Reading Philo: Why and How?

Reading PhiloIn my former posting about the forthcoming book, Reading Philo. A Handbook to Philo of Alexandria (Eerdmans), on Oct. 6., I focused on its first part; Philo in Context. The second part is labelled Why and How Study Philo (pp. 157-ca 286). This is meant to be the practical part, providing help for why and how study Philo. This part too contains 5 chapters, all dealing with how and why Philo is important to study.

The first chapter, written by the editor (Why Study Philo? How?), is meant to be a practical introduction to how to start ones reading of Philo, and as a bried introduction to the world of scholarly literature (Introductions,, lexicons, texts and translations, commentaries etc) on Philo.

This is then followed up by a contribution by Adele Reinhartz on Philo’s Exposition of the Law and Social History: methodological Considerations (pp. 180-199). Here Reinhartz lays out the problems and prospects of using both Philo’s renderings of the Jewish Torah as well as his interpretations of the same.

Then follows three contributions dealing not so much with methodology proper (the How questions), as for the Why question, that is, for what fields, areas and subjects of study it would be helpful to dig into the works of Philo: Ellen Birnbaum writes an informative chapter on Philo’s Relevance for the Study of Jews and Judaism in Antiquity, presenting 7 areas in which Philo is especially relevant. The Norwegian Scholar Per Jarle Bekken, (who this fall also publish an important monograph on Philo and John), writes about Philo’s relevance for the Study of the New Testament. He has chosen a thematic approach, surveying a vast range of representative topics and texts which demonstrate how a study of Philo is relevant for a student of the New Testament. Then follows a contribution by David T. Runia, dealing with Philo in the Patristic Tradition: A List of Direct References. This final chapter constitutes a list compiled by David T. Runia that aims to include every explicit reference to Philo in Christian sources up to 1000 C.E. This list will be of great value for those who want to investigate how and/or to what extent a particular Christian author uses Philo’s works.

Then finally, the volume contains a Bibliography, and two indexes; one of Modern Authors, and one of Biblical References and Other Ancient Literature.

The volume will be available in bookstores any of these days; a preliminary and partial look at the contents of the volume may also be gained from Google Books.