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The yearly SNTS meeting was this year arranged in Athens, Greece. What a wonderful place to have a meeting focusing on New Testament studies. While some might suggest Jerusalem as the place most filled with symbolism for biblical studies, Athens might come as a good # 2.
In addion to that, the conference found place at the Titania hotel, that with its great restaurant at the top floor provided a magnificent view to the Acropolis and Athens. Three Philo scholars from Norway were attending the meeting, and among them, the doyen of Norwegian Philo studies, prof Peder Borgen. Here you see him seated in the restaurant withtwo of his former doctoral students, prof Per Jarle Bekken to the right (Borgen’s left side), and me on the other side. It was great to have Borgen with us, and to see him – in his age of 90 1/2 years- enjoying and participating in the sessions.
On Saturday 11th, there was an very interesting excursion to Corinth and Epidaurus, a trip also enjoyed by prof Borgen, his wife and two daughters.
The great theatre at Epidaurus
At the last annual meeting of the SNTS in Athens, in Aug. 7-10, a seminar on Philo of Alexandria was run by profs Greg E. Sterling and Per Jarle Bekken. The dayly attendance were 10-12 persons, and there were three sessions/papers, submitted by Per Jarle Bekken, Ilaria L.E. Ramelli and Volker Rabens. The main focus of the seminar was Philo and Early Christianity.
Bekken’s paper dealt with “Paul in Negotiations on Abraham: Fresh Light on the Appropriation of Scripture in Gal 3:6–9 in Jewish Context.” A central part of his thesis was that ” Philo and Paul share an exegetical tradition based on Gen 15:6 interpreted in conjunction with other passages in terms of a continuum of the Abraham narrative in Genesis. Thus, both authors depend on a constellation of exegetical motifs associated with Abraham’s trust (Gen 15:6), manifested in the responsiveness of a corresponding faithfulness and oath of promise on God’s part to bless Abraham and his descendants (cf. Gen 22:18; 26:3–4). Such motifs appear in a context of Jewish discussions in which the authoritative figure of a Law-observant Abraham was conceived to serve as authoritative legal norm (cf. Gen 26:5).”(P. 47 ).
The next paper, by Ilaria L.E. Ramelli, was on “Paul and Philo on Soteriology and Eschatology.” The paper offered was she called “a sygkrisis between two semi-contemporary Hellenistic Jewish theologians, Paul of Tarsus and Philo of Alexandria, both major inspirers of subsequent Christian philosophical theology. While other areas would be relevant to explore, for instance the knowledge of God, this essay will concentrate on soteriology and eschatology in Paul and Philo. The latter is more elusive than Paul in this matter, but both were familiar with the doctrine of apokatastasis or restoration, although they treated it in different ways, just as they had different views of the Law.”
The third paper, that by Volker Rabens, had as its title “Physical and Mystical Dimensions of Human Transformation in Philo and Paul.” I was not able to atttend this last session.
All papers were thoroughly researched and well footnoted. To some the papers were a little bit too long; 50 pages x 3 is demanding, especially if they are sent out just some few days before the meeting. But all in all, it is good to have Philo back at the SNTS meeting.
I just received an offprint of my most recent article, this time on 1 Peter. It is published in a volume published in memory of a Norwegian New Testament scholar, Hans Kvalbein:
The Church and Its Mission in the New Testament and Early Christianity. Essays in Memory of Hans Kvalbein, edited by David E. Aune and Reidar Hvalvik. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen Zum Neuen Testament, Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck. Siebeck.2018.
My own contribution is : “‘Like Newborn Infants..’ The Readers of 1 Peter as Newly Converted Christians?” (pp 227-242):
In a study published in 2005 on acculturation and assimilation in 1 Peter, I argued, in opposition to the views on acculturation of both John H. Elliott and David Balch,that the burning issue in 1 Peter was not how to cope with current Greco-Roman society (social acculturation and assimilation issues), but that “the Christians of 1 Peter are first generation Christians, that is, they are still in a process of being socialized into the Christian worldview.” I also argued that they were perceived of as in a kind of liminal situation as newly converted Christians, and that their attitudes to Greco-Roman institutions were a secondary aspect of the author’s strategy in this letter, and thus more a consequence of the intended primary acculturation into the Christian faith and ways of living than as a program of acculturation or assimilation to Greco-Roman society.
An important premise in this view is the issue of whether or not the readers can really be understood as relatively new as Christians. In the present study, I would like to elaborate on this question, trying to substantiate my view that they were considered fairly recently converted Christians. I might admit that there is no single statement in the letter providing a clear-cut answer, but, as I argue, the cumulative effect of some passages supports the conclusion that the addressees were considered first generation Christians, probably as having been Christians for just a few years.
Shocking news from BibleWorks arrived today:
A special note to our friends…
BibleWorks has been serving the church for 26 years by providing a suite of professional tools aimed at enabling students of the Word to “rightly divide the word of truth”. But it has become increasingly apparent over the last few years that the need for our services has diminished to the point where we believe the Lord would have us use our gifts in other ways. Accordingly as of June 15, 2018 BibleWorks will cease operation as a provider of Bible software tools. We make this announcement with sadness, but also with gratitude to God and thankfulness to a multitude of faithful users who have stayed with us for a large part of their adult lives. We know that you will have many questions going forward and we will do our best to answer some of them here.
Prof. em. Karl-Gustav Sandelin has been challenged – and helped – by a grandchild to set up a personal webpage, and here is the nice result:
Have a look!
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):
- power emanates from the eye (or mouth) and strikes some object or person;
- the stricken object is of value, and its destruction or injury is sudden;
- the one casting the evil eye may not know he has the power;
- the one affected may not be able to identify the source of power;
- the evil eye can be deflected or its effects modified or cured bt particular devices, rituals, and symbols;
- the belief helps to explain or rationalize sickness, misfortune, or loss of possessions such as animal or crops;
- 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.
Professor emeritus, dr.theol, Ph.D., Peder J. Borgen, is celebrating his 90th birthday this weekend. The day is today; January the 26th., but it will surely be celebrated the whole weekend!
Congratulations to Peder Borgen from ‘Philonica et Neotestamentica’!
Wikipedia correctly states that “He is considered a pioneer “within the theological scientific community in Norway and was the first Methodist and the first member of a Norwegian Free Church who took the theological doctorate at a Norwegian university. He was also the first non-Lutheran who became a professor at a Norwegian University when he in 1973 became a professor of New Testament at the University of Trondheim. He retired in 1997, but is still active, informed engaged. His most recent article is about to be published this spring.