Digital Atlas of the Roman Empire

A former student of mine has informed me about an interesting atlas, available on the web: Digital Atlas of the Roman Empire.
I have not had time yet to search every detail of its possibilities, but my impression is that it is very detailed, and very informative, containing a lot of information. It has a good Search function, by which you can search for both ancient and recent names, a Legend, describing the various colors and symbols used in the map, etc. You can have two atlases open on the screen; one for the widere area, and one detailed, showing, for instance, the streets of a city. It also contains several links to other relevant websites.

To look for Alexandria in Egypt, the place of Philo, click here.

All in all a very impressive atlas.

Philo and Philosophy


“While the presence of philosophy and Philo’s writings is a given, its importance and role have been the subject of debate. The consensus today is that Philo was first and foremost an exegete of Moses’s writings; he was not a philosopher in the same way Philodemus was in the Epicurean tradition, or Eudorus was in the Platonic tradition, or Seneca and Epictetus were in the Stoic tradition. Philosophy did, however, matter to him. It is impossible to read his works without some understanding of his relationship to Hellenistic philosophical traditions.”

Want to read more about Philo and philosophy?;
go see
Greg. E. Sterling,
“The Jewish Philosophy”: Reading Moses via Hellenistic Philosophy according to Philo,”
in T. Seland, Reading Philo. A handbook to Philo of Alexandria (Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 2014): 129-154, here quoted from p. 130-131.

Greg Sterling on Philo

“Are the works of Philo important for our understanding of the New Testament and Christian origins? I suggest that they are. In fact, I think that the Philonic corpus is the single most important body of material from Second Temple Judaism for our understanding of the development of Christianity in the first and second centuries. Perhaps this will strike you as an extravagant claim in light of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Josephian corpus. I would not deny the importance of either of these corpuses for the study of the New Testament and Christian origins. I am convinced, however, that the Philonic corpus helps us to understand the dynamics of early Christsianity more adequately than any other corpus. I do not want to suggest that Philo or his corpus was directly responsible for the development of Christian thought, but that his corpus is a window into the world of Second Temple Judaism in the Diaspora that formed the matrix for Christian theology.”


Gregory E. Sterling, “‘Philo Has Not Been Used Half Enough’:
The Significance of Philo of Alexandria for the Study of the New Testament,’
in Perspectives in Religious Studies 30.3 (2003):251-269, here p. 252.


Birnbaum on Philo’s Relevance for the study of Judaism

“Philo’s exegetical and non-exegetical works can be and have been mined for their wealth of information about Jews and Judaism in antiquity. These areas include Jewish practices, beliefs and ideas, community institutions, holy writings and their interpretation, Jews and Jewish identity, Jews’ involvement with and attitudes toward non-Jews and their culture, and historical events. Philo occasionally shows strong commonalities with what we know about other Jews, but he also displays important differences and distinctive features. Rather than attempting to characterize Philo generally as representative or not representative of Jews and Judaism in antiquity, it is best to consider individual issues in all their complexity.

Scholars have produced many exemplary studies in all the above areas to advance our knowledge of the past. Many topics, however, remain unexplored or await further clarification and insight. As with any source, one must always be aware of how Philo’s own biases, aims and interests may shape his presentations. While some topics- like the anti-Jewish violence in Alexandria – may pertain especially to Philo’s own day, others – like observance of the Sabbath and other holidays – may shed light on both earlier and later periods. Philo’s relevance for the study of Jews and Judaism, then, need not be confined to a particular century. Indeed, the astute and careful researcher may find meaningful continuities and discontinuities between Philo and other Jews from the distant past past to our very own day.”


Ellen Birnbaum,
‘Philo’s Relevance for the Study of Jews and Judaism in Antiquity,’
in T. Seland, Reading Philo. A Handbook to Philo of Alexandria
(Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 2014): 200-225, here quoted from p. 225 (Conclusion).

Bekken on the value of Philo

“Philo of Alexandria is a representative of Diaspora Judaism and of Judaism as such in the late second Temple period. His writings have also been used to illuminate the background and the wider context of the New Testament and the early church. It is easy to forget that substantial parts of the New Testament are dependent on their relationship to the Jewish Diaspora. Either the New Testament was written by Jews in the the Jewish Diaspora or to members and communities living in a Jewish Diaspora context. In light of this fact, Philo’s writings are not only a major representative of such a Hellenistic Judaism, but also, perhaps, the most important body of material to inform about the world of Diasora Judaism that formed the background for the New Testament writings.”

Want to read more about this? Go see

P. J. Bekken, ‘Philo’s Relevance for the Study of the New Testament,’
in T. Seland, Reading Philo. A Handbook to Philo of Alexandria
(Grand Rapids, Eerdmans, 2014): 226-267, here p. 226.

Hurtado on Philo

“I regard Philo as probably the single most important first-century Jewish writer for
understanding the Jewish religious setting of earliest Christianity,
especially in its trans-local expressions outside of Roman Judea.”

L. W. Hurtado, ‘Does Philo Help Explain Early Christianity?’, in
R. Deines & K-W. Niebuhr, Philo und das Neue Testament (Mohr Siebeck, 2004):73.

Kaiser on Philo

“In Philos Schriften begegnet uns der erste biblische Theologe, der sich zur Daseins- und Existenzerhellung philosophischer Lehren bediente, ohne ihnen ein Einspruchsrecht gegen den Glauben an den persönlichen Gott zu gewähren, der Israel als sein Volk zum Heil der ganzen Welt erwählt hat. Damit ist Philo zum Urbild aller biblischen Theologen geworden, die ihren Glauben denkend vertreten. Als ein solcher verdient er es, nicht nur Spezialisten der Auslegungs- und Philosophiegeschichte sondern auch einem breiteren Kreis von Geisteswissenschaftlern und Theologen vorgestellt zu werden.”

A quote from the Foreword of a forthcoming book
by Otto Kaiser on Philo from Alexandria;
for more info concerning the book, see my posting below.