Various dimensions in presentations of Sarah

Marta Alesso. “Dimensiones simbólicas de la Sara bíblica: del judaísmo al cristianismo”. Circe, de clásicos y
modernos 26/1 (enero-junio 2022).


Abstract: “The article reviews the successive symbolic dimensions that the figure of Sarah, Abraham’s wife, acquires, from its biblical origins in Genesis of LXX to the comments of the Fathers of the Church, focusing especially in the interpretations of Philo of Alexandria and Paul of Tarsus. Sarah symbolizes in Philo virtue –ἀρετή– and wisdom –σοφία– and, by means of a particular exegesis of Gn 18. 11, virginity in its pure state. Paul’s version (Gal 4. 21-31) of the story of Sarah and Hagar displaces the Jews from the inheritance of the promise and places Christians on that pedestal and Sarah as the mother of Christianity.”

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. “

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.

Torah, Temple, Land

The general topic of this book as such should be interesting to students of ancient Judaism and Philo. In addition the volume also contains one article dealing specifically with Philo:

Marcus Witte, Jens Schröter and Verena Lepper, eds, Torah, Temple, Land. Constructions of Judaism in Antiquity. Texts and Studies in Ancient Judaism184. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck. 2021. Pp. 316. ca. 135 €.


Markus Witte, Jens Schröter, Verena Lepper
Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Peter Schäfer
Judaism or Judaisms: The Construction of Ancient Judaism . . . . . . . . . . . 9
Benedikt Hensel
Debating Temple and Torah in the Second Temple Period:
Theological and Political Aspects of the Final Redaction(s)

of the Pentateuch . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
Sebastian Grätz
The Golah, the Temple, and the Torah in the Book of Ezra: Biblical
and Religious-Historical Perspectives on Judah and Jerusalem
in Postexilic Times . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49
Stefan Schorch
“Mount Gerizim is the house of God and the dwelling place for
his glory”: The Origins and Early History of Samaritan Theology
. . . . . . 61
Karel van der Toorn
The Religion of the Elephantine Jews . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79
Charlotte Hempel
The Dead Sea Scrolls: Challenging the Particularist Paradigm . . . . . . . . . 91
John J. Collins
Jewish Communities in the Dead Sea Scrolls . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 105
Robert Kugler
Finding “Judaism” in Documentary Papyri: The Case of the
Petitions from the Herakleopolis Archive
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 117
Lutz Doering
Torah and Temple in Judean Pseudepigrapha: From Jubilees to
Fourth Ezra and Second Baruch
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 137
Gabriele Boccaccini
What Does the Forgiving Jesus Have to Do with the Unforgiving
Enoch? Forgiveness of Sins in the Enochic Traditions
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 157
Maren R. Niehoff
Constructing Temple and Torah in Philo of Alexandria . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 173

Martin Goodman
Paul as Persecutor and the History of Judaism . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 189
Adela Yarbro Collins
What Sort of Jew Is the Jesus of Mark? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 197
René Bloch
Jew or Judean: The Latin Evidence . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 229
Werner Eck
Die – fast – unsichtbare jüdische Diaspora im Westen des
Imperium Romanum vor der Spätantike . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 241
Shaye J. D. Cohen
Jews and Judaism in Antioch as Portrayed by John Chrysostom
and the Rabbinic Sages . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 257
Catherine Hezser
The Contested Image of King David in Rabbinic and Patristic
Literature and Art of Late Antiquity . . . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 277

For further info, see this link.

Book to come

reception of the BibleA new book on the Reception of the Bible in Ancient Judaism and Christianity is scheduled to appear in September 2020:

“Reading the Bible is of key importance for Judaism and Christianity. By way of examples, the contributions to this volume engage with the whole width of the reception histories of the Jewish and Christian Bibles. The literatures its contributions study range from the Dead Sea Scrolls into Rabbinic and Patristic literature. In addition to the literary reception history of biblical texts, this volume also engages with the reception of the Bible in Jewish and Christian art history. To generate a broad insight each area is addressed by one or more examples, contributed by prominent international scholars. In addition they illuminate what unites and what divides Judaism and Christianity in their readings of Holy Scriptures.A study on Jeremiah 33:14-26 and its reception in Judaism and Christianity opens the volume, followed by one on the reception of the bible in Ancient Judaism. Further discussions of receptions from different contexts such as rabbinic Literature or Patristic Biblical Interpretation of sections of the bible spread the viewed discourse. Concluding a study on the bible in (late) antique Christian art changes the medium and takes a look at selected textiles.” (adopted from the Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht webpage.)


Prof. Karl Olav Sandnes 65!

Seminar to be held in honor of Professor dr. theol. Karl Olav Sandnes on his 65th birthday at Norwegian School of Theology, Religion and Society, Oslo

Tuesday, Jan 22. 2019:

The topic for the day: The Gospel in the Graeco-Roman World

10.30–11.00 Professor Reidar Hvalvik (MF):
Karl Olav Sandnes – A Presentation

11.00–11.45 Lightfoot Professor of Divinity at Durham University John M. G. Barclay:
Early Christianity, Mission and the Survival of the Poor in the Graeco-Roman World

11.45–12.45 Lunch in the cantina to be bought

12.45–13.30 Rev. Christine Henriksen Aarflot, Ph.D. (Oslo):
Greek Myth as Gospel: Reading C. S. Lewis’s Till We Have Faces

13.30–14.00 Coffee/tea served

14.00–14.45 Associate Professor Glenn Ø. Wehus (MF):
The Gospel according to Epictetus

14.45–15.00 Final thanks

Bible as Notepad

Many of us have probably, while reading the Bible, made some notes or signs in the margins. But did you know that ancient users of old manuscripts also did that; wrote comments in the margins, using the manuscripts as ‘notepads’?

I would like to draw your attention to a book dealing with just these notations in the margins;

Liv Ingeborg Lied & Marilena Maniaci (eds.),
Bible as Notepad. Tracing Annotations and Annotation Practices in Late Antique and Medieval Biblical Manuscripts.
Manuscripta Biblica 3. Berlin; De Gruyter, Sept 2018, 156p.

Publishers note:
The present volume provides a comparative look at the contents and layout features of secondary annotations in biblical manuscripts across linguistic
traditions. Due to the privileged focus on the text in the columns, these
annotations and the practices that produced them have not received the scholarly
attention they deserve. The vast richness of extant verbal and figurative notes
accompanying the biblical texts in the intercolumns and margins of the
manuscript pages have thus been largely overlooked.
The case studies gathered in this volume explore Jewish and Christian biblical
manuscripts through the lens of their annotations, addressing the various
relationships between the primary layer of text and the secondary notes, and
exploring the roles and functions of annotated manuscripts as cultural artifacts.
By approaching biblical manuscripts as potential “notepads”, the volume offers
theoretical reflection and empirical analyses of the ways in which secondary
notes may shed new light on the development and transmission of text
traditions, the shifting engagement with biblical manuscripts over time, as well
as the change of use and interpretation that may result from the addition of the
notes themselves.

List of contents:
List of contributors   XI
Liv Ingeborg Lied, Bible as notepad: Exploring annotations and annotation practices in biblical manuscripts   1
Daniel K. Falk, In the margins of the Dead Sea Scrolls   10
Kipp Davis, Margins as media: The long insertion in 4QJera (4Q70)  39
Paola Buzi, Additional notes in Christian Egyptian biblical manuscripts (fourth–eleventh centuries): Brief remarks   54
Jeff W. Childers, Divining gospel: Classifying manuscripts of John used in sortilege   66
Marilena Maniaci, Written evidence in the Italian Giant Bibles: Around and beyond the sacred text   85
Nurit Pasternak, Giannozzo Manetti’s handwritten notes in his Hebrew Bibles   101
Adam Carter Bremer-McCollum, Notes and colophons of scribes and readers in Georgian biblical manuscripts from Saint Catherine’s Monastery (Sinai)   111
Loren T. Stuckenbruck and Ted M. Erho, EMML 8400 and notes on the reading of Hēnok in Ethiopia   125
Patrick Andrist, Toward a definition of paratexts and paratextuality: The case of ancient Greek manuscripts   130
List of quoted manuscripts   151

Beware the Evil Eye 1

During my years as a research fellow, I met for the first time the use of cultural anthropological models and perspectives in New Testament studies, and found it extremely interesting. I applied some models in my dissertation (published 1995), and in other works, and still find it interesting. In the years since my PhD work, such views have been very much accepted and integrated in Biblical studies. We now take them for granted.

One of the Mediterranean cultural aspects, however, that -at least to us Scandinavians- represents an issue rather unfamiliar to us is the evidence and practice of Evil Eye belief. I have, however, met it some times up through the years, but not always quite realized what it was, or how to read it:

  1. Visiting Greece in the early 1990-ies, when leaving the country, we were given an amulet in the form of a heart, with an eye in the middle. It was said to keep and protect us from the evil eye. I did not catch its meaning.
  2. For some time during my career I had a colleague that had worked in Palestine for some years, His wife told me that,  at one particular time, they had visited the home of some acquaintances there. When arriving, she looked at and praised some flower plants standing at their entrance. When they were about to leave some hours later, she discovered that the plants were standing at their car. They were supposed to take them with them, and it turned out that the reason was that she had looked at them and commented on their beauty.  It turned out it was the role of evil eye at work.
  3. My daughter spent a year at an US High School in 1994-95. At school, which had students from many different cultures, she discovered that looks could be problematic, even evoking aggression. Initially she did not understand the reason why. It was because of the fear of an evil eye.

Now we have been given a tremendous help in understanding the function of the evil eye phenomenon in ancient cultures, in Biblical times and cultures, and in fact, in many life situations of today. John H. Elliott has for many years studied the Evil Eye phenomenon, he has published several articles on the evil Eye and the New Testament (cf. his bibliography here, -up to 1997. See also here.), and now he has published a four-volume work dealing with the Evil Eye in the Bible and the Ancient world.

I am grateful to the publisher, ( who has provided me with these 4 volumes, and in a series of postings in the coming months I will present the volumes in some brief reviews. Hopefully, these will wet your appetite, and encourage you to read the volumes for your self.

These are the volumes concerned:
John H. Elliott,
Beware the Evil Eye.
The Evil Eye in the Bible and the Ancient World.
Volume 1: Introduction, Mesopotamia, and Egypt.
Eugene, Oregon, Cascade Books, and imprint of Wips and Stock, 2015.

John H. Elliott,
Beware the Evil Eye.
The Evil Eye in the Bible and the Ancient World.
Volume 2: Greece and Rome.
Eugene, Oregon, Cascade Books, and imprint of Wips and Stock, 2016.

John H. Elliott,
Beware the Evil Eye.
The Evil Eye in the Bible and the Ancient World.
Volume 3: The Bible and Related Sources.
Eugene, Oregon, Cascade Books, and imprint of Wips and Stock, 2016.

John H. Elliott,
Beware the Evil Eye.
The Evil Eye in the Bible and the Ancient World.
Volume 4: Postbiblical Israel and Early Christianity through Late Antiquity.
Eugene, Oregon, Cascade Books, and imprint of Wips and Stock, 2017.

Bruce J. Malina 1933-2017

Bruce.cmalinaThe sad news reached me today that Prof. Bruce J. Malina died yesterday, Aug. 17, at dawn, US time. Malina was professor emeritus at Creighton University, Omaha, USA.

Prof. Malina will probably be remembered by most as one of those who introduced Social Anthropology, or Cultural Anthropology as he called it, into New Testament studies. His books on The New Testament World: Insights from Cultural Anthropology (John Knox Press, 1981 and later), his Christian Origins and Cultural Anthropology. Practical Models for Biblical Interpretation (John Knox Press, 1986), and his (together with Jerome H. Neyrey), Portraits of Paul. An Archaeology of Ancient Personality (Westminster John Knox Press, 1996), are great works that made Social Scientific ways of thinking (along cultural anthropology lines) both relevant and common in New Testament studies. Think about it, who, if any, knew and applied the models of Honor and Shame, Dyadic Personality, Limited Good etc in New Testament studies before they read Malina? When at the peak of his strength-and popularity- he published a flow of articles and books on New Testament Issues. He got a lot of followers, and a group focusing on these issues, the Context Group , was formed in 1986, and is still active (see also here). In 2001 he was honored by a Festschrift: John J. Pilch, ed., Social Scientific Models for Interpreting the Bible.  Biblical Interpretation Series, SBL, Atlanta, 2001, and a bibliography 1967-1999 of his works is available here.

As for my own part, I met prof Malina in 1987, when being a Fulbright professor at the University of Oslo, he visited the University of Trondheim to present some of his work there, and to discuss my own work as a research fellow there. There and then he introduced me to the world of Mediterranean Social anthropology, and in particular to the model of ‘establisment violence/vigilantism’ which I later applied in my PhD dissertation. I remember him as very kind, helpful and genuinely interested in my work, but also as very self-conscious about his work.

In his later years he cherished some unconventional ideas about present day Israelis, Israel and the Palestinian problem. To some extent this might also have influenced some views in his scholarly works.

But I cherish the memories of a Bruce Malina as a scholar who did New Testament studies a great service in introducing issues from Mediterranean social anthropology. The study of the social world of the New Testament, and even of the Bible as a whole, received insights through his works that we all now take for granted.




Philo and the Psalms

Via the blog of Jim Davila I was made aware of a new book on the reception of the Old Testament Psalms:

Christiane Bøhm,

Die Rezeption der Psalmen in den Qumranschriften, bei Philo von Alexandrien und im Corpus Paulinum
[The Reception of the Psalms in the Qumran Cave Scrolls, Philo of Alexandria’s Writings, and the Pauline Corpus.] 2017. XII, 284 pages. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 2. Reihe 437. 84,00 €, sewn paper, ISBN 978-3-16-154664-8.

In this study, Christiane Böhm examines the interpretation of the Psalms in the trio of 11QPsa, Philo’s allegorical commentary and the Pauline letters, each of which constitutes paradigmatic text corpora representing the various strands of ancient Judaism, and provides a specific understanding of the Psalms.
The interpretation of the Psalms in Qumran, Philo and Paul reflect an inner-Jewish discourse on their capacity to disclose reality and their identity-imparting function in the interpretive horizon of group-specific belief systems. The three examined text corpora reveal a different view of the Psalms. It also becomes apparent how the sense potential inherent in the psalter is fully exhausted.

Christiane Böhm Geboren 1983; Studium der Ev. Theologie in Kiel, Uppsala und Heidelberg; 2010–11 Wissenschaftliche Angestellte am Lehrstuhl für Systematische Theologie und Sozialethik an der CAU Kiel; 2016 Promotion; seit 2014 Vikarin in der Evangelisch-Lutherischen Kirche in Norddeutschland.

See more here: