraic periods. Later scholars as M. Hengel, R. Bauckham and S. Byrskog have built further on some of Gerhardsson’s viewpoints. In order to understand the context and focus of this work of Gerhardsson, the interested readers should read his Preface in the reprint edition of 1998 (pp. ix-xxiii), as well as the Foreword by Jacob Neusner, one of his former critics (pp. xxv-xlvi). Both are very informative.
Prof. Gerhardsson also published several studies related to The Gospel of Matthew; e.g., The testing of God’s son. (Matt. 4: 1-11 & par.): An analysis of an early Christian midrash (1966); The mighty acts of Jesus according to Matthew (1979); The shema in the New Testament: Deut 6:4-5 in significant passages (1996). Several of his studies was also published in Swedish. To the general student of the New Testament Gerhardsson was probably best known for the textbook he edited but did not write, published first in 1969, and in several later reprints (En Bok om Nya Testamentet).
In 1996 he was honored by a symposium on Matthew and a Festschrift (Matteus och hans läsare – förr och nu : Matteussymposiet i Lund den 27-28 sept 1996 : en hyllning till professor Birger Gerhardsson som fyllde 70 år den 26 september 1996 / red.: Birger Olsson, Samuel Byrskog och Walter Übelacker (Series: Religio 48, Lund 1996), and in 2009 another volume was published (Werner H. Kelber, Samuel Byrskog, eds, Jesus in memory: traditions in oral and scribal perspectives. Waco, Tex. : Baylor University Press, 2009) that was both a dialogue and to a large extent an appraisal of Gerhardsson’s views.
Prof. Gerhardsson was an engaged Christian and a brilliant scholar; he will be missed by many, but his works will still be discussed for years to come.


More words of tribute here.

See also here:


New book by Peder Borgen!

57830Prof. emeritus, dr.theol. Peder Borgen, who is getting 86 in January and still going strong, is having a new book coming out this year:

Peder J. Borgen, The Gospel of John: More Light from Philo, Paul and Archaeology. The Scriptures, Tradition, Exposition, Settings, Meaning.
Novum Testamentum Supplements 154. Leiden; Brill 2014.

I have only seen the publisher’s test edition at their boot at SBL Annual Meeting last November, but they announce the book thus:

“To Paul the traditions from and about Jesus had authority similar to that of the Scriptures: a logion or story served as text for paraphrastic expositions. Such expositions are also seen in John’s Gospel. – It is insufficient to discuss ‘John and the Synoptics’. A better scope is ‘John within early gospel traditions’.- Paul and Philo maintain a cosmic understanding of Jesus and the Jewish people, respectively. Correspondingly, Jesus is seen in cosmological perspective in John’s Prologue. Philo illuminates the role of God’s logos relative to creation and revelation. – Archaeology testifies to the reliability of John’s topographical references. Both John and Philo can combine theological and ideological elaborations with specific geographical references, historical events and religious feasts. The study has brought in material and perspectives which strengthen the view that the Gospel of John was independent of the other three written gospels.”

You can find the list of contents at the bottom of this page. The volume seems to contain several studies that have been previously published in various contexts, but – as far as I can read from the list of contents – there are probably also some not yet published. I, for my part, am particularly looking forward to read the 15th chapter in this volume;  Summary: John, Archaeology, Philo, Paul, other Jewish Sources. John’s Independence of the Synoptics. Where My Journey of Research Has Led Me.

The book is still listed as ‘forthcoming’ on Brill’s webside, but hopefully it should be out early in 2014. Congratulations to a good friend and a brilliant scholar!

Celebrating Studia Philonica Annual’s 25th anniversary

From left to right, you see on this picture: David T. Runia, Gregory E. Sterling, Ellen Birnbaum, Sarah Pearce, Jutta Leonhardt-Baltzer, me, Thomas H. Tobin, James R. Royse, and Ronald Cox; that is; the editors and some of the members of the Advisory Board of Studia Philonica Annual.
The Studia Philonica Annual was twenty-five years old in 2013. The Scholars Press at SBL was offering a toast in honor the work done with the Annual at the Authors and Editors Reception at the SBL Annual Meeting, Monday, November 25 at 6:30 in Room 314-15 at the Baltimore Convention Center. Above is a picture from the celebration. See also my earlier post of October 18th.

Professor dr. Hans Kvalbein April 7. 1942 – Dec. 19. 2013

Hans Kvalbein
Hans Kvalbein
Professor emeritus, dr. theol Hans Kvalbein died December 19. He had for some time suffered from weak lunges, and died from a hard pneumonia. Prof Kvalbein worked almost all his adult life at MF The Norwegian School of Theology, Oslo Norway. He graduated from MF in 1966, was for several years a research fellow at the very same school; became ass.professor in 1976 and worked as a full professor from 1984 untill his recent retirement.
He earned his PhD (dr.theol) at the University of Oslo in 1881 with a thorough investigation of the topic Jesus and the Poor: The view of Jesus concerning the Poor, and use of terms for ‘poor’ (Jesus og de fattige.Jesu syn på de fattige og bruk av ord for “fattig”). It is highly regrettable that his dissertation never was translated into English because it deserved a much wider range of readers than those mastering Norwegian. He also published several more popular books on the gospels like Hovedtanker i Johannesevangeliet (1970) and Godt nytt for fattige. Tekster fra Lukasevangeliet (1976), and a larger commentary (in Norwegian) on The Gospel of Matthew (1989-90). His main work then, and most recent larger work, was his book about Jesus; also, alas, only published in Norwegian (Jesus: Hva ville han? Hvem var han? en innføring i de tre første evangelienes budskap (2008). Most of his publications were within the field of the Synoptic Gospels; another topic he published about was the Kingdom of God/basileia tou theou). Some of these were published in English or German. You can see a list of his publications here.
Prof. Kvalbein was a kind, gentle and caring person, an expert in his field of the New Testament as well as an excellent musician (violin). He will be missed by many both as a gentle scholar and as a good friend.

Greek Philo texts on the web

Some time ago (Sept 5. 2010) I had a posting concerning the availability on the Web of the Greek Philo texts; see here.
Now this posting has received some valuable comments demonstrating that there are now several sites offering Philo’s texts on-line. Hence a long felt gap in information is about to be be filled in.