New Book: Crossing Borders

The English version of my Norwegian biography of prof. Peder Borgen has just recently been published by Wipf & Stock. It is a somewhat revised version of the Norwegian edition, somewhat more aimed at an international reader:

Torrey Seland, Crossing Borders. The Life and Work of Peder Borgen in Context. Foreword by Paul Anderson. Eugene, Or.: Wipf and Stock, Sept 2022. $42 paperback; $62 hardback. 330 pages.

The volume is now also available at and other Amazon sites.

Abstract (as written on the back leaf): “The intention of this biography is–on the one hand–to describe what happened as Peder Borgen (b. 1928) grew up and tried to establish himself as a theologian and a New Testament scholar in his Norwegian and Lutheran state-church context. On the other hand, it also describes how his development and life as a student of the New Testament and Philo of Alexandria were influenced by his minority background and the borders he had to cross to achieve his goals. Crossing Borders is thus a description of the life and work of a Norwegian Methodist, scholar, church politician, ecumenist, and an internationally acclaimed writer on the Gospel of John and Philo of Alexandria. Students of both the New Testament and Philo of Alexandria should feel enlightened by this volume of how context may influence both a person and his scholarly achievements.”

Elemente des Universums in Philos De Vita Mosis

Steyn, G. J. “Elemente des Universums in Philos De Vita Mosis: Kosmologische Theologie oder theologische Kosmologie?”. In  Steyn, G. J. (ed.), Neutestamentliche KosmologienHerkunft, Gestalt, Rezeption. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill | Schöningh, 2022, 23–45.


Abstract: “This contribution investigates how Philo’s understanding of the universe, and particularly its four basic elements as taught by the Greek philosophers, influenced his description of the God of Israel’s world in which the Moses-narrative unfolds. Given the fact that Philo was a theologian par excellence, the question can be asked whether Philo’s approach is closer to what one might call „theological cosmology“ or rather closer to „cosmological theology“? After a brief survey of Philo’s inclination to interpret Jewish history in the light of Greek cosmology, the study proceeds with his universe as symbolised by the high priest’s vestments. The τετρακτύς with its ten points of harmony is a key to Philo’s symbolism and numerology. It is concluded that Philo is not writing cosmology per se in his De Vita Mosis, but he is writing a theology that sketches the cosmic superiority and involvement of Israel’s God against the backdrop of Greek cosmology as it was influenced by Pythagoras’ geometry and numerology as well as by Plato’s philosophy. In this sense his account in the De Vita Mosis is closer to a cosmological theology. He utilises the cosmological picture of the Graeco-Hellenistic world in order to introduce and present the powerful nature and qualities of Israel’s God.”

Karl-Gustav Sandelin 1940-2022

A couple of days ago I was informed of the sad news that the Finnish Prof.em. Karl-Gustav Sandelin died on July 18. There will be a funeral on August 13.

Karl-Gustav Sandelin was born on April 1, 1940, and studied at the University of Helsinki from 1959-62. He then moved to Åbo Akademi University and received his Master of Theology there in 1964. He was an ASLA-Fulbright student at Harvard University in 1967-68, then worked as a Pastor for a few years before returning to Åbo as a teacher of Greek and New Testament exegesis. He gained a licentiate degree in theology there in 1973, and his doctoral degree in 1977. In 1981 he became a lecturer in biblical languages and exegesis, and in 1995 he was appointed professor of New Testament Exegesis, still at Åbo. His doctoral dissertation dealt with a topic from 1 Corinthians, later he also published on Philo of Alexandria, and he will thus be well-known to Philo scholars. Karl-Gustav was a mild and friendly person; pleasant to work with and cooperative. He retired in 2006.

In 2000, he was given a Festschrift at his 60th Birthday, containing 10 articles, written by internationally renown scholars: A Bouquet of Wisdom. Essays in Honour of Karl-Gustav Sandelin, edited by Karl-Johan Illman, Tore Ahlbäck, Sven-Olav Back, and Risto Nurmela. Åbo: Åbo Akademi, 2000.

He had a personal webpage set up in 2018, which contains a lot of info about his life and work, including some article-length essays:

I had the pleasure of working with him when I edited Reading Philo. A Handbook to Philo of Alexandria (published 2014), a project that, in fact, was initiated by him in a somewhat larger scale, but when that turned out not to be realizable, he -as he had by then retired – accepted that I proceeded on his idea and he even participated with a very interesting piece on ‘Philo as a Jew.’ I believe that this was one of his last scholarly articles published internationally.

As for his major publications (books), see the following works:

Die Auseinandersetzung mit der Weisheit in 1 Korinther 15. Åbo: Åbo Academi (Meddelanden från Stiftelsens før Åbo Akademi forskningsinstitut, 12 (Diss.).

Wisdom as Nourisher: A Study of an Old Testament Theme, Its Development Within Early Judaism and Its Impact on Early Christianity. Acta Academiae Aboensis Ser A. Humaniora, vol. 64. Åbo Akademi, 1986. UBT.

Sophia och hennes värld. Exegetiska uppsatser från fyra årtionden. Studier i exegetik och judaistik utgivna av Teologiska fakulteten vid Åbo Akademi Nr. 6. Åbo: Teologiska Fakulteten, Åbo Akademi, 2008. (Collection of articles)

Attraction and Danger of Alien Religion. Studies in Early Judaism and Christianity. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen Zum Neuen Testament 290. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2012. (A collection of articles).

Enduring Divine Discipline

Scot D. Mackie, “Enduring Divine Discipline in Philo, De congressu 157–180 and the Epistle to the Hebrews 12:5–17,” in Ancient Texts, Papyri, and Manuscripts: Studies in Honor of James R. Royse (ed. D.T. Runia, A.T. Farnes, and S.D. Mackie; NTTSD 64; Leiden: Brill, 2022), 269–301

Abstract: “The relationship of the Epistle to the Hebrews to Philo of Alexandria has been long debated. Though most scholars are pessimistic about the possibility of establishing any substantive connection between the two authors, there is widespread admission that they stand in proximate streams of Alexandrian Judaism and share somewhat similar cosmologies and metaphysics. This essay seeks to expand the potential range of their affinities by examining the remarkably similar theodicies offered in Philo’s De congressu 157–180 and Hebrews 12:5–17. Both texts pursue the same rhetorical goal (to defend the necessity of trials and tests, and the benefits of enduring adversities), quote Prov 3:11–12, and contain an extraordinary cluster of themes, including the contrast between appearance and reality, the need to correctly interpret adverse circumstances, the nature and role of παιδεία, confessing “kinship” with God, “looking ahead” to a reward, and the life of faith as an agonistic/athletic contest. “

New article by Paula Fredriksen

Fredriksen, P. (2022). “Philo, Herod, Paul, and the Many Gods of Ancient Jewish “Monotheism””. Harvard Theological Review, 115(1), 23-45. DOI:


“Many gods lived in the Roman Empire. All ancient peoples, including Jews and, eventually, Christians, knew this to be the case. Exploring the ways that members of these groups thought about and dealt with other gods while remaining loyal to their own god, this essay focuses particularly on the writings and activities of three late Second Temple Jews who highly identified as Jews: Philo of Alexandria, Herod the Great, and the apostle Paul. Their loyalty to Israel’s god notwithstanding, they also acknowledged the presence, the agency, and the power of foreign deities. Reliance on “monotheism” as a term of historical description inhibits our appreciation of the many different social relationships, human and divine, that all ancient Jews had to navigate. Worse, “monotheism” fundamentally misdescribes the religious sensibility of antiquity.”

Plutarch, Philo and the New Testament

Hirsch-Luipold, Rainer (ed.), “Part 2. Plutarch, Philo and the New Testament”. In: Plutarch and the New Testament in Their Religio-Philosophical Contexts. Bridging Discourses in the World of the Early Roman Empire. Series Brill’s Plutarch Studies, Volume 9, Leiden, Brill

Pleše, Zlatko (2022). ““God Is the Measure of All Things”: Plutarch and Philo on the Benefits of Religious Worship”. In: Rainer Hirsch-Luipold (ed.), Plutarch and the New Testament in Their Religio-Philosophical Contexts. Bridging Discourses in the World of the Early Roman Empire. Series Brill’s Plutarch Studies, Volume 9. Leiden: Brill, 87–108. DOI:

Sterling, Gregory E. (2022). “When East and West Meet: Eastern Religions and Western Philosophy in Philo of Alexandria and Plutarch of Chaeronea”. In: Rainer Hirsch-Luipold (ed.), Plutarch and the New Testament in Their Religio-Philosophical Contexts. Bridging Discourses in the World of the Early Roman Empire. Series Brill’s Plutarch Studies, Volume 9. Leiden: Brill, 109–124. DOI:

Reydams-Schils, Gretchen (2022). “Philautia, Self-Knowledge, and Oikeiôsis in Philo of Alexandria and Plutarch”. In: Rainer Hirsch-Luipold (ed.), Plutarch and the New Testament in Their Religio-Philosophical Contexts. Bridging Discourses in the World of the Early Roman Empire. Series Brill’s Plutarch Studies, Volume 9. Leiden: Brill, 125–140. DOI:

Despotis, Athanasios (2022). “The Relation between Anthropology and Love Ethics in John against the Backdrop of Plutarchan and Philonic Ideas”. In: Rainer Hirsch-Luipold (ed.), Plutarch and the New Testament in Their Religio-Philosophical Contexts. Bridging Discourses in the World of the Early Roman Empire. Series Brill’s Plutarch Studies, Volume 9. Leiden: Brill, 141–161. DOI:

Elschenbroich, Julian (2022). “The Mechanics of Death: Philo’s and Plutarch’s Views on Human Death as a Backdrop for Paul’s Eschatology”. In: Rainer Hirsch-Luipold (ed.), Plutarch and the New Testament in Their Religio-Philosophical Contexts. Bridging Discourses in the World of the Early Roman Empire. Series Brill’s Plutarch Studies, Volume 9. Leiden: Brill, 162–174. DOI:

‘Ex-Pagan Pagans’?

Denys N. McDonald, “Ex-Pagan Pagans? Paul, Philo, and Gentile Ethnic Reconfiguration.” Journal for the Study of the New Testament March 2022, 1-28.

Abstract: “In Paul: The Pagans’ Apostle (2017), Paula Fredriksen reminds us that gods and their cults were intertwined with ancient ethnic groups so much so that, when Gentiles committed themselves exclusively to Israel’s God, some Jews considered this ‘tantamount to changing ethnicity’. Fredriksen claims, however, that Paul’s Gentile addressees – whom she terms ‘ex-pagan pagans’ – remain separate ethnically from Jews despite forsaking their ancestral gods for Israel’s. Given that gods and ethnicity were intertwined, this article examines if it is reasonable to conclude that Paul thinks Gentile Christ-followers remain strictly Gentiles after they have abandoned their ethnic gods and entered into a relationship with Israel and its God. I argue that, similar to Philo’s proselyte inclusion strategy, Paul incorporates Gentiles-in-Christ into ethnic Israel. As Abraham’s ‘offspring’, Paul suggests that his addressees not only gain membership in Israel’s covenant on account of Israel’s messiah, but that they also acquire a new ethnic identity despite that their prior identities as ‘the Gentiles’ are not erased. This study, then, seeks to destabilize the binary that Fredriksen posits between ethnic Israel and Paul’s Gentiles-in-Christ as ethnic ‘other’. In the end, I demonstrate that Paul’s ethnic reconfiguration of Gentile identities resembles Philo’s proselyte discourse and is more disruptive ethnically than Fredriksen’s phrase ‘ex-pagan pagans’ would suggest.”

The Studia Philonica Annual 2021

The Studia Philonica Annual 2021 / Studies in Hellenistic Judaism Volume XXXIII is now available. Editors this year too are David T. Runia and Gregory E. Sterling. Publisher: SBL Press, Atlanta.

A lot of interesting articles (as usual), a large Bibliography section dealing with Philo-related works for the year 2018, with a Supplement: A Provisional Bibliography 2019–2021, presented some of the works to be presented in the coming years. In addition, there is also a Review section, presenting 13 in-depth reviews.

The articles contained in this volume can be listed thus:

Carlos Lévy, La notion de progressant chez Philon et Sénèque: Des différences essentielles …………………………………………………………………….. 1
Carson Bay, Philo, the Gospel of John, and Two Moses Traditions: Traditionary Competition over a Cultural Icon ……………………………….. 35
Christopher S. Atkins, Human Body, Divine Image, and the Ascent of the Mind in Philo’s De plantatione………………………………………………… 73
Athanasios Despotis, Aspects of Cultural Hybridity in Philo’s Apophatic Anthropology ………………………………………………………………………………….. 91
David Satran, Repetition and Intention: Grammar and Philosophy in the Exegesis of Philo of Alexandria………………………………………………….. 109

Gregory E. Sterling, Introduction……………………………………………………….. 125
Gregory E. Sterling, The First Critical Edition of Philo: Thomas Mangey and the 1742 Edition.………………………………………………………….. 133
Abraham Terian, Aucher’s 1822 and 1826 Editions of Philonis Judaei Opera in Armenia Conservata: A History……………………………………………. 161
Michael B. Cover, Karl Ernst Richter’s Schwickert Edition: An Opera Omnia for Its Season ………………………………………………………………………… 175
James R. Royse, The Cohn-Wendland Critical Edition of Philo of Alexandria.………………………………………………………………………………………. 197

Happiness in Second Temple literature

Daniel Maier, Das Glück im antiken Judentum und im Neuen Testament. Eine Untersuchung zu den Konzepten eines guten Lebens in der Literatur des Zweiten Tempels und deren Einfluss auf die frühchristliche Wahrnehmung des Glücks, Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 2. Reihe (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2021)

A recent publication by Mohr Siebeck on ‘Happiness in Second Temple literature’ contains also an extensive chapter on Philo of Alexandria, and should thus be of special interest to Philo scholars.

Illuminations by Philo

A new collection of articles on Philo and the New Testament was published recently by Brill:

Peder Borgen, Iluminations by Philo of Alexandria. Selected Studies on Interpretation in Philo, Paul, and the Revelation of John. Edited by Torrey Seland (Studies in Philo of Alexandria 12: Leiden; Brill, 2021).

The volume contains 17 articles, all previously published in various Journals and Festschriften, and not always easy to track or find. Hence this new volume brings some of the most recent studies by prof. P. Borgen. David E. Aune introduces the volume by summarizing and characterizing each article in the collection. A very brief review of Borgen’s life and work is accessible here, as part of the introduction to the volume.

For further info about what particular studies are included in this volume, go here.