Die griechische Bibel in Alexandrien

Did Philo read/use Hebrew? And/or is the legend of the miraculous creation of the Septuagint a manifesto of cultural assimilation into the Hellenic culture? These seem to be some of the questions dealt with in this new book.

Maria Sokolskaya, Die griechische Bibel in Alexandrien. Ihre Legende und die exegetische Praxis im hellenistischen Judentum. Supplements to the Journal for the Study of Judaism. Brill: Leiden, 2022. (to be published 19. Oct. 2022: E-book and Hardback).

Abstract: “The translation of the Torah into Greek in Alexandria is an intriguing puzzle. Why was it undertaken at all? Was it a need of the Alexandrian Jews? Or did the Jewish wisdom intrigue the Egyptian ruler? Is the legend of the miraculous creation of the Septuagint a manifesto of cultural assimilation into the Hellenic culture? Does the Alexandrian Greek biblical exegesis, especially that of Philo, aim to break with the Hebrew tradition? According to this book, Philo, although not fluent in Hebrew himself, moves in the same shared Hebrew-Greek Torah universe that a closer look on the Septuagint legend reveals as well.”

Abstrakt: “Die Übersetzung der Tora ins Griechische in Alexandrien ist ein intrigierendes Rätsel. Warum wurde sie überhaupt unternommen? War sie ein Bedürfnis der alexandrinischen Juden? Oder machte die jüdische Weisheit den ägyptischen Herrscher neugierig? Ist die Legende über die wundersame Entstehung der Septuaginta ein Manifest der kulturellen Assimilation an die hellenische Kultur? Bezweckt die alexandrinische griechische Bibelexegese, vor allem diejenige Philons, den Bruch mit der hebräischen Tradition und die Anpassung an die hellenistische Philosophie? Nach Ansicht dieses Buches bewegt sich Philon, obwohl selbst des Hebräischen nicht mächtig, in demselben gemeinsamen hebräisch-griechischen Tora-Universum, welches die Septuaginta-Legende bei näherer Betrachtung beschreibt.”

Fables in Philo of Alexandria

Sean A. Adams, ‘Fables in Philo of Alexandria: λόγος, μῦθος, and παραβολή,’ in Albertina Oegema, Jonathan Pater, and Martijn Stoutjesdijk (eds), Overcoming Dichotomies. Parables, Fables, and Similes in the Graeco-Roman World. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 1. 483: Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, 2022, pp. 169-90.

Abstract: “Philo of Alexandria, although known best for his allegorical interpretation of Scripture, engaged with a wide range of Greek literature. This contribution begins with a discussion of terms associated with ancient parables and fables (λόγος, μῦθος, and παραβολή) with a specific investigation as to how these terms are used by Philo. I will follow this with an evaluation of Philo’s use of fables and fable language within his corpus, arguing that these literary devices provide insight into Philo’s interpretive approach and his educational background. In particular, Philo’s engagement with Greek fabula in Conf. 4–14 provides strong example of how Philo explicitly engaged with fabula and how Philo differentiated biblical stories from their Greek counterparts.”

Our πολίτευμα

This article argues that Paul’s narrative about collective πολίτευμα in heaven (Phil 3:20) constitutes a moment of climactic consolation in the letter to the Philippians. This position is reached through an extended comparison with Seneca’s On Consolation to Mother Helvia (Ad Helviam). It emerges that similar narratives of consolation are constructed in the Ad Helviam and Phil 3:15-21. In both texts, adversity is recognised and rationalised, before it is defied then transcended through rhetorical and cosmological arguments. There are, however, also differences owing to Paul’s and Seneca’s different contexts: in particular, the threat of certain Judaizing opponents to Paul’s gospel in Philippi.

Alex W Muir, “Our πολίτευμα Belongs in Heaven” (Phil 3:20) Comparing Paul’s and Seneca’s Narratives of Consolation,” Novum Testamentum 64.2 (2022) 249 – 266.

The Book of Exodus in Philo

Sean A. Adams, ‘The Book of Exodus in Philo of Alexandria,’ in: Beate Kowalski and Susan Docherty, eds., Let my People go: The Reception of Exodus Motifs in Jewish and Christian Literature. Themes in Biblical Narrative, Vol 30. Leiden: Brill, 2021, pp. 177-192.

Intro: “The book of Exodus and its interpretation are prominent in Philo’s corpus. So frequently did Philo cite or allude to this book that few scholars have attempted to discuss this topic as a whole. A full discussion of Philo’s engagement with Exodus is not possible in the limits of this study. In this chapter, I begin with a general discussion of the reception of the Exodus narratives in Philo’s writings. From this broad overview, I divide my study into two parts. The first focuses on specific instances where Exodus material is employed by Philo across multiple treatises and the second examines how specific Exodus passages are interpreted by Philo in the Allegorical Commentary. The chapter concludes with a reflection on how Exodus was used by Philo as part of his wider practice of interpreting the works of Moses.”

The book is to be published in October 2021; Hardback and E-Book (pdf).

Philo on Youtube!

It probably was only a mater of time; why not present material related to Philo of Alexandria on other platforms than just webpages and blogs? Now it has happened:

You will get more info by going to this webpage: Inicio – Filón de Alejandría (filonalejandria.com) : “Welcome to Philo of Alexandria. This space is part of the Research Projects of the National University of La Pampa, aimed at the translation, academic study and dissemination of the work, life and thought of Philo of Alexandria, and scientific research around its production” (from webpage). You can get more info by going to the page listed above, and its subpages. All pages are in Spanish, but translations are available by the browser.

Introduction/Self-presentation (from webpage): “We welcome those who have an interest in the work of Philo of Alexandria or who want to contact the members of the organization group of the page. We are a team that more than ten years ago works on the translation into the Spanish language of the complete work of Philo of Alexandria. We started under the direction and guidance of José Pablo Martín and have now established ourselves as a group that has enthusiastically received other contributions. Different researchers, specialists in authors and related aspects of philology and ancient philosophy, collaborate with us and enlighten us with their vast knowledge. We all owe them something. In the joint work, relationships of mutual support, shared ideals, cooperation and, above all, affection have grown. We invite you to join, much or little you can offer, or have nothing but questions. Every contribution is valuable, we never in life have we finished learning. Personal exchanges are the ones that nourish our intellectual life.”

As to Philo on Youtube, you will find several (and of various quality) by just searching for Philo on Youtube, but here is info presented by this Project: Creación de Canal de YouTube “Filón de Alejandría” – Filón de Alejandría (filonalejandria.com) So far, all of it is in Spanish; hopefully in the future there will also be contributions in English.

“Durante el mes de abril del año 2021, Equipo de Trabajo del portal filonalejandría creó el canal de YouTube Filón de Alejandría, donde los usuarios tendrán acceso a los videos de los eventos desarrollados en el año 2020 (Primer Congreso Internacional sobre Filón de Alejandría y Entrevista al Dr. Marcelo Boeri, “Filón de Alejandría y los estoicos”), y al resto de los materiales generados a partir de las actividades del Equipo.”

Eng. transl: “During the month of April 2021, a Team of the Philo of Alexandria portal created the YouTube channel Philo of Alexandria,where users will have access to the videos of the events developed in 2020 (First International Congress on The End of Alexandria and Interview to Dr. Marcelo Boeri, “Philon of Alexandria and the Stoics”), and to the rest of the materials generated from the activities of the Team.”

New book on Alexandria

Alexandria. Hub of the Hellenistic World

Edited by Benjamin Schliesser, Jan Rüggemeier, Thomas J. Kraus, and Jörg Frey, with the assistance of Daniel Herrmann Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 460. Mohr Siebeck. April 2021. 621 pages.

A new book on Alexandria is about to be published. And as expected, it contains several articles related to Philo, and to biblical studies. Below I list the articles most interesting (in my mind) to Philo-scholars. See also here.

Balbina Bäbler
Whose “Glory of Alexandria”? Monuments, Identities, and the Eye of the
Beholder ……………………………………………………………………………… 29-48

Barbara Schmitz
Alexandria: What Does the So-Called Letter of Aristeas Tell Us about
Alexandria?…………………………………………………………………………… 49-62.

Christoph Riedweg
Alexandria in the New Outline of Philosophy in the Roman Imperial Period
and in Late Antiquity………………………………………………………………… 99-106.

Beatrice Wyss
Cultural Rivalry in Alexandria: The Egyptians Apion and Chaeremon ………………….145-164

Benjamin Wright
The Letter of Aristeas and the Place of the Septuagint in Alexandrian

Jan. N. Bremmer
The First Pogrom? Religious Violence in Alexandria in 38 CE?………………………..245-260.

René Bloch
How Much Hebrew in Jewish Alexandria?…………………………………………..261-278

Justin P. Jeffcoat Schedtler
From Alexandria to Caesarea and Beyond: The Transmission of the
Fragments of the Hellenistic Jewish Authors…………………………….…………..279-302

John Granger Cook
Philo’s Quaestiones in Genesin and Paul’s σῶμα πνευματικόν……………….. ……..303-324.

Samuel Vollenweider
Apollos of Alexandria: Portrait of an Unknown ………………………………….…325-344.

Jörg Frey
Locating New Testament Writings in Alexandria:
On Method and the Aporias of Scholarship ………………………………………….345-366

I’ll stop here. As you see, there are enough interesting articles to legitimate to spend some money on this volume (which contains a total of 26 articles). The prices is set to 154 Euro (both pdf version and hardback.)

Tempel, Lehrhaus, Synagoge,- and Philo!

Christian A. Eberhart, Martin Karrer, Siegfried Kreuzer, und Martin Meiser, (Hrg.),
Tempel, Lehrhaus, Synagoge
Orte jüdischen Gottesdienstes, Lernens und Lebens. Festschrift für Wolfgang Kraus
Publisher: Ferdinand Schøningh, 2020.

Two articles in this volume are directly related to Alexandria/Philo:

Consequences of the Desecration and Destruction of Alexandrian Synagogues as Spaces of Learning and Living. An Orientation Based on Philo’s In Flaccum and Legatio ad by Gert J. Steyn, pp. 57–77

Philos Vorstellung vom Lehrer nach De posteritate Caini, 138–142.146–147. By  Eberhard Bons, pp. 103–118.

Private Associations and Jewish Communities

In a recent web ‘edition’ of Review of Biblical Literature (http://www.bookreviews.org) John S. Kloppenborg has a review of a book published in 2019 on ancient associations:

Benedikt Eckhardt, ed.
Private Associations and Jewish Communities in the Hellenistic and Roman Cities
Supplements to the Journal for the Study of Judaism 191
Leiden: Brill, 2019. Pp. vi + 227. Cloth. $126.00

This volume also contains an article on Philo which especially caught my interest: Kimberley Czajkowski’s “Jewish Associations in Alexandria?” (pp. 76–96), as I myself had an article  published on Philo and the associations as far back as in 1995 (T. Seland, ‘Philo and the clubs and associations of Alexandria,’ in John S. Kloppenborg & Stephen G. Wilson, ed., Voluntary Associations in the Graeco-Roman World. London/New York: Routledge, 110-145). As far as I have been able to observe, not much have been written on Philo and the associations in recent years; hence another study is welcome. Alas, however, I have not been able to see this new article/volume as my access to libraries are somewhat restricted by location. But Kloppenborg evaluates Czajkowskis’s contribution thus:

Kimberley Czajkowski’s “Jewish Associations in Alexandria?” (76–96) makes several critical points for understanding Philo’s polemic against synodoi and thiasoi in Flaccus. Politeuma were, in the first place, fiscal rather than strictly ethnic associations. Hence, the Judean politeumata in Alexandria and elsewhere (and the Phygian and Lycian politeumata) were not co-terminus with the entire Judean (or Phrygian, Lycian) populations of Egyptian cities. With the Roman reduction of Egypt to a province, the politeumata, originally military settlements, lost their public and military features and became essentially private associations. If some Judeans in Alexandria were constituted as a politeuma, as the Letter of Aristeas (§310) claims, these would have similarly been reduced to the status of private associations. It is in this context that Czajkowski discusses Philo’s polemic against thiasoi and synodoi, arguing that Philo was exercised to assert that Judean synodoi were not associations that merely used the pretext of religion to have drunken orgies. They genuinely assembled religionis causa and hence constituted collegia licita that should not
fall under Flaccus’s ban on associations.

It should be mentioned that this volume also contains another article that might touch upon Philo: “Les communautés juives de la Diaspora dans le droit commun des associations du monde gréco-romain” (97–114).

Hopefully, I will be able to get my hands on that article/volume in not a too distant future.


Reading Philo: A Handbook

My Handbook to Philo of Alexandria, published in 2014 is now available for Kindle at Amazon.com for $3.99! A terrible price for me, but a good one for you!  🙂

Have a look at Reading Philo: A Handbook to Philo of Alexandria
Publisher: Eerdmans (Nov., 2014). 362 pp.

“A contemporary of both Jesus and the apostle Paul, Philo was a prolific Jewish theologian, philosopher, and politician — a fascinating, somewhat enigmatic figure — who lived his entire life in Alexandria, Egypt. His many books are important sources for our understanding of ancient Judaism, early Christianity, and the philosophical currents of that time.
Reading Philo is an excellent introductory guide to Philo’s work and significance. The contributors — all well-known experts on Philo of Alexandria — discuss Philo in context, offer methodological considerations (how best to study Philo), and explore Philo’s ongoing relevance and value (why reading him is important). This practical volume will be an indispensable resource for anyone delving into Philo and his world.” (Publishers note).

Philo and De Abrahamo

weisenA new book on De Abrahamo!

Das Leben des Weisen

Philon v. Alexandria, De Abrahamo
Eingel., übers. u. m. interpretierenden Essays vers. v. Matthias Adrian, Maximilian Forschner, Daniel Lanzinger, Heinz-Günther Nesselrath, Maren R. Niehoff, Friederike Oertelt, Simone Seibert u. Nicolai Sinai. Hrsg. v. Daniel Lanzinger

2020. XIII, 334 Seiten.
In 2017 a volume of Philo’s De Migratione Abrahami was published in a series with the somewhat peculiar name (!): Scripta Antiquitatis Posterioris ad Ethicam REligionemque pertinentia XXXVI. This year another volume is about to be published (see above). Both as a hardback and as E-book (84,00 €).
With this volume, two very interesting German books have been published, dealing with Philo’s picture of Abraham. The other, published in 2017, was:
Abrahams Aufbruch. Philon von Alexandria, De migratione Abrahami
Eingeleitet, übersetzt und mit interpretierenden Essays versehen von Heinrich Detering, Lutz Doering, Reinhard Feldmeier, Rainer Hirsch-Luipold, Heinz-Günther Nesselrath, Maren R. Niehoff, Peter Van Nuffelen, Florian Wilk
Hrsg. v. Maren R. Niehoff u. Reinhard Feldmeier
2017. XIII, 292 pages. SAPERE XXX.
Both volumes subscribe to a great extent to Maren R. Niehoff’s view of Philo, especially her chronology description of Philo’s work. She is also a participating author in both volumes.
In addition, her great volume on Philo (Philo of Alexandria. An Intellectual Biography. Yale University Press, 2018), has now also been translated and published in German by Mohr Siebeck:
Niehoff, Maren R.
Philon von Alexandria
Eine intellektuelle Biographie
Übersetzt von Claus-Jürgen Thornton und Eva Tyrell
Mohr Siebeck, 2019. XIII, 346 pages.
It looks like there might be a growing interest in Philo in Germany!