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Philo seminars

UPDATE: All the papers for the Philo Seminars have now been posted, and are uploaded on the server: go to

Philo at SBL Annual Meeting, II

In addition to the Philo Seminar sessions mentioned below, there are some other sessions too that should be interesting for a Philo reader. I list them here as they are given in the SBL Program book (Philo lectures in blue):

S19-221 Hellenistic Judaism; Cultic Personnel in the Biblical World; Greco-Roman Religions. Joint Session With: Hellenistic Judaism, Cultic Personnel in the Biblical World, Greco-Roman Religions.
11/19/2018. 1:00 PM to 3:30 PM
Room: Capitol Ballroom 6 (Fourth Level) – Hyatt Regency (HR)

Theme: Making Priests: Intersections of Discourse and Practice in the Hellenistic and Greco-Roman Eastern Mediterranean

Lutz Doering, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, Presiding

Jared W. Saltz, Florida College
“Moses Made Arrangements for the Sacrifices That Were Utterly Different from Those of Other Races…” Hecataeus of Abdera’s Portrayal of the Jewish Priesthood in Ptolemaic Egypt (25 min)
Jonathan Trotter, Lewis University
Alexandrian Jews’ Vicarious Participation in the Jerusalem Temple: Philo of Alexandria’s Hieropompoi as Community Representatives and Priests (25 min)
Mary Julia Jett, Saint Francis College
Throw Water at It: Water Purification Entrance Rites during the Greco-Roman Period (25 min)
Wally V. Cirafesi, University of Oslo
The Place of Priests in the Ancient Synagogue (25 min)
Sung Soo Hong, University of Texas at Austin
A Religiopolitical Reconfiguration of the Urban Space: The Functions of the Salutaris Foundation as an Imperial Cult (25 min)

Discussion (25 min)

S19-311 Corpus Hellenisticum Novi Testamenti
11/19/2018 4:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Room: Capitol Ballroom 2 (Fourth Level) – Hyatt Regency

Theme: Atheism in Antiquity

Trevor Thompson, University of Chicago, Presiding

Tim Whitmarsh, University of Cambridge
The Invention of Atheism and the Invention of Religion (30 min)
Paula F. Fredriksen, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
“The Gods of My Unbelief are Magnificent”: Jews, Gods, and Israel’s God in the Early Roman Period (30 min)
J. Albert Harrill, Ohio State University
Atheist Lists as an Organizing Technique in Classical Literary Culture (30 min)
Richard A. Wright, Abilene Christian University
“Out with the Christians, . . . Out with the Epicureans!” Atheism and Constructing the Other in Antiquity (30 min)

Discussion (30 min)

S20-135 Slavery, Resistance, and Freedom
11/20/2018. 9:00 AM to 11:30 AM

Room: 705 (Street Level) – Convention Center (CC)

Kathy Gaca, Vanderbilt University, Presiding (5 min)

David Bosworth, The Catholic University of America
Slavery and Infanticide: The Abandonment of Moses and Ishmael (25 min)
Kenneth Fox, University of Calgary
Philo of Alexandria and Sex with Pretty Little Slave Girls (25 min)
Joseph E. Brito, Concordia University – Université Concordia
Appropriating the Title of “Servant of God” in the Second Century CE: Slavery and Identity in the Acts of Paul and Thecla (25 min)
Chris de Wet, University of South Africa
Slavery in the Life of Euphemia and the Goth (25 min)

Discussion (15 min)


Philo at SBL Annual Meeting I

Here is a list over the most important sessions in which there will be presented papers on Philo of Alexandria. In addition to the sessions of the Philo Seminar, there will be presented one or more papers on Philo in several other sessions, some other papers will also deal with him to some extent. It is, however, somewhat difficult to get an overview of all these latter papers, as Philo is often not mentioned in the main headline, or in the abstracts. However, there is still a lot on Philo:

S18-339  Philo of Alexandria
11/18/2018 4:00 PM to 6:45 PM
Room: Mile High Ballroom 4D (Lower Level) – Convention Center (CC)

Theme: Studies on Philo of Alexandria
Seminar papers will be available online later at

Ronald Cox, Pepperdine University, Presiding

Courtney Friesen, University of Arizona
Philo of Alexandria and the Masks of Heracles (25 min)
Tyler A. Stewart, Lincoln Christian University
The Origin of Evil and Subordinate Creators: Philo’s Exegesis of Gen 1:26 in Context(25 min)
Luiz Felipe Ribeiro, University of Toronto
Pederast Playthings and Androgynous Souls: Philo Judaeus’ Polemic against Socratic Pedagogic Pederasty in the Symposium (Vit. Cont. 57–64) (25 min)
Break (10 min)
Richard A Zaleski, University of Chicago
Philo’s Double Paraphrase of the Parting of the Red Sea in Mos. 1.175–79 and 2.250–55 (25 min)
John Sehorn, Augustine Institute
Philo and Origen on Moses as Prophet (25 min)
Discussion (30 min)

S19-136 Philo of Alexandria
11/19/2018 9:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Room: Mile High Ballroom 1E (Lower Level) – Convention Center (CC)

Theme: Reflections on Writing a Commentary

Gregory Sterling, Yale Divinity School, Presiding (5 min)

Ellen Birnbaum, Cambridge, MA
Some Things I Learned from Cowriting a Commentary on Philo’s De Abrahamo (25 min)
David Runia, University of Melbourne
Writing Commentaries on Philo’s Allegorical Treatises (25 min)
Break (10 min)
Joan Taylor, King’s College – London
Writing a Commentary on De Vita Contemplativa (25 min)
Presenter Withdrew (25 min)
Discussion (35 min)


S19-329 Philo of Alexandria
11/19/2018. 4:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Room: Mile High Ballroom 4F (Lower Level) – Convention Center (CC)

Theme: Philo’s “On the Sacrifices of Cain and Abel”
Seminar papers will be available online at

Justin Rogers, Freed-Hardeman University
Commentary on the Sacrifices of Cain and Abel (25 min)
James Royse, Claremont, CA
New and Neglected Readings from De sacrificiis and Other Works of Philo (25 min)

Break (10 min)

Scott Mackie, Independent Scholar
“God Has Had Mercy on Me”: Theology and Soteriology in De sacrificiis Abelis et Caini (25 min)
Ronald Cox, Pepperdine University
Philo’s Allegorical Interpretation of Sacrifice in “On the Sacrifices of Cain and Abel” (25 min)
Discussion (25 min)
Business Meeting (15 min)

Philo at the SNTS Meeting

IMG_0276At 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.

Update: S19-138 Philo Seminar

All the papers for the S19-138 Philo of Alexandria Seminar are now available at my site here:

Philo Seminar, The SBL Annual Meeting 2017

The papers to be discussed at The SBL Annual Meeting 2017 Philo Seminar, that is S 19-138: Philo of Alexandria (at 11/19/2017 9:00 AM to 11:45 AM Room: 103 (Plaza Level) – Hynes Convention Center (HCC)) on the Philo’s De Cherubim, with Ronald Cox, Pepperdine University, Presiding, is about to be available at my website here:

The rest of the papers will be made available as soon as I receive them from the writers.


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.