Jews and their Roman Rivals

I have just received my copy of the (in so many ways) great work of Katell Berthelot, Jews and their Roman Rivals. Pagan Rome’s Challenge to Israel (Princeton University Press: Princeton, 2021). I must still postpone indulging in the book for some days, but here and now I would just like to direct my readers to a website she mentions in the Bibliography of her book (cf. p. 436ff):


“On this website you will find useful resources for studying Roman imperial ideology, or Roman imperial discourses, artefacts and performances, displayed in literary records, epigraphy, numismatics, as well as through monuments, statues and other material artefacts. There is a particular focus on sources connected to the three sub-themes of the project, “Roman Power,” “Roman Law” and “Roman Citizenship”.
You will also find Jewish, Greek, Egyptian and Christian sources documenting the responses of some of the provincials of the Roman empire to the challenge of Roman domination. By “responses,” however, we do not intend only the provincial sources that explicitly mention Rome and address issues such as Roman law courts or grants of Roman citizenship. We also take into account the way the Roman imperial context led provincials to formulate their own conceptions of power, law, and citizenship or membership with a given group.”

“The website Judaism and Rome aims to:

  • give access to some important sources, providing as much information as possible: images, original text, translation…
  • provide the reader with an original and detailed analysis of each source, a service that is very rarely offered on the internet, and which makes this website comparable to a rich sourcebook
  • promote interdisciplinary discussion between scholars working on Roman history, Jewish Studies, Epigraphy, Numismatics, Classics, Patristics, History of Christianity, etc.”

There are multiple ways to perform a search and to find sources that are relevant to your specific interests.

A Great source, indeed!

The Question of Coherence in Philo’s Cultic Imagery

An article that has gone under my radar for years is, alas, this:

Gupta, N. (2011). The Question of Coherence in Philo’s Cultic Imagery: A Socio-literary Approach. Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha20(4), 277–297.

Abstract: “This article examines Philo’s cultic metaphors with a view towards finding coherence. Many scholars have turned to the works of Philo for insight into the world of the New Testament or early Judaism, but a standard assumption is that the search for coherence in his works is a fruitless endeavor. However, using Philo’s temple, priesthood, and sacrificial metaphors as a specific subject of interest, a socio-literary approach is taken in an attempt to reassess this assumption. In particular, this article draws from insights gained from cognitive linguistics, where metaphors are viewed as resources that have the capacity to influence cognitive frameworks. From this perspective, Philo’s cultic metaphors are consistently used to engage rhetorically in a set of common problems, including his apologetic and tropological concerns.”

The Superiority and Universality of the Torah

Berthelot, K. (2022). “The Superiority and Universality of the Torah in Philo’s Life of Moses 2.12–24: The Significance of the Roman Context”. Jewish Studies Quarterly, 2022, 29 (3), pp. 217-241.

Abstract: “In the section of On the Life of Moses that deals with Moses as lawgiver, Philo praises the Torah as the most excellent legislation ever written and emphasizes its universal popularity among Greeks and barbarians alike. This article contends that these two claims are to a great extent novel compared to previous Jewish discourses about the Law. Earlier Jewish authors writing in Greek celebrated the Torah’s superior wisdom but did not compare it to other legal systems. Moreover, previous Jewish reflections on the Law’s universality emphasized its accordance with the law of nature, while Mos. 2.12–24 introduces a new notion: the universal adoption of some of the Mosaic precepts by non-Jews. This paper argues that Philo’s innovative statements in On the Life of Moses, which have parallels in Josephus’ Against Apion, are to be understood in the framework of contemporary perceptions of and discourses on Roman law and jurisdiction.” Doi.

Metaphor and intertextuality in Philo

Pieter B. Hartog, ‘ The Ship of State: Metaphor and intertextuality in Philo of Alexandria,’ Journal for the Study of Pseudepigrapha 32.2 (2022) 187-204.

Author’s Abstract: “This article discusses Philo’s use of the well-known state is ship metaphor. After offering a definition of topos and intertextuality, I discuss passages from the Philonic corpus in which this image features. I will argue that Philo’s use of the state is ship metaphor in most of his writings must be attributed to Philo’s familiarity with a literary trope rather than to intertextual borrowing. The exception is Philo’s Legatio ad Gaium where, I intend to show, Philo’s formulation of the metaphor draws an intertextual connection with Plato’s Republic.”

The StPhA 2022 is here

The Studia Philonica Annual 2022 is on its way from the press these days and is full of good reading stuff. Here is a list of its contents:


Sean A. Adams, Treatise Order in the Greek Codices of Philo of Alexandria: Lists, Pinakes, and Manuscripts 1-31

Justin M. Rogers, Atheism in Philo of Alexandria 33-54

Giulia Guidara, Philon comme témoignage des présocratiques:
Mentions, citations et interprétations dans le Corpus Philonicum

Colten Cheuk-Yin Yam, Philo’s Knowledge of Physicians and Medicine in His Later Roman Writings 93-112

Markéta Dudziková, Seeing and Not Seeing in the Darkness: Philo of Alexandria and Gregory of Nyssa’s Exegeses of Exod 20:21 113-139

Jeffrey M. Hubbard, Philo’s Proselytes and “Paul within Judaism” 141-161

Per Jarle Bekken, The Jewish Debate on Gen 15:6 and Abraham’s Adequate Reward: Fresh Light on Romans 4:2–5 in the Jewish Context 163-188.

The follows a BIBLIOGRAPHY SECTION, containing an annotated bibliography of the works on Philo published in 2019, and then: a BOOK REVIEW SECTION dealing with:

Benjamin Schliesser, Jan Rüggemeier, Thomas J. Kraus, and
Jörg Frey, eds., Alexandria: Hub of the Hellenistic World
Reviewed by David T. Runia 263-66.

Bengt Alexanderson, Philon d’Alexandrie: Critique de texte et
. Reviewed by James R. Royse 266-69.

Ellen Birnbaum and John Dillon, Philo: On the Life of Abraham
Reviewed by Martina Böhm 269-73.

Joan E. Taylor and David M. Hay, Philo of Alexandria On the Contem-
plative Life: Introduction, Translation, and Commentary
. Reviewed by Jutta Leonhardt-Balzer 273-75.

Ludovica De Luca, Il Dio architetto di Filone di Alessandria (De opificio mundi 17–20) Reviewed by Heleen Keizer 276-78

Philo van Alexandrië, De schepping van de wereld. Ingeleid, vertaald en toegelicht door Albert-Kees Geljon
Reviewed by Riemer Roukema 278-80.

John-Paul Harper, Paul and Philo on the Politics of the Land, Jerusalem,
and Temple.
Reviewed by Gregory E. Sterling 280-83.

Sébastien Morlet and Olivier Munnich, eds., Les études philoniennes: Regards sur cinquante ans de recherche. Reviewed by Justin M. Rogers 283-89.

Carl R. Holladay, Hellenistic Jewish Literature and the New Testament: Collected Essays. Reviewed by Justin M. Rogers 289-93.

Peder Borgen, Illuminations by Philo of Alexandria: Selected Studies on Interpretation in Philo, Paul and the Revelation of John.
Reviewed by Gregory E. Sterling 293-98.

Alan Taylor Farnes, Scott D. Mackie and David T. Runia, eds.,
Ancient Texts, Papyri, and Manuscripts: Studies in Honor of James R. Royse
Reviewed by Brent Nongbri 298-301.

Ze’ev Strauss, Aufhellung des Judentums im Platonismus: Zu den jüdisch-platonischen Quellen des deutschen Idealismus, dargestellt anhand von Hegels Auseinandersetzung mit Philon von Alexandria. Reviewed by Benjamin Pollock 301-305

The volume ends with some News and Notes, including words of memorial of 5 Philo scholars.

A Platonic Argument in Philo

Delgado, A. C. (2022). “The Presence of the Myth in the Pentateuch: A Platonic Argument in Philo of Alexandria”, [En:] Radka Fialová , Jiří Hoblík and Petr Kitzler (eds.), Hellenism, Early Judaism, and Early Christianity. De Gruyter, 29-44.

David Winston 1927 – 2022.

Via David Runia, I have been informed that David Winston passed away on December 13., at the age of 95. The funeral will take place on Monday, December 19, at 1:15pm at Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland, California. There will be a zoom broadcast for those unable to attend in person.

David Winston was one of those very learned Jewish scholars who not only knew and loved his Judaism as he was an author, a rabbi, a professor, and a former director of the Center for Jewish studies at the Graduate Theological Union, buthe was also very well-versed in the ancient works of Philo of Alexandria.

In 2001 a volume was published on The Ancestral Philosophy. Hellenistic Philosophy in Second Temple Judaism. Essays of David Winston (edited by Greg Sterling). Brown Judaic Studies 331, 2001, published in his honor.

Did Ancient Philosophers read Philo?

The headline here signals a recent article with that title:

Gregory E. Sterling, “Did Ancient Philosophers Read Philo? Philo of Alexandria and Plotinus” Philip R Bosman and Gideon R Kotzé, eds., Ancient Philosophy and Early Christianity: Studies in Honor of Johan C. Thom. Supplements to Novum Testamentum 188. Leiden: Brill, 2022, pp. 37-56

The volume as such “celebrates the scholarship of Professor Johan C. Thom by tackling various important topics relevant for the study of the New Testament, such as the intellectual environment of early Christianity, especially Greek, Latin, and early Jewish texts, New Testament Apocrypha and other early Christian writings, as well as Greek grammar. The authors offer fresh insights on philosophical texts and traditions, the cultural repertoire of early Christian literature, critical editions, linguistics and interpretation, and comparative analyses of ancient writings.” The article by Sterling is the only one that deals primarily and directly with Philo and his relations to the ancient philosophers. What are Sterling’s answers to the question raised? Have a look here.

Philo as a ‘hermeneut.’

Georgi Shavulev, “The Place of Philo of Alexandria in the History of Philosophy,” in Center for Open Access in Science ▪ Belgrade – SERBIA
7th International e-Conference on Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences
ISBN (Online) 978-86-81294-08-6 ▪ 2021: pp. 205-214. Published online 28 June 2021.

Abstract: “Philo of Alexandria (ca. 20 B.C.E. -50 C.E.), or Philo Judaeus as he is also called, was a Jewish scholar, philosopher, politician, and author who lived in Alexandria and who has had a tremendous influence through his works (mostly on the Christian exegesis and theology). Today hardly any scholar of Second Temple Judaism, early Christianity, or Hellenistic philosophy sees any great imperative in arguing for his relevance. After the research (contribution) of V. Nikiprowetzky in the field of philonic studies, it seems that the prevailing view is that Philo should be regarded above all as an “exegete “. Such an opinion in one way or another seems to neglect to some extent Philo’s
place in the History of philosophy. This article defends the position that Philo should be considered primarily as a “hermeneut”. Emphasizing that the concept of hermeneutics has a broader meaning (especially in the context of antiquity) than the narrower and more specialized concept of exegesis.”

Georgi Shavulev is a Ph.D. student at South-West University “Neofit Rilski”, Faculty of Philosophy, Blagoevgrad, BULGARIA Department of Philosophical and Political Sciences.

Philo on divine forgiveness

Timmers, F. J. (2022). Philo of Alexandria on divine forgiveness (Doctoral dissertation). Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society (LUCAS), Faculty of Humanities, Leiden University.

Abstract: “This study investigates the meaning of divine forgiveness in the thought of Philo of Alexandria. Did Philo share in the common philosophical disregard for seeking divine pardon? Could he still encourage his readers to seek God’s pardon when they have done evil, while he at the same time explained to them that God cannot be hurt nor angered by human evil or made to change his mind? Can divine pardon have a meaningful place within the well-considered thought of a Hellenistic intellectual at all? This study shows that in the case of Philo of Alexandria the answer to this question is affirmative. Yes, divine amnesty has a meaningful place within Philo’s thought, while he managed to avoid implications he and other contemporary intellectuals considered inappropriate. He saw divine pardon as a vital manifestation of God’s goodness, allowing humans to purge their minds from the evil thoughts that have overwhelmed them and caused them to commit evil, to re-establish the control of good reason and welcome God’s wisdom to form their thoughts, words and acts, so that they think, speak and act rationally, as their Creator intended them when he created humans in his own image.”

Open Access is available here: