Philonica et Neotestamentica

Home » Philo

Category Archives: Philo

New book on Philo


Erkki Koskenniemi
Greek Writers and Philosophers in Philo and Josephus. A Study of Their Secular Education and Educational Ideals
(Studies in Philo of Alexandria, Volume 9) Leiden; Brill, 2019.

The Finnish scholar Erkki Koskenniemi is having a new book on Philo (and Josephus) published this year.

The contents are given thus: Preface
1 Introduction  1  The Task of the Study  2  A Brief History of the Research  3  The Outline of Graeco-Roman Education  4  A More Precise Definition of the Task
2 Philo: Offspring from Sarah and Hagar  1  Introduction  2  Philo and Greek Writers  3  Philo’s Educational Ideals and His Own Witness  4  Jews and the Secular Education in Alexandria  5 Conclusion
3 Josephus: It Is Difficult to Transplant an Old Tree  1  Introduction  2  Josephus and Greek Writers 3  Greek Language and Classical Education in Jerusalem  4  Josephus’ Own Witness and the Quality of His Greek  5  Conclusion

I think it will be interesting to see what he writes about ‘Education,’ his contribution in Reading Philo, on ‘Philo and Classical Education’ has been very well received in several reviews of that book. I presume he will elaborate on this article in his new book.


Studia Philonica 2018

The 2018 issue of The Studia Philonica Annual XXX 2018 arrived in my snail mailbox just as the SBL Annual Meeting was going on in Denver.

As usual – it contains a lot of relevant material for those interested in Philo of Alexandria and Hellenistic Judaism.

In this volume, you will find the following articles:

  • Royse, James R.  “Fragments of Philo of Alexandria Preserved in Pseudo-Eustathius.” pp.   1–14.
  • Cover, Michael B.  “A New Fragment of Philo’s Quaestiones in Exodum in Origen’s Newly Discovered Homilies on the Psalms? A Preliminary Note.” pp. 15–29.
  • Sterling, Gregory E.  “Philo of Alexandria’s Life of Moses: An Introduction to the Exposition of the Law.” pp. 31–45.
  • Adams, Sean A. “Movement and Travel in Pilo’s Migration of Abraham: The Adaptation of Genesis and the Introduction of Metaphor.” pp. 47–70.
  • Hartog, P.B. “Space and Travel in Philo’s Legatio Ad Gaium.” pp. 71–92.
  • Appelbaum, Alan.  “A Fresh Look at Philo’s Family.” pp. 93–113.

In addition, of course, there also is the usual Bibliographic Section, pp. 115-181, and the Book Review Section, pp. 183-217. And finally some News and Notes, and Notes on contributors.

This issue represents the 18th time I have contributed to the Bibliographic Section, and I have asked the editors to find some successor. I am always looking forward to the publication of this annual, and I will continue to do so. No scholar interested in Philo should go without this.

Philo seminars

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

Greek Writers and Philosophers

A new book is about to be published, written by Erkki Koskenniemi:

Greek Writers and Philosophers in Philo and Josephus
A Study of Their Secular Education and Educational Ideals
Series: Studies in Philo of Alexandria, Volume: 9
Leiden; Brill, 2018.

The advertisement has just ‘popped up’ on the Brill site, and it runs thus:
“In Greek Writers and Philosophers in Philo and Josephus Erkki Koskenniemi investigates how two Jewish writers, Philo and Josephus, quoted, mentioned and referred to Greek writers and philosophers. He asks what this tells us about their Greek education, their contacts with Classical culture in general, and about the societies in which Philo and Josephus lived. Although Philo in Alexandria and Josephus in Jerusalem both had the possibility to acquire a thorough knowledge of Greek language and culture, they show very different attitudes. Philo, who was probably educated in the gymnasium, often and enthusiastically refers to Greek poets and philosophers. Josephus on the other hand rarely quotes from their works, giving evidence of a more traditionalistic tendencies among Jewish nobility in Jerusalem.”

Price; as expected; (too) expensive: EUR €138.00USD $166.00, but tell your institution’s library to get it!

Philo and Josephus on Sarah

Two Finnish(?) scholars have recently published an article on how Philo and Josephus deal with the figure of Sarah:

Hanna Tervanotko & Elisa Uusimäki, “Sarah the Princess: Tracing the Hellenistic Afterlife of a Pentateuchal Female Figure,” Scandinavian Journal of the Old Testament 32/2 (2018): 271–290.

The Abstract runs like this:

This article analyses Philo of Alexandria’s and Josephus Flavius’s interpretations of Sarah from the viewpoint of social and political power attached to her. Both ascribe the figure royal attributes (i.e., she is depicted as a princess or queen) and other features that promote her as a virtuous model and an individual of public standing. A variety of emphases, philological and philosophical interpretations alike, jointly serve to construct Sarah’s exemplarity. The aim of this article is to demonstrate that different dimensions of biblical female figures may be revealed when their role as spouses and mothers is not taken as the starting point of analyses in studies concerning the reception history of biblical women.


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)