Enduring Divine Discipline

Scot D. Mackie, “Enduring Divine Discipline in Philo, De congressu 157–180 and the Epistle to the Hebrews 12:5–17,” in Ancient Texts, Papyri, and Manuscripts: Studies in Honor of James R. Royse (ed. D.T. Runia, A.T. Farnes, and S.D. Mackie; NTTSD 64; Leiden: Brill, 2022), 269–301

Abstract: “The relationship of the Epistle to the Hebrews to Philo of Alexandria has been long debated. Though most scholars are pessimistic about the possibility of establishing any substantive connection between the two authors, there is widespread admission that they stand in proximate streams of Alexandrian Judaism and share somewhat similar cosmologies and metaphysics. This essay seeks to expand the potential range of their affinities by examining the remarkably similar theodicies offered in Philo’s De congressu 157–180 and Hebrews 12:5–17. Both texts pursue the same rhetorical goal (to defend the necessity of trials and tests, and the benefits of enduring adversities), quote Prov 3:11–12, and contain an extraordinary cluster of themes, including the contrast between appearance and reality, the need to correctly interpret adverse circumstances, the nature and role of παιδεία, confessing “kinship” with God, “looking ahead” to a reward, and the life of faith as an agonistic/athletic contest. “

‘God Has Had Mercy on me.’

Scot D. Mackie, “‘God Has Had Mercy on Me’: Theology and Soteriology in Philo of Alexandria’s De sacrificiis Abelis et Caini,” Journal of Theological Studies 72.2 (2021): 709–737

Abstract

“Philo of Alexandria’s treatise De sacrificiis Abelis et Caini offers a rich example of his theology and soteriology. The majestic God of De sacrificiis is transcendent, omnipresent, and absolutely unique. Anthropomorphic and anthropopathic conceptions of God also are memorably discussed and dismissed. Standing in tension with these ontological characteristics are relational attributes of God, which often are expressed in redemptive acts. Thus, the merciful God of De sacrificiis ‘transcends his transcendence’, and compassionately reaches out to humans in need. A full array of soteriological themes populate the pages of the treatise, including the war against the passions, the allegory of the soul, transformative revelatory experiences, salvific worship, contemplative ascent, and the vision of God. Furthermore, the agential acts and roles played by God and humans are complexly intertwined, demonstrating a sophisticated, experientially informed soteriology. Though these important Philonic themes typically are interpreted thematically and systemically, thus ‘ironing out’ any idiosyncrasies, this essay closely attends to the particular thought of this treatise. As a consequence, unique elements and emphases emerge, which in addition to distinctive depictions of divine compassion and soteriological agency, include a Stoic emphasis on reason, the relative absence of mediatorial figures, and a rare portrayal of an unequivocal visio Dei. “

The full article reference is accessible here.