La historia judía en Hypothetica de Filón

Pérez, L. “La historia judía en Hypothetica de Filón de Alejandría: una versión apologética del Éxodo y la Conquista de Canaán”. Circe de clásicos y modernos26.1 (2022) 37-61. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.19137/circe-2022-260102

Abstract: “The purpose of this article is to analyze Philo’s presentation of the Exodus and the Conquest of Canaan in the historical section of the apologetic treatise Hypothetica (5. 11-7. 20), and the motivations that could have guided this representation. We will inquire other narratives of these same episodes to which Philo can be responding, and we will try to demonstrate that the oddness and novelty of the treatise among Philo’s works can be explained from its production in the changing and urgent context of the Jewish-Alexandrian
conflicts of the years 38-40, but they should not hide the lines of continuity between this text and other Philonic writings.”

Two Lofty Liturgies of Life

Romulus D. Stefanut, “Two Lofty Liturgies of Life: Philo’s Therapeutae and their Friendly Polemics with the Essenes.” Early Christianity 13.1 (2022) 58-83.

Abstract: “Die Studie untersucht das Verhältnis zwischen zwei faszinierenden jüdischen Sekten, den Essenern und den Therapeuten, aus dem Blickwinkel der Schriften Philos. Die beiden religiösen und philosophischen Gruppen stellen in Philos Sicht nicht nur die hervorragendsten Repräsentanten des Judentums im judäischen Heimatland bzw. in der alexandrinischen Diaspora dar, sondern auch die vorbildlichsten Vertreter einer aktiven und einer kontemplativen Lebensweise. Beide praktizieren sie einen radikalen Gottesdienst, sie leben ein gemeinschaftliches, aber genügsames Leben und vermeiden die Versuchungen des Stadtlebens um jeden Preis. Besonders bedeutsam ist, dass ihr Alltag in einer erhabenen Liturgie des Lebens von raum-zeitlichen Rhythmen und symbolischen geistlichen Übungen umgriffen wird.”

Philo’s Hellenistic-Jewish Approach

Carmen Palmer, “Philo’s Hellenistic-Jewish Approach in On the Decalogue and On the Contemplative Life: Blending Wisdom of Solomon’s Critique against Idols with a Hellenistic Notion of Moderation.” in Journal of Ancient Judaism (2022) 1-16. (Brill).

Online Publication Date: 06 Jun 2022.

Abstract: “Philo draws on the Wisdom of Solomon in his tripartite critique against idols found in On the Decalogue and On the Contemplative Life. As he fashions these critiques in the pursuit of upholding Mosaic law, Philo not only criticizes Greek and Egyptian forms of worship, he also integrates the notion of moderation evident in Hellenism and Hellenistic-Egyptian Isis worship. This essay demonstrates ways in which the pursuit of moderation and Isis as lawgiver are integrated into Philo’s concepts of Moses as lawgiver and pursuit of law in opposition to Roman forms of excess. The essay considers various texts, including excerpts from Greek philosophers and Hellenistic Egyptian hymns to Isis, in addition to considerations of contemporary Roman excesses vis-à-vis Philo’s Decalogue, Contempl. Life, and his uses of Wis. Philo’s Hellenistic Judaism emerges from a simultaneous criticism yet also integration of both Hellenistic and Hellenistic-Egyptian concepts and traditions.”

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. “

Logos as Mediator

Díaz Lisboa, Matias Alejandro. “El Logos Mediador en Filón de Alejandría.” Palabra y Razón. Revista de Teologia. Filosofia y Ciencias de la Religión 20 (2021): 33–53.

Abstract: “The objective of this work is to analyze and systematize one of the most important topics around the thought of Philo of Alexandria, his theory of the Logos. Primarily, the introduction will show how the theory of the Logos in Philo has been treated, a theory that has only paid attention to just some aspects of the Logos, for later (in the following chapters) to reconstruct a doctrine that is in all the forms in which Philo works on the concept of Logos, the notion of the Logos as a mediator, a notion assumed by all scholars, but not explained. Based on this concept of mediator Logos, the classical role that the conception of the Logos as an instrument has had will be examined in the structure of the investigation, to show the difficulties of this understanding, and, with it, to be able to access the radicality of the Philonian logos. The proposal that will be approached by examining some central features that reveal the specific characteristics of the Philonian theory of Logos, such as (1) the problem of mediation in the scheme of creation, (2) the Logos itself, (3) its independence and (4) its necessity in Philo’s thought.”

Philo on Joseph, the Patriarch

Díaz-Lisboa, Mat́ias. “Filón de Alejandría: Consideraciones Filosófo-Políticas en Torno a José (Patriarca) y la Ley de la Naturaleza.” Palabra y Razón. Revista de Teologia. Filosofia y Ciencias de la Religión 17 (2020): 26–43.

Abstract: Inherent in the Corpus Philonicum is its apparent contempt for political life, presented as a veil that skews our total perception of truth; a portrait of the above is the life of Joseph, who in the words of Philo is a simple addition of theLord, subjected to the mutability of the sensible, Egypt. This notion has been the standard interpretation about Joseph. However, in this work it will be shown, that this negative path has been only a slight error. That is why a thesis will be developed that does not frame Joseph under canonical categories, as a villain for the Jews, or an ideal legislator for the Romans, but, based on the concept of natural law and its intersections with his statesman, be considered good for both Jews and Romans.

New article by Paula Fredriksen

Fredriksen, P. (2022). “Philo, Herod, Paul, and the Many Gods of Ancient Jewish “Monotheism””. Harvard Theological Review, 115(1), 23-45. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0017816022000049

Abstract

“Many gods lived in the Roman Empire. All ancient peoples, including Jews and, eventually, Christians, knew this to be the case. Exploring the ways that members of these groups thought about and dealt with other gods while remaining loyal to their own god, this essay focuses particularly on the writings and activities of three late Second Temple Jews who highly identified as Jews: Philo of Alexandria, Herod the Great, and the apostle Paul. Their loyalty to Israel’s god notwithstanding, they also acknowledged the presence, the agency, and the power of foreign deities. Reliance on “monotheism” as a term of historical description inhibits our appreciation of the many different social relationships, human and divine, that all ancient Jews had to navigate. Worse, “monotheism” fundamentally misdescribes the religious sensibility of antiquity.”

‘Ex-Pagan Pagans’?

Denys N. McDonald, “Ex-Pagan Pagans? Paul, Philo, and Gentile Ethnic Reconfiguration.” Journal for the Study of the New Testament March 2022, 1-28. https://doi.org/10.1177/0142064X221082363

Abstract: “In Paul: The Pagans’ Apostle (2017), Paula Fredriksen reminds us that gods and their cults were intertwined with ancient ethnic groups so much so that, when Gentiles committed themselves exclusively to Israel’s God, some Jews considered this ‘tantamount to changing ethnicity’. Fredriksen claims, however, that Paul’s Gentile addressees – whom she terms ‘ex-pagan pagans’ – remain separate ethnically from Jews despite forsaking their ancestral gods for Israel’s. Given that gods and ethnicity were intertwined, this article examines if it is reasonable to conclude that Paul thinks Gentile Christ-followers remain strictly Gentiles after they have abandoned their ethnic gods and entered into a relationship with Israel and its God. I argue that, similar to Philo’s proselyte inclusion strategy, Paul incorporates Gentiles-in-Christ into ethnic Israel. As Abraham’s ‘offspring’, Paul suggests that his addressees not only gain membership in Israel’s covenant on account of Israel’s messiah, but that they also acquire a new ethnic identity despite that their prior identities as ‘the Gentiles’ are not erased. This study, then, seeks to destabilize the binary that Fredriksen posits between ethnic Israel and Paul’s Gentiles-in-Christ as ethnic ‘other’. In the end, I demonstrate that Paul’s ethnic reconfiguration of Gentile identities resembles Philo’s proselyte discourse and is more disruptive ethnically than Fredriksen’s phrase ‘ex-pagan pagans’ would suggest.”

From Exclusion to Inclusion?

Clifford, H. “From Exclusion to Inclusion? Deuteronomy 23:1–8 in Philo and Beyond”. In: Hywel Clifford & Megan Daffern (eds.), The Exegetical and the Ethical. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2022, pp. 175–199.

Abstract: “This essay considers Philo of Alexandria’s interpretations of Deuteronomy 23:1–8, biblical laws about exclusion (of the “eunuch”, etc.), which he allegorised in terms of religious/philosophical doctrines (e.g. atheism). For Philo, “the assembly of the Lord” is predominantly the soul; hence Deut. 23:1–8 is about what must not enter there. What must enter is orthodox belief and practice: to be a disciple of Mosaic law, to enable the soul’s ascent towards God (in biblical Jewish Middle Platonist terms, suited to Philo’s cultural setting). Philo’s interpretations are compared with texts from Second Temple Judaism (e.g. DSS, NT), highlighting their shared landscape yet distinctive perspectives. The essay then outlines approaches from the history of interpretation: Deut. 23:1–8 are (1) marriage laws, (2) laws about the sanctuary, or (3) laws about holding public office. Philo is compared to each in turn. Modern historical-critical scholars seek to assign Deut. 23:1–8 their original setting (early Israelite governance), whereas deconstructive postmodern approaches go beyond “the tradition” seeing in these laws all non-normative identities. Finally, suggestions are made as to what a Christian sermon on Deut. 23:1–8 might contain in view of its reception history in relation to exclusion and inclusion.”

‘GOD HAS HAD MERCY ON ME’

Scott D. Mackie, ‘GOD HAS HAD MERCY ON ME’:THEOLOGY AND SOTERIOLOGY IN PHILO OF ALEXANDRIA’S DE SACRIFICIIS ABELIS ET CAINI, In The Journal of Theological Studies, nov. 2021

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.