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García Martínez on Philo

August 2014
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The Review of Biblical Literature has posted some more reviews; among those published last week also one about a collection of articles, written by Florentino García Martínez:

García Martínez, Florentino, Najman, Hindy and Eibert Tigchelaar, editors, Between Philology and Theology: Contributions to the Study of Ancient Jewish Interpretation
Supplements to the Journal for the Study of Judaism, 162 Leiden: Brill, 2013 pp. xvi + 194. $149.00

Two of the eleven essays published have also a strong focus on Philo of Alexandria. The reviewer, George J. Brooke (University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom), writes thus about these studies:

In “Abraham and the Gods: The Paths to Monotheism in Jewish Religion,” the paths from monolatry to monotheism are traced through a close reading of those Second Temple period texts that portray Abraham as the inventor of monotheism. In Palestinian Judaism there is a look at Judith (still proclaiming monolatry), a reconsideration of passages from the book of Jubilees (moving toward monotheism but not yet there), and a glance at the Apocalypse of Abraham (clearly monotheistic). The precise move toward the view that there can only be one God is seen in the first-century works of Philo and Josephus in which Abraham is depicted quite explicitly as the inventor of monotheism. That move is ascribed to the influence of the Greek philosophers, whose ideas were in circulation in Judaism in the second century BCE or earlier: the Letter of Aristeas (132–138) uses the concept of philosophical monotheism, as does the author of the book of Wisdom (13:1–5). It is at the turn of the era, it is argued, that Abraham is explicitly identified as the founder of monotheism and the trajectory of scriptural and other reflections on the experience of being the people of God are combined with the logic of a single creative principle.

The other one he characterizes thus:

“Divine Sonship at Qumran and in Philo” is an exemplary summary of how key ideas emerge in sharper focus when juxtaposed with other traditions. Like all good teachers,García Martínez cites primary source texts extensively and is able to indicate very swiftly much of the distinctiveness of both Qumran and Philonic views on sonship. For the latter in particular he comments on Philo’s nonscriptural but Platonic view of the cosmos as Son of God, in fact, on the intelligible world as firstborn and the sensible world as the younger son. In relation to the firstborn, Philo is also concerned with the Logos as prōtogonos (never as prōtotokos), the guide of the whole world as a divine lieutenant, who is also cosmic high priest. In this essay there is notable appreciation for the beauty of each author’s lexical choices.


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