Dieter Zeller 1939-2014

Zeller_DieterProf David T. Runia has kindly informed me that Prof Dr. Dieter Zeller passed away February 16. 2014.

Prof. Zeller was active as a professor at the University of Mainz 1982-2004, when he retired.
He published several works on Philo; see the reference at the bottom of this page. He was also for some years a contributor to the Philo bibliography, published yearly in Studia Philonica.  Some more bibliography is also found in this Wikipedia article.

The Catholic-Theological Faculty has published this obituary:
Dieter Zeller, geboren in Freiburg i. Br., studierte Philosophie, Theologie und  Bibelwissenschaften  in Freiburg und Rom. 1967 erwarb er das Lizentiat in Bibelwissenschaften am  Päpstlichen Bibelinstitut in Rom, 1972 wurde er in Freiburg zum Dr. theol. promoviert. Mit  einer Arbeit zu den weisheitlichen Mahnsprüchen bei den Synoptikern habilitierte er sich  1976 in Freiburg für das Fach Neutestamentliche Exegese und Bibeltheologie. Es folgten  Lehraufträge in Frankfurt, Darmstadt, Heidelberg und Jerusalem, bevor Dieter Zeller 1980 die  Professur für Neues Testament in Luzern antrat. 1982 erhielt er den Ruf an die Johannes  Gutenberg-Universität Mainz und lehrte bis 1984 als Professor für Neues Testament an der  Katholisch-Theologischen Fakultät. Im Anschluss erhielt er eine Professur für Religionswissenschaft  des Hellenismus im Fachbereich Philologie III der Universität Mainz, die er bis  zu seiner Emeritierung im Jahre 2004 innehatte. 1989 ernannte ihn die Evangelisch-Theologische
Fakultät der Universität Heidelberg zum Honorarprofessor.
Durch seine rege Forschungstätigkeit und durch zahlreiche bedeutsame Veröffentlichungen  im Bereich der Exegese des Neuen Testaments sowie zu Fragen des frühen Christentums und  dessen antiker Umwelt erwarb sich Dieter Zeller international höchste Anerkennung in der  Fachwelt. Die thematischen Schwerpunkte seines Arbeitens lagen zum einen in der  Rekonstruktion und Erforschung der Logienquelle Q, wo er mit einer ganzen Reihe von einschlägigen  Aufsätzen und einem Kommentar zur Logienquelle Grundlegendes geleistet hat.
Für den Bereich der Religionsgeschichte des Hellenismus sind zudem insbesondere seine
Studien zu Philo von Alexandrien zu nennen. Großes Augenmerk und breite Beschäftigung
widmete Zeller vor allem auch den Schriften des Apostels Paulus. Ein Kommentar zum
Römerbrief erschien 1985 in der Reihe „Regensburger Neues Testament“, ein umfänglicher  Kommentar zum Ersten Korintherbrief entstand noch nach seiner Emeritierung für die renommierte  Reihe „Kritisch-exegetischer Kommentar über das Neue Testament“ und erschien im  Jahr 2010. Trotz krankheitsbedingter Einschränkungen war Dieter Zeller unermüdlich und bis  kurz vor seinem Tod in der Forschung tätig, hielt Vorträge in Fachkreisen und publizierte in  diversen Aufsatzbänden und Fachzeitschriften.
Sein wissenschaftliches Engagement und sein stets an der Sache interessiertes, kritisches
Fachurteil waren ebenso geschätzt wie sein freundliches Wesen in der persönlichen
Begegnung. Neben großer Gelehrsamkeit zeichnete Dieter Zeller auch eine der Öffentlichkeit  vielleicht weniger bekannte, gleichwohl bemerkenswerte künstlerische Veranlagung aus.
Die Johannes Gutenberg-Universität und die Katholisch-Theologische Fakultät werden Dieter  Zeller ein ehrendes Andenken bewahren.
Mainz, 19. Februar 2014
Universitätsprofessor Dr. Gerhard Kruip
Dekan der Katholisch-Theologischen Fakultät
Universitätsprofessor Dr. Konrad Huber, Professor für Neues Testament
……………………………………………………

Those interested in his works on both Philo and the New Testament should consult his collection of articles, published in 2011:
Dieter Zeller, Studien zu Philo und Paulus
Bonner Biblische Beitrage 165
V&R Unipress/ Bonn University Press, 2011 (300pp).

Birger Gerhardsson 1926 – 2013.

Memory and manuscript By way of a note in Facebook (by Gunnar Samuelsson), I become aware of the sad fact that prof. emeritus teol.dr.  Birger Gerhardsson died the night between 24 and 25 of December.
Birger Gerhardsson was born Sept. 26th, 1926 in Vesterbotten. He was ordained as pastor in 1953, became teol.lic. 1956, teol.dr. in 1961 at Uppsala University, and professor in New Testament exegesis in at Lund University in 1965. He worked here until his retirement. Prof. Gerhardsson was to some extent influenced by Harald Riesenfeld (Uppsala) and his views of the gospel traditions, but developed his own viewpoints much further in his dissertation of 1961 : “Memory and Manuscript; Oral Tradition and Written Transmission in Rabbinic Judaism and Early Christianity.” Thesis, Uppsala., 1961. In his thesis he argued for the need to take advantage of the views of the rabbis on how traditions were formed and transmitted, and applied this to the gospel traditions (cp 1 Cor 15:1ff). His views were further developed in his Tradition and Transmission in Early Christianity, Coniectanea Neotestamentica, 20. Lund,: C.W.K. Gleerup, 1964, and these two works were later republished in one volume by Eerdmans (19 98; see picture above). Gerhardsson here argued for the use of memorization by the early Christians, partly influenced by rabbinic methods of learning in the transmission of the Jesus tradition. This thesis came under severe criticism claiming that he was guilty of projecting post-135 CE views on tradition back in to the pre-70 CE period. But Gerhardsson never claimed that the rabbinic methods as a whole could be traced back to before 70 CE, he always distinguished materials about education from the Tannaitic and Amoraic periods. Later scholars as M. Hengel, R. Bauckham and S. Byrskog have built further on some of Gerhardsson’s viewpoints. In order to understand the context and focus of this work of Gerhardsson, the interested readers should read his Preface in the reprint edition of 1998 (pp. ix-xxiii), as well as the Foreword by Jacob Neusner, one of his former critics (pp. xxv-xlvi). Both are very informative.
Prof. Gerhardsson also published several studies related to The Gospel of Matthew; e.g., The testing of God’s son. (Matt. 4: 1-11 & par.): An analysis of an early Christian midrash (1966); The mighty acts of Jesus according to Matthew (1979); The shema in the New Testament: Deut 6:4-5 in significant passages (1996). Several of his studies was also published in Swedish. To the general student of the New Testament Gerhardsson was probably best known for the textbook he edited but did not write, published first in 1969, and in several later reprints (En Bok om Nya Testamentet).
In 1996 he was honored by a symposium on Matthew and a Festschrift (Matteus och hans läsare – förr och nu : Matteussymposiet i Lund den 27-28 sept 1996 : en hyllning till professor Birger Gerhardsson som fyllde 70 år den 26 september 1996 / red.: Birger Olsson, Samuel Byrskog och Walter Übelacker (Series: Religio 48, Lund 1996), and in 2009 another volume was published (Werner H. Kelber, Samuel Byrskog, eds, Jesus in memory: traditions in oral and scribal perspectives. Waco, Tex. : Baylor University Press, 2009) that was both a dialogue and to a large extent an appraisal of Gerhardsson’s views.
Prof. Gerhardsson was an engaged Christian and a brilliant scholar; he will be missed by many, but his works will still be discussed for years to come.

Additions.

More words of tribute here.

See also here: http://evangelicaltextualcriticism.blogspot.se/2014/01/rip-birger-gerhardsson-1926-2013.html

 

New book by Peder Borgen!

57830Prof. emeritus, dr.theol. Peder Borgen, who is getting 86 in January and still going strong, is having a new book coming out this year:

Peder J. Borgen, The Gospel of John: More Light from Philo, Paul and Archaeology. The Scriptures, Tradition, Exposition, Settings, Meaning.
Novum Testamentum Supplements 154. Leiden; Brill 2014.

I have only seen the publisher’s test edition at their boot at SBL Annual Meeting last November, but they announce 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.”

You can find the list of contents at the bottom of this page. The volume seems to contain several studies that have been previously published in various contexts, but – as far as I can read from the list of contents – there are probably also some not yet published. I, for my part, am particularly looking forward to read the 15th chapter in this volume;  Summary: John, Archaeology, Philo, Paul, other Jewish Sources. John’s Independence of the Synoptics. Where My Journey of Research Has Led Me.

The book is still listed as ‘forthcoming’ on Brill’s webside, but hopefully it should be out early in 2014. Congratulations to a good friend and a brilliant scholar!

Festschrift for Andreas Lindemann

LindemannMohr Siebeck is Publishing another great Festskrift, this time in honor of Andreas Lindemann, at his 70th birthday:

Paulus – Werk und Wirkung. Festschrift für Andreas Lindemann zum 70. Geburtstag. Hrsg. v. Paul-Gerhard Klumbies u. David S. du Toit, unter Mitwirk. v. Torsten Jantsch u. Nils Neumann
2013. XII, 823 pages.  — forthcoming in October 2013

The volume, published in German, contains 32 articles written by internationally renowned scholars on the work and the impact of Paul. The list  of contents can be viewed here.

One article is dealing also with Philo, and as articles published in festschriften are often not that easy to find, I give the  full info here:

Judith M. Gundry: 1 Cor 7:5b in the Light of a Hellenistic-Jewish Tradition on Abstinence to “Devote Leisure”. Sufficiency in Paul and Philo

I have not seen the volume yet, but I would be surprised if not also the following study would in some way also touch upon the Works of Philo: Friedrich Wilhelm Horn: Paulus und die Kardinaltugenden
The volume comprises 840 pages, and the price is just as massive: € 164 //ca 225 USD.

A new volume from prof. K.-G. Sandelin

Among the Philo volumes I bought at SBL last November, was also the quite new volume by Karl-Gustav Sandelin, Finland.
In 2008 he was able to published a collection of his articles originally published in Sweedish. You can read more about this volume here.
Now there is another volume out.

Karl-Gustav Sandelin,
Attraction and Danger of Alien Religion. Studies in Early Judaism and Christianity
Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 290
Mohr-Siebeck; Tubingen, 2012.

This volume contains 11 articles, originally published in the years from 1991 to 2006. Two of the articles are not previously published.
The complete list of studies published in this volume can be given thus:

Jews and alien Religious Practices during the Hellenistic Age (2006)
The Danger of Idolatry According to Philo of Alexandria (1991)
Philo’s Ambivalence towards Statues (2001)
Does Paul Argue against Sacramentalism and Over-Confidence in 1 Cor 10:1-14? (1995)
“Do not be Idolators!” (1 Cor 10:17) (1995)
Drawing the Line: Paul on Idol Food and Idolatry in 1 Cor 8:1-11:1 (2003).
Does Paul warn the Corinthians Not to eat Demons?
Philo and Paul on Alien Religion: A Comparison (2005)
The Jesus-Tradition and Idolatry (1996)
Attraction and Danger of Alien Religion in the Revelation of John
Conclusions

As the publisher says on the frontleaf page:
“Early Judaism and early Christianity emerged during the Hellenistic and early Roman imperial era. They were, naturally, confronted with the Hellenistic and the Roman religion. The question therefore arose as to whether Jews or Christians were free to participate in religious activities alien to the religious heritage of their own. In his articles, Karl-Gustav Sandelin presents documentary material showing that this problem was a burning issue within Judaism from the beginning of the Hellenistic period until the end of the first century C.E. Several Jewish individuals converted to the Hellenistic or the Roman religion. Such behavior was also discussed and generally condemned, for example by the Books of Maccabees and authors such as Philo of Alexandria and Flavius Josephus. A similar problem is to be found in the New Testament, notably in the letters of Paul, especially in the first letter to the Corinthians and in the Revelation of John.” This description of the issues dealt with in the nice volume is so accurate that it can hardly be bettered.
Congratulations to prof. Sandelin on this new collection of articles!

The One God and the Many


My PhD student from Cameroon, Rev Ruben Ngozo – lecturer in New Testament studies, Lutheran Institute of Theology, Meiganga, Cameroon – defended his PhD thesis in a public disputation on August 24, here at The School of Mission and Theology, Stavanger -Norway.

The title of Rev Ngozo’s thesis is The One God and the Many Gods: Monotheism and Idolatry in 1 Cor 8:1-11:1 in Light of Philo’s Writings, and the thesis has been supervised by Professor Torrey Seland. External members of the doctoral committee – who also served as opponents in the public defence – were Professor Jean-Claude Loba-Mkole, United Bible Societies (Nairobi) & University of Pretoria (South Africa), and Professor Karl Olav Sandnes, Norwegian School of Theology (Oslo). The internal member of the committee has been Postdoc. Anna Rebecca Solevåg. The disputation was headed by Prorector for research Knut Holter. A summary of the thesis is available here.

The next book to buy!

Studies of the New Testament christology have always interested me; it started out while reading Oscar Cullmann’s Christology of the New Testament while being a young student. Now there is soon to be published another book that might prove to be just as interesting: I am thinking about the announced book by Matthew V. Novenson, Christ among the Messiahs: Christ Language in Paul and Messiah Language in Ancient Judaism (New York: Oxford University Press (UK) or Oxford University Press (USA), 2012).

The description provided by the publisher should wet the appetite for anyone with similar interests:
“Recent scholarship on ancient Judaism, finding only scattered references to messiahs in Hellenistic- and Roman-period texts, has generally concluded that the word ”messiah” did not mean anything determinate in antiquity. Meanwhile, interpreters of Paul, faced with his several hundred uses of the Greek word for ”messiah,” have concluded that christos in Paul does not bear its conventional sense. Against this curious consensus, Matthew V. Novenson argues in Christ among the Messiahs that all contemporary uses of such language, Paul’s included, must be taken as evidence for its range of meaning. In other words, early Jewish messiah language is the kind of thing of which Paul’s Christ language is an example.

Looking at the modern problem of Christ and Paul, Novenson shows how the scholarly discussion of christos in Paul has often been a cipher for other, more urgent interpretive disputes. He then traces the rise and fall of ”the messianic idea” in Jewish studies and gives an alternative account of early Jewish messiah language: the convention worked because there existed both an accessible pool of linguistic resources and a community of competent language users. Whereas it is commonly objected that the normal rules for understanding christos do not apply in the case of Paul since he uses the word as a name rather than a title, Novenson shows that christos in Paul is neither a name nor a title but rather a Greek honorific, like Epiphanes or Augustus.

Focusing on several set phrases that have been taken as evidence that Paul either did or did not use christos in its conventional sense, Novenson concludes that the question cannot be settled at the level of formal grammar. Examining nine passages in which Paul comments on how he means the word christos, Novenson shows that they do all that we normally expect any text to do to count as a messiah text. Contrary to much recent research, he argues that Christ language in Paul is itself primary evidence for messiah language in ancient Judaism.” (Thanks to Larry Hurtado on FB for the reference..)

Pauline Churches and Diaspora Jews

For those of you have read and enjoyed  John M. G. Barclay’s study Jews in the Mediteranean Diaspora: from Alexander to Trajan (T&T Clark, 1996), it might be interesting to note that he has a collection of articles coming out this year:

Barclay, John M.G.,  Pauline Churches and Diaspora Jews. Studies in the Social Formation of Christian Identity.
Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament I. Mohr-Siebeck, 2011. 400 pages (est.). — forthcoming in August 2011. ISBN 978-3-16-150619-2. cloth € 110.00 (est.)

“In these seminal essays – some previously published, some newly written – John M.G. Barclay examines aspects of the construction of early Christian identity, especially within the Pauline tradition (during and after Paul’s lifetime). Treating topics as diverse as food, family, money, circumcision, constitutional theory,and ethnic stereotypes, these essays place Christian communities in close comparison with Diaspora Judaism” (quoted from the publisher’s presentation).

New Philo studies

Summer vacation is over for at least some of us, and it is time to focus on work; on reading  and writing. Here is a couple of Philo studies that are about to be published. They might prove interesting to some of you and should be included in the library of your institution:

Worthington, Jonathan Creation in Paul and Philo. The Beginning and Before. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 2. Reihe. Mohr – Siebeck, ca. 300 Seiten— erscheint im September 2011.
ISBN 978-3-16-150839-4. fadengeheftete Broschur ca. € 65.00

The publishers announcement runs: “Jonathan Worthington untersucht die Protologie des Paulus, indem er dessen Interpretation der Schöpfungsgeschichten – vor allem den Beginn von Genesis – analysiert. Die Exegesen in den Korintherbriefen und im Römerbrief und der Vergleich derselben mit den zwar zeitgenössischen, doch viel detailierteren Untersuchungen des Philo von Alexandria in dessen Kommentar zu Genesis 1-2, De Opificio Mundi , zeigen einen Interpretationsansatz, den beide Autoren anwenden. Die Deutung der Schöpfung bei Paulus enthält, wie auch Philos Kommentar, drei miteinander verwobene Aspekte: den Anfang der Welt, den Anfang der Menschheit und Gottes Absichten vor diesem Beginn. Die Erkenntnis dieses hermeneutischen Bedeutungsspiels zwischen „dem Anfang“ und dem „Davor“ ermöglicht einen angemessenen Vergleich der Texte des Paulus und des Philo. Gleichzeitig wirft sie ein neues Licht auf schwierige und viel diskutierte Passagen in den Werken beider Autoren.”

Anderson, Charles A. Philo of Alexandria’s Views of the Physical World.
 Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 2.Reihe 309. Mohr – Siebeck. 299 Seiten— erscheint im August 2011
ISBN 978-3-16-150640-6. fadengeheftete Broschur € 74.00

The publisher’s announcement on this runs thus: “Philo von Alexandrien verbindet die biblische Interpretation und die griechisch-römische Kosmologie in einer scheinbar gegensätzlichen Art und Weise: einerseits verkörpert die äußere Welt Gottes’ Feind, andererseits auch seinen Sohn und sein größtes Werk. Charles A. Anderson untersucht sechs Schlüsselbegriffe für Philo, einschließlich Kosmos , Physis (und Naturgesetz), und erörtert, daß seine Gegensätzlichkeit am besten perspektivisch verstanden werden kann. Die Perspektive aus einem niedrigen Blickwinkel sieht die Welt positiv und als ein Mittel, Gott zu begreifen und wie er zu werden; während die Perspktive aus einem höheren Blickwinkel die Welt negativ und als ein Hindernis auf dem Weg zum wahren Bund mit Gott sieht. Philo ist im Grunde ein kosmologischer Pessimist und unterscheidet sich deshalb überraschend von den Hauptströmungen der Heiligen Schrift und des Platonismus.”