Die griechische Bibel in Alexandrien

Did Philo read/use Hebrew? And/or is the legend of the miraculous creation of the Septuagint a manifesto of cultural assimilation into the Hellenic culture? These seem to be some of the questions dealt with in this new book.

Maria Sokolskaya, Die griechische Bibel in Alexandrien. Ihre Legende und die exegetische Praxis im hellenistischen Judentum. Supplements to the Journal for the Study of Judaism. Brill: Leiden, 2022. (to be published 19. Oct. 2022: E-book and Hardback).

Abstract: “The translation of the Torah into Greek in Alexandria is an intriguing puzzle. Why was it undertaken at all? Was it a need of the Alexandrian Jews? Or did the Jewish wisdom intrigue the Egyptian ruler? Is the legend of the miraculous creation of the Septuagint a manifesto of cultural assimilation into the Hellenic culture? Does the Alexandrian Greek biblical exegesis, especially that of Philo, aim to break with the Hebrew tradition? According to this book, Philo, although not fluent in Hebrew himself, moves in the same shared Hebrew-Greek Torah universe that a closer look on the Septuagint legend reveals as well.”

Abstrakt: “Die Übersetzung der Tora ins Griechische in Alexandrien ist ein intrigierendes Rätsel. Warum wurde sie überhaupt unternommen? War sie ein Bedürfnis der alexandrinischen Juden? Oder machte die jüdische Weisheit den ägyptischen Herrscher neugierig? Ist die Legende über die wundersame Entstehung der Septuaginta ein Manifest der kulturellen Assimilation an die hellenische Kultur? Bezweckt die alexandrinische griechische Bibelexegese, vor allem diejenige Philons, den Bruch mit der hebräischen Tradition und die Anpassung an die hellenistische Philosophie? Nach Ansicht dieses Buches bewegt sich Philon, obwohl selbst des Hebräischen nicht mächtig, in demselben gemeinsamen hebräisch-griechischen Tora-Universum, welches die Septuaginta-Legende bei näherer Betrachtung beschreibt.”

Karl-Gustav Sandelin 1940-2022

A couple of days ago I was informed of the sad news that the Finnish Prof.em. Karl-Gustav Sandelin died on July 18. There will be a funeral on August 13.

Karl-Gustav Sandelin was born on April 1, 1940, and studied at the University of Helsinki from 1959-62. He then moved to Åbo Akademi University and received his Master of Theology there in 1964. He was an ASLA-Fulbright student at Harvard University in 1967-68, then worked as a Pastor for a few years before returning to Åbo as a teacher of Greek and New Testament exegesis. He gained a licentiate degree in theology there in 1973, and his doctoral degree in 1977. In 1981 he became a lecturer in biblical languages and exegesis, and in 1995 he was appointed professor of New Testament Exegesis, still at Åbo. His doctoral dissertation dealt with a topic from 1 Corinthians, later he also published on Philo of Alexandria, and he will thus be well-known to Philo scholars. Karl-Gustav was a mild and friendly person; pleasant to work with and cooperative. He retired in 2006.

In 2000, he was given a Festschrift at his 60th Birthday, containing 10 articles, written by internationally renown scholars: A Bouquet of Wisdom. Essays in Honour of Karl-Gustav Sandelin, edited by Karl-Johan Illman, Tore Ahlbäck, Sven-Olav Back, and Risto Nurmela. Åbo: Åbo Akademi, 2000.

He had a personal webpage set up in 2018, which contains a lot of info about his life and work, including some article-length essays: https://karl-gustavsandeli.wixsite.com/minsida

I had the pleasure of working with him when I edited Reading Philo. A Handbook to Philo of Alexandria (published 2014), a project that, in fact, was initiated by him in a somewhat larger scale, but when that turned out not to be realizable, he -as he had by then retired – accepted that I proceeded on his idea and he even participated with a very interesting piece on ‘Philo as a Jew.’ I believe that this was one of his last scholarly articles published internationally.

As for his major publications (books), see the following works:

Die Auseinandersetzung mit der Weisheit in 1 Korinther 15. Åbo: Åbo Academi (Meddelanden från Stiftelsens før Åbo Akademi forskningsinstitut, 12 (Diss.).

Wisdom as Nourisher: A Study of an Old Testament Theme, Its Development Within Early Judaism and Its Impact on Early Christianity. Acta Academiae Aboensis Ser A. Humaniora, vol. 64. Åbo Akademi, 1986. UBT.

Sophia och hennes värld. Exegetiska uppsatser från fyra årtionden. Studier i exegetik och judaistik utgivna av Teologiska fakulteten vid Åbo Akademi Nr. 6. Åbo: Teologiska Fakulteten, Åbo Akademi, 2008. (Collection of articles)

Attraction and Danger of Alien Religion. Studies in Early Judaism and Christianity. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen Zum Neuen Testament 290. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2012. (A collection of articles).

Philo at SNTS General Meeting 2022

Seminar: ‘Philo and Early Christianity’ (Per Jarle Bekken and Greg Sterling) – terminates in 2023

Session 1: Gottfried Schimanowski (Germany): ‘Philo als Bibelausleger: Spurensuche seiner Hermeneutik im grundlegenden Traktat De vita Mosis’

Session 2: Jean-Claude Loba Mkole (Kenya): ‘Philo of Alexandria: An Intercultural Mediator’  

Session 3: Per Jarle Bekken (Norway): ‘Paul’s Discussion of the Gentile Problem in Romans 3–4 in Jewish Context’

Philo at SBL International Meeting

18-20Judaica
7/18/2022
10:30 AM to 12:00 PM
Room: HS213 – LawMayer Gruber, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Presiding

Adi Amsterdam, David Yellin Academic College of Education
A Unique Vowel Sign in Targum Onqelos of Ms. Vat.Ebr.448 (20 min)
Tag(s): Targumic Texts (Early Jewish Literature – Rabbinic Literature), Aramaic (Philology / Linguistics (incl. Semiotics))

Jonathan Jacobs, Bar-Ilan University
Virtue Ethics in the Thought of Naḥmanides (20 min)
Tag(s): Commentary (Text and Translation), Other Texts (Early Jewish Literature – Other)

Robert Williams, B. H. Carroll Theological Institute
Journeying in Philo’s On the Life of Moses, Book 1 (20 min)
Tag(s): Philo (Early Jewish Literature – Other), Torah/Pentateuch – Numbers (Biblical Literature – Hebrew Bible/Old Testament/Greek OT (Septuagint)), Hellenistic Period (History & Culture)

Discussion (10 min)
18-28a Hellenistic Judaism
7/18/2022
1:30 PM to 3:00 PM
Room: HS104 – TheologyTheme: Hellenistic Jewish Writings 1Georg Fischer SJ, Leopold-Franzens-Universität Innsbruck, Presiding

Paola Druille, Universidad Nacional de La Pampa
The Existence of the Jewish Gerousia in Alexandria (37–40 AD): Lexicon and Context (25 min)
Tag(s): Philo (Early Jewish Literature – Other)

Jin Young Kim, Oklahoma State University
The Concept of Conversion in Philo (25 min)
Tag(s): Philo (Early Jewish Literature – Other), Hellenistic Period (History & Culture), Greco-Roman Literature (Greco-Roman Literature)

Michael Avioz, Bar-Ilan University
Murder in Josephus’ Writings (25 min)
Tag(s): Josephus (Early Jewish Literature – Other), Biblical Interpretations (Early Jewish Literature – Dead Sea Scrolls), Greco-Roman Period (History & Culture)
20-42Hellenistic Judaism
7/20/2022
3:30 PM to 5:00 PM
Room: HS106 –
Theology Theme: Hellenistic Jewish Writings 2
Georg Fischer SJ, Leopold-Franzens-Universität Innsbruck, Presiding

Robert Williams, B. H. Carroll Theological Institute
Journeying in Philo’s On Abraham (25 min)
Tag(s): Philo (Early Jewish Literature – Other), Torah/Pentateuch – Numbers (Biblical Literature – Hebrew Bible/Old Testament/Greek OT (Septuagint)), Hellenistic Period (History & Culture)

Justin Hagerman, Université Catholique de Lyon
“From the Creation of the Cosmos”: The Reception of Genesis’ Lexicon of Creation Motifs in Philo and Paul (25 min)
Tag(s): Hellenistic Period (History & Culture), Lexicography (Text and Translation), Comparative Approaches (Interpretive Approaches)

Mateusz Wyrzykowski, Akademia Katolicka w Warszawie
The Universal Dimension of the Interpretation of Philo (25 min)
Tag(s): Philo (Early Jewish Literature – Other), Egyptian (Ancient Near Eastern Literature – Region), Old Testament (Ideology & Theology)
20-44Johannine Literature
7/20/2022
3:30 PM to 5:00 PM
Room: HS107 – TheologyTheme: Johannine Theology
Stan Harstine, Friends University, Presiding

Milan Kostresevic, Universität Rostock
Symbolism of Light as a Key Christological Motif of the Gospel of John (20 min)
Tag(s): Gospels – John (Biblical Literature – New Testament), Philo (Early Jewish Literature – Other), Greco-Roman Literature (Greco-Roman Literature)

Discussion (10 min)

Berti Józsa, University of Edinburgh
Jesus: “Enabler” in the Gospel of John (20 min)
Tag(s): Narrative Criticism (Interpretive Approaches), Theological Interpretation (Interpretive Approaches), Literary Criticism (incl. poetics, new criticism, formalism, close reading, narratology) (Interpretive Approaches)

Discussion (10 min)

Marius J. Nel, Universiteit van Stellenbosch – University of Stellenbosch
The Breath of Forgiveness (20 min)
Tag(s): Gospels – John (Biblical Literature – New Testament), Theological Interpretation (Interpretive Approaches)

Discussion (10 min)
21-6Hellenistic Judaism
7/21/2022
8:30 AM to 10:00 AM
Room: HS106 – Theology
Theme: Hellenistic Jewish Writings 3
Ljubica Jovanovic, American Military University, Presiding

Carmen Palmer, Stetson University
Philo’s Hellenistic-Jewish Approach in the Decalogue and on the Contemplative Life: Blending Wisdom of Solomon’s Critique against Idols with a Notion of Moderation (25 min)
Tag(s): Philo (Early Jewish Literature – Other), Wisdom of Solomon (Biblical Literature – Deuterocanonical Works), Greco-Roman Period (History & Culture)

R. Gillian Glass, University of British Columbia
Aseneth among the Prophetesses: Second Temple Greek Literary Depictions of Women’s Visionary Experiences (25 min)
Tag(s): Gender and Sexuality Criticism (incl. Feminist, Womanist, Masculinity Studies, Queer Theory) (Interpretive Approaches), Other Jewish Compositions (e.g., 1 Enoch) (Early Jewish Literature – Dead Sea Scrolls), Greco-Roman Period (History & Culture)

Philo on the Therapeutes

Cardoso Bueno, D. A. (2022). “El retrato de las mujeres contemplativas por Filón de Alejandría: las ʽterapéutridesʼ”. Circe de clásicos y modernos, 26(1) 2022, 63-86. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.19137/circe-2022-260103

Abstract: “In De vita contemplativa, Philo of Alexandria describes a pious group of Hebrew philosophers. They established their residence in a small village near
Lake Mareotis, outside Alexandria. The members of the congregation, called Therapeutae because of their dedication to the cure or care of souls, were both male and female. They lived in isolation from each other in small, humble houses, although on special occasions they had moments of fraternal contact. The presence of women in a regime of equality with men is one of the
most striking and original features of this unique Jewish ascetic community.”

Two Lofty Liturgies of Life

Romulus D. Stefanut, “Two Lofty Liturgies of Life: Philo’s Therapeutae and their Friendly Polemics with the Essenes.” Early Christianity 13.1 (2022) 58-83.

Abstract: “Die Studie untersucht das Verhältnis zwischen zwei faszinierenden jüdischen Sekten, den Essenern und den Therapeuten, aus dem Blickwinkel der Schriften Philos. Die beiden religiösen und philosophischen Gruppen stellen in Philos Sicht nicht nur die hervorragendsten Repräsentanten des Judentums im judäischen Heimatland bzw. in der alexandrinischen Diaspora dar, sondern auch die vorbildlichsten Vertreter einer aktiven und einer kontemplativen Lebensweise. Beide praktizieren sie einen radikalen Gottesdienst, sie leben ein gemeinschaftliches, aber genügsames Leben und vermeiden die Versuchungen des Stadtlebens um jeden Preis. Besonders bedeutsam ist, dass ihr Alltag in einer erhabenen Liturgie des Lebens von raum-zeitlichen Rhythmen und symbolischen geistlichen Übungen umgriffen wird.”

Philo’s Hellenistic-Jewish Approach

Carmen Palmer, “Philo’s Hellenistic-Jewish Approach in On the Decalogue and On the Contemplative Life: Blending Wisdom of Solomon’s Critique against Idols with a Hellenistic Notion of Moderation.” in Journal of Ancient Judaism (2022) 1-16. (Brill).

Online Publication Date: 06 Jun 2022.

Abstract: “Philo draws on the Wisdom of Solomon in his tripartite critique against idols found in On the Decalogue and On the Contemplative Life. As he fashions these critiques in the pursuit of upholding Mosaic law, Philo not only criticizes Greek and Egyptian forms of worship, he also integrates the notion of moderation evident in Hellenism and Hellenistic-Egyptian Isis worship. This essay demonstrates ways in which the pursuit of moderation and Isis as lawgiver are integrated into Philo’s concepts of Moses as lawgiver and pursuit of law in opposition to Roman forms of excess. The essay considers various texts, including excerpts from Greek philosophers and Hellenistic Egyptian hymns to Isis, in addition to considerations of contemporary Roman excesses vis-à-vis Philo’s Decalogue, Contempl. Life, and his uses of Wis. Philo’s Hellenistic Judaism emerges from a simultaneous criticism yet also integration of both Hellenistic and Hellenistic-Egyptian concepts and traditions.”

Philo of Alexandria and Early Judaism

Michael Cover, Philo of Alexandria and Early Judaism in Biblical Research: The Contributions of Ralph Marcus, Earle Hilgert, and Thomas H. Tobin, SJ. Biblical Research 65 (2020) 42-57.

Abstract: The purpose of this celebratory essay is to trace ways Biblical Research has helped foster early Jewish studies (especially on texts of Second Temple Judaism outside of the Hebrew Bible), both as an independent field and as an integral part of “biblical research,” with a special focus on Philo of Alexandria. In the essays of Ralph Marcus, Earle Hilgert, and Thomas H. Tobin, SJ, Biblical Research has published the work of scholars who represent three major phases of Philonic studies in the twentieth century: (1) Philo in the era of Wolfson, the Loeb Classical Library translations, and the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls (Marcus); (2) Philo in the era of Studia Philonica and the flourishing of source criticism (Hilgert); and (3) Philo in the era of The Studia Philonica Annual and the composition of exegetical commentaries on individual treatises (Tobin).

Two Handbook Articles

Rogers, Justin (2022). “Origen’s Use of Philo Judeaus”. In: Ronald E. Heine, Karen Jo Torjesen (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Origen. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Bucur, Bogdan G. (2022). “Philo and Clement of Alexandria”. In: Mark Edwards, Dimitrios Pallis, y Georgios Steires (eds.), The Oxford handbook of Dionysius the Areopagite. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 77-93.

Plutarch, Philo and the New Testament

Hirsch-Luipold, Rainer (ed.), “Part 2. Plutarch, Philo and the New Testament”. In: Plutarch and the New Testament in Their Religio-Philosophical Contexts. Bridging Discourses in the World of the Early Roman Empire. Series Brill’s Plutarch Studies, Volume 9, Leiden, Brill

Pleše, Zlatko (2022). ““God Is the Measure of All Things”: Plutarch and Philo on the Benefits of Religious Worship”. In: Rainer Hirsch-Luipold (ed.), Plutarch and the New Testament in Their Religio-Philosophical Contexts. Bridging Discourses in the World of the Early Roman Empire. Series Brill’s Plutarch Studies, Volume 9. Leiden: Brill, 87–108. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004505070_006

Sterling, Gregory E. (2022). “When East and West Meet: Eastern Religions and Western Philosophy in Philo of Alexandria and Plutarch of Chaeronea”. In: Rainer Hirsch-Luipold (ed.), Plutarch and the New Testament in Their Religio-Philosophical Contexts. Bridging Discourses in the World of the Early Roman Empire. Series Brill’s Plutarch Studies, Volume 9. Leiden: Brill, 109–124. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004505070_007

Reydams-Schils, Gretchen (2022). “Philautia, Self-Knowledge, and Oikeiôsis in Philo of Alexandria and Plutarch”. In: Rainer Hirsch-Luipold (ed.), Plutarch and the New Testament in Their Religio-Philosophical Contexts. Bridging Discourses in the World of the Early Roman Empire. Series Brill’s Plutarch Studies, Volume 9. Leiden: Brill, 125–140. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004505070_008

Despotis, Athanasios (2022). “The Relation between Anthropology and Love Ethics in John against the Backdrop of Plutarchan and Philonic Ideas”. In: Rainer Hirsch-Luipold (ed.), Plutarch and the New Testament in Their Religio-Philosophical Contexts. Bridging Discourses in the World of the Early Roman Empire. Series Brill’s Plutarch Studies, Volume 9. Leiden: Brill, 141–161. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004505070_009

Elschenbroich, Julian (2022). “The Mechanics of Death: Philo’s and Plutarch’s Views on Human Death as a Backdrop for Paul’s Eschatology”. In: Rainer Hirsch-Luipold (ed.), Plutarch and the New Testament in Their Religio-Philosophical Contexts. Bridging Discourses in the World of the Early Roman Empire. Series Brill’s Plutarch Studies, Volume 9. Leiden: Brill, 162–174. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004505070_010