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Paul and the Gentiles in Acts

The Book of Acts has always been of a special interest to me, not only since the days of my dissertation work but even before. In fact, the very first article I wrote within the field of New Testament studies (and the second from my hand – the first was in Church History…), was on The Speeches in Acts, published when I was a student, trying to find my way.

DeGruyter is now announcing a new volume on Paul in Acts:

Tischler, Johannes Nikolai,
Diener des höchsten Gottes. Paulus und die Heiden in der Apostelgeschichte.
Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft 225. Berlin/New York, January 2017. 323 pages. ISBN978-3-11-045803-9. 99,95 € / $114.99 / £81.99.

I have not seen the volume yet, hence I have to rely on the publisher’s presentation of the volume, which in this case is rather brief: “The Acts of the Apostles include multiple episodes that narrate contentious encounters between Paul and the Gentiles. Its author uses these narratives as an opportunity to clarify the theological position of Luke’s Acts of the Apostles. What exactly is his position? The book addresses this specific question in the context of the thesis that Luke views Christianity as an integral part of Israel, linked to Old Testament tradition.”


New review of 1 Peter commentary

My review of Vahrenhorst, Martin, Der erste Brief des Petrus (Theologischer Kommentar zum Neuen Testament, 19) Stuttgart: Kohlhammer, 2015), has now been published by Review of Biblical Literature.

This commentary on 1 Peter is the ninth volume in a relatively new series, Theologischer Kommentar zum Neuen Testament, that is supposed to comprise twenty-three volumes. The first volume was published in 2003 (on Colossians). The author is now Privatdozent (New Testament) at Kirchliche Hochschule, Wuppertal, Germany. The series as such is thus quite new, and this is even the first volume to be presented in Review of Biblical Literature. In characterizing the series, the publisher says (on the back cover), that the commentary “steht in der Tradition klassischer historisch-kritischer Kommentarkultur der neutestamentlichen Wissenschaft.” At the same time, however, it is also stated that “Er nimmt jedoch erstmals die im christlich-jüdischen Gespräch behandelten Themen, den feministisch-theologischen Diskurs sowie sozialgeschichtliche Fragestellungen auf.”

For my comments to these claims, use the link above to read the review.

A bookreview

On, Harold Attridge has a review of the latest book published by Peder J. Borgen:

The Gospel of John: More Light from Philo, Paul and Archaeology: The Scriptures, Tradition, Exposition, Settings, Meaning (Supplements to Novum Testamentum, 154; Leiden: Brill, 2014 pp. xxi + 329. $162.00.

The publisher presents the book thus:

To Paul the traditions from and about Jesus had authority similar to that of the Scriptures: a logion or story served as text for paraphrastic expositions. Such expositions are also seen in John’s Gospel. – It is insufficient to discuss ‘John and the Synoptics’. A better scope is ‘John within early gospel traditions’.- Paul and Philo maintain a cosmic understanding of Jesus and the Jewish people, respectively. Correspondingly, Jesus is seen in cosmological perspective in John’s Prologue. Philo illuminates the role of God’s logos relative to creation and revelation. – Archaeology testifies to the reliability of John’s topographical references. Both John and Philo can combine theological and ideological elaborations with specific geographical references, historical events and religious feasts. The study has brought in material and perspectives which strengthen the view that the Gospel of John was independent of the other three written gospels.

In his review, Attridge concludes thus:

Although the presentation in this volume, based on several previously published pieces, involves a certain amount of repetition, the abundance of comparative data is valuable for any student of the Fourth Gospel. The reading of the cultural background of John in Hellenized Judaism is largely persuasive, although more could be done with the conceptual elements of that milieu. The analysis of the relationship of John to the Synoptics unduly minimalizes the parallels in both form and content, but Borgen’s suggestions will no doubt stimulate further fruitful debate on this and other crucial issues.




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:
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).

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!



SNTS in Montreal

James McGrath provides summaries of various lectures at rhe SNTS meeting in Montreal this week here: 

See also his input on Facebook and the SNTS 2016 Montreal group on Facebook.

Philo?? No, I did not see any mention of Philo in the titles of the main lectures or in the seminar sessions……

JETS review

Another review of T. Seland (ed.), Reading Philo, is available in Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society  59/1 (2016) 202-204; it is written by Kenneth Schenk.

Quite positive here too; its conclusion runs thus:

“On the whole, this handbook by Seland and these other authors is a great success. It is clearly written and effectively introduces a reader to the person and writings of this important Jewish figure from the time of Christ. The book is of great potential as a resource for evangelical scholars, and it will surely become a standard text for graduate seminars for years to come.”