Congratulations to prof. Bekken!

perjarlebekkenAssoc. prof., Ph.D., Per Jarle Bekken, University of Nordland, has been evaluated by an independent committee, and the committee has recommended that he get a personal promotion to full professor!
This procedure is a part of the Norwegian system; you may achieve the status of a full professor in two ways: either by applying for/being appointed to a chair, or by getting a personal promotion. The criteria used by the relevant committees are mainly identical.

Prof. Bekken will be known by several for his studies in Philo, Paul and John. His dissertation (The word is near you: a study of Deuteronomy 30:12-14 in Paul’s Letter to the Romans in a Jewish context. Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft und die Kunde der älteren Kirche Bd. 144. Walter de Gruyter, Berlin ), was published in 2007. In addition he has published several articles, most of them dealing with Philo and John or Paul.

And most recently this fall he has published another major study : The Lawsuit Motif in John’s Gospel from New Perspectives. Jesus Christ, Crucified Criminal and Emperor of the World (Novum Testamentum, Supplements 158; Leiden, Brill, 2014). He is also a contributor to the Reading Philo. A Handbook to Philo of Alexandria volume, for which he as written a major review article on “Philo’s Relevance for the Study of the New Testament.”

Finally; P.J. Bekken is a former doctoral student of prof. em. Peder Borgen, and now all three of his doctoral students from his time at the University of Trondheim have achieved the rank of full professor. Hence; congratulations to prof. Borgen too for excellent mentorship!

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

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.

Filon de Alejandria: Obras completa

The second volume of the new Spanish translation of Philos works has not been published:

Filón de Alejandría
Obras completas, Volumen V

Edición de José Pablo Martín
Trotta Editorial, 2009, 360pp.

This volume comprises De vita Mosis, Vita contemplativa, Contra Flaccum, and Legatio ad Gaium. For those of you who read Spanish, here is the publisher presentation:
“El presente volumen V continúa el proyecto de edición en castellano de las Obras completas de Filón de Alejandría. Se contienen en él los tratados que pueden ordenarse en el género histórico-teológico. Se los considera históricos porque contienen documentación, descripción e interpretación de eventos del pasado y del presente del pueblo de Israel, de la ciudad de Alejandría y del Imperio romano. Sin embargo, no pueden ser considerados netamente historiográficos porque en estos tratados subyace una argumentación que los estudiosos han calificado con diversos conceptos: escrito teológico, filosófico, apologético, bíblico.” See further here.

Some papers on Philo

Sometimes conferences have their papers posted on the internet, where they are hidden among other items. Sometimes they are kept on a site even though they are or are to be published. I don’t know what is the status of these papers pr date, but here are several papers on Philo available:

The Hellenistic Moral Philosophy unit of the Society of Biblical Literature had a conference in 2005 in which they focused on Philosophy at the Roots of Christianity.

The following papers are especially relevant to Philo scholars:

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

The Challenge of Homer

The Norwegian New Testament scholar Karl Olav Sandnes has quite recently published a very interesting book for all of us who are interested in the background of the New Testament and of the Early Christians.

Karl Olav Sandnes,
The Challenge of Homer
School, Pagan Poets and Early Christianity

Library of New Testament Studies,
T & T Clark International. ISBN: 0567426645
336 Pages. $150.00

The volume starts out from the folowwing premise: “The first Christians faced two hermeneutical challenges of fundamental importnce: that of interpreting the Old Testament and how to cope with the Greek legacy embedded in Homer. The latter is not explicitly raised in the New Testament. But since the art of interpreting any text, presupposes reading skills, conveyed through liberal studies, the Homeric challenge must have been of outmost importance.”

Professor Sandnes deals with Philo of Alexandria on pp. 68-78.

A further description of this volume and a List of Contents can be found here.

Philo on teachers

“It is the custom of teachers, when they explain some theory to their pupils,to instruct them to remember it and say it by themselves.”
Questions and Answeres on Genesis, Book iv,45.

Gen xxiv.19: Why does she say, “And for thy camels I will draw water untill they have drunk.”
“(Scripture) dwells at length on the benevolence of the teacher who wishes not only to hand over and entrust scientific knowledge (to the pupil), but to put it in order and make it stick to him, since she gives drink to his memory, of which the camels are symbols. For genuine teachers and instructors direct their teaching not to display but to the profit of their pupils, and compel them to repeat from memory what has been said by them, thus firmly impressing upon them what they have heard.”
Questions and answers on Genesis, Book iv,106.

Modern pedagogics might have missed something?