SBL/AAR Annual Meeting App

The SBL/AAR Annual Meeting App for iphone/Ipads is now available on Apple’s AppStore (for free).

It has not been announced on the SBL or AAR website yet, and I am not sure if it is quite finished yet. Mine froze at least once when being tested, and I could not find out how to associate events with the calendar.

As long as that doesn’t work, the app is rather useless, IMHO.




The Studia Philonica Annual XXVI 2014

The Studia Philonica Annual, Studies in Hellenistic Judaism, Vol XXVI (2014) is about to be published! As usual the editors are David T. Runia and Gregory E. Sterling, now with Sarah J.K. Pearce as Associate editor, and Ronald Fox being the Book Review editor.

The contents of this volume can be given thus:

M. David Litwa, The Deification of Moses in Philo of Alexandria
Ilaria Ramelli, Philo’s Doctrine of Apokatastasis: Philosophical Sources, Exegetical Strategies, and Patristic Aftermath
Justin M. Rogers, The Philonic and the Pauline: Hagar and Sarah in the Exegesis of  Didymus the Blind 
Frederick E. Brenk, Philo and Plutarch on the Nature of God

Gregory E. Sterling, Introduction
David Lincicum, Philo’s Library
Gregory E. Sterling, From the Thick Marshes of the Nile to the Throne of God: Moses in Ezekiel the Tragedian and Philo of Alexandria
Pura Nieto Hernández, Philo and Greek Poetry
Michael Cover, The Sun and the Chariot: the Republic and the Phaedrus as Sources for Rival Platonic Paradigms of Psychic Vision in Philo’s Biblical Commentaries

D. T. Runia, K. Berthelot, E. Birnbaum, A. C. Geljon, H. M. Keizer, J. Leonhardt-Balzer, J. P. Martín, M. R. Niehoff, S. J. K. Pearce, T. Seland, S. Weisser,

Philo of Alexandria: An Annotated Bibliography 2011
Supplement: A Provisional Bibliography 2012–2014

News and Notes


Logos 6

Yesterday version 6 of Logos Bible Software was launched. After only two years with version 4,  they obviously found that it was due time to present an improved version; hnce version 6.

The bad thing about this version is that it requires at least Windows 7 as the operating system; hence I can only use it on one of my machines now. The good thing(s) might be the goodies they  have put into the program. I must admit, I had not yet gotten to know all the features of version 5; now I “have to” adapt to version 6. After some struggling to get in contact with the Logos server last night, I finally managed to get through, and I had the new version downloaded.

There are several ways of upgrading (see, from just getting the new motor (you have to wait a little for that), to upgrading to some (very) large (and expensive) packets. For me, the crossgrade option (to just get the new features) was the most obvious option (but it costs ca 200 dols).

Logos have an academic section, in which the members can get a packet called Biblical languages, but I did not find any info about how to upgrade this; obviously because I am not a member of their academic program now.

Logos Bible Software is so filled with various features and possibilities that it takes a lot of playing around to get familiar with it.

Congratulations to prof. Bekken!

perjarlebekkenAssoc. prof., Ph.D., Per Jarle Bekken, University of Nordland, has been evaluated by an independent committee, and the committee has recommended that he get a personal promotion to full professor!
This procedure is a part of the Norwegian system; you may achieve the status of a full professor in two ways: either by applying for/being appointed to a chair, or by getting a personal promotion. The criteria used by the relevant committees are mainly identical.

Prof. Bekken will be known by several for his studies in Philo, Paul and John. His dissertation (The word is near you: a study of Deuteronomy 30:12-14 in Paul’s Letter to the Romans in a Jewish context. Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft und die Kunde der älteren Kirche Bd. 144. Walter de Gruyter, Berlin ), was published in 2007. In addition he has published several articles, most of them dealing with Philo and John or Paul.

And most recently this fall he has published another major study : The Lawsuit Motif in John’s Gospel from New Perspectives. Jesus Christ, Crucified Criminal and Emperor of the World (Novum Testamentum, Supplements 158; Leiden, Brill, 2014). He is also a contributor to the Reading Philo. A Handbook to Philo of Alexandria volume, for which he as written a major review article on “Philo’s Relevance for the Study of the New Testament.”

Finally; P.J. Bekken is a former doctoral student of prof. em. Peder Borgen, and now all three of his doctoral students from his time at the University of Trondheim have achieved the rank of full professor. Hence; congratulations to prof. Borgen too for excellent mentorship!

The Jesus Movement in its Jewish Setting

The Journal of the Jesus Movement in its Jewish Setting (JJMJS), is freely available online from Oct 20. JJMJS is a new interdisciplinary peer-reviewed online journal, published in cooperation with Eisenbrauns.

The purpose of the Journal is stated thus by the editors:

The purpose of the journal is, then,  to publish research on any topic that directly addresses or has implications for the understanding of Judaism and the Jesus movement from the first to the seventh century. We welcome the submission of studies within any of the following fields: Christian origins, New Testament studies, early Jewish studies including Philo and Josephus, the Dead Sea scrolls, the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha, rabbinic studies, patristics, history of ancient Christianity, reception history, and archaeology. Since methodological diversity is an important factor in interdisciplinary research, we encourage authors to apply any type of methodology that is effective for the task at hand, including but not limited to literary, rhetorical, linguistic, socio-historical, intellectual-historical, social-scientific, and archaeological approaches.

The editors are: Prof. Torleif Elgvin (NLA University College, Oslo), Prof. Paula Fredriksen (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem), Dr. Anders Runesson (McMaster University) and Dr. Alexei Sivertsev (DePaul University).
The first issue is available by going here.

Back on track

I have been ‘out of business’ for a couple of weeks, mainly due to some health problems, but I am now trying to get ‘back on track’. I am still not sure, however, if I will be able to go to the SBL Annual Meeting, though I would love to, but I just have to recuperate a little more before I  can make the final decision. To go to San Diego is a long trip from Norway!

I have noticed, however, that Eerdmans have now added some stuff to their advertisement of the ‘Reading Philo: A Handbook to Philo book. You can now read some comments by five reviewers of the book, and you can also have a look into its contents by clicking on the Google Preview link provided on that page. I am glad to see the  comments are quite favorable to the book.

Reading Philo

Reading PhiloThe book, edited by me, to be published later this fall; Reading Philo: A Handbook to Philo of Alexandria (Eerdmans), is designed to function as an introductory handbook for advanced MA students and PhD students who want some relevant information about Philo, and/or who are just in the initial process of studying him.

But I will not be surprised, however, if some more seasoned scholars will also find several of its articles both informative, relevant and interesting for their own work!

The book is divided into three parts; Introduction and Motivation (pp. 3-16); Philo of Alexandria in Context (pp. 19-ca 155); and Why and How Study Philo (pp. 157-ca 286), followed by a Bibliography and Indexes. Both of the two main sections contain 5 chapters, written by a total of 9 well known Philo scholars.

Philo of Alexandria in Context
The section dealing with Philo of Alexandria in Context consists of  five presentations, and I give here some brief presentations of their work. Note however, that the contributions concerned are much more richer on descriptions and suggestions that it is even possible to mention in this overview: First, the Finnish scholar Karl-Gustav Sandelin focuses on “Philo as a Jew”. However one might describe Philo, there is no doubt that he was a Jew, both by ethnicity and by conviction. Sandelin addresses some of the standard views of Philo’s Jewishness, but he himself favors Philo as a representative of the Jewish wisdom tradition. Here he attempts to illuminate Philo as a Jew from three perspectives: (1) What should be said in general terms of Philo as a Jew, i.e., how is Philo a Jew like any other Jews of his time? (2) What is it in Philo’s Judaism that makes it distinctive? (3) Judaism in Philo’s time was not a monolithic phenomenon, and several Jewish groups existed. Does Philo adhere to the views and practices of any of these?

The next chapter, written by the editor of the volume, Torrey Seland, represents an investigation of the political aspects of Philo’s public life, that is, an attempt at describing “Philo as a Citizen,” as a Homo politicus. The main part of the essay is devoted to Philo’s descriptions of Roman rule and his own activities as a politically active citizen. After some introductory comments on Philo’s social location and his background as coming from a family of politicians, the chapter is divided into three main sections: recent studies on Philo and his politics; issues of political theory in Philo; and Philo as a practical politician.

Philo was an interpreter of the Jewish Scriptures. The Norwegian doyen of Philo studies, Peder Borgen, addresses this topic in his chapter on “Philo — An Interpreter of the Laws of Moses”. Borgen first discusses Philo’s expository treatises, which fall into two main categories: those rewriting the Pentateuch and his exegetical commentaries, comprising the Allegorical Commentary on Genesis and the Questions and Answers on Genesis and Exodus. He briefly presents the most important of Philo’s hermeneutical presuppositions. Finally, Borgen discusses the historical writings Against Flaccus and On the Embassy to Gaius as a report on a struggle for the interpretation and application of the laws of Moses.

The matter of Philo’s education has been much discussed, with views ranging from Philo as a most conservative Jew to a Jew very much acculturated to Greco-Roman society and its educational ideals. The Finnish scholar Erkki Koskenniemi concentrates on these issues in his chapter on “Philo and Classical Education”. His study presents what we generally
know of Greek education and explores the options Jews had — and were willing to employ in Greek Alexandria. Koskenniemi investigates then what Philo himself says on the topic, details how Philo uses or mentions Greek philosophers and poets, and estimates how well he was versed in secular literature.

Gregory E. Sterling, in his chapter on “ ‘The Jewish Philosophy’: Reading Moses via Hellenistic Philosophy according to Philo”, deals explicitly with the question of Philo’s relations to philosophy. After reflecting on how other authors regard Philo as a philosopher, Sterling addresses the issue of philosophy in the works of Philo. He argues that it is impossible to read Philo without some understanding of his relationship to Hellenistic philosophical traditions. Acknowledging the insights of Philo’s Alexandrian predecessors (Aristobolus, Pseudo-Aristeas, the Allegorists), Sterling demonstrates
that Philo stood within a line of philosophically-oriented interpreters, thus working within a tradition; he had both predecessors and contemporary figures who were deeply indepted to philosophy. Philo himself, however, should be considered as an eclectic thinker; he drew upon what he considered to be the best from several traditions and incorporated that into
his thought.

I hope this brief comments have wetted your interest in this volume; in a later posting, I will briefly present how we in the book deal with the issues Why and How Study Philo.


More Philo at SBL annual meeting (III)

In two earlier postings (see here and here ) I referred to the sessions I found in the SBL Annual Meeting program where they would deal with Philo of Alexandria. Now Ellen Birnbaum has kindly turned my attention to two other sessions that I had overlooked. Here they are:

S24-123 Hellenistic Judaism
11/24/2014 9:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Room: Room 30 B (Upper level) – San Diego Convention Center (CC)
Theme: Jews on the Stage / Jews and the Stage

Sandra Gambetti, The College of Staten Island – CUNY, Presiding
Courtney Friesen, University of Oxford; (En-)Acting Tragedy: Philo on Emperor Gaius’ Theatrical Pretensions (20 min)
Jeff Jay, Wabash College; Spectacle and Stage-Craft in Philo’s Flaccus (20 min)
Jonathan MacLellan, The University of Texas at Austin; Ptolemaic Politics and the Performance of Ezekiel’s Exagoge (20 min)
Sören Swoboda, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena; Josephus ‘On Stage’: Pity as the Goal of the Judean War and Greek Tragedy (20 min)
Matthias Hopf, Augustana-Hochschule; The Song of Songs: A Hebrew “Counterweight” to Hellenistic Drama? (20 min)
Break (5 min)
Thomas Kohn, Wayne State University, Respondent (20 min)
Discussion (25 min)

S24-350 Wisdom and Apocalypticism in Early Judaism and Early Christianity
11/24/2014 4:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Room: 314 (Level 3 (Aqua)) – Hilton Bayfront (HB)
Theme: Concepts of Time and History in Early Judaism

Matthew Goff, Florida State University, Presiding
Ted Erho, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München; Ex Eventu Prophetic Historiography in Babylonia and the Book of Daniel (25 min)
Jackie Wyse-Rhodes, Emory University; The Natural World and Time in Ancient Jewish Apocalyptic Literature (25 min)
Sarit Kattan Gribetz, Fordham University; The Holiday of Every-Day: Reflections on Philo’s Festival Manual (25 min)
Break (5 min)
Grant Macaskill, University of St. Andrews; The “I Am” Sayings and the Concept of Time in John’s Gospel (25 min)
Judith Newman, University of Toronto, Respondent (10 min)
Karina Martin Hogan, Fordham University, Respondent (10 min)
Discussion (25 min)

Bible Odyssey

Bible Odyssey is a site presenting information about the Bible and it world. It is relatively new, but still growing, and do already contain a lot of material relevent to the study of the Bible.
Several institutions are behind the site, sponsoring it in various ways, and there are important groups of people supporting it or working withs its informative articles etc.
Visitors will be able to search for people, places or passages, and the information they will find can be in text, photos or videos. The will even be able to Ask a Scholar a question via a specific question form.
Bible Odyssey Website includes the complete text of three Bibles: The New Revised Standard Version (NRSV), the Contemporary English Version (CEVD), and the King James Version (KJV), as well as several other tools.
Have a look at the site by clicking Bible Odyssey.