The Methodist, ecumenist, churchman and New Testament scholar, Professor dr.theol & PhD, Peder Johan Borgen turned 95 on Thursday 26. January. After his theological education and doctoral studies, he was senior lecturer in Christian studies at the University of Bergen, and then professor of the New Testament and its Greco-Roman environment at the University of Trondheim from 1973 to 1993, ending his professional career there as a senior researcher in 1999.
As a New Testament researcher, Borgen has particularly focused on the Gospel of John, but also on other New Testament writings, and not least the Jew Philo of Alexandria (Egypt) who lived around the same time as Jesus and Paul, and who had a large literary authorship as a Jewish philosopher, politician and Bible interpreter. Borgen’s main work⸺his Norwegian doctoral thesis from 1966⸺is a study of the Gospel of John’s description of the bread from heaven (John 6), seen in the light of Philo’s theology and other Jewish writings. The thesis received a great deal of international attention, and is one of the few Norwegian PhD theses that has been published internationally as many as three times (1965, 1981, 2017). His later works on Philo of Alexandria have also helped to make Borgen well known, perhaps more internationally than in Norway. In Norway,his Free Church status and the fact that he did not work at any church related theological institution but in a Religious Studies University context, probably meant that he did not become more widely known in his native country. His professional works have also preferably been published abroad and in English. In 2020, however, a biography was published in Norwegian; in 2022, however, also this published in the USA.
His great anniversary will be spent in Lillestrøm together with his dear wife Inger and the rest of his closest family members.
We, his former students, doctoral students, and colleagues, congratulate him, thanking him for his scholarly achievements. We thank him also for his mentorship, encouragement, and inspiration up through the years.
Philo of Alexandria: A Sourcebook. By Nelida Naveros Cordova, CDP, Lexington Books / Fortress Academic, 2023.197 pages. $100.00 (Hardback); $45.00 e-book.
“Nélida Naveros Córdova carefully draws from a variety of texts within the Philonic corpus to provide a complete sourcebook for an introduction to Philo. After a general introduction, she consolidates the major topics and themes commonly studied in Philo into seven chapters: Philo’s theology, his doctrine of creation, his anthropology, his doctrine of ethics, his metaphorical interpretation of biblical characters, his exposition of the Jewish Law and the Decalogue, and Jewish worship and major observances. For each chapter, Naveros Córdova provides a brief introduction and overview of the topics in their cultural and religious contexts highlighting Philo’s philosophical thought and the significance of his biblical interpretation. The sourcebook consists mostly of fresh translations with few authorial comments with an attempt to introduce and present Philonic texts to the introductory reader to give broad exposure to the nature of Philo’s literal and allegorical biblical interpretations. From start to finish, the book emphasizes the unity of the ethical character of Philo’s thought considered the basic spectrum of his biblical exegesis.”
As the editor states (p xiv), “this sourcebook is primarily for students who are studying Philo, are writing a master’s or doctoral thesis, and need an introductory source for the central topics and themes of Philo of Alexandria.” I presume that it will be most valuable to master students, but also to doctoral students, even though they are presumed to also read Philo in Greek. The volume contains 7 chapters, dealing with these topics: Philo’s Theology, Philo’s doctrine of Creation,Philo’s anthropology, Philo’s doctrine of ethics, Biblical Characters, Jewish Law and the Devalogue, and finally: Jewish Worship and major observances. Preceeding these there is a 10 pages long Introduction. Each main chapter is footnoted, and has a brief, but representative Bibliography. At the end to the volume there is a valuable topical Index.
I consider this a valuable help for students starting to understand Philo of Alexandria.