Moses’ education

One of the most recent articles on Philo have read recently is the following by the Finnish scholar Erikki Koskenniemi (Helsinki-Finland);

Moses – A Well-Educated Man: A Look at the Educational Idea in Early Judaism,’
in Journal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha 17.4 (2008):281-296.

The purpose of this study is thus to analyze the kind of education Moses is provided in the Jewish texts before Mishnah (p. 283). Beginning with Ezekiel the Tragedian and Artapanus, Koskenniemi finds that Ezek Trag 36-38 presents Moses as getting “a royal upbringing and education”. That is most probably to be interpreted as a ‘Gentile education’, but nothing is said about the content of that education. Ezekiel himself most probably had received his education in some Greek gymnasium, and takes it for granted that Moses received a similar, that is, a goood Gentile education (284). Artapanus, does not argue, but presents Moses as the teacher of Orpheus (3,3-4): Moses is a master in everything, a master even in education. Artapanus also argues that the Gentile sentral aspects of culture, philosophy and religion not are original, but copies of the Jewish ones; hence Moses is the universal teacher of mankind (286).
The Book of Jubilees (pp 286-287)states it quite differently; Moses does not receive a Hellensitic education, but is part of a long chain of Hebrew Fathers, Jubilees is here part of an anti-Hellenistic agenda.
Philo (pp, 287-290), however, takes for granted that Moses received the best education (Mos 1,21). According to Koskenniemi takes Philo it for granted, that Moses received a Gentile education, and also that many Greek philosophers had found their wisdom in the Law of Moses. Koskenniemi also emphaisizes that Philo “uses a greek ideal to emphasize the unigueness of the Jewish Philosophy” (289), hence Moses is also an ‘autodidaktos’.
When one however turns to Liber Antiquitatum biblicarum and Josephus, one finds that they are silent about the education of Moses.

The final conclusion of Koskenniemi is thus that ” The early Jewish heritage apparently had no strong, unified tradition about Moses’ education, but every writer reflects his own view on how a man should be educated”(293). Furthermore, one can also see that “all texts written in Egypt take a good Greek education for granted” while the texts written in Palestine did not deal very much with the education of Moses.

Studia Philonica Annual

The Studia Philonica Annual is usually published around this time, or the time of the SBL Annual Meeting, and so it is this year too.

The contents of this year’s issue is given thus:
Burton Mack, Argumentation in Philo’s De Sacrificiis
James Scott, Dionysus in Philo of Alexandria. A Study of De vita contemplativa
Ilaria Ramelli, Philosophical Allegoresis of Scripture in Philo and its Legacy in Gregory of Nyssa
Cyril O’Regan, Hegel’s Retrieval of Philo: Constitution of a Christian Heretic

SPECIAL SECTION: Philo’s De Abrahamo
Gregory E. Sterling, Philo’s De Abrahamo: Introduction
David T. Runia, The Place of De Abrahamo in Philo’s oeuvre
James R. Royse, The Text of Philo’s De Abrahamo

Bibliography Section
D. T. Runia, E. Birnbaum, K. A. Fox, A. C. Geljon, H. M. Keizer,
J. P. Martín, M. R. Niehoff, J. Riaud, G. Schimanowski, T. Seland, Philo of Alexandria: An Annotated Bibliography 2005
Supplement: A Provisional Bibliography 2006–2008

Reviews by Randall D. Chesnutt, Ellen Birnbaum, Jutta Leonhardt-Balzer, John Dillon, Thomas H. Tobin S.J., Kenneth L. Schenck, L. Ann Jervis, Gregory E. Sterling, and David T. Runia

Bible on Iphone?

I have got myself an Iphone 2 (3g), and like it very much. I have also downloaded some additional programs, among them the ESVStudy Bible Bundle, and the CCEL NRSVA. Both works fine, especially the first, which also has a search functuion.

But I wonder if you have any Bible versions that you find working fine on an Iphone. In particular I would like to have NT in Greek, but have not found any versions available yet.

Which Bible Iphone-version do you prefer?


I am happy to see in a comment below that are working on making the Greek NT and Hebrew Bible available on Iphone. I enjoy their Bible Bundle that is available so far, and look forward to be able to include Greek and Hebrew too.

But what abaout Philo? Is anybody thinking about adding him? He is available on Palm (see, but as I find Iphone more useful, I hope that both Philo and other texts will be made available for that medium.

Imperial Presence in the Assembly

Last week we had a doctoral exam (disputatio) here at my school, the School of Mission and Theology, Stavanger -Norway. According to our system, the candidate is to present two test lectures, and have a public defense (disputatio) of her Thesis. In the disputation session two external opponents are enganged as examiners.

The presented dissertation this time dealt with James 2:1-13, and is probably the first Norwagian dissertation applying post-colonial perspectives to any New Testament text.

Ingeborg A.K. Kvammen,

Imperial Presence in the Assembly: An Interpretation of Jas 2:1-13 with a Postcolonial Optic.


This dissertation presents a historical interpretation of Jas 2:1-13 with a postcolonial optic. The postcolonial optic is used due to two reasons. First, it is suitable for the material at hand, and second, there is a research lacuna when it comes to Jas 2:1-13 and postcolonialism.
Methodologically a historical interpretation of the text and postcolonialism is combined through Vernon K. Robbins’ socio-rhetorical interpretation. With Robbins as a point of departure, the methodological focus is a) inner texture, understood as the rhetoric of the text, the structure of the text and the building of an argument, b) intertexture, with a focus on how the text relates to other Jewish-Christian texts and
the Graeco-Roman culture. The latter is found in the historical interpretation as cultural intertexture. The last focus is c) ideological texture, which in this dissertation is the postcolonial optic. The postcolonial optic is applied to Jas 2:1-13 through a focus on some key concepts within postcolonialism. These are a) imperial presence, b) the binary centre-margin, c) mimicry, d) hybrid identities, e) the oppressed becoming oppressors, f) naming of the oppressors, g) the portrayal of ‘the other’, and h) opposition towards the Empire.
There are two main obstacles to the application of a postcolonial optic to the interpretation of Jas 2:1-13. One is that of historical distance. Postcolonialism emerged 2000 years after the text of the New Testament. This is an obvious challenge to postcolonial biblical studies; however, a common focus for postcolonial studies is that they study the effects of imperial processes. One has to assume that the imperial
processes during the Roman Empire affected the imperialised, and it is these effects that are studied in this dissertation. The second obstacle to postcolonial optics and biblical interpretation is that of me as a privileged Western researcher. The crucial question is with what right I can conduct a postcolonial study. My response to this obstacle is on a general level that when a critical theory is developed within academia
it becomes available to all. However, postcolonialism should be used with sensitivity.
Bearing this in mind, the main contributions of this dissertation are: First, the unique combination of a historical interpretation with a postcolonial optic.   Second, from the historical exegesis the main contribution is the identification of the ἀνὴρ χρυσοδακτύλιος as an equestrian seeking political office, and the πτωχός as a beggar and the fact that I in this dissertation have made an interpretative point out of
this specific identification of the ἀνὴρ χρυσοδακτύλιος and the πτωχός. This interpretative point is that the main problem in Jas 2:1-13 is that the members of the assemblies are acting according to Roman cultural etiquette instead of according to their Jewish-Christian religious heritage. When they do this they show partiality, which according to James is incompatible with Christian faith, and they put their trust
towards a Roman equestrian instead of towards God. Third, from the postcolonial optic main contributions are a) the identification of an imperial presence in Jas 2:1-13 through the equestrian, b) that the main problem from the postcolonial perspective really is a case of mimicry and hybrid identities, and c)
that the main problem in the textual unit illustrates centres in conflict, namely Rome as a geographical, political and cultural centre vs. Jerusalem understood figuratively as the religious centre.

Review of Green’s commentary on 1 Peter

The has a new review of the commentary on 1 Peter by Joel B. Green. You can read tje review here:

Joel B. Green, 1 Peter
Reviewed by Paul J. Achtemeier

Description: Even though the letter of 1 Peter has sometimes been overshadowed by Paul’s many New Testament letters, it is nonetheless distinctive for the clarity with which it presents the Christian message. In this volume Joel Green offers a clear paragraph-by-paragraph analysis of 1 Peter and, even more, unpacks the letter’s theology in ways that go beyond the typical modern commentary. Following Green’s paragraph-by-paragraph commentary is an extended discussion of the “theological horizons” of 1 Peter. Throughout his study Green brings the message of 1 Peter into conversation with Christian theologians – ancient and contemporary – so that the challenge of this letter for Christian faithfulness can be heard more clearly today.

Conference on Philemon

The letter of Philemon has been somewhat neglected in pauline research, but recent years have seen an increase in interesting studies dealing with this brief letter. In the last decade, e.g., no less than 3 commentaries of 300-500 pages have been published, in addition to several minor ones, and a lot of articles. Concerning major commentaries, I am here thinking of

Markus Barth & Helmut Blanke,
The Letter to Philemon. A New Translation with Notes and Commentary (The Eerdmans Critical Commentary; Grand Rapids, Mi., Eerdmans, 200) 561pp.

Peter Arzt-Grabner,
Philemon (Papyrologische Kommentare zum Neuen Testament Band 1; Gottingen, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2003). 309pp.

John G. Nordling,
Philemon (Concordia Commentary; Saint Louis; Concordia Publishing House, 2004), 379pp.

It represents one of my own fields of research interests too, hence I would have liked to have attended a conference in South Africa these days:

Philemon in perspective
The third meeting of the
International Colloquium on the New Testament
will be held on 19-20 August 2008
Venue: University of the Free State Bloemfontein South Africa.

The colloquium will be devoted entirely to Paul’s Letter to Philemon. Papers on this brief letter of Paul – from various perspectives – will be read and discussed. The participants and papers to be discussed are listed thus (in alphabetical order):

  • Peter Arzt-Grabner: How to deal with Onesimus? Paul’s solution from the perspective of ancient legal and documentary sources
  • Bob Atkins: Contextual readings of Philemon in the United States
  • Pieter Botha: The production and reception of submission: the re-making of bodies in the Letter to Philemon
  • Pieter de Villiers: Love in the Letter to Philemon
  • Chris de Wet: Honour discourse in John Chrysostom’s exegesis of Philemon
  • Lambert Jacobs: Persuasive speech acts in Paul’s Letter to Philemon
  • Pierre Jordaan: Reading Philemon as therapeutic narrative
  • Peter Lampe: Affects and emotions in the rhetoric of Paul’s Letter to Philemon
  • Jeremy Punt: Paul, power and Philemon. A postcolonial reading
  • Francois Tolmie: Tendencies in the research on the Letter to Philemon since 1980
  • Rian Venter: Reading Philemon in Africa
  • Michael Wolter: The Epistle to Philemon as ethical counterpart of Paul’s doctrine of justification
  • # Ernst Wendland: “You will do even more than I say”. On the rhetorical function of stylistic form in Philemon
  • Francois Wessels: No longer a slave? Slavery as the assumed context of Philemon 16
  • Michael White: “Refresh my heart in Christ”: Context and rhetoric in the Letter to Philemon
  • Jeff Weima: Paul’s persuasive prose: An epistolary analysis of Philemon

This is indeed a great sample of scholars and topics related to Philemon; it mirrors both the increasing interests in Philemon, and also the great specter of focuses and methods in vogue in New Testament studies these days.

I wish I were there, and hope the papers will soon be published!

New book on Philo

Fransesca Alesse has edited and published a new book on Philo and his philosophy:

Philo of Alexandria and Post-Aristotelian Philosophy
edited by Francesca Alesse
(Studies in Philo of Alexandria, 5. Brill. 2008. )

Hardback, viii, 296 pp. List price: € 129.00 / US$ 189.00

The announcement on the publishers webpage presents it thus:

“The essays collected in this volume focus on the role played by the philosophy of the Hellenistic, or post-Aristotelian age (from the school of the successors of Aristotle, Theophrastus and other Peripatetics, Epicurus, Sceptical Academy and Stoicism, to neo-Pythagorenism and the schools of Antiochus and Eudorus) in Philo of Alexandria’s works.
Despite many authoritative studies on Philo’s vision of Greek philosophy as an exegetical tool in allegorizing the Scripture, there is not such a comprehensive overview in Philo’s treatises that takes in account both the progress achieved in the recent interpretation of Hellenistic philosophy and analysis of ancient doxographical literature.”
Its list of contents is also available:
Introduction, Francesca Alesse
Philo and Hellenistic Doxography, David T. Runia
Philo and post-Aristotelian Peripatetics, Robert W. Sharples
Moses against the Egyptian: The Anti-Epicurean Polemic in Philo, Graziano Ranocchia
La conversion du scepticisme chez Philon d’Alexandrie, Carlos Lévy
Philo on Stoic Physics, Anthony A. Long
Philo and Stoic Ethics. Reflections on the Idea of Freedom, Roberto Radice
Philo of Alexandria on Stoic and Platonist Psycho-Physiology: The Socratic Higher Ground, Gretchen Reydams-Schils
Philo of Alexandria and the Origins of the Stoic “propatheiai”, Margaret Graver
Philo and Hellenistic Platonism, John Dillon
Towards Transcendence: Philo and the Renewal of Platonism in the Early Imperial Age, Mauro Bonazzi

An Oslo Symphosium

On Monday 28 I am to enjoy the pleasure of attending an Oslo symphosium on New Testament studies. The Symposium will take place on Monday 28 of July in the Auditorium Athene 2 at the Conference Centre of Oslo University College, Pilestredet 46, Oslo.

This takes place under the auspices of the journal Novum Testamentum, published by Brill, Leiden, and the Department of Archaeology and Religious Studies, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, and it will honour Professor Peder Borgen (who was 80 last January) on the occasion of his retirement as President of the Board of the Journal.

At the Symphosium the following lectures will be given:

1400-1405: Words of welcome by Rector, Dr. S. Østberg, Oslo University College, and President of the Board of Novum Testamentum, Professor J. K. Elliott (Leeds)

1405-1445: Professor Lars Hartman (Uppsala): “What does it mean to write a commentary?”

1445-1525: Professor Johan Thom (Stellenbosch): “Justice in the Sermon on the Mount: An Aristotelian Reading”

1525-1540: Coffee/Tea Break

1540-1620: Professor Cilliers Breytenbach (Berlin): “Jesaja 53 (LXX) und die urchristliche Hingabeformeln”

1620-1700: Professor Maarten Menken (Utrecht): “‘Born of God’ or ‘Begotten by God’? A translation problem in the Johannine writings.”

After the Symphosium there will be a Reception by the Ambassador Ronald van Roeden, the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and then dinner, both for invited guests.


Then the rest of that week I will be in Lund, Sweeden, attending the SNTS General Meeting.


Have still a nice summer all of you….

Two new reviews

The SBL has posted another set of reviews. In this issue, there are especially two reviews I find especially relevant to my own interests, hence I list them here:

Andrew M. Mbuvi
Temple, Exile and Identity in 1 Peter
Reviewed by David G. Horrell

Barclay M. Newman, ed.
The UBS Greek New Testament: A Reader’s Edition
Reviewed by Steven R. Johnson