New article on Philo in RAC

The latest issue of the well-known Lexicon, Reallexicon fur Antike und Christentum, has now been published, including a new article on Philo of Alexandria:

  1. D.T. Runia, Philon von Alexandria. RAC Bd 27 (Lfg. 210/217): 605-627 (columns)

The publisher of this famous Lexicon states its goals thus (German):

Das RAC dient als Hilfsmittel zur Erforschung der ausgehenden Antike und des beginnenden Frühmittelalters bzw. der frühbyzantinischen Zeit. Konkret soll die Frage beantwortet werden: Wie wurde aus der vielschichtigen, keineswegs einheitlichen antiken Kultur, die sich seit hellenistischer Zeit in der Mittelmeerwelt entwickelte, die spätantik-christliche der folgenden Jahrhunderte? Die Bedeutung dieser Fragestellung ergibt sich aus der Tatsache, dass diese spätantik-christliche Kultur eine Vorstufe der mittelalterlichen und damit zum Teil der heutigen bildet. Verkürzt wird diese Aufgabenstellung mit der von F. J. Dölger geprägten, im Untertitel des RAC programmatisch verwendeten Formel “Auseinandersetzung des Christentums mit der antiken Welt” umschrieben.

The lexicon article, written by David T. Runia, fulfills these goals in an excellent manner. The article has the following structure:

  1. Leben und Werk (Life and Work): Here is Philo’s works presented and their context of origin (Entstehungskontext).
  2. Nicht-Christlich (Non-Christian): Focus here is on Philo and his Jewish people and his knowledge of non-Jewish authors.
  3. Christlich (Christian): Here Runia deals with how Philo was received and used by the early Christian writers from the New Testament and up to and including Augustin. In many ways, it is a brief summary of his own book on Philo in Early Christian Literature. A Survey (CRINT III,Vol 3: Assen; van Gorcum, 1993).


Runia is also the author of another enzyclopedic article, written in French:

Runia. David T. 2011. “Philon d’Alexandrie.” In Dictionnaire des Philosophes Antiques V. de Paccius à Rutilius Rufus  VA. de paccius à Plotin, edited by Richard Goulet, 362–90. Paris: C.N.R.S. Éditions.


Two new books on Philo


The first of these two books is primarily about Paul, but there is also a chapter devoted to Philo as part of the background material for understanding Paul:

Wells, Kyle B. 2015. Grace and Agency in Paul and Second Temple Judaism. Interpreting the Transformation of the Heart. Novum Testamentum, Supplements 157. Leiden: Brill.

“Following recent intertextual studies, Kyle B. Wells examines how descriptions of ‘heart-transformation’ in Deut 30, Jer 31–32 and Ezek 36 informed Paul and his contemporaries’ articulations about grace and agency. Beyond advancing our understanding of how these restoration narratives were interpreted in the LXX, the Dead Sea Literature, Baruch, Jubilees, 2 Baruch, 4 Ezra, and Philo, Wells demonstrates that while most Jews in this period did not set divine and human agency in competition with one another, their constructions differed markedly and this would have contributed to vehement disagreements among them. While not sui generis in every respect, Paul’s own convictions about grace and agency appear radical due to the way he reconfigures these concepts in relation to Christ.” (publisher’s note)


McFarland, Orrey. 2016. God and Grace in Philo and Paul. Novum Testamentum, Supplements 164. Leiden: Brill.

“In God and Grace in Philo and Paul, Orrey McFarland examines how Philo of Alexandria and the Apostle Paul understood divine grace. While scholars have occasionally observed that Philo and Paul both speak about God’s generosity, such work has often placed the two theologians in either strong continuity or stark discontinuity without probing into the theological logic that animates the particularities of their thought. By contrast, McFarland sets Philo and Paul in conversation and argues that both could speak of divine gifts emphatically and in formally similar ways while making materially different theological judgments in the context of their concrete historical settings and larger theological frameworks. That is, McFarland demonstrates how their theologies of grace are neither identical nor antithetical.” (publisher’s note)



Celebrating Turid Karlsen Seim



The Norwegian Professor  in New Testament Studies, dr. Turid Karlsen Seim, turned 70 on last Thursday,  and yesterday she was honored and celebrated by a reception at the Faculty of Theology, University of Oslo, and a great Festschrift was presented.

Karlsen Seim has been a professor at the UiO since 1991; she was, in fact, the first woman who got her degree of dr. theol. in Norway, and the first female dean at the Faculty of Theology. In the last 8 years she has been the leader of the Norwegian Institute in Rome (see further info about her biography in the Festschrift.).

The Festschrift was edited by some of her former students, Anna Rebecca Solevåg, Anne Hege Grung, and Marianne Bjelland Kartzow, and is published by Pickwick Publications: Bodies-Borders-Believers. Ancient Texts and Present Conversations.

You can see the volume HERE, and and get an impression of the various articles (some pages are left out in the presentation)


PS: yes, there is even an article on Philo in the volume (glad you asked :):
Karen L. King, ‘Comparative study of gendered strategies to represent the
sacrality of the group: Philo of Alexandria and a Korean-American Presbyterian Church,’
pp. 3-21).


Children in the Ancient World and the Early Middle Ages: A Bibliography

Children in the Ancient World and the Early Middle Ages: A Bibliography for Scholars and Students

In connection with the reseach project mentioned below, on Tiny Voices From the Past: New Perspectives on Childhood in Early Europe, a bibliography is posted on the site of the project:

An up-to-date version (Jan. 2014) of this bibliography is available, currently counting 1776 entries. The bibliography will be updated annually. Those interested are more than welcome to propose additions and corrections. These can be sent to Ville Vuolanto

The complete bibliography can be found here (Pdf).

Tiny Voices From the Past: a research project

A research project, centered at the University of Oslo, Department of Philosophy, Classics, History of Arts, and Ideas, is approaching its end. The project (2013-2016) studies the lives of children and attitudes to childhood at a culturally formative stage of European culture: Antiquity and the Early/High Middle Ages. It covers the period from the fifth century BC to the twelfth century AD, but with an emphasis on the period from the first to the eight century.

The project focuses particularly on three types of material:

  • Early Christian apocryphal stories about the childhoods of Jesus and his mother Mary (the Infancy Gospels of Thomas and James),
  • Works by central thinkers (philosophical, theological, political) which reflect different notions about children and childhood, and
  • Material and remains that can in various ways document the lives and experiences of the children themselves (children’s letters, papyrus documents, toys, stories etc.).

Further information about background, methology and scope of the project can be found here (Pdf).

As a part of this project, there will be a Seminar with guest lecturer Professor Margaret MacDonald, Dean of Arts, Saint Mary’s University, Halifax; Canada, presenting “Bringing Children to the Forefront: Small People, Big Questions”

“Taking MacDonald’s recent book The Power of Children: The Construction of Christian Families in the Greco-Roman World as a point of departure, researchers involved in Childhood Studies, Ancient History and New Testament Studies will introduce a discussion on what role different kinds of children may have played, how/if we can get access to traces of real children in the sources, and how childhood perspectives may challenge given ideas about early Christian families, societies and power systems.”

Time and place:
Oct 13, 2015 01:15 PM – 03:00 PM, U305, Domus Theologica, University of Oslo

Hurtado on Philo

“I regard Philo as probably the single most important first-century Jewish writer for
understanding the Jewish religious setting of earliest Christianity,
especially in its trans-local expressions outside of Roman Judea.”

L. W. Hurtado, ‘Does Philo Help Explain Early Christianity?’, in
R. Deines & K-W. Niebuhr, Philo und das Neue Testament (Mohr Siebeck, 2004):73.