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Beware the Evil Eye, II

In my former posting, way too long ago (see here), I gave some examples of how I in my own personal life had encountered the phenomenon of Evil Eye. It was supposed to function as an introduction to the great four-volume set of studies published by John H. Elliott.

The first volume was published in 2015:
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, an imprint of Wips and Stock, 2015.

The four volumes as such covers Mesopotamia, Egypt (vol.1), Greece, and Rome (vol. 2), the evil eye in The Bible and Related Sources. (vol. 3), and Postbiblical Israel and Early Christianity through Late Antiquity (vol. 4). A vast area of time, space, and material indeed. The focus in the present posting is primarily vol. 1.

Elliott defines the ‘evil eye’ phenomenon thus:

“…that some persons are enabled by nature to injure others, cause illness and loss, and destroy any person, animal or thing through a powerful noxious glance emanating from the eye.” (p. xi).

“”This belief holds that certain individuals (humans, gods, demons, animals, and mythological figures) possess an eye whose powerful glance or gaze can harm or destroy any object, animate or inanimate, on which it falls. Through the power of their eye, which can operate involuntarily as well as intentionally, such Evil Eye possessors (also known as ‘fascinatorsæ) are thought capable of injuring, withering, or obliterating the health and life, means of sustenance and livelihood, familial honor, and personal well-being of their hapless victims” (p. 3).

It is a central thesis in Elliott’s presentation that this phenomenon is an ‘international’ phenomenon, it is to be found in most cultures. In fact, on p. 16 he presents terms for Evil Eye in 39 languages, and ideas and practices associated with it span over five millennia and across the globe, though of course, there are cultural and temporal variations. Nevertheless, he presents 7 features inherent in the concept (p. 17):

  1. power emanates from the eye (or mouth) and strikes some object or person;
  2. the stricken object is of value, and its destruction or injury is sudden;
  3. the one casting the evil eye may not know he has the power;
  4. the one affected may not be able to identify the source of power;
  5. the evil eye can be deflected or its effects modified or cured bt particular devices, rituals, and symbols;
  6. the belief helps to explain or rationalize sickness, misfortune, or loss of possessions such as animal or crops;
  7. in at least some functioning of the belief everywhere, envy is a factor.

In societies, where such ideas were an acknowledged reality, the fear of being attacked, could be alarming and paralyzing; on the other hand, accusations of being a ‘fascinator’, one who throws evil eyes, would be just as alarming and scary, as such accusations would stigmatize the one accused as a social deviant and dangerous person. Hence apotropaic means also became important, as e.g., amulets. On p. 34-38 Elliott deals with several such items, gestures and defensive gestures prevalent.

It is impossible in a posting like this to deal with all of the features of this volume One. In many ways, it functions as an introduction to both the phenomenon as such and to the 4-volume book-set presented and written by Elliott. I especially found his chapters on ‘Research on the Evil Eye from Past to Present’ and ‘on ‘Method, aims, and Procedure of this Study’ interesting and valuable as it also lays the groundwork for the subsequent volume on ‘The Bible and related Sources’ (vol. 3). The focus of my next posting will thus be on that third volume.

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. 

Updated June 5. 2017
Updated June 8. 2017


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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

Religio Licita?

The relation of the Roman state to Jewish settlements (and probably also vice versa), is a problem still debatable, and the first mentioned topic is still being discussed in scholarly studies. A collection of studies was published by DeGruyter this winter:

“Religio licita?”
Rom und die Juden
[Rome and the Jews]
Ed. Hasselhoff, Görge K. / Strothmann, Meret
Series: Studia Judaica 84. Berlin/New York; DeGruyter, 2016/2017. viii, 230 pages.89,95 € / $126.00 / £67.99

“This volume examines the pertinence of the designation religio licita to Judaism and its relevance for describing the relationship between the Roman state and Judaism. This question applies not only to Judaism but also to the process of differentiation between Judaism and Christianity, for from the beginning of the 3rd century, the term was used exclusively by Christian writers.” (publisher’s note)

Looking into the book at Google Books you can see the list the contents of this volume, and read some of its stuff.



Paul and the Gentiles in Acts

The Book of Acts has always been of a special interest to me, not only since the days of my dissertation work but even before. In fact, the very first article I wrote within the field of New Testament studies (and the second from my hand – the first was in Church History…), was on The Speeches in Acts, published when I was a student, trying to find my way.

DeGruyter is now announcing a new volume on Paul in Acts:

Tischler, Johannes Nikolai,
Diener des höchsten Gottes. Paulus und die Heiden in der Apostelgeschichte.
Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft 225. Berlin/New York, January 2017. 323 pages. ISBN978-3-11-045803-9. 99,95 € / $114.99 / £81.99.

I have not seen the volume yet, hence I have to rely on the publisher’s presentation of the volume, which in this case is rather brief: “The Acts of the Apostles include multiple episodes that narrate contentious encounters between Paul and the Gentiles. Its author uses these narratives as an opportunity to clarify the theological position of Luke’s Acts of the Apostles. What exactly is his position? The book addresses this specific question in the context of the thesis that Luke views Christianity as an integral part of Israel, linked to Old Testament tradition.”


Christians in Pompeii?

PompeiiFor all of those who are interested in early Christianity, and especially those who have walked in the streets of Pompeii, this book should be interesting reading:

Bruce Longenecker,
The Crosses of Pompeii: Jesus-Devotion in a Vesuvian Town.
Fortress Press, 2016 (Release date: May 1, 2016)

“Archaeologists have disputed the scarce evidence claimed for the presence of Christians in Pompeii before the catastrophic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 CE. Now, Bruce W. Longenecker reviews that evidence in comparison with other possible data of first-century Christian presence elsewhere in the Mediterranean and reaches the conclusion that there were indeed Christians living in the doomed city. The Crosses of Pompeii presents an elegant case for their presence, with photographic illustration of the available archaeological evidence.” (Publishers text).

Exciting new book

DestroyerOne of the books I am looking forward to dig into this fall, is this:

Larry W. Hurtado,
Destroyer of the gods.
Early Christian Distinctiveness in the Roman World,
Baylor University Press, sept 2016. Hardback, 279 pages, $29.95

From the publishers announcement:

“Silly,” “stupid,” “irrational,” “simple.” “Wicked,” “hateful,” “obstinate,” “anti-social.” “Extravagant,” ”perverse.” The Roman world rendered harsh judgments upon early Christianity—including branding Christianity “new.” Novelty was no Roman religious virtue.
Nevertheless, as Larry W. Hurtado shows in Destroyer of the gods, Christianity thrived despite its new and distinctive features and opposition to them. Unlike nearly all other religious groups, Christianity utterly rejected the traditional gods of the Roman world. Christianity also offered a new and different kind of religious identity, one not based on ethnicity. Christianity was distinctively a “bookish” religion, with the production, copying, distribution, and reading of texts as central to its faith, even preferring a distinctive book-form, the codex. Christianity insisted that its adherents behave differently: unlike the simple ritual observances characteristic of the pagan religious environment, embracing Christian faith meant a behavioral transformation, with particular and novel ethical demands for men. Unquestionably, to the Roman world, Christianity was both new and different, and, to a good many, it threatened social and religious conventions of the day.”

You can read more and order the book here.