Larry W. Hurtado 1943-2019

This week I received the news that Larry Hurtado’s fight against his leukemia was over. By his death a good friend, and a brilliant scholar has passed away. He will be greatly missed.

I first met him in the US, at a SBL Annual Meeting, in 1996 0r 1997. I had been following him and his discussions on the then popular Ioudaios listserver; several years later, he started blogging; in fact, he posted his last blogpost on Nov 17th this fall. In 1998 he invited me to Edinburgh as a Visiting Nordic scholar, and I occasionally met him up through the years at various conferences.

His books have been of great interest to me; I especially cherish his One God, One Lord: Early Christian Devotion and Ancient Jewish Monotheism (1988,1998,2015); Lord Jesus Christ(2003, 2005); How on Earth did Jesus become a god? (2005); Destroyer of the gods. Early Christian distinctiveness in the Roman World (2016), and his small volume with the long title: How on Earth did anyone become a Christian in the First Threee Centuries ?(2016). He even published a piece on Philo; you can read that paper here. A lot of other studies by LH can be accessed at his blog.

Larry had a somewhat conservative background. He had served as a pastor, and he had a pentecostal background. When I read his great work (both in size and value) from 2003 on Lord Jesus Christ, and in particular his emphasis on revelatory experiences in the New Testament, I found it very interesting in light of his pentecostal background. However, he never flagged that himself, as far as I know.

It is nice to see the many posts on blogs and Facebook these days, witnessing the impact of Larry Hurtado. He will be remembered and missed.

Philo Seminars at SBL Annual Meeting 2019

The SBL Annual Meeting is about to start in San Diego. I’m not going there this year, alas, and is suffering terribly from a disease called ‘abstinentia SBL-ensis’!! But I’ll get over it in a couple of weeks. I hope.

If I were there, I would probably visit the Philo Seminars to see what these presentations would involve:

S24-231 Philo of Alexandria
11/24/2019 1:00 PM to 3:30 PM
Room: Sapphire 400B (Fourth Level) – Hilton Bayfront
Theme: Philo’s “On the Embassy to Gaius”

Justin Rogers, Freed-Hardeman University, Presiding

Sandra Gambetti, College of Staten Island (CUNY)
It Is All in a γάρ; Philo’s Introduction to Legatio ad Gaium (25 min)

Discussion 25 minutes
Break (10 min)

Allen Kerkeslager, Saint Joseph’s University (Philadelphia, PA)
Stages in the Funerary Rituals for Caligula’s Sister Drusilla in Alexandria in 38CE (25 min)

René Bloch, Universität Bern – Université de Berne
Dionysus, “Inventor of New Blessings” (Legat. 88): Philo’s Use of Greek Religion in his Embassy to Gaius (25 min)

Discussion (25 min)
Business Meeting (15 min)

S26-127 Philo of Alexandria
11/26/2019 9:00 AM to 11:15 AM
Room: 32B (Upper Level East) – Convention Center
Theme: Editions of Philo in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries

Ron Cox, Pepperdine University, Presiding

Gregory Sterling, Yale Divinity School
Thomas Mangey and the Arrangement of the Philonic Corpus (25 min)

Michael Cover, Marquette University
Karl Ernst Richter’s Schwickert Edition: The Art (and Science) of Introducing Philo; Or, How Not to Analyze a Philonic Treatise (25 min)

Break (10 min)

Abraham Terian, St. Nersess Armenian Sem.
Aucher’s 1822 and 1826 Editions of Philonis Opera in Armenia: History of an Exceptional Text (25 min)

James Royse, Claremont, CA
The Edition of Cohn-Wendland (25 min)

Discussion (25 min)

Studia Philonica 2019

The Studia Philonica Annual 2019 is out! The Studia Philonica Annual is a scholarly journal devoted to the study of Hellenistic Judaism, particularly the writings and thought of the Hellenistic-Jewish writer Philo of Alexandria. This volume includes articles on allegory, Platonic interpretations of the law, rhetoric, and Philo’s thoughts on reincarnation. The present volume is, as almost always, edited by David T. Runia and Gregory E. Sterling. Price: $59.00. A lot of interesting articles; everyone who wants to keep up with what is going on in Philo research will need to check out the Studia Philonica at least once a year! 🙂 

Abraham Terian, Philo about the Contemplative Life: Conybeare Revisited p. 1
Mikolaj Domaradzki, The Value and Variety of Allegory: A Glance at
Philo’s De Gigantibus, p. 13
Gábor Buzási, Pilpul and Eros: Philo’s Platonic Interpretation of the Law
Concerning the Garment Taken in Pledge (De Somniis 1.92–114) p. 29
Ekaterina Matusova, Genesis 1–2 in De Opificio Mundi and Its Exegetical Content . P. 57
Beatrice Wyss, Philo of Alexandria: Interpreter or Teacher? p. 95
David T. Runia, Is Philo Committed to the Doctrine of Reincarnation? p.107
Thomas R. Blanton IV, The Expressive Prepuce: Philo’s Defense of Judaic Circumcision in Greek and Roman Contexts .p. 127
Alexander E. Stewart, The Rhetorical Use of Divine Threat in Philo of Alexandria p. 163
Everett Ferguson, Philo and the Fathers on Music p. 185
Ze’ev Strauss, Solomon Judah Rapoport’s Maskilic Revival of Philo of Alexandria: Rabbi Yedidya Ha-Alexandri as a Pioneer of Jewish Philosophy p. 201

I addition, there are – as always- a Bibliography Section and a Bookreviews Section.

Philo of Alexandria on the Twelve Olympian Gods

A new article is published in a Journal of which I have not, alas, access to, but here is some info about it: Geert Roskam, ‘Philo of Alexandria on the Twelve Olympian Gods,’ Classical World, 112,3 (2019) pp. 169-192. Publishers Abstract: “The importance of pagan philosophy and literature for Philo’s thinking has long been acknowledged. What is less studied, however, is his attitude towards the individual gods of the Greek pantheon, and this is the topic of the present article. After a brief discussion of Philo’s critical stance towards Greek polytheism in general, a first survey of relevant material is provided that already allows for a few provisional conclusions. This is followed by a more detailed analysis of the argumentative strategies which Philo uses while dealing with the Olympian gods. This analysis shows that Philo adopted a quite sophisticated and strategic position towards the Olympians: while there can be little doubt about his negative view, he as a rule avoids straightforward criticism of particular gods and prefers to either ignore them or cleverly reorient them towards his own Scriptural perspective.”  

Philo Seminar at the SNTS Meeting

At the 74th General Meeting of the Society for New Testament Studies, 30 July – 2 August in Marburg, there will also be a Philo and the New Testament Seminar. This will be its second year and will be lead by Profs. Per Jarle Bekken and Greg. E. Sterling.

The program consists of three sessions, each dealing with a particular topic thus:

Wednesday July 31st:
Florian Wilk (Germany), ‘Einflüsse von oder Parallelen zu philonischem Denken im ersten Korintherbrief des Paulus?’ Respondent: Gottfried Schimanowski (Germany)
Thursday August 1st:
Athanasios Despotis (Germany), ‘Aspects of Cultural Hybridity in Philo’s Apophatic Anthropology and a Short Excursus on John’ .
Respondent: Paul Anderson (USA)
Friday August 2nd:
Karl-Wilhelm Niebuhr (Germany), ‘Der Philosoph Hans Leisegang als Philon-Forscher’.
Respondent: Gregory E. Sterling (USA)

More Philo studies . . .

For several weeks (read: months..) I have been in process of moving from Drammen (close to Oslo) to a place in the southern part of Norway, called Kvinesdal. What a terrible load of planning, packing, transporting, unloading, unpacking, relocate, finding the stuff I need in all the boxes.

Who can keep up with what Philo studies are published in such circumstances? Not me. But here are some stuff I discovered recently via the Brill web site.

Intolerance, Polemics, and Debate in Antiquity
Politico-Cultural, Philosophical, and Religious Forms of Critical Conversation
Themes in Biblical Narrative Volume: 25
Editors: George H. van Kooten and Jacques van Ruiten
Intolerance, Polemics, and Debate in Antiquity;scholars reflect on politico-cultural, philosophical, and religious forms of critical conversation in the ancient Near Eastern, Biblical, Graeco-Roman, and early-Islamic world.

This volume, which is to be published in October 2019 (at the most terrible price of EUR €239.00, USD$287.00) contains the following study directly related to Philo:

Contesting Oikoumenē: Resistance and Locality in Philo’s Legatio ad Gaium, by Pieter B. Hartog .


Sōtēria: Salvation in Early Christianity and Antiquity
Festschrift in Honour of Cilliers Breytenbach on the Occasion of his 65th Birthday
Novum Testamentum, Supplements, Volume: 175
Editors: David du Toit, Christine Gerber and Christiane Zimmermann. E-Book List price EUR €199.00USD $239.00

“In Sōtēria: Salvation in Early Christianity and Antiquity, an international team of scholars assembles to honour the distinguished academic career of New Testament scholar Cilliers Breytenbach. Colleagues and friends consider in which manner concepts of salvation were constructed in early Christianity and its Jewish and Graeco-Roman contexts.”

This volume contains the following study related to Philo:

Gert J. Steyn, ‘The “Source of Salvation” (αἴτιος σωτηρίας) by Philo of Alexandria and in Ad Hebraios’, (Pages: 441–459).


Jennifer Otto, Philo of Alexandria and the construction of Jewishness in early Christian writings (Oxford Early Christian Studies.) Pp. xii + 231. Oxford–New York: Oxford University Press, 2018. £65.

See Review in Journal of Ecclestiastical History 70 (2019). 573-575.


Golden Calf Traditions in Early Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
Themes in Biblical Narrative, Volume: 23
Editors: Eric F. Mason and Edmondo F. Lupieri

“These seventeen studies in Golden Calf Traditions in Early Judaism, Christianity, and Islam explore the biblical origins of the golden calf story in Exodus, Deuteronomy, and 1 Kings, as well as its reception in a variety of sources: Hebrew Scriptures (Hosea, Jeremiah, Psalms, Nehemiah), Second Temple Judaism (Animal Apocalypse, Pseudo-Philo, Philo, Josephus), rabbinic Judaism, the New Testament (Acts, Paul, Hebrews, Revelation) and early Christianity (among Greek, Latin, and Syriac writers), as well as the Qur’an and Islamic literature.”
Published: 16 October 2018. E-Book List price EUR €156.00. USD $188.00
One chapter is related to Philo: Thomas H. Tobin, ‘Philo of Alexandria’s Interpretations of the Episode of the Golden Calf,’ pages: 73–86

Philo and Greek Myth

Brill is publishing a new book on Philo of Alexandria, this late fall,  edited by Francesca Alesse:

Philo of Alexandria and Greek Myth:Narratives, Allegories, and Arguments
Series: Studies of Philo of Alexandria Vol 10
Brill (to be published October 2019). 
E-Book List price EUR €116.00 USD$140.00

“In Philo of Alexandria and Greek Myth: Narratives, Allegories, and Arguments, a fresh and more complete image of Philo of Alexandria as a careful reader, interpreter, and critic of Greek literature is offered. Greek mythology plays a significant role in Philo of Alexandria’s exegetical oeuvre. Philo explicitly adopts or subtly evokes narratives, episodes, and figures from Greek mythology as symbols whose didactic function we need to unravel, exactly as the hidden teaching of Moses’ narration has to be revealed by interpreters of Bible. By analyzing specific mythologems and narrative cycles, the contributions to this volume pave the way to a better understanding of Philo’s different attitudes towards literary and philosophical mythology.”

Preface by Francesca Alesse
Part 1: Philo of Alexandria and Myth-Telling
1 Philo’s Refashioning of Greek Myth
Erich S. Gruen
2 Philo’s Reception of Greek Mythology
Geert Roskam
3 Histoires grecques, récits bibliques. la lecture des mythes chez Philon d’Alexandrie
Francesca Calabi
4 Polytheos doxa and Mythologein: Philo of Alexandria as a “Historian of Religions”
Giulia Sfameni Gasparro
5 Philo’s Struggle with Jewish Myth
René Bloch

Part 2: Gods, Heroes, and some Monsters
6 The God of the Philosophers, and the God of Israel
Erkki Koskenniemi
7 Philo of Alexandria on Greek Heroes
Pura Nieto Hernández
8 Heracles and Philo of Alexandria: The Son of Zeus between Torah and Philosophy, Empire and Stage
Courtney J. P. Friesen
9 The Greek Character of Philo’s Biblical Giants: A Reading of QG 2.82
Benjamin Garstad
10 Homer in Philo: Scylla’s Myth in Philonic Philosophical Context
Marta Alesso
11 Les « plaies » d’Empédocle et la mythologie infernale chez Philon d’Alexandrie
Lucia Saudelli

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.


Prof. Karl Olav Sandnes 65!

Seminar to be held in honor of Professor dr. theol. Karl Olav Sandnes on his 65th birthday at Norwegian School of Theology, Religion and Society, Oslo

Tuesday, Jan 22. 2019:

The topic for the day: The Gospel in the Graeco-Roman World

10.30–11.00 Professor Reidar Hvalvik (MF):
Karl Olav Sandnes – A Presentation

11.00–11.45 Lightfoot Professor of Divinity at Durham University John M. G. Barclay:
Early Christianity, Mission and the Survival of the Poor in the Graeco-Roman World

11.45–12.45 Lunch in the cantina to be bought

12.45–13.30 Rev. Christine Henriksen Aarflot, Ph.D. (Oslo):
Greek Myth as Gospel: Reading C. S. Lewis’s Till We Have Faces

13.30–14.00 Coffee/tea served

14.00–14.45 Associate Professor Glenn Ø. Wehus (MF):
The Gospel according to Epictetus

14.45–15.00 Final thanks