Philo : A Sourcebook

Philo of Alexandria: A Sourcebook. By Nelida Naveros Cordova, CDP, Lexington Books / Fortress Academic, 2023.197 pages. $100.00 (Hardback); $45.00  e-book.

“Nélida Naveros Córdova carefully draws from a variety of texts within the Philonic corpus to provide a complete sourcebook for an introduction to Philo. After a general introduction, she consolidates the major topics and themes commonly studied in Philo into seven chapters: Philo’s theology, his doctrine of creation, his anthropology, his doctrine of ethics, his metaphorical interpretation of biblical characters, his exposition of the Jewish Law and the Decalogue, and Jewish worship and major observances. For each chapter, Naveros Córdova provides a brief introduction and overview of the topics in their cultural and religious contexts highlighting Philo’s philosophical thought and the significance of his biblical interpretation. The sourcebook consists mostly of fresh translations with few authorial comments with an attempt to introduce and present Philonic texts to the introductory reader to give broad exposure to the nature of Philo’s literal and allegorical biblical interpretations. From start to finish, the book emphasizes the unity of the ethical character of Philo’s thought considered the basic spectrum of his biblical exegesis.”

As the editor states (p xiv), “this sourcebook is primarily for students who are studying Philo, are writing a master’s or doctoral thesis, and need an introductory source for the central topics and themes of Philo of Alexandria.” I presume that it will be most valuable to master students, but also to doctoral students, even though they are presumed to also read Philo in Greek. The volume contains 7 chapters, dealing with these topics: Philo’s Theology, Philo’s doctrine of Creation, Philo’s anthropology, Philo’s doctrine of ethics, Biblical Characters, Jewish Law and the Devalogue, and finally: Jewish Worship and major observances. Preceeding these there is a 10 pages long Introduction. Each main chapter is footnoted, and has a brief, but representative Bibliography. At the end to the volume there is a valuable topical Index.

I consider this a valuable help for students starting to understand Philo of Alexandria.

Recthsgeschichtlicher Kommentar z NT

During a brief visit to Germany this week I became aware of a new NT-commentary project in process. At the present time it is called Rechtsgeschichtlicher Kommentar zum Neuen Testament (RKNT), and is planned to be published in two volumes.

The project has its own webpage here. It tells about the idea behind the project,  who is working on it (ca. 36 persons), and the planned content of the two volumes to be published.

The presentation of the project (in German) is given thus:

Bibelwissenschaft und Rechtswissenschaft haben ein Gebiet gemeinsam, dessen Erforschung noch aussteht: die Rechtsgeschichte des Neuen Testaments.In diesem Kommentar arbeiten ausgewiesene Fachleute der Romanistik, der Judaistik und der Neutestamentlichen Wissenschaft zusammen, um auch Nichtfachleuten darzustellen, was in den Texten jeweils auf dem Spiel steht.

This is an interesting idea and project. You may also check on the webpage what texts they are to deal with; I for my part was somewhat surprised that the Steven-episode of Act 6 is given so little attention in their outline.


The commentary as such raises also another issue to me: what is happening to the ‘Commentary-genre’?  We now have a lot of specialized commentaries out there, focusing on some specific aspects of the texts. Let me mention some of the series that come to my mind:

Social-Science Commentary (Fortress Press)

Papyrologische Kommentare zum Neuen Testament (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht)

The Social-Rhetorical Commentaries (by Ben Witherington)

The Two Horizons New Testament Commentaries (Eerdmans)

A Postcolonial Commentary on the New Testament Writings (1 Volume, t&t clark)

Others might surely be added, but these are probably the most prominent. We thus have a  wide field of topics covered by these, and more is probably to come. So, coming from a situation when there was a lot of ‘historical-critical commentaries’ to chose, we now also have to be sure to check up these more specialized volumes.

I do think the whole genre of NT commentary-genre is in a period of change and (probably,) improvement. It might be that the time of the all-embraching commentary is over (and probably has been for some time). In this the commentaries  simply mirror the diversity of methods in vogue in New Testament exegesis.

But will the time ever return when you can sit down with a good  ?00 pages volume, thinking: this will be the one? Probably not!

Neutestamentliche Repetitorium

For all of the students that can read German, there is a nice Repetitorium available in the web pages made and kept by prof. dr. Peter Pilhover; Neutestamentliche Repetitorium.

The Repetitorium is not yet complete, but it already covers most of the New testament; you can see the Table of Contents here. The various sections are avaiable as .pdf files. I have not checked all, but made a brief reading of his pages on 1 Peter. Here he advocates a date for this letter later than what I would argue ( go here);accordingly he does not suppport the authorship of Peter either. But all in all, the pages are nicely set up, and easy to read.