The yearly SNTS meeting was this year arranged in Athens, Greece. What a wonderful place to have a meeting focusing on New Testament studies. While some might suggest Jerusalem as the place most filled with symbolism for biblical studies, Athens might come as a good # 2.
In addion to that, the conference found place at the Titania hotel, that with its great restaurant at the top floor provided a magnificent view to the Acropolis and Athens. Three Philo scholars from Norway were attending the meeting, and among them, the doyen of Norwegian Philo studies, prof Peder Borgen. Here you see him seated in the restaurant withtwo of his former doctoral students, prof Per Jarle Bekken to the right (Borgen’s left side), and me on the other side. It was great to have Borgen with us, and to see him – in his age of 90 1/2 years- enjoying and participating in the sessions.
On Saturday 11th, there was an very interesting excursion to Corinth and Epidaurus, a trip also enjoyed by prof Borgen, his wife and two daughters.
The great theatre at Epidaurus
At the last annual meeting of the SNTS in Athens, in Aug. 7-10, a seminar on Philo of Alexandria was run by profs Greg E. Sterling and Per Jarle Bekken. The dayly attendance were 10-12 persons, and there were three sessions/papers, submitted by Per Jarle Bekken, Ilaria L.E. Ramelli and Volker Rabens. The main focus of the seminar was Philo and Early Christianity.
Bekken’s paper dealt with “Paul in Negotiations on Abraham: Fresh Light on the Appropriation of Scripture in Gal 3:6–9 in Jewish Context.” A central part of his thesis was that ” Philo and Paul share an exegetical tradition based on Gen 15:6 interpreted in conjunction with other passages in terms of a continuum of the Abraham narrative in Genesis. Thus, both authors depend on a constellation of exegetical motifs associated with Abraham’s trust (Gen 15:6), manifested in the responsiveness of a corresponding faithfulness and oath of promise on God’s part to bless Abraham and his descendants (cf. Gen 22:18; 26:3–4). Such motifs appear in a context of Jewish discussions in which the authoritative figure of a Law-observant Abraham was conceived to serve as authoritative legal norm (cf. Gen 26:5).”(P. 47 ).
The next paper, by Ilaria L.E. Ramelli, was on “Paul and Philo on Soteriology and Eschatology.” The paper offered was she called “a sygkrisis between two semi-contemporary Hellenistic Jewish theologians, Paul of Tarsus and Philo of Alexandria, both major inspirers of subsequent Christian philosophical theology. While other areas would be relevant to explore, for instance the knowledge of God, this essay will concentrate on soteriology and eschatology in Paul and Philo. The latter is more elusive than Paul in this matter, but both were familiar with the doctrine of apokatastasis or restoration, although they treated it in different ways, just as they had different views of the Law.”
The third paper, that by Volker Rabens, had as its title “Physical and Mystical Dimensions of Human Transformation in Philo and Paul.” I was not able to atttend this last session.
All papers were thoroughly researched and well footnoted. To some the papers were a little bit too long; 50 pages x 3 is demanding, especially if they are sent out just some few days before the meeting. But all in all, it is good to have Philo back at the SNTS meeting.