Reading Philo: A Handbook

My Handbook to Philo of Alexandria, published in 2014 is now available for Kindle at Amazon.com for $3.99! A terrible price for me, but a good one for you!  🙂

Have a look at Reading Philo: A Handbook to Philo of Alexandria
Publisher: Eerdmans (Nov., 2014). 362 pp.

“A contemporary of both Jesus and the apostle Paul, Philo was a prolific Jewish theologian, philosopher, and politician — a fascinating, somewhat enigmatic figure — who lived his entire life in Alexandria, Egypt. His many books are important sources for our understanding of ancient Judaism, early Christianity, and the philosophical currents of that time.
Reading Philo is an excellent introductory guide to Philo’s work and significance. The contributors — all well-known experts on Philo of Alexandria — discuss Philo in context, offer methodological considerations (how best to study Philo), and explore Philo’s ongoing relevance and value (why reading him is important). This practical volume will be an indispensable resource for anyone delving into Philo and his world.” (Publishers note).

New book on Philo

GreekWriters

Erkki Koskenniemi
Greek Writers and Philosophers in Philo and Josephus. A Study of Their Secular Education and Educational Ideals
(Studies in Philo of Alexandria, Volume 9) Leiden; Brill, 2019.

The Finnish scholar Erkki Koskenniemi is having a new book on Philo (and Josephus) published this year.

The contents are given thus: Preface
1 Introduction  1  The Task of the Study  2  A Brief History of the Research  3  The Outline of Graeco-Roman Education  4  A More Precise Definition of the Task
2 Philo: Offspring from Sarah and Hagar  1  Introduction  2  Philo and Greek Writers  3  Philo’s Educational Ideals and His Own Witness  4  Jews and the Secular Education in Alexandria  5 Conclusion
3 Josephus: It Is Difficult to Transplant an Old Tree  1  Introduction  2  Josephus and Greek Writers 3  Greek Language and Classical Education in Jerusalem  4  Josephus’ Own Witness and the Quality of His Greek  5  Conclusion

I think it will be interesting to see what he writes about ‘Education,’ his contribution in Reading Philo, on ‘Philo and Classical Education’ has been very well received in several reviews of that book. I presume he will elaborate on this article in his new book.

 

Studia Philonica 2018

062230C
The 2018 issue of The Studia Philonica Annual XXX 2018 arrived in my snail mailbox just as the SBL Annual Meeting was going on in Denver.

As usual – it contains a lot of relevant material for those interested in Philo of Alexandria and Hellenistic Judaism.

In this volume, you will find the following articles:

  • Royse, James R.  “Fragments of Philo of Alexandria Preserved in Pseudo-Eustathius.” pp.   1–14.
  • Cover, Michael B.  “A New Fragment of Philo’s Quaestiones in Exodum in Origen’s Newly Discovered Homilies on the Psalms? A Preliminary Note.” pp. 15–29.
  • Sterling, Gregory E.  “Philo of Alexandria’s Life of Moses: An Introduction to the Exposition of the Law.” pp. 31–45.
  • Adams, Sean A. “Movement and Travel in Pilo’s Migration of Abraham: The Adaptation of Genesis and the Introduction of Metaphor.” pp. 47–70.
  • Hartog, P.B. “Space and Travel in Philo’s Legatio Ad Gaium.” pp. 71–92.
  • Appelbaum, Alan.  “A Fresh Look at Philo’s Family.” pp. 93–113.

In addition, of course, there also is the usual Bibliographic Section, pp. 115-181, and the Book Review Section, pp. 183-217. And finally some News and Notes, and Notes on contributors.

This issue represents the 18th time I have contributed to the Bibliographic Section, and I have asked the editors to find some successor. I am always looking forward to the publication of this annual, and I will continue to do so. No scholar interested in Philo should go without this.

A mind in training

Elisa Uusimaki (University of Helsinki, Finland), has published an article dealing with the issue of “How does Philo of Alexandria depict the formation of a wise person?”

Elisa Uusmaki,’A Mind in Training: Philo of Alexandria on Jacob’s Spiritual Exercises,’ Journal for the Study of Pseudepigrapha 27.4 (2018): 265-288.

Its abstract runs like this:

“How does Philo of Alexandria depict the formation of a wise person? This article pays attention to the centrality of spiritual training in Graeco-Roman philosophy, and argues that Philo likewise regards the process of seeking wisdom as entailing mental practice. The analysis focuses on two passages of Quis rerum divinarum heres sit and Legum allegoriarum where Philo attributes lists of spiritual exercises to the figure of Jacob. As such, these accounts illustrate how Philo makes use of scriptural interpretation as he imagines the execution of a life dedicated to wisdom. The listed exercises are largely familiar from Graeco-Roman philosophical traditions, yet they coexist with and contribute to the performance of Philo’s ancestral tradition. This melange of cultural elements suggests that Philo discusses Jacob’ s inner cultivation in order to enable his audience to grasp (one prospect of) how to lead a Jewish philosophical life in the Roman Alexandria.”

In order to wet your appetite even more, I quote this from her first paragraph (sorry, the Greek did not come through):

How did Philo of Alexandria’ imagine the practical performance of philosophical life, that is, the mental training considered to advance one’s search for wisdom (sofia)? In this article, I propose one answer to the question by demonstrating how Philo associates two narratives on Jacob, the eponymous and exemplary patriarch, with the practice (askesis) of diverse spiritual exercises (Her. 252-53; Leg. 3.18-19). In the context of Graeco-Roman philosophy, such exercises were undertaken to shape the mind and attitude of the practising subject who pursued wisdom. Before the textual analysis, further elaboration on the ancient conception of philosophy and Philo’s notion of the cultivation of a person towards being a philosopher (filosofos), or even a sage (sofos) who possesses virtue (arete), is needed.

Philo and the Ancient Theater

Philo of Alexandria has several comments on the ancient theater of his time, and a few studies have been published dealing with his views and attitudes (see e.g., Koskenniemi; now an issue of the Journal ‘Journal of Ancient Judaism‘ is devoted to the theme Jews and Drama, and included here are also a couple of articles o Philo and the theater:

  • Jeff Jay, ‘Spectacle, Stage-Craft, and the Tragic in Philo’s In Flaccum: A Literary-Historical Analysis,’ 222-240,
  • Courtney J. P. Friesen, ‘Virtue and Vice on the Stage: Theatrical Ambivalences in Philo of Alexandria,’ 241-256.

I have not seen this issue yet, and can not provide any further information, its website, alas, does not present any abstracts either.

Great news from SNTS Meeting 2017

The annual Meeting 2017 of the SNTS (Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas) is now over. It was held in Pretoria, South Africa during the days of Aug 8–11. Alas, I was not able to attend the meeting, but here is nevertheless some info as received from the webpages related to the Society, and from one of those who had the opportunity to attend.

    1. There were no main paper devoted to Philo of Alexandria, but at least one seminar paper dealt with him: In the seminar focusing on The Development of Early Christian Ethics within its Jewish and Greco-Roman Contexts , one paper focused on ‘Aristotle’s Three-fold Submission in the Household codes of Paul, Peter, Philo and Josephus’. It was presented by David Instone-Brewer, and the respondent was Christine Gerber.
    2. There has not been any seminar – in recent years- dealing with Philo of Alexandria, but from 2018 – next year- there will be a change in this.  The Society has accepted the establishment of a Seminar dealing with “Philo and Early Christianity”, working for five years, starting in 2018. The Seminar will be led by the professors Greg Sterling, Yale Divinity School, USA, and Per Jarle Bekken, Nord University, Bodø, Norway.

IMG_3144This is great news, and we can now look forward to Philo sessions at SNTS Meetings for the coming five years. The meeting of 2018 will be in Athens, Greece, then 2019 in Marburg, Germany, and then in Rome, Italy, in 2020.

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.

 

Bible Odyssey

The Bible Odyssey is getting better and better as it is being ‘constantly updated’ with new articles and new info.

The site, driven by the Society of Biblical Literature and other partners, has an impressive Editorial Board, and the texts are written by an equally impressive list of Contributors

While not everyone will agree with everything that is stated on the pages, the site is a very useful one for everyone who wants to be informed and updated about a lot of issues related to the reading AND study of the Bible and its world.

I searched the site for Philo of Alexandria, and regrettably, there is not yet a specific article on this personality. He is, however, dealt with in some other articles that hardly could evade the mentioning of the life and works of Philo.

See, e.g., Philo, Clement and Origen; Alexandria, Alexandria and Allegory.

 

 

The Studia Philonica Annual 2016 as Festschrift

0-greganddavid

The Studia Philonica Annual  XXVIII 2016 was published just in time for the SBL Annual Meeting this November, in San Antonio, Texas. As mentioned below this issue was made and presented as a Festschrift to Professor David T. Runia. It was presented and handed over to him at a dinner in San Antonio on Monday the 24th.

Greg E. Sterling was the main editor of this volume and had gathered 15 other scholars in order to present studies in honor of prof. Runia. In addition, the volume contains an annotated bibliography of the Philo studies published in 2013.

The list of contents can be given thus:

INTRODUCTION
Gregory E. Sterling, A Soaring Mind: The Career of
David T. Runia……..…………………………………………………… 3
Gregory E. Sterling, David T. Runia: A Bibliography of His
Publications, 1979–2016…………………………………………………. 15
THE TEXT OF PHILO’S WORKS
James R. Royse, The Biblical Quotations in the Coptos Papyrus
of Philo………….…………………………………………………… 49
Abraham Terian, Philonis De visione trium angelorum ad Abraham:
A New Translation of the Mistitled De Deo.………………………………… 77

PHILO AND HELLENISTIC PHILOSOPHY
John Dillon, Philo and the Telos: Some Reflections ……………………….. 111
Carlos Lévy, Continuity and Dissimilarities in Middle Platonism: Philo
and Plutarch about the Epicurean ataraxia ……………………………….. 121
Gregory E. Sterling, When East and West Meet: Eastern Religions
and Western Philosophy in Philo of Alexandria and Plutarch of
Chaeronea ……………………………………………………………. 137
Jaap Mansfeld, Theodoret of Cyrrhus’s Therapy of Greek Diseases
as a Source for the Aëtian Placita ……………………………………… 151

PHILO AND THE WORLD OF ROME
Annewies van den Hoek and John J. Herrmann Jr., Chasing the
Emperor: Philo in the Horti of Rome…………….……………………….. 171
Sarah Pearce, Notes on Philo’s Use of the Terms ἔθνος and λαός..…….. 205

PHILO AND THE INTERPRETATION OF THE PENTATEUCH
Adam Kamesar, Philo and Ps.-Longinus: A Case of Sublimity in Genesis 4.. 229
Francesca Calabi, “It Would Not Be Good That the Man Should be
Alone”: Philo’s Interpretation of Genesis 2:18 in Legum Allegoriae………….. 239
Peder Borgen, Alternative Aims and Choices in Education:
Analysis of Selected Texts..……………………………………………. 257
Ellen Birnbaum, What in the Name of God Led Philo to Interpret
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as Learning, Nature, and Practice? 273
Albert C. Geljon, Abraham in Egypt: Philo’s Interpretation of
Gen 12:10–20 …..……………………………………………………………….. 297
Torrey Seland, The Expository Use of the Balaam Figure in
Philo’s De vita Mosis.……………………………………………….. 321

PHILO AND EARLY CHRISTIANITY
Thomas H. Tobin, S.J., Reconfiguring Eschatological Imagery:
The Examples of Philo of Alexandria and Paul of Tarsus …………………… 351
Maren R. Niehoff, Justin’s Timaeus in Light of Philo’s……………………. 375

BIBLIOGRAPHY SECTION
D. T. Runia, M. Alesso, K. Berthelot, E. Birnbaum, A. C. Geljon,
H. M. Keizer, J. Leonhardt-Balzer, M. R. Niehoff, S. J. K. Pearce,
T. Seland, Philo of Alexandria: An Annotated Bibliography 2013.………… 393
Supplement: A Provisional Bibliography 2014–2016.……………………….. 435

stpha-authors2016For various reasons, not all of the authors were able to be present at the dinner; here is D.T Runia, and the attending authors. From left: James Royse, Torrey Seland, Ellen Birnbaum, Greg. E. Sterling, David T. Runia, Maren Niehoff, and Sarah Pearce. In addition, several others were gathered at the event.

 

 

David T. Runia is retiring

davidtrunia David T. Runia, one of the foremost Philo-scholars of our time, (co-)editor of The Studia Philonica Annual, (co-)editor of the Philo of Alexandria – Commentary Series,  convenor of the Philo Bibliography Project, a pillar in the SBL’s Philo Seminar,  and so much more in other fields I am not that familiar with, is retiring from his position as Master of Queen’s College, Queen’s College, The University of Melbourne at the end of this year.

Hence, to celebrate this occasion, and to demonstrate the importance of the role(s) he has played in the recent decades for so many Philo scholars, there was a dinner gathering after the Monday Philo seminar, and a Festschrift was presented to prof. Runia (see another post).

Speeches were held by several colleagues, and we had a wonderful dinner session together. Prof. Runia assured us all that his retirement was not supposed to  be a retirement from Philo studies, but rather the opposite … 🙂

The pictures below are taken at the dinner in the wine cellar of Zinc Bistro and Bar:
0-greg-overrekker
Greg. E. Sterling presents the Festschrift to David T. Runia.

Ellen Birnbaum (from left), Sarah Pearce and James Royse were selected to greet prof. Runia at the event, and made great speeches expressing their love and admiration of the retiring professor.

Usually Greg E. Sterling and David T. Runia are co-editors of The Studia Philonica, this time Sterling carried out that work alone, having gathered 15 colleagues as writers for the Festschrift (see the posting above).