Philemon readings

I have now posted to my review of

Larry J. Kreitzer

(Readings: A New Biblical Commentary
Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2008
It will probably appear there in 2-3 months.

I personally found this book very helpful, and I think it will be useful too as an introduction to the letter to Philemon both for students of the New Testament and for lay people in general. I especially appreciate his integration of scholarly New Testament studies with a presentation of the letter’s ‘wirkungsgeschichte’ in literature and film. The present volume is the seventh in a series called “Readings: A New Biblical Commentary.” The publisher does not state who are the intended readers of the series. If the other volumes are tailored in the same way as this one, they might very well serve a wide range of readers, and spark an interest in a further reading of the biblical text itself. And that, in my view, is no small purpose and reward at all.

The Cambridge Companion to Philo

The long awaited The Cambridge Companion to Philo, edited by Adam Kamesar, seems now to be on its way as the Cambridge University Press announces it on their webpages. It is scheduled to be published in May this year.

Adam Kamesar,
The Cambridge Companion to Philo
Series: Cambridge Companions to Philosophy
Cambridge University Press, May 2009, ca. 280 pp.

The publisher lists the following as contributors and topics:
Introduction Adam Kamesar;
Part I. Philo’s Life and Writings:
1. Philo, his family, and his times Daniel R. Schwartz;
2. The works of Philo James R. Royse;
3. Biblical interpretation in Philo Adam Kamesar;
Part II. Philo’s Thought:
4. Philo’s thought within the context of middle Judaism Cristina Termini;
5. Philo’s theology and theory of creation Roberto Radice;
6. Philo’s ethics Carlos Lévy;
Part III. Philo’s Influence and Significance:
7. Philo and the New Testament Folker Siegert;
8. Philo and the early Christian fathers David T. Runia;
9. Philo and rabbinic literature David Winston.

These authors are all well known as solid Philo scholars, and I presume the volume will be a useful introduction to Philo of Alexandria. I am also especially pleased to see that the volumes is to be published both in hardback and in paperback.

The Roman family

The Roman family has been the focus of many studies in the recent decades, and BrynMawr Reviews presents now a review of a collection of articles published in 2005. This book contains also an article on Egypt and one on ancient Palestinian family structures (you can see its List of Contents here):

Michele George (ed.), The Roman Family in the Empire. Rome, Italy, and
Beyond.  Oxford:  Oxford University Press, 2005.  Pp. 384.  ISBN
0-19-926841-X.  $125.00.

Here are some excerpts of the review concerning Egypt and Palestine:

“Richard Alston’s contribution (pp. 129-157) on the Egyptian family, by
evaluating a vast array of sources (census returns, archives and
private letters of the first three centuries AD) arrives at the
conclusion that it is not possible to sketch a homogeneous family
structure for Roman Egypt. Altson discusses endogamous marriage in
Egypt as a degree of insecurity felt by family members in respect to a
harsher outside world. Although families appear to have had a fairly
tight-knit centre “often concentrating on a single conjugal
relationship” they could extend to include others that were not kin for
social and economic purposes. In some cases the author underlines that
family was so extended as to dissolve into community (an aspect
particularly shown by the letters).”

“The Jewish family in Judea from Pompey to Hadrian is analyzed by
Margaret Williams (pp. 159-182). Romanization, according to the author,
was mainly restricted to the elites who had the wealth to buy the Roman
status symbols, and–as far as regulation was concerned–it took place
in areas where the Thora was unprescriptive as in the fields of
marriage arrangements and burial. Without doubt Romanization brought
changes but they were superficial as the onomastic data would prove.
Williams argues that “it would not have cost non-elite Jews anything to
give their children Roman names,” therefore if they chose not to,
preferring the names used by the Maccabees and the Hasmonean dynasty,
it is evidence of their intention of maintaining a cultural identity
but also of their political attitude towards Rome.”

Books on Alexandria

When in Egypt, I found some relevant books on Alexandria. The American University Press in Cairo has an excellent bookstore in Cairo, and publishes regularly a lot of books relevant both for present days and ancient Egypt.

Concerning Alexandria, there is a couple of tourist guides you might want to consult if travelling: first and foremost, there is the Lonely Planet volume on Egypt in general:
A Travellers Guide.

Then there is another focusing more on Alexandria:
Jenny Jobbins & Mary Megalli,
Alexandria and the Egyptian Mediterranean.
The American University in Cairo Press, Cairo 1993/2006.

More, relevant perhaps, are these volumes focusing ecplicitly on Alexandria:
Michael Haag,
Alexandria. City of Memory
The American University in Cairo Press, Cairo 2004
Anthony Hirst & Michael Silk,
Alexandria. Real and Imagined.
The American University in Cairo Press, Cairo 2006.
This latter volume contains several articles that are very relevant for those interested in Alexandria in Graeco-Roman times.

Jesus and the God of Israel

Somewhat unexepectedly, the most recent book of Richard Bauckham appeared in my mailbox today. Another interesting volume to read is on my desk:
Richard Bauckham,
Jesus and the God of Israel.
God crucified and other studies on the New Testament’s Christology of Divine Identity.

Grand Rapids; Eerdmans, 2008. 285 pp.

It turns out that his famous, but brief study; God Crucified (1998), is included as the first chapter of this volume (pp. 1-59), then we have the following studies included as separate chapters:

Biblical theology and the Problems of Monotheism (60-106),
The ‘Most High’ God and the Nature of Early Jewish Monotheism (107-126),
The worship of Jesus in Early Christianity (127-151),
The Throne of God and the Worship of Jesus (152-181),
Paul’s Christology of Divine Identity (182-132),
The Divinity of Jesus in the Letter to the Hebrews (233-254
God’s Self-identification with the Godforsaken in the Gospel of Mark (254-268).

Some of these chapters have been published before, but are now revised, others are not yet published; some of these will also appear in other volumes.
Finally, it turns out that this is not Bauckham’s final work and words on these issues. He admits that he is still working, and will be for some time to come, on a larger study, provisonally entitled Jesus and the Identity of God: Early Jewish Monotheism and New Testament Christology. Hence those who like the thesis set forth in this collection of minor studies still have something to look forward to from the desk of R. Bauckham.

Philo studies in Finland

erkkiThe finnish scholar Erkki Koskenniemi
is an interesting scholar I have been more aware of recently, not at least because he has published several works on Philo of Alexandria in the most recent years.
Erkki Koskenniemi (b. 1956) started his studies with Classical studies at University of Turku (mag. phil 1979, liz. phil. 1985). He became mag. theol. 1984, liz. theol. 1988 and doctor 1992 (Åbo Akademi), and he is Adjunct Professor at University of Helsinki since 1999, at University of Joensuu 2004 and at Åbo Akademi Univeersity since 2004. During the year 2003 he was professor of Biblical studies at University of Joensuu.

His main publications, he says, have dealt with miracles: The first two, Der philostrateische Apollonios and Apollonius of Tyana in der neutestamentlichen Exegese: Forschungsbericht und Weiterführung der Diskussion, were about Apollonius of Tyana, the famous Cappadocian miracle worker. The third, The Old Testament Miracle-Workers in Early Judaism, presented how Old testament miracle workers were treated in Early Judaism. His next book, The Exposure of Infants among Jews and Christians in Antiquity, illuminates what the Jews and the Christians thought about the Gentile practice to abandon the new-born children they did not want. It should be printed in 2008 (Sheffield Phoenix Press). Furthermore, he has also published several articles. A full bibliography can be studied here.

I have not seen his latest book yet, but according to the publishers announcement, “In this novel and penetrating study, Koskenniemi reviews the evidence for the practice from Graeco-Roman, Jewish and Christian sources, and then, in the major part of the book, examines the rejection of the custom by Jewish authors like Philo and Josephus and by Christian writers such as Clement, Justin, Tertullian, Origen, Chrysostom and Augustine, many of whom adopted the arguments of their Jewish counterparts.”

His third book (published 2005), however, deals with the somewhat neglected topic of how other Jewish writers described and theologized on the Old Testament Miracle-Workers. It has 8 main chapters that deal with the works of Ben Sira, The Book of Jubilees, Ezekiel the Tragedian, Artapanus, Philo, The lives of the Prophets, Liber Antiquitatum Biblicarum and Josephus.

In its chapter on Philo (pp. 108-159), Koskenniemi deals with with the stories about Moses. First he investigates the literal interpretation of the miracle stories (pp. 110-129), then the allegorical interpretations (pp. 129-145), and he ends up with some sections discussing aspects as “Miracles explained rationally?” (146-148); “Miracles of the prophet” (148-151); “God or Moses?” (151-155); “Miracles and legitimisation” (155-156), and then the “Conclusion” (156-159).

I am not here to indulge in an extended review of this work, but his readings are certainly impressive, and his judgements seem sound and reliable. Koskenniemi’s interest in this topic of miracle workers is certainly triggered by the prevalence in some works of the model of a ‘theios aner’ ideology as a key to understanding the Jesus figure of the Gospels. Hence it is interesting to note his conclusions in this regard concerning Philo (p. 158-159):” Although Philo was once an important piece of evidence for the ‘theios aner’ theory, he cannot be used for this purpose. Philo admittedly honours Moses in an exceptional manner, but he is not responsible for Moses being called a god . . . .Moses of course, is the best example of a wise man and ‘homoiwsis thew’, but Philo here uses the biblical miracle stories sparingly and favours other ways to emphasize Moses’ special status.”

His next work on Philo is an article from 2006: “Philo and Classical Drama”, in Ancient Israel, Judaism, and Christianity in Contemporary Perspective: Essays in memory of Karl-Johan Illman, ed. by Jacob Neusner, Alan J. Avery-Peck, Antti Laato, Risto Nurmela, and Karl-Gustav Sandelin (Lanham: University Press of America 2006), pp. 137-152.Here he presents and birefly discusses Philo’s references to persons of classical drama. Here Koskenniemis classical education proves itself very useful as he works his way through the references of Philo to classical dramatists. I don’t know of many other works on Philo and classical dramatists; the only one I am able to remember here and now is Francesca calabi’s study on ‘Theatrical Language in Philo’s In Flaccum,’ (published in the volume edited by her as Italian Studies on Philo of Alexandria (Studies in Philo of Alexandria and Mediterranean Antiquity Vol 1, Leiden, Brill, 2003, pp. 91-116)).

Below I have also briefly presented another study of Koskenniemi, namely his article on ‘Moses – A Well-Educated Man: A Look at the Educational Idea in Early Judaism,’
in Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha 17.4 (2008):281-296.

Looking at Koskenniemi’s bibliography, I realize there are certainly other works dealing more or less with Philo; I might here especially refer to “Joseph and Potiphar’s Wife (Gen. 39:6b-20): A Retold Story Used in Early Jewish Ethical Instruction”, in Erkki Koskenniemi and Pekka Lindqvist (eds), Rewritten Biblical Figures, Studies in Rewritten Bible 3 (in press), and even others. But these have not, alas, been available to me so far. Mea culpa.
I hope this brief introduction demonstrates that Philo studies are not forgotten in Finland, but is alive and well. And more is to come. Watch out for studies by both Karl-Gustav sandelin and Erkki Koskenniemi in the future.
But more on that in a later posting.

New book on Philo

Fransesca Alesse has edited and published a new book on Philo and his philosophy:

Philo of Alexandria and Post-Aristotelian Philosophy
edited by Francesca Alesse
(Studies in Philo of Alexandria, 5. Brill. 2008. )

Hardback, viii, 296 pp. List price: € 129.00 / US$ 189.00

The announcement on the publishers webpage presents it thus:

“The essays collected in this volume focus on the role played by the philosophy of the Hellenistic, or post-Aristotelian age (from the school of the successors of Aristotle, Theophrastus and other Peripatetics, Epicurus, Sceptical Academy and Stoicism, to neo-Pythagorenism and the schools of Antiochus and Eudorus) in Philo of Alexandria’s works.
Despite many authoritative studies on Philo’s vision of Greek philosophy as an exegetical tool in allegorizing the Scripture, there is not such a comprehensive overview in Philo’s treatises that takes in account both the progress achieved in the recent interpretation of Hellenistic philosophy and analysis of ancient doxographical literature.”
Its list of contents is also available:
Introduction, Francesca Alesse
Philo and Hellenistic Doxography, David T. Runia
Philo and post-Aristotelian Peripatetics, Robert W. Sharples
Moses against the Egyptian: The Anti-Epicurean Polemic in Philo, Graziano Ranocchia
La conversion du scepticisme chez Philon d’Alexandrie, Carlos Lévy
Philo on Stoic Physics, Anthony A. Long
Philo and Stoic Ethics. Reflections on the Idea of Freedom, Roberto Radice
Philo of Alexandria on Stoic and Platonist Psycho-Physiology: The Socratic Higher Ground, Gretchen Reydams-Schils
Philo of Alexandria and the Origins of the Stoic “propatheiai”, Margaret Graver
Philo and Hellenistic Platonism, John Dillon
Towards Transcendence: Philo and the Renewal of Platonism in the Early Imperial Age, Mauro Bonazzi

Book on Philo’s world

Gottfried Schimanowski
Juden und Nichtjuden in Alexandrien
Koexistenz und Konflikte bis zum Pogrom unter Trajan (117 n. Chr.)
Reihe: Münsteraner Judaistische Studien
Bd. 18, 2006, 288 S., 34.90 EUR, br., ISBN 3-8258-8507-0

This seems to be an interesting and needed book about co-existence and conflict in Alexandria. I have tried to buy it both via and its publisher, but for some reason they can not send it to Norway. If interested, you can have a look at its content at Google Books by clicking here.

The publishers presentation of the volume runs like this:
Dies ist die erste deutschsprachige Monographie über das alexandrinische Judentum, jenen Sitz “multikultureller” Aktivität und Gelehrsamkeit, dem die westliche Kultur bis heute so entscheidende Anstöße verdankt. Vom ersten Auftreten kurz nach der Gründung der Stadt (323 v.Chr.) an wird seine Geschichte verfolgt bis hin zum Untergang in einem förmlichen Bürgerkrieg 115 – 117 n.Chr.

Wieso ist es dieser weltoffenen, von ihrer Verfassung her griechischen Stadt nicht gelungen, ihre jüdischen Mitbewohner besser zu integrieren? – Die Konkurrenz um die Privilegien der “Griechen” der Stadt hat den Juden Feindschaft eingetragen, sowohl bei diesen selbst (als den einzigen vollberechtigten Bürgern) als auch bei den Ägyptern. Dagegen half auch keine Anlehnung an die – keineswegs beliebte – auswärtige Macht Rom, im Gegenteil.

Zur Illustration der singulären, durchaus verworrenen Rechtslage dient ein griechisch-deutscher Quellenanhang; er bietet die einschlägigen Inschriften und Papyri.”