A newbook on Philo

A book on Philo, written by Mireille Hadas-Lebel, is to be published by Brill, Leiden, in August this year:
Mireille Hadas-Lebel, Professor emeritus at Paris-Sorbonne,
Philo of Alexandria:
A Thinker in the Jewish Diaspora
(Studies in Philo of Alexandria, 7)
• ISBN 978 90 04 20948 0. Hardback (Approx. 240 pp.)
• List price EUR 101.- / US$ 140.-

“Philo (20BCE?-45CE?) is the most illustrious son of Alexandrian Jewry and the first major scholar to combine a deep Jewish learning with Greek philosophy. His unique allegorical exegesis of
the Greek Bible was to have a profound influence on the early fathers of the Church. Philo was, above all, a philosopher, but he was also intensely practical in his defence of the Jewish faith and law in general, and that of Alexandria’s embattled Jewish community in particular. A famous example was his leadership of a perilous mission to plead the community’s cause to Emperor Caligula. This monograph provides a guide to Philo’s life, his thought and his action, as well as his continuing influence on theological and philosophical thought.” (from the catalog).

The book is probably a translation of the original French volume, published in 2003; Philon d’Alexandrie: Un penseur en diaspora (Fayard,2003).

The Alexandrian Riots

Sandra Gambetti has written an intriguing study on The Alexandrian Riots of 38 C.E. and the Persecution of the Jews: A Historical Reconstruction. Supplements to the Journal for the Study of Judaism 135. Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2009. Pp. viii, 336. $169.00. You can read my review of her work here http://bmcr.brynmawr.edu/2010/2010-12-63.html

The monograph developed from a 2003 doctoral dissertation at the University of California, Berkeley, supervised by Erich Gruen. After a brief Introduction, the theses of the book are set forth in ten well-argued chapters, followed by a chapter of conclusions, and five appendices, an impressive bibliography, and indexes. The book challenges much of the received view concerning the Alexandrian riots in the thirties CE, and its theses will have to be addressed in future work.

While Gambetti claims to be rather traditional when it comes to methodology, there are some important novel hypotheses governing much of her approach. First, she argues that the Jews were not expelled from Alexandria as such but secluded into a small part of it labeled the Delta District (Δ). This is a very important part of her thesis as it makes her consider the events of the thirties CE in light of the history of the Jewish settlements in Alexandria: She claims that identity was defined by rational territorial subdivisions more than race. Thus the territory initially given to the Jews determined their continuing role and place in the city. Second, she finds Philo’s language in describing the riot to be imbued with a legal quality, and that draws her to explore the judicial environment at that time. Third, her legalistic reading of the riots leads her to a new view of P. Yale II 107, a papyrus which is usually thought to belong to the Acta Alexandrinorum. Gambetti believes this belongs to the first century CE, and draws on it for her historical explanation of the Alexandrian riots of the thirties CE. You can read the rest of my review on the link provided above.

Religiöse Philosophie und philosophische Religion der frühen Kaiserzeit

filosofiIn interesting book is about to be published by Mohr – Siebeck on ancient religious philosophy; and this volume should be particular interesting for students of Philo of Alexandria, not at least as it also includes a chapter on ancient Alexandrian philosophy:
Religiöse Philosophie und philosophische Religion der frühen Kaiserzeit
Literaturgeschichtliche Perspektiven. Ratio Religionis Studien I
Hrsg. v. Rainer Hirsch-Luipold, Herwig Görgemanns, Michael von Albrecht u. Mitarb. v. Tobias Thum

Studien und Texte zu Antike und Christentum / Studies and Texts in Antiquity and 51.
Mohr- Siebeck, 2009. 2009. X, 418 Seiten.ISBN 978-3-16-149593-9. fadengeheftete Broschur € 79.00

The volume is published in German, but there are two articles in English: Here is an outline of its contents:
Albrecht Dihle: Die griechische Philosophie zur Zeit ihrer Rezeption durch Juden und Christen – Michael von Albrecht: Philosophie und Religion in der lateinischen Literatur der Kaiserzeit –
Herwig Görgemanns: Religiöse Philosophie und philosophische Religion in der griechischen Literatur der Kaiserzeit –
Gregory Sterling: Alexandrian Jewish Exegetical Tradition: Philosophy as the Handmaid of Wisdom
Reinhard Feldmeier: “Göttliche Philosophie”. Die Interaktion von Weisheit und Religion in der späteren Antike –
Devorah Dimant: Time, Torah and Prophecy at Qumran –
Zlatko Plese: Gnostic and Hermetic Literature: Oriental Wisdom –
Rainer Hirsch-Luipold: Die religiös-philosophische Literatur der frühen Kaiserzeit und das Neue Testament –
Adolf Martin Ritter: Christentum und Philosophie als Thema frühkaiserzeitlicher Kirchenväterliteratur –
Tobias Thum: ‘Welche Fülle von Reden!’: Plutarchs Schrift De E apud Delphos –
Peter Kirchschläger: Der Wahrheitsbegriff im Johannesevangelium –
Jane Heath: 2 Cor 4, 7-12: Viewing Paul as an Icon of Christ –
Ilinca Tanaseanu: Gräber und Symbole: Tempel im Werk Clemens’ von Alexandrien –
Fritz Heinrich: Der religiöse Intellektuelle: Apuleius und Ali Schariati

dscn0826I  couldn’t stand the temptation to post this picture; remove the cars, and you can hardly tell what century it pictures. This great mosque was close to the beach, and to the reataurant where we had our dinner.

Books on Alexandria

When in Egypt, I found some relevant books on Alexandria. The American University Press in Cairo has an excellent bookstore in Cairo, and publishes regularly a lot of books relevant both for present days and ancient Egypt.

Concerning Alexandria, there is a couple of tourist guides you might want to consult if travelling: first and foremost, there is the Lonely Planet volume on Egypt in general:
A Travellers Guide.

Then there is another focusing more on Alexandria:
Jenny Jobbins & Mary Megalli,
Alexandria and the Egyptian Mediterranean.
The American University in Cairo Press, Cairo 1993/2006.

More, relevant perhaps, are these volumes focusing ecplicitly on Alexandria:
Michael Haag,
Alexandria. City of Memory
The American University in Cairo Press, Cairo 2004
Anthony Hirst & Michael Silk,
Alexandria. Real and Imagined.
The American University in Cairo Press, Cairo 2006.
This latter volume contains several articles that are very relevant for those interested in Alexandria in Graeco-Roman times.

Yess, I found Philo

I had searched the library online before I left for Egypt, and did not find much about Philo. And this lack was confirmed when I searched the library in situ. I had the privilege of donating an exemplar of my dissertation to the library when I was there, and I found a couple of well known books about Philo: above you can see my discovery of the P. Borgen Festschrift and the D.E. Aune Festschrift, both containing articles on Philo. But two things surprised me; I could not find any texts of Philo, and many of the books dealing with him were not given a special location, but were to be found in shelves containing the label “General”. One might ask: don’t they know about the famous Alexandrian called Philo Judaeus? I think he deserves much more attention and a lot more volumes in this library!