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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, (www.wipsandstock.com) 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.

RIP

 

 

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: https://www.mohr.de/en/book/die-rezeption-der-psalmen-in-den-qumranschriften-bei-philo-von-alexandrien-und-im-corpus-paulinum-9783161546648

Philo and Paideia

A Google alert made me aware of this interesting volume on pedagogy in ancient Judaism and early Christianity. I find it interesting for several reasons; first, because ‘paideia’ was an important issue in the ancient world; second because it was also important to Philo of Alexandria, and third; it was also important to the early Christians. This volume contains studies related to all these fields or issues:

Hogan, Karina Martin, Matthew Goff, and Emma Wasserman, eds. 2017. Pedagogy in Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity. Early Judaism and Its Literature. Atlanta: SBL Press

In addition to the usual Introduction chapter, introducing the various chapters, the volume contains 14 interesting studies. As of special interest to Philo scholars, if one should single out some, I would point to these three:

Ballard, C. Andrew,  “The Mysteries of Paideia: ‘Mystery’ and Education in Plato’s Symposium, 4QInstruction, and 1 Corinthians.” pp. 243–82.

Martin Hogan, Karina,  “Would Philo Have Recognized Qumran Musar as Paideia?”  pp. 81–100.

Zurawski, Jason M., “Mosaic Torah as Encyclical Paideia: Reading Paul’s Allegory of Hagar and Sarah in Light of Philo of Alexandria’s,” pp. 283–308.

In the first mentioned study (I am here drawing on the introductory presentation of the editor Karina Martin Hogan, pp. 1-12), the one by Ballard, explores the pedagogical functions of mystery language, a feature well known to readers of Philo. He argues that “the authors of these compositions (dealt with here) describe their teachings with mystery terminology to distinguish their pedagogical techniques from other forms of education- to legitimate the authority of the instructor, to lead the student on a path to acquire esoteric knowledge, and to encourage the student to experience some sort of transformative vision” (p. 8).

Karina Martin Hogan argues that ‘Philo would have recognized the ‘musar’ practiced by the Dead Sea sect as a kind of paideia, in part because both Philo and the authors of the wisdom texts from Qumran were shaped by the study of Proverbs and the torah” (p. 5)

Then, in his study of Paul’s and Philo’s allegorical use of the story of Hagar and Sarah, Zurawski concludes that “Just as Philo allows that preliminary paideia lays the groundwork for the pursuit of wisdom, Paul believes that the torah prepared the Jewish people for salvation, but that it must be set aside now that salvation is freely given through Christ to Jews and gentiles alike” (p. 9).

Those of you interested in the rest of the studies presented in this volume can read more HERE.

 

Borgeniana; a supplementary bibliography

Two bibliographies of the published works of Prof.em. Peder J. Borgen have  been previously given in the two Festschriften he has received; the present bibliography is provided as a supplement to these.

The two Festschriften presented to Peder Borgen are these:

Böckman, Peter Wilhelm, and Roald E. Kristiansen. Context. Essays in Honor of Peder Borgen, eds. Trondheim: Tapir Press, 1987, pp. 225-233.

Aune, David E., Torrey Seland, and Jarl Henning Ulrichsen, eds. Neotestamentica et Philonica. Studies in Honor of Peder Borgen. Supplements to Novum Testamentum 106. Leiden & Boston: Brill, 2003, pp. 415-426.

The following is an additional, but provisional bibliography because a more fully bibliography is still to come because some items are missing in the previous ones, and as some of Borgen’s works are still forthcoming. It also does not include interviews, newspaper articles etc. 

Updates:
Updated June 5. 2017
Updated June 8. 2017

2002

Borgen, Peder. 2002. “Avtalen ‘Nådens felleskap’ mellom Metodistkirken og Den norske kirke.” Tidsskrift for Teologi og Kirke 73: 185–98.

2003

Borgen, Peder. 2003. “The Gospel of John and Philo of Alexandria.” In Light in a Spotless Mirror. Reflections on Wisdom Traditions in Judaism and Early Christianity, edited by James H. Charlesworth, 77–91. London: Continuum.

Borgen, Peder. 2003. “Philo of Alexandria as Exegete.” In A History of Biblical Interpretation Vol 1: The Ancient Period, edited by Alan J. Hauser and Duane F. Watson, 114–43. Grand Rapids, Mi: Eerdmans Publishing Company.

2004

Borgen, Peder. 2004. “The Contrite Wrongdoer –  Condemned or Set Free by the Spirit? Romans 7:7–8:4.” In The Holy Spirit and Christian Origins. Essays in Honor of James D. G. Dunn, edited by Graham N Stanton, Bruce W. Longenecker, and Stephen C. Barton, 181–92. Grand Rapids, Mi: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing.

Borgen, Peder, 2004. “Ute-økumenikk og hjemme-økumenikk. Hendelser og erfaringer,” In K.O. Sandnes, H. Hegstad, G.Heiene, og S. Thorbjørnsen (eds.), Etikk, tro og pluralisme. FS Lars Østnor, 269-280. Bergen.

Borgen, Peder, ‚Avhandlingen Das Volk Gottes.‘ NTT 105 (2004) 12-20.

2005

Borgen, Peder, 2005. “Der Methodismus und die Anfänge der Pfingstbewegung in Norwegen: eine auf Thomas Ball Barratt konzentrierte Studie mit einem kurzen Hinweis auf Erik Andersen Nordquelle,“ in P.Ph. Streiff (Hg.), Der europäische Methodismus um die Wende vom 19. und 20. Jahrhundert. EmK Geschichte – Monografien, Band 52, Medienwerk der Evangelisch-methodistischen Kirche. 237-257. Freiburg.

2006

Borgen, Peder. 2006. “Some Crime-and-Punishment Reports.” In Ancient Israel, Judaism, and Christianity in Contemporary Perspective.  Essays in Memory of Karl-Johan Illman, edited by Jacob Neusner, Alan J. Avery-Peck, Antti Laato, Risto Nurmela, and Karl-Gustav Sandelin. Studies in Judaism, 67–80. Lanham: University Press of America.

Borgen, Peder. 2006. “Crucified for His Own Sins – Crucified for Our Sins: Observations on a Pauline Perspective.” In The New Testament and Early Christian Literature in Greco-Roman Context, edited by John Fotopoulos. Supplements to Novum Testamentum 122, 17–35. Leiden.

2007

Borgen, Peder. 2007. “The Scriptures and the Words and Works of Jesus.” In What We Have Heard from the Beginning. The Past, Present, and Future of Johaninne Studies. In What We Have Heard from the Beginning. The Past, Present, and Future of Johannine Studies, edited by Tom Thatcher, 39–58. Waco, Texas: Baylor University Press.

2009

Borgen, Peder. 2009. Vei utenfor Allfarvei (Way Outside of the High-Road). Studier i skjæringspunktet mellom kirkehistorie, personalhistorie og samfunnshistorie. Transactions of The Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences and Letters, 2009, 1, Trondheim. A collection of articles.

‘Vei utenfor allfarvei -oversikt-hovedtemaer,’ pp. 7-20.

‘Johannes Olsonius (1607-1684) Theosophus et medicus Bergensis,’ pp.  21-48.

First published in Norwegian as: “Johannes Olsonius. Theosophus et Medicus Bergensis”, Norsk teologisk tidsskrift, 73 (1972) 1-26.

‘Georg Wolff (1736-1828). Religion, handel og politikk i dansk-norsk og engelsk miljø i London,’ pp. 49-86.

First published in English as: “George Wolff (1736-1828): Norwegian-born Merchant, Consul, Benevolent Methodist Layman, Close Friend of John Wesley,” Methodist History, 40 (2001) 17-28

‘Ole Peter Pettersen fra Glemmen (1822-1901). Vei utenfor Allfarvei. Studier i skjæringspunktet mellom kirkehistorie, personalhistorie og samfunnshistorie. Skrifter 2009, nr. 1. Det kongelige Norske Videnskabers Selskab; Tapir Akademisk Forlag, Trondheim, 2009, 87-128.

‘Methodism and the Initial Stages of the Pentecostal Movement in Norway,’ pp. 129-151.

First published in German as  “Der Methodismus und die Anfänge der Pfingstbewegung in Norwegen: eine auf Thomas Ball Barratt konzentrierte Studie mit einem kurzen Hinweis auf Erik Andersen Nordquelle,“ in P.Ph. Streiff (Hg.), Der europäische Methodismus um die Wende vom 19. und 20. Jahrhundert. EmK Geschichte – Monografien, Band 52, Medienwerk der Evangelisch-methodistischen Kirche. Freiburg, 2005, 237-257

‘Nils Alstrup Dahl (1911-2001), Das Volk Gottes,‘ i Vei utenfor Allfarvei. Studier i skjæringspunktet mellom kirkehistorie, personalhistorie og samfunnshistorie. Skrifter 2009, nr. 1. Det kongelige Norske Videnskabers Selskab; Tapir Akademisk Forlag, Trondheim, 2009, 153-168.

Originally published as  ‚Avhandlingen Das Volk Gottes.‘ NTT 105 (2004) 12-20.

‘Ute-økumenikk og hjemme-økumenikk,’ pp. 169-187.

Originally published in Norwegian as: *”Ute-økumenikk og hjemme-økumenikk. Hendelser og erfaringer,” In K.O. Sandnes, H. Hegstad, G.Heiene, og S. Thorbjørnsen (eds.), Etikk, tro og pluralisme. FS Lars Østnor, Bergen, 2004, 269-280

2013

Borgen, Peder, ‘On the Migration of Moses,’ in L. H. Feldman et al., Outside the Bible. Philadelphia; The Jewish Publication Society, 2013 I:951-58.

2014

Borgen, Peder. 2014. The Gospel of John: More Light from Philo, Paul and Archaeology. The Scriptures, Tradition, Exposition, Settings, Meaning. Supplements to Novum Testamentum 154. Leiden-Boston: Brill.

  •  “The Scriptures and the Words and Works of Jesus. With a Response by M. Labahn.” pp. 3–27. (Originally published 2010)
  • “Debates on Expository Method and Form”, pp. 29-39. (Orig. 1983).
  • “The Gospel of John and Philo of Alexandria,” pp. 43-66. (Orig. 2003).
  • “Gospel traditions in Paul and John: Methods and Structures. John and the Synoptics,” pp. 67-77. (Orig. 1990).
  • “The Gospel of John and Hellenism,” pp. 79-99. (Orig. 1996).
  • “John and the Synoptics in the Passion Narrative,” pp. 103-119. (Orig. 1959).
  • “John and the Synoptics,” pp. 121-146. (Orig. 1990).
  • “The independence of the Gospel of John: Some Observations,” pp. 147-164.
  • “God’s agent in the Fourth Gospel,” pp. 167-178. (Orig. 1968).
  • “The Sabbath Controversy in John 5:1-18 and the Analogous Controversy Reflected in Philo’s Writings,” pp. 179-191. (Orig. 1991).
  • “Observations on God’s agent and agency in John’s gospel Chapters 5-10: Agency and the Quest for the Historical Jesus,” pp. 193-218.
  • “‘John the Witness’ and the Prologue: John 1:1-34(37),” pp. 219-238.
  • “Can Philo’s In Flaccum and Legatio ad Gaium be of Help?,” pp. 241-260.
  • “The Appearance to Thomas: Not a blasphemous claim, but the Truth,” pp. 261-274.
  • “Summary: John, Archaeology, Philo, Paul, Other Jewish sources. Johns independence of the Synoptics. Where my journey of research has led,” pp. 275-294.

Borgen, Peder. 2014. “Philo – An Interpreter of the Laws of Moses,” in  Reading Philo. Handbook to Philo of Alexandria, edited by Torrey Seland. 75-101. Grand Rapids, Mi., Eerdmans.

2016

Borgen, Peder. 2016. “Alternative Aims and Choices in Education: Analysis of Selected Texts.” In The Studia Philonica Annual XXVIII 2016, edited by David T. Runia and Gregory E. Sterling. Studies in Hellenistic Judaism, 257–71. Atlanta, Ga: SBL Press.

Updated June 5. 2017

Social Memory and Social Identity

Samuel Byrskog, Raimo Hakola, Jutta Maria Jokiranta (Hg.)
Social Memory and Social Identity in the Study of Early Judaism and Early Christianity.
Novum Testamentum et Orbis Antiquus / Studien zur Umwelt des Neuen Testaments (NTOA/StUNT). – Band 116 Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. 1. Auflage 2016.312 Seiten gebunden. 110,00 €

The publisher presents this volume thus:
“The concepts of social memory and social identity have been increasingly used in the study of ancient Jewish and Christian sources. In this collection of articles, international specialists apply interdisciplinary methodology related to these concepts to early Jewish and Christian sources. The volume offers an up-to-date presentation of how social memory studies and socio-psychological identity approach have been used in the study of Biblical and related literature. The articles examine how Jewish and Christian sources participate in the processes of collective recollection and in this way contribute to the construction of distinctive social identities. The writers demonstrate the benefits of the use of interdisciplinary methodologies in the study of early Judaism and Christianity but also discuss potential problems that have emerged when modern theories have been applied to ancient material.In the first part of the book, scholars apply social, collective and cultural memory approaches to early Christian sources. The articles discuss philosophical aspects of memory, the formation of gospel traditions in the light of memory studies, the role of eyewitness testimony in canonical and non-canonical Christian sources and the oral delivery of New Testament writings in relation to ancient delivery practices. Part two applies the social identity approach to various Dead Sea Scrolls and New Testament writings. The writers analyse the role marriage, deviant behaviour, and wisdom traditions in the construction of identity in the Dead Sea Scrolls. Other topics include forgiveness in the Gospel of Matthew, the imagined community in the Gospel John, the use of the past in Paul’s Epistles and the relationship between the covenant and collective identity in the Epistle to the Hebrews and the First Epistle of Clement.”
I was not aware of this volume as it was published, and have not seen it yet, hence I just draw your attention to it by providing the info given above.

Eine kleine Bibliotek…

Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht (V&R Academic) are publishing a series called Kleine Bibliothek der antiken jüdischen und christlichen Literatur, which provides us with translations into German of central Jewish and early Christian texts. Several volumes are already out, among them also some of Philo’s works; that is two texts of Philo are published so far (May  24, 2017):

Reinhard von Bendemann (Hg.)
Philo von Alexandria – Über die Freiheit des Rechtschaffenen (2016)
Bernhard Lang (Hg.)
Philo von Alexandria: Das Leben des Politikers oder Über Josef (2017).

For the other volumes already published in this series, see here.

The volumes contain an Introduction, and a German translation of each text concerned; no Greek texts are provided. What is further to be applauded, is the fact that the volumes are provided as both bound volumes (10,00 €), and as PDF eBook (7,99 €). Finally, a publisher who realize that an e-pub version should be cheaper than a paper version!

The Introductions are good, sometimes somewhat pointed, but to the point. On the presentation page for each of the two Philo texts on the V&R website, you can download the front page, list of contents and about 10-20 pages of the text as ‘Leseprobe.’ Very good!