Two new commentaries on Philo are coming out this Fall. This is a great event, as the commentaries deal with two very important treatises of Philo. Every serious Philo scholar should rush to buy these!
However, check your bank account first, for these volumes are not only valuable, but also really expensive when it comes to money. They are available in pdf versions too, but the price is the same. Books at these prices are likely to end up in libraries only, not on the shelf of individual scholars. And that is regrettable.
Anyway, here are the commentaries, and the publisher’s presentation of them:
Ellen Birnbaum & John M. Dillon, Philo of Alexandria: On the Life of Abraham. Introduction, Translation, and Commentary. Philo of Alexandria Commentary Series, Volume: 6 Leiden: Brill, oct 2020 (€189.00 $227.00)
Publisher: “On the Life of Abraham displays Philo’s philosophical, exegetical, and literary genius at its best. Philo begins by introducing the biblical figures Enos, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as unwritten laws. Then, interweaving literal, ethical, and allegorical interpretations, Philo presents the life and achievements of Abraham, founder of the Jewish nation, in the form of a Greco-Roman bios, or biography. Ellen Birnbaum and John Dillon explain why and how this work is important within the context of Philo’s own oeuvre, early Jewish and Christian exegesis, and ancient philosophy. They also offer a new English translation and detailed analyses, in which they elucidate the meaning of Philo’s thought, including his perplexing notion that Israel’s ancestors were laws in themselves.”
Joan E. Taylor & David M. Hays, Philo of Alexandria: On the Contemplative Life. Introduction, Translation and Commentary. Philo of Alexandria Commentary Series, Volume: 7. Leiden: Brill, Nov. 2020 (€155.00 $187.00).
Publisher: “On the Contemplative Life is known for its depiction of a philosophical group of Jewish men and women known as the ‘Therapeutae’. Yet the reasons for their depiction have been little understood. In the first commentary on the treatise in English for over 100 years, the social, cultural and political background of the times in which Philo lived are shown to be crucial in understanding Philo’s purposes. As Alexandrian Jews were vilified and attacked, Philo went to Rome to present the case for his community, faced with intense opposition. Side-stepping direct confrontation, Philo here cleverly presents the Therapeutae as the pinnacle of excellence, most especially in their communal meal, while ridiculing his accusers in a stinging parody of a festive banquet.”