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Philo, Wisdom and Apocalypticism

The SBL Annual Meeting is already an event of the past, some weeks have, in fact, gone by since I left San Antonio, heading back to Norway.

Nevertheless, as some other duties have kept me away from blog writing, I will post two pages here about two events I enjoyed very much. Hence this is not going to be about everything I enjoyed or experienced, but two selected events.

This post concerns the papers delivered at a seminar session on Wisdom and Apocalypticism, and focusing especially on Philo of Alexandria.

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The session was presided over by prof. Matthew Goff, Florida State University, and was one of several on Wisdom and Apocalypticism.The speakers, here seen seated as a panel, were from left, Ellen Birnbaum, Michael Cover, Archie Wright and Greg. E. Sterling. I am not going to present a summary of their lectures. Using the abstracts they handed in beforehand, their topics can be indicated thus:

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Ellen Birnbaum, Cambridge, Massachusetts
“Is There Wisdom in Philo’s Rationales for the Book of Genesis? ”

Abstract: “Philo offers at least three different lines of argumentation to address the perplexing question of why the lawgiver Moses begins his legislation with the Book of Genesis, which starts with an account of the creation of the world, presents narratives about the patriarchs of Israel and their predecessors, and contains practically no legal material. These rationales resonate with such sapiential themes as nature as a source of knowledge about the divine, reward of the good and punishment of the bad, intuitive understanding of how to live a virtuous life, and review of virtuous exemplars. In this paper, I will outline Philo’s different rationales, highlight parallel notions in wisdom literature, and consider the significance of these parallels.”

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Michael Cover, Marquette University; “Consecrating all the Excellences of Speech” (Mut. 220): Philo on the Right Use of Apocalyptic Tragedy and Gnomic Wisdom

Abstract: “This paper will explore Philo’s reception of contemporary currents in Jewish apocalypticism and wisdom literature by looking closely at two passages in his allegorical treatise, De mutatione nominum. In the first, Mut. 103–120, Philo engages in an extended allegorical interpretation of Exodus 2:15–22, the scene of Moses’ first meeting with Raguel and his seven daughters. According to Alexander Polyhistor, the same scene was dramatized sometime in the second century BCE by the Jewish Tragedian, Ezekiel, and a few fragments of this scene in the drama are extant. Raguel remains a major character in the tragedy, an idealized priest-king and exegete of Moses’ dream-vision in a manner reminiscent of an angelus interpres. Taking as a dual starting point that (1) Ezekiel’s Exagogue mediates or represents some form of apocalyptic Judaism to the Jewish community in Alexandria (VanderKam and Boesenberg [2014]; Orlov [2005]; Van der Horst [1984]; cf. Jacobson [1981]) and (2) that Philo himself had seen the play, appreciated it, and knew it well enough to engage it (Sterling [2014]; Jacobson [1983]), the first and major part of this paper will argue that Philo also undertakes to correct certain (real or potential) misappropriations of its apocalyptic elements. While previous scholarship has looked largely at the comparison of Moses in Ezekiel and Philo’s Vita Mosis (Sterling [2014]; Runia [1988]), this paper will focus in particular on Philo’s allegoresis of the figure of Jethro/Raguel in Mut. 103–120, in which the Alexandrian responds not only to the biblical text, but also to Ezekiel’s tragedy (see Mut. 114, 198; Jacobson [1983]). I will test the hypothesis that Philo wants to revise both the tragedy’s apocalyptic visionary mechanics as well as its potential misuse in Jewish political discourse. In a second passage, Mut. 197, Philo then goes on to offer a satirical portrait of gnomic wisdom of a sort similar to Pseudo-Phocylides. What unites these two criticisms in Philo? Both apocalyptic tragedy and gnomic wisdom have great rhetorical and psychagogic power, which render them either impotent or susceptible to sophistic misuse. While Philo would certainly not banish the poets from Alexandria, he does insist that one must “consecrate” (by way of allegory, dialectic, etc.) these various “excellences of speech” (Mut. 220) for the service of philosophy.”

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Archie Wright, Regent University
Questions of Eschatology and other Apocalyptic Themes in Philo’s Demonology .

“Like many of his concepts, Philo presents his eschatology and other apocalyptic themes in relation to the realm of the Platonic world of forms; the “place” in which the material world participates with the other worldly realm. In doing so, we can see Philo’s integrated dualism at work in his cosmology in which his eschatology emerges. The eschatology of Philo begins with his anthropology which is found in Legum Allegoriae III.161 (among others; e.g. Somn. I.34). Here he states that the human is composed of soul and body; the soul belonging to the divine (Gen 2.7; Mut. 223) and the body is “fashioned out of the earth”. It survives on earthly food while the soul is conceived of an ethereal nature, “has on the contrary ethereal and divine food” (knowledge in its various forms). Following a form of the Pythagorean view of the transmigration of the soul, although not completely, upon true death Philo understands the body and soul separate (Leg. Alleg. I.105; II.77). The eschatological end of human existence was the return of a soul to the divine realm or for the “wicked soul” to Tartarus or Hades. Arising out of Philo’s anthropology is what we might call his demonology, although it differs significantly from other early Jewish and Christian demonologies. At times Philo appears to be reacting in a polemical sense to the emergence of demons in the Enochic tradition and other early Jewish literature including such works as, for example, the Book of Watchers, Jubilees, or the Testament of Solomon. Philo argues for a recognition of human responsibility in the existence of evil in the world rather than demonic or evil spirits. This paper will examine Philo’s writings in an effort to compare and contrast the various demonologies circulating in the 1st century CE and their roles in the apocalyptic eschatology of the period.”

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Gregory E. Sterling, Yale Divinity School
When Ontology Meets Eschatology.

Abstract: “It is well known that Philo of Alexandria used Hellenistic philosophy as a framework for his thought, especially Middle Platonism. This led him to think primarily in ontological terms. However, in the final treatise of his Exposition of the Law, De praemiis, he offered what appears to be an eschatological vision–although the interpretation is disputed. This paper will attempt to understand Philo’s eschatological vision by exploring other texts that combine ontology with eschatology.”

 

Philo papers

Papers for the Philo seminars at the coming SBL Annual Meeting in San Antonio, Tx are now coming in, and are posted on my website.

The papers are for the following seminars:
S20-220 Philo of Alexandria: The Knowledge of God in Philo of Alexandria
S20-345 Philo of Alexandria: Reincarnation and Afterlife in Philo and His World
S21-144b Philo of Alexandria: Philo’s de Mutatione Nominum

Papers will be available as they come in, at http://torreys.org/philo_seminar_papers/

 

 

Abstracts updated – manuscripts still to come..

My page for the Philo Seminar at this November SBL Annual Meeting has been updated as far as it concerns the Abstracts of the papers to be presented.

Now we are just waiting for the manuscripts to come…

Philo at SBL Annual Meeting (II)

In addition to the Philo Seminar mentioned below, there will also be several other Group Sessions and Seminar papers that will deal with topics in which they will also ask for input from Philo’s works.
Here is a list of those papers I found when searching the online Program Book at the SBL site.

S19-137 Meals in the Greco-Roman World
11/19/2016 9:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Room: Bonham D (3rd Level) – Grand Hyatt (GH)

Theme: Meal and Teaching

Meredith Warren, University of Sheffield, Presiding
Steven C. Muir, Concordia University of Edmonton and Frederick S. Tappenden, McGill University
Not by Bread Alone, but by Every Word from the Mouth of the Lord – The Confluence of Eating and Teaching in the Ancient Mediterranean (35 min)
Birgit van der Lans, University of Bergen
Quarrelling over opinions’ (Rom. 14:1): verbal disorder and competitive speech at Greco-Roman meals (35 min)
Angela Standhartinger, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Germany
The School of Moses at Table. Sympotic Teaching in Philo’s De vita contemplativa (35 min)
Soham Al-Suadi, Universität Bern – Université de Berne, Respondent (20 min)

Discussion (25 min)

 

S19-246 Religious Experience in Antiquity
11/19/2016 1:00 PM to 3:30 PM
Room: Texas B (4th Level) – Grand Hyatt (GH)

Theme: Open Session
The Religious Experience in Antiquity section investigates the experiential elements of religions from the ancient near east to late antiquity, with a particular interest in examining (1) the relationship between texts and experience, (2) religious practices in the context of ritual, prayer, ecstasy, dreams and visions, 3) the role of embodied experiences (cognitive, neurological, and sensory) in the generation of religious ideas and commitment.

Angela Kim Harkins, Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, Presiding
Silviu N. Bunta, University of Dayton
Transformational mysticism in the liturgy of Hebrews (25 min)
Paul V. M. Flesher, University of Wyoming
Scripture Reading and Communal Prayer in the First-Century Gamla Synagogue: What Architecture Reveals about Religious Practice and Experience (25 min)
Nathalie LaCoste, University of Toronto
Fluid Identities: How Experiences with Water Shaped the Jews of Egypt (25 min)
Jason N. Yuh, University of Toronto
Paul’s Kodak Moment: Analyzing Gal 3:27’s Reference to Baptism through Studies of Memory, Embodiment, and Ritual (25 min)
Frederick S. Tappenden, McGill University
Contexts and Foundations: Paul’s Apocalyptic Imagination and the Confluence of Participation and Resurrection (25 min)
Discussion (25 min)

 

S21-156 Wisdom in Israelite and Cognate Traditions
11/21/2016 9:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Room: 211 (2nd Level – West) – Convention Center (CC)

Theme: The Book of Ecclesiastes

Samuel Adams, Union Presbyterian Seminary, Presiding
Elisa Uusimäki, Helsingin Yliopisto – Helsingfors Universitet
The Maskil of the Dead Sea Scrolls among the Hellenistic Jewish Sages (25 min)
Thomas Wagner, Bergische Universität Wuppertal
Reflecting creation traditions – Qohelet’s use of the Priestly creation account (25 min)
Hee Suk Kim, Chongshin University, Qohelet as an Ambiguous Image of Ruah (25 min)
Break (10 min)
Knut M. Heim, Denver Seminary, Ecclesiastes and Emotion (25 min)
Katharine Dell, University of Cambridge
All is decay: Intertextual links between Ecclesiastes and Lamentations (25 min)
Discussion (15 min)

 

S21-309 Christian Theology and the Bible
11/21/2016 4:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Room: Conference Room 6 (3rd Level) – Marriott Rivercenter (MRC)

Theme: The theological significance of Hagar in Genesis and Galatians

This is the first of a four-year series on biblical figures who appear in both Testaments and their significance for Christian theology. This session focuses on Hagar, one of the few women to appear in both Old and New Testaments. Papers explore how theologians have understood her at different stages in history, and what her role might be in constructive Christian theology today.

Claire Mathews McGinnis, Loyola University Maryland, Presiding (5 min)
Andrew M. Harmon, Marquette University
“The Clever Handmaiden of Perfect Virtue”: Reappraising Ambrose of Milan’s Portrait of Hagar (30 min)
Justin Rogers, Freed-Hardeman University
Philo or Paul? The Hagar Allegory in Alexandrian Patristic Theology (30 min)
Andrea D. Saner, Eastern Mennonite University
Inheriting Hagar with Grace (30 min)
Discussion (45 min)

 

S21-315 Early Jewish Christian Relations
11/21/2016 4:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Room: Independence (3rd Level) – Grand Hyatt (GH)
Marcie Lenk, Shalom Hartman Institute, Presiding

J. Cornelis de Vos, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster
Paul and the Parting of the Arguments in Galatians (20 min)
Discussion (10 min)
A. Grayson Benko, Brite Divinity School (TCU)
The God who Grafts: Genos and Genealogy in Romans 11:16-24 (20 min)
Discussion (10 min)
Hyun Ho Park, Graduate Theological Union
From Jewish Mission to Gentile Mission: Triple Stories of Peter and the Border Crossing in Acts 9:32-10:48 (20 min)
Discussion (10 min)
Sung Uk Lim, Yonsei University
Philo’s Sophia vs. John’s Jesus in Gender Trouble (20 min)
Discussion (10 min)
Paul M. C. Elliott, Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion
Philonic Borrowings in the Letters of Ambrose (20 min)
Discussion (10 min)

 

S21-356 Wisdom and Apocalypticism
11/21/2016 4:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Room: Lone Star E (2nd Level) – Grand Hyatt (GH)
Theme: Philo vis-a-vis Wisdom and Apocalypticism

Jason Zurawski, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Presiding
Ellen Birnbaum, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Is There Wisdom in Philo’s Rationales for the Book of Genesis? (30 min)
Michael Cover, Marquette University
“Consecrating all the Excellences of Speech” (Mut. 220): Philo on the Right Use of Apocalyptic Tragedy and Gnomic Wisdom (30 min)
Break (5 min)
Archie Wright, Regent University
Questions of Eschatology and other Apocalyptic Themes in Philo’s Demonology (30 min)
Gregory E. Sterling, Yale Divinity School
When Ontology Meets Eschatology (30 min)
Discussion (25 min)

S22-114 Book of Deuteronomy
11/22/2016 9:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Room: 304A (3rd Level) – Convention Center (CC)

Theme: The Reception of Deuteronomy in the Hellenistic Period: Authority, Transmission and Transformation

Cynthia Edenburg, Open University of Israel, Presiding
Bernard Levinson, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
The Reception of Deuteronomy in the Second Temple Period as a Window into the Formation of the Pentateuch (30 min)
Hindy Najman, University of Oxford
Reading Deuteronomy and Writing a New Law: reflections on the reception and transformation of Deuteronomy in the Hellenistic Period (30 min)
Francis Borchardt, Lutheran Theological Seminary, Hong Kong
Idolatry, Retribution, and the Judean Homeland: Deuteronomic Ideology in 4 Maccabees (30 min)
Torrey Seland, VID-School of Mission &Theology, Norway
Philo of Alexandria and Deuteronomy (30 min)
David Lincicum, University of Notre Dame
Deuteronomy and Deuteronomic Tradition in the Epistle of Barnabas: A Reconsideration (30 min)

Philo at SBL Annual Meeting (I)

This year there will be three sessions in the Philo Seminar at the SBL Annual Meeting in San Antonio in November. A variety of papers will be offered by both younger and more seasoned scholars. The papers will be posted during the first half of November on this site: http://torreys.org/philo_seminar_papers/

 


S20-220 Philo of Alexandria
11/20/2016
1:00 PM to 3:30 PM
Room: 217C (2nd Level – West) – Convention Center (CC)

Theme: The Knowledge of God in Philo of Alexandria

Sean Adams, University of Glasgow, Presiding
Mark Hamilton, Abilene Christian University
Divine (Dis)embodiment as an aspect of Divine Otherness in Philo (30 min)
Ilaria L.E. Ramelli, Catholic University+Angelicum +Oxford University
The Knowledge of God and the Dialectics of Apophatic Theology: Philo between Scripture and the Platonic Tradition (30 min)
Break (10 min)
Sharon Weisser, Tel Aviv University
Knowing God by Analogy: Philo of Alexandria’s Proofs for the Existence of God in the Context of the Debate around Stoic Theology in the Roman Period (30 min)
Tyler A. Stewart, Marquette University
Theological Suicide: Evil and the Imperception of God (30 min)
Discussion (20 min)


 

S20-345 Philo of Alexandria
11/20/2016 4:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Room: 304B (3rd Level) – Convention Center (CC)

Theme: Reincarnation and Afterlife in Philo and His World

Torrey Seland, Independent Scholar, Presiding
Sami Yli-Karjanmaa, University of Helsinki
Philo’s Position on Reincarnation (30 min)
David Runia, University of Melbourne
Does Philo Accept the Doctrine of Reincarnation? (30 min)
Break (10 min)
Rainer Hirsch-Luipold, Universität Bern – Université de Berne
Afterlife and Reincarnation in Plutarch (30 min)
Jeffrey Trumbower, Saint Michael’s College (Vermont)
Closing the Door on Reincarnation in Early Christianity: Limiting the Options (30 min)
Discussion (20 min)


 

S21-144b Philo of Alexandria
11/21/2016 9:00 AM to 11:45 AM
Room: 008A (River Level) – Convention Center (CC)

Theme: Philo’s de Mutatione Nominum

Scott Mackie, Independent Scholar, Presiding
Michael Cover, Marquette University
Philo’s De mutatione nominum: Sample Commentary, Exegetical Structure, and Its Place in the “Abrahamic Cycle” of the Allegorical Commentary (20 min)
Gregory Sterling, Yale Divinity School
What’s in a Name? The Place of De mutatione nominum in Philo’s Allegorical Commentary (20 min)
Discussion (20 min)
Break (10 min)
James Royse, Claremont, California
The Text of Philo’s De mutatione nominum (20 min)
Frederick Brenk, Pontifical Biblical Institute, Rome
A Name by Any Name? The Allegorizing Etymologies of Philo and Plutarch (20 min)
Michel Barnes, Marquette University
Divine Powers in De mutatione nominum and Patristic Reception (20 min)
Discussion (20 min)
Business Meeting (15 min)

 

L.W. Hurtado in Oslo

Hurtado290816mfThe seminar at MF Norwegian School of Theology, Oslo, mentioned in an earlier posting, found place today. As it was in honor of the New Testament professor Reidar Hvalvik, it was good to see both former and present colleagues and not a few students being present.

The first main speaker was Larry W. Hurtado, prof.em. at Divinity School, University of Edinburgh (see picture). His topic was An Early Christian Book and its Story: P45 as Early Christian Artefact. Hurtado presented and characterized the P45, then discussed its importance for 4 different aspects of early Christianity; 1) the importance that it contains the four (now) canonical gospels, 2) the placement or location of Acts in the collection, 3) the codex format used, and then 4) the importance of p45 for its use of nomina sacra.

Then there were two other lectures (Professor Kristin Bliksrud Aavitsland (MF):Representations of Church and the Synagogue in Ecclesiastical Art, and  Postdoc. Dr. Ole Jakob Filtvedt (MF): Picturing the Father in the Gospel of John?). What I found particular interesting here was a picture shown by Aavitsland, of Christ carrying his cross in form of a tree (cf. Deutr 21:23; Gal. 3:13). I have never seen that before!  That may be due to my lack of knowledge of art, but, nevertheless, or in particular for that reason- interesting to me!   🙂

Nice day in the auditorium!   Congratulations to Prof. Hvalvik!

 

 

Prof. dr. Reidar Hvalvik 65

Upcoming Monday, Aug 29th, there will be a held a seminar (symposium) at the Norwegian School of Theology (Menighetsfakultetet) in honor of prof. dr. Reidar Hvalvik, who has reached the age of 65.

The theme of the gathering will be: Picturing the New Testament, and the international  (non-Norwegian) lecturer will be Larry W. Hurtado:

10.30–11.00       Professor Karl Olav Sandnes (MF): Reidar Hvalvik – a presentation

11.00–11.45       Emeritus professor Larry W. Hurtado (University of Edinburg): An Early Christian Book and its Story: P45 as Early Christian Artefact

11.45–12.45       Lunch.

12.45–13.30       Professor Kristin Bliksrud Aavitsland (MF):Representations of Church and the Synagogue in Ecclesiastical Art

13.30–14.00       Coffee/tee

14.00–14.45       Postdoc. Dr. Ole Jakob Filtvedt (MF): Picturing the Father in the Gospel of John?

14.45–15.00       Summary, thanks etc.