Review of ‘Torah from Alexandria’ to come

leviticus
The third volume of Rabbi Michael Leo Samuel on Torah from Alexandria: Philo as Biblical Commentator, is now out.

I am to write a review of this volume for SBL Book reviews; it will probably be printed late this year.

Publisher says:

“The third volume of Torah from Alexandria sets on display how Philo interpreted the role of the Temple, offerings, festivals, dietary practices, marital laws, and laws of purity. While Philo always remains firmly committed to the importance of the actual religious act, he consistently derives ethical lessons from these ritual practices, thus putting him alongside the great Jewish philosophers of history. Reading Philo alongside Rabbinic wisdom, Greek philosophy, Patristic writers, as well as Medieval and modern authors, breathes new life into the complexities of Leviticus and reinstates Philo’s importance as a biblical exegete…..”

“Rabbi Michael L. Samuel has meticulously culled from all of Philo’s exegetical comments, and arranged them according to the biblical verses. He provides extensive parallels from rabbinic literature, Greek philosophy, and Christian theology, to present Philo’s writing in the context of his time, while also demonstrating Philo’s unique method of interpretation. Torah from Alexandria gives Philo a voice which he so richly deserves as one of the most profound Jewish exegetes and theologians.”

More reviews of Reading Philo

ReadingPhiloKen Schenk has now finished his review of Reading Philo, commenting on each and every one of the book’s chapters. He is very positive in his judgments, and concludes by saying  that

I have to consider the book a great success as an introduction to Philo. If you are an undergrad religion major of some kind and are looking to do graduate studies that will intersect with Philo, this is your book. I think this will become the standard text in graduate seminars to come.

You can find the last post (of a total of 8) here; this page also contains links to all the other postings.

 

 

Review of Reading Philo

The first review of Reading Philo, printed in a journal like publication, is now available here:

Yli-Karjanmaa, Sami. Review of Torrey Seland (ed.), Reading Philo: A Handbook to Philo of Alexandria. Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2015.06.21, http://bmcr.brynmawr.edu/2015/2015-06-21.html.

Hopefully, when the summer is over, there will be some more reviews available.

1 Peter again

One of my main interests within New Testament studies lays within studies of 1 Peter. I once even had a blog dealing with 1 Peter (Research Notes on 1 Peter), but this has been closed for several years now. It simly became too much.

But this does not mean that my interest in 1 Peter has waned, and I still try to be informed about what is published in this field.
In the latest issue of Review of Biblical Literature, there is a review of this volume:

Forbes, Greg W.,
1 Peter: Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament
Nashville: B&H, 2014 pp. xxvii + 202. $24.99.

The description of the series runs like this: “The Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament (EGGNT) closes the gap between the Greek text and the available lexical and grammatical tools, providing all the necessary information for greater understanding of the text. The series makes interpreting any given New Testament book easier, especially for those who are hard pressed for time but want to preach or teach with accuracy and authority. Each volume begins with a brief introduction to the particular New Testament book, a basic outline, and a list of recommended commentaries. The body is devoted to paragraph-by-paragraph exegesis of the Greek text and includes homiletical helps and suggestions for further study. A comprehensive exegetical outline of the New Testament book completes each EGGNT volume.”

The review can be read by clicking here.

 

Reading Philo review

Ken Schenck had a brief note on ‘Reading Philo’: A Handbook to Philo (Eerdmans, 2014), in the beginning of May (see here). Iit looked like the first part of a review , but it has not been followed up, as far as I have been able to observe. I consider Schenck a reader well versed in Philo; hence a review from his pen would have been interesting. But a full review of the volume is still something I am looking for… 🙂

García Martínez on Philo

The Review of Biblical Literature has posted some more reviews; among those published last week also one about a collection of articles, written by Florentino García Martínez:

García Martínez, Florentino, Najman, Hindy and Eibert Tigchelaar, editors, Between Philology and Theology: Contributions to the Study of Ancient Jewish Interpretation
Supplements to the Journal for the Study of Judaism, 162 Leiden: Brill, 2013 pp. xvi + 194. $149.00

Two of the eleven essays published have also a strong focus on Philo of Alexandria. The reviewer, George J. Brooke (University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom), writes thus about these studies:

In “Abraham and the Gods: The Paths to Monotheism in Jewish Religion,” the paths from monolatry to monotheism are traced through a close reading of those Second Temple period texts that portray Abraham as the inventor of monotheism. In Palestinian Judaism there is a look at Judith (still proclaiming monolatry), a reconsideration of passages from the book of Jubilees (moving toward monotheism but not yet there), and a glance at the Apocalypse of Abraham (clearly monotheistic). The precise move toward the view that there can only be one God is seen in the first-century works of Philo and Josephus in which Abraham is depicted quite explicitly as the inventor of monotheism. That move is ascribed to the influence of the Greek philosophers, whose ideas were in circulation in Judaism in the second century BCE or earlier: the Letter of Aristeas (132–138) uses the concept of philosophical monotheism, as does the author of the book of Wisdom (13:1–5). It is at the turn of the era, it is argued, that Abraham is explicitly identified as the founder of monotheism and the trajectory of scriptural and other reflections on the experience of being the people of God are combined with the logic of a single creative principle.

The other one he characterizes thus:

“Divine Sonship at Qumran and in Philo” is an exemplary summary of how key ideas emerge in sharper focus when juxtaposed with other traditions. Like all good teachers,García Martínez cites primary source texts extensively and is able to indicate very swiftly much of the distinctiveness of both Qumran and Philonic views on sonship. For the latter in particular he comments on Philo’s nonscriptural but Platonic view of the cosmos as Son of God, in fact, on the intelligible world as firstborn and the sensible world as the younger son. In relation to the firstborn, Philo is also concerned with the Logos as prōtogonos (never as prōtotokos), the guide of the whole world as a divine lieutenant, who is also cosmic high priest. In this essay there is notable appreciation for the beauty of each author’s lexical choices.

Persecution in 1 Peter – a Review

My review of Persecution in 1 Peter: Differentiating and Contextualizing Early Christian Suffering, by Travis B. Williams, have now been posted on Review of Biblical Literature. You can read the review here: Review of Williams, Persecution

This impressive book is probably also the most comprehensive study available concerning the topic of persecution in 1 Peter. While there have been many previous studies in forms of articles and a few larger sections in some commentaries, this volume will probably remain a standard presentation and a must reading for students of 1 Peter for years to come both because of its comprehensive discussion and its tightly knit argumentation. That is not to say that all readers will be convinced by all its arguments, but a serious discussion of the topic persecution in 1 Peter should not be carried out without engaging in its views and arguments.

Review of Bird, Abuse, Power and Fearful Obedience

My latest book review has now been posted on www.bookreviews.org. It concerns the book by Jennifer G. Bird, Abuse, Power and Fearful Obedience: Reconsidering 1 Peter’s Commands to Wives (Library of New Testament Studies 442 New York: T&T Clark, 2011.)
I must admit that I am not too favorable to here theses in my review. The book is, however, also a valuable example of this way of interpreteting a text. Or as I state in my review: “This study is, considering Bird’s premises and presuppositions, tightly argued and wellstructured. It might be very informative for those who want to see how a feminist, postcolonial, and materialist study might be carried out. But it is also somewhat provocative and often not very convincing.”
You might read the review for yourself here, or/and have a closer look at the book here. Another review is available here.

New book by the Norwegian scholar Halvor Moxnes

Last fall Professor Halvor Moxnes (University of Oslo) got his latest book published: Jesus and the Rise of Nationalism. A new quest for the nineteenth century historical Jesus. (I.B. Tauris, 2012.). Due to several reasons I have not been aware of the book before last month, and most recently got hold of it.

On its front leaf, we can read: “The great German theologian Albert Schweitzer famously drew a line under 19th century historical Jesus research by showing that at the bottom of the well lay not the face of Joseph’s son, but rather the features of all the New Testament scholars who had tried to reveal his elusive essence. In his thoughtful and provocative new book, Halvor Moxnes takes Schweitzer’s observation much further: the doomed “quest for the historical Jesus” was determined not only by the different personalities of the seekers who undertook it, but also by the social, cultural, and political agendas of the countries from which their presentations emerged. Thus, Friedrich Schleiermacher‘s Jesus was a teacher, corresponding with the role German teachers played in Germany’s movement for democratic socialism. Ernst Renan‘s Jesus was by contrast an attempt to represent the “positive Orient” as a precursor to the civilized self of his own French society. Scottish theologian G A Smith demonstrated in his manly portrayal of Jesus a distinctively British liberalism and Victorian moralism. Moxnes argues that one cannot understand any “life of Jesus” apart from nationalism and national identity: and that what is needed in modern biblical studies is an awareness of all the presuppositions that underlie presentations of Jesus, whether in terms of power, gender, sex, and class. Only then, he says, can we start to look at Jesus in a way that does him justice.”(Links added by TS)

The book provides interesting readings and understanding into both the culture of the nineteenth century and the emerging Jesus research, and their inter-relationships. On my part, I would have liked a similar study to also be carried out for the twentieht century; they were probably not less influenced by their own culture. And one might add, Prof. Moxnes will surely admit that he too is influenced by his culture.

In fact, the book and its author are astonishing contemporary in its preferences; to what degree he will escape allegations of being (too?) politically correct in his preferences for a post-national world order, only time can tell….

For my self, the kind of study it represents, reminds me very much of an other study, the one by Jonathan S. Perry, on The Roman Collegia: The Modern Evolution of an ancient Concept (Mnemosyne Supplements Vol CCLXXVII; Brill, Leiden, 2006). In this interesting and well-researched volume, Jonathan S. Perry describes some aspects of the development of research on the collegia from Th. Mommsen up to the present time, especially focusing–in more than half of the book–on the intersection of this research and the politics of Fascist Italy. That is, he reads the research on the ancient collegia in light of contemporary  culture. For a review of that book, one might look here.

I am really looking forward to reading prof. Moxnes’ most recent book, and congratulate him with its publication.

Studia Philonica Annual 2010

The last issue of Studia Philonica has arrived on my desk:
The Studia Philonica Annual
Studies in Hellensitic Judaism Vol XXII. 2010
Edited by David T. Runia and Gregory E. Sterling
Society of Biblical Literature, Atlanta 2010. 326 pages.

As always, there are a lot of good articles on Philo, as well as some extensive book reviews, and a Bibliography of Philonic Studies 2007.

The complete list of contents of this volume runs like this:
ARTICLES
Ekaterina Matusova, Allegorical Interpretation of the Pentateuch
in Alexandria: Inscribing Aristobulus and Philo in a Wider Literary
Context…………………………………………………………………………………………….. 1
Tatjana Alekniené, L’«extase mystique» dans la tradition platonicienne:
Philon d’Alexandrie et Plotin …………………………………………………………… 53

SPECIAL SECTION: PHILO’S DE AGRICULTURA
Gregory E. Sterling, Philo’s De Agricultura: Introduction………………….. 83
David T. Runia, The structure of Philo’s allegorical treatise
De Agricultura…………………………………………………………………………………… 87
James R. Royse, Some Observations on the Biblical Text in Philo’s
De Agricultura…………………………………………………………………………………… 111
David Konstan, Of Two Minds: Philo On Cultivation…………………………. 131

SPECIAL SECTION: PHILO’S THE HYPOTHETICA
Gregory E. Sterling, The Hypothetica: Introduction ……………………………. 139
Dulcinea Boesenberg, Philo’s Descriptions of Jewish Sabbath
Practice…………………………………………………………………………………………….. 143
Horacio Vela, Philo and the Logic of history …………………………………….. 165
Michael Cover, Reconceptualizing Conquest: Colonial Narratives and
Philo’s Roman Accuser in the Hypothetica………………………………………… 183

BIBLIOGRAPHY SECTION
D. T. Runia, K. Berthelot, E. Birnbaum, A. C. Geljon, H. M. Keizer,
J. Leonhardt-Balzer, J. P. Martín, M. R. Niehoff, T. Seland,
Philo of Alexandria: An Annotated Bibliography 2007…………………….. 209
Supplement: A Provisional Bibliography 2008–2010……………………………. 257

BOOK REVIEW SECTION
Tessa Rajak, Translation and Survival: The Greek Bible of the Ancient Jewish
Diaspora
Reviewed by Pieter W. van der Horst………………………………………….. 269
Manfred Landfester, with Brigitte Egger, eds., Geschichte der antiken
Texte: Autoren- und Werklexikon. Der neue Pauly.
Reviewed by James R. Royse …………………………………………………………… 272
Contents
viii
José Pablo Martín (ed.), Filón de Alejandría. Obras Completas I
Reviewed by Manuel Alexandre Jr………………………………………………. 276
José Pablo Martín (ed.), Filón de Alejandría. Obras Completas V
Reviewed by Manuel Alexandre Jr………………………………………………. 280
Sarah J. K. Pearce, The Land of the Body: Studies in Philo’s
Representation of Egypt
Reviewed by Gregory E. Sterling …………………………………………………. 282
Martin Goodman, Judaism in the Roman World: Collected Essays,
Rome and Jerusalem: The Clash of Ancient Civilizations
Reviewed by René Bloch………………………………………………………………… 286
Jean Riaud (ed.), Les élites dans le monde biblique
Reviewed by Katell Berthelot……………………………………………………… 290
Per Jarle Bekken, The Word is Near You: A Study of Deuteronomy
30:12–14 in Paul’s Letter to the Romans in a Jewish Context
Reviewed by Craig Keener…………………………………………………………….. 292
George H. van Kooten, Paul’s Anthropology in Context: the Image of God,
Assimilation to God, and Tripartite Man in Ancient Judaism, Ancient
Philosophy and Early Christianity
Reviewed by Gregory E. Sterling …………………………………………………. 294
Emma Wasserman, The Death of the Soul in Romans 7: Sin, Death and
the Law in Light of Hellenistic Moral Psychology
Reviewed by John T. Conroy, Jr…………………………………………………….. 298
Kenneth L. Schenck, Cosmology and Eschatology in Hebrews:
The Settings of the Sacrifice
Reviewed by Harold W. Attridge ………………………………………………… 302
Peter C. Bouteneff, Beginnings. Ancient Christian Readings of the Biblical
Creation Narratives
Reviewed by Alison G. Salvesen …………………………………………………… 305
Sabrina Inowlocki, Eusebius and the Jewish Authors: His Citation
Technique in an Apologetic Context
Reviewed by David T. Runia ………………………………………………………….. 307