Archive for January, 2013

Marginalia goes live

This past Tuesday, 29 January, The Marginalia Review of Books, with which I’ve been privileged to be involved over the better part of the last year, went live. This is an exciting intellectual venture spear-headed by my friend Michael Law, attempting to move the academic book review in history, theology & religion a bit closer to the standards of the TLS or the New York Review of Books. I’ve offered some brief thoughts about my rationale for joining up with this venture at The Bible & Interpretation. 


Leave a comment

Philo of Alexandria: animals as enemies

While reading through Philo last year, I was struck by how often he characterizes human-animal relationships as fraught with danger, at times reflecting no doubt on fatal encounters of which he had heard in Egypt. While Philo certainly has references to animals that are not subsumable under this narrative (e.g., QG 2.52; Contempl. 8-9; Dec. 76), one can reconstruct a story drawn from Scripture about the role of animals in this world that proceeds in stages:

Stage 1: Animals are created as allies to humans. Beasts were “made, not for their own sake, as wise men reason, but for the service and needs and honour of men” (QG 2.9).

Stage 2: Humanity becomes evil and the relationship is disturbed. “I believe that now, because evil is found in him, man has enemies and adversaries in terrestrial animals and fowl. But to the first man, who was altogether adorned with virtue, they were rather like military forces and allies, and a close friend naturally becomes tractable. And with this man alone they became familiar, as was fitting for servants with a master” (QG 1.18).

Stage 3: Animals now serve as instruments of punishment or contest. Cain “feared the attacks of beasts and reptiles, for nature produced these for the punishment of unjust men” (QG 1.75).  “The stronger kinds of wild animals were made in order to give us practice in warlike contests, for I feel bound to mention this point though you as a skilful advocate anticipated this defence and tried to discredit it” (Prov. 2.56). Venomous reptiles are not the result of a direct act of providence (Prov. 2.59). But rather, “these creatures [venomous animals] were prepared by God as instruments for the punishment of sinners just as generals and governors have their scourges or weapons of steel, and therefore while quiescent at all other times they are stirred up to do violence to the condemned whom Nature in her incorruptible assize has sentenced to death” (Prov. 2.61). Savage people can be described as ‘wild beasts in human shape’ (Mos 1.43).

Stage 4: In the last days, however, peace with animals will return (Praem. 89-92).


Leave a comment

A few Philonic parallels to the New Testament

When I reviewed Craig Evans’s book Ancient Texts for New Testament Study (on the whole, very helpful), I noticed a certain under-use of Philo in the index of ancient parallels. As a very cursory attempt to put some of the most striking Philonic parallels online, I thought I’d offer a few Philonic scholia to the NT – only some of the most convincing parallels that struck me while reading Philo, presented in no particular order and with no discussion of their possible significance. One should always bear in mind Sandmel’s famous warning against parallelomania, but these are at least worthy of consideration:

  • Woman being deceived by the serpent (QG 1.33)
  • “flesh as cause of spiritual corruption, which is indeed the truth, for it is the seat of desires, from which, as from a spring, flow the properties of desires and other passions” (QG 1.99)
  • Magi: Prob. 74
  • Cf. ‘godliness with contentment is great gain’ with Philo: “they are esteemed exceedingly rich, because they judge frugality with contentment to be, as indeed it is, an abundance of wealth” (Prob. 77).
  • Devouring each other like dogs (cf. Galatians): Philo, Contempl. 40
  • Crucified taken down and given to families: Flacc. 83
  • Physical exercise is of some value: cf. Philo, Hypoth. 11.7
  • Cf. to the ‘exchanging’ natural ways for unnatural in Rom 1, Abr. 134-36 (cf. Wis. 13-14)
  • All things are possible with God: Philo, Abr. 175
  • Contrast between gift & wages (Rom 4): Mos. 2.242
  • Cf. to Hebrews’ interpretation of Ps 95 and ‘today’, Fug. 57.
  • Philo cites Isa 5.7: the vineyard is Israel (Somn. 2.172-73; cf. Mark 12 par.)
  • Cf. to 1 Cor 9.9-10, Spec 1.260
  • Salt as preservative: Spec. 1.289
  • Veiled women (in context of the Sotah): Spec. 3.56
  • Prophecy and use of reason (cf. to 1 Cor 12-14): Spec. 4.48-49
  • ‘rising’ divine image, first-born Son, etc.: Conf. 62-63
  • Colonists of heaven, etc. (cf. Philippians 3): Conf. 77-78
  • Intention as important as act (murder; cf. Matt 5): Conf. 160
  • shadow vs. substance (cf. Col & Heb): Migr. 12
  • Not needing to be fed on milk like children: Migr. 29
  • Metaphor of running for the crown/prize (1 Cor 9): Migr. 133 (and elsewhere)
  • God giving being to nonbeing (cf. Rom 4): Her. 36
  • All a prophet’s utterance comes from elsewhere (cf. 1 Cor 14): Her. 259. The mind is evicted at the arrival of the divine spirit, but when that departs the mind returns to its tenancy: Her. 265.
  • Description of God in Acts 17: cf. Leg. 1.43-44
  • Hebrews 12.26; cf. De Deo on Deut: God as consuming fire, same textual form

Leave a comment

Septuagint Odes

Occasionally the student of the NT comes across a reference to the Septuagintal Odes. The Odes in the LXX (to be distinguished, n.b., from the Odes of Solomon) are a variable collection of nine or fourteen odes (or many other permutations in later MSS), mostly biblical and perhaps Christian in the collection’s origin, that come to have a long afterlife in the liturgical tradition (e.g., in the Horologion). Origen, Ambrosius and Philo of Karpasia, all list only prayers derived from traditions in the OT (i.e., no Magnificat, Benedictus, etc.). All begin with Exod 15. But by the 5th c. at least (in Alexandrinus) there is a MS tradition, and one that is marginally distinct from the main LXX text from which these songs come.

Various texts include Exod 15.1-19; Deut 32.1-43; 1 Kgdms 2.1-10; Isa 26.9-20; Jon. 2.3-10; Hab. 3.1-19; Isa 38.10-20; Prayer of Manasseh; Dan 3.26-45, 52-88(or 90); the Magnificat, Nunc Dimittis and Benedictus and the so-called Morning Hymn.

A brief overview of the Odes in four of important MSS (cf. Rahlfs 79-80)





1. Exod 15.1-19 1 1 1
2. Deut 32.1-43 2 2 2
3. 1 Kgdms 2.1-10 3 3 6 3
4. Hab 3.2-19 6 6 4
5. Isa 26.9-20 4 4: Isa 5.1-9 5
6. Jon. 2.3-10 5 5 6
7. Dan 3.26-45 9 lacking 10 7
8. Dan 3.52-88 10 8 11+12 8
9. Luke 1.46-55, 68-79 11+13 7 (only 1.46-55) 7+13 9+10
10. Isa 5.1-9 lacking 4 lacking lacking
11. Isa 38.10-20 7 lacking 8 12
12. Pr.Man. 8 lacking 9 13
13. Luke 2.29-32 12 lacking 14 11
14. Gloria 14 lacking 15 14

The only one of these that is not strictly biblical is Ode 14, which has a liturgical function in the early centuries of the church. But as the following chart makes clear, this is mostly a pastiche of quotations from other parts of the Greek Bible.

Ode 14:

Ὕμνος ἑωθινός. Cf. ὕμνος in Ps 53.1, 54.1, 60.1, etc.; ἐωθινός in Ps. 21.1
(1.) Δόξα ἐν ὑψίστοις θεῷ

(2.) καὶ ἐπὶ γῆς εἰρήνη,

(3.) ἐν ἀνθρώποις εὐδοκία.

Luke 2:14: Δόξα ἐν ὑψίστοις θεῷ

καὶ ἐπὶ γῆς εἰρήνη

ἐν ἀνθρώποις εὐδοκία[ς]

(4.) αἰνοῦμέν σε,

(5.) εὐλογοῦμέν σε,

(6.) προσκυνοῦμέν σε,

(7.) δοξολογοῦμέν σε,

(8.) εὐχαριστοῦμέν σοι

(9.) διὰ τὴν μεγάλην σου δόξαν,

(10.) κύριε βασιλεῦ,

(11.) ἐπουράνιε,

(12.) θεὲ πατὴρ παντοκράτωρ,

(13.) κύριε υἱὲ μονογενὴ

(14.) Ἰησοῦ Χριστὲ

(15.) καὶ ἅγιον πνεῦμα.







cf. Sir 51.1


Rev. 1.8; 4.8; 11.17; 15.3; 16.7; 19.6, etc.

John 1.18; 3.16

(16.) κύριε ὁ θεός,

(17.) ὁ ἀμνὸς τοῦ θεοῦ,

(18.) ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ πατρός,

(19.) ὁ αἴρων τὰς ἁμαρτίας τοῦ κόσμου,

(20.) ἐλέησον ἡμᾶς·

(21.) ὁ αἴρων τὰς ἁμαρτίας τοῦ κόσμου,

(22.) πρόσδεξαι τὴν δέησιν ἡμῶν·

(23.) ὁ καθήμενος ἐν δεξιᾷ τοῦ πατρός,

(24.) ἐλέησον ἡμᾶς.


John 1.29

2 John 3

John 1.29

Matt 9.27; 20.31; Luke 17.13

John 1.29


Cf. 2 Macc 1.26?

Ps 110.1 with NT uses; cf. Col 3.1

Matt 9.27; 20.31; Luke 17.13

(25.) ὅτι σὺ εἶ μόνος ἅγιος,

(26.) σὺ εἶ μόνος κύριος,

(27.) Ἰησοῦς Χριστός,

(28.) εἰς δόξαν θεοῦ πατρός. αμην.


Neh 9.6; Dan 3.45


Phil 2.11

(29.) καθ’ ἑκάστην ἡμέραν

εὐλογήσω σε

(30.) καὶ αἰνέσω τὸ ὄνομά σου εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα

(31.) καὶ εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα τοῦ αἰῶνος.

(32.) καταξίωσον, κύριε, καὶ τὴν ἡμέραν ταύτην

(33.) ἀναμαρτήτους φυλαχθῆναι ἡμᾶς.

Ps 144.2: καθ’ ἑκάστην ἡμέραν εὐλογήσω σε

καὶ αἰνέσω τὸ ὄνομά σου εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα

καὶ εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα τοῦ αἰῶνος.




Cf. Jude 24

(34.) εὐλογητὸς εἶ, κύριε ὁ θεὸς

τῶν πατέρων ἡμῶν,

(35.) καὶ αἰνετὸν καὶ δεδοξασμένον τὸ ὄνομά σου εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας. αμην.

Dan 3.26: Εὐλογητὸς εἶ, κύριε ὁ θεὸς τῶν πατέρων ἡμῶν,

καὶ αἰνετὸν καὶ δεδοξασμένον τὸ ὄνομά σου εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας,

(36.) εὐλογητὸς εἶ, κύριε,

δίδαξόν με τὰ δικαιώματά σου·

(37.) εὐλογητὸς εἶ, κύριε, δίδαξόν με τὰ δικαιώματά σου·

(38.) εὐλογητὸς εἶ, κύριε, δίδαξόν με τὰ δικαιώματά σου.

(39.) κύριε, καταφυγὴ ἐγενήθης ἡμῖν ἐν γενεᾷ καὶ γενεᾷ.

Ps 118.12: εὐλογητὸς εἶ, κύριε·

δίδαξόν με τὰ δικαιώματά σου.




Ps 89.1: καταφυγὴ ἐγενήθης ἡμῖν

ἐν γενεᾷ καὶ γενεᾷ·

(40.) ἐγὼ εἶπα Κύριε, ἐλέησόν με,

(41.) ἴασαι τὴν ψυχήν μου, ὅτι ἥμαρτόν σοι.

Ps 40.5: ἐγὼ εἶπα Κύριε, ἐλέησόν με·

ἴασαι τὴν ψυχήν μου, ὅτι

ἥμαρτόν σοι.



(42.) κύριε, πρὸς σὲ κατέφυγα·

(43.) δίδαξόν με τοῦ ποιεῖν τὸ θέλημά σου, ὅτι σὺ εἶ ὁ θεός μου·

(44.) ὅτι παρὰ σοὶ πηγὴ ζωῆς,

(45.) ἐν τῷ φωτί σου ὀψόμεθα φῶς·

(46.) παράτεινον τὸ ἔλεός σου τοῖς γινώσκουσίν σε.

Ps 142.9-10: ἐξελοῦ με ἐκ τῶν ἐχθρῶν μου,

κύριε, ὅτι πρὸς σὲ κατέφυγον.

δίδαξόν με τοῦ ποιεῖν τὸ θέλημά

σου, ὅτι σὺ εἶ ὁ θεός μου·

Ps 35.10-11a: ὅτι παρὰ σοὶ πηγὴ ζωῆς,

ἐν τῷ φωτί σου ὀψόμεθα φῶς.

παράτεινον τὸ ἔλεός σου τοῖς γινώσκουσίν σε

Select bibliography on LXX Odes 

Mearns, J., Canticles Eastern and Western. Cambridge: CUP, 1914.

Nestle, E., “Zu den Cantica am Schluss des Psalters,” ZAW 26 (1906), 286-87; idem, in Septuagintastudien.

Rahlfs, A., Psalmi cum Odis. Septuaginta X. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1967, esp. 78-80 (intro) and 340-65 (text)

Rousseau, O. “La plus ancienne liste de cantiques liturgiques tirés de l’écriture,” RechSR 35 (1948): 120-29.

Schneider, Heinrich. “Die biblischen Oden im christlichen Altertum,” Biblica 30 (1949): 28-65; “Die biblischen Oden seit dem sechsten Jahrhundert,” ibid., 239-72; “Die biblischen Oden in Jerusalem und Konstantinopel,” ibid., 433-452; “Die biblischen Oden im Mittelalter,” ibid., 479-500.

Van der Horst, Pieter W. and Judith Newman, Early Jewish Prayers in Greek (Walter de Gruyter: 2008).

, ,


The Oxford Senior New Testament Seminar, Hilary Term 2013

Here’s the programme for the NT Seminar this term. Anyone in the area or passing through is more than welcome to attend.

The Senior New Testament Seminar

The seminar will meet in the Gibbs Room in the Lower Ground Floor of the Warden’s Lodgings at Keble College (n.b., not the Stafford Crane Room as previously) on the following Thursdays of Weeks 2, 4, 6 and 8 at 14.15.

There will be tea after the seminar. 


24 January 

Angus Paddison (Winchester)

‘Revelation and the Contribution of Apocalyptic to Political Theology’


7 February

Robert Morgan (Oxford)

‘The Reported Death of New Testament Theology’ 


21 February

Chris Tilling (St Mellitus College)

‘Campbell’s Apocalyptic Gospel and Pauline Athanasianism’


7 March

Will Lamb (Cambridge)

‘The Discrepancies Between the Gospels: Tracing the History of Interpretation from the Eusebian Canons to the Catena in Marcum’

Leave a comment

Review of Tuckett on 2 Clement

Christopher Tuckett, 2 Clement. Introduction, Text, and Commentary.

This is the latest offering from the retiring Professor of New Testament in Oxford, the recent recipient of the British Academy’s Burkitt Medal for Biblical Studies. Full disclosure: Chris Tuckett is a senior colleague of mine in Oxford whose work I have long admired. That said, even were I not predisposed to appreciate this volume, the book itself would have won me over.

Tuckett’s work is marked by unsensational sanity and eminently reasonable textual decisions, virtues one sometimes feels lacking among certain scholars of the second century.  In particular, he brings to bear his considerable expertise in the source and redaction criticism of gospel traditions, in so-called Gnosticism and related phenomena, and in the apostolic fathers to produce a splendid treatment of the curious document known to us as 2 Clement.

As with some other writings traditionally classed among the Apostolic Fathers, 2 Clement has not been well served by major commentarial or monographic treatments in English. One struggles to think of anything beyond Lightfoot’s magisterial treatment in the 1890s and Donfried’s 1974 NovTSup volume. While there have been several major treatments in German, this volume is a welcome addition to the English-language literature on 2 Clement, and a major augmentation to scholarship in any language on the text. This augurs well for the series it inaugurates, Oxford Apostolic Fathers, for which Andrew Gregory and Paul Foster join Tuckett as editors (‘A series of critical editions of early Christian texts, comprising the text itself in the original language, a facing translation, a substantial introduction, and extensive notes’).

In his 80-page introduction, Tuckett argues that an otherwise unknown author penned 2 Clement as a type of ‘sermon’ with a paraenetic purpose (though resisting some definitions of ‘sermon’ as too narrow for 2 Clement), and tentatively places its composition in Rome in the early-middle 2nd century in light of the possible links to Valentinian terminology that do not seem encumbered by later strong rejection of that theology by the majority church. 2 Clement’s major purpose is apparently to redress a situation in which the ethical resolve of its community seems to have weakened, but one should be wary of theories that depend on the identification of a particular set of opponents behind the text. Moreover, Tuckett provides some useful cautions against assuming that the case against the originality of chs. 19-20 is watertight and urges it to be seen rather as indecisive. He also offers an overview of the theology of the sermon and its citations. If the caution with which Tuckett approaches the text does not satisfy those with a lust for grand hypotheses, it arguably does more justice to the nature of the evidence in question.

Part II (pp. 83-123) offers a facing page Greek-English edition and translation of the text, in which the textual decisions are reasonable and the translation readable. The remainder of the book (pp. 125-303) is comprised of a substantial commentary on 2 Clement. One of the most useful features of the commentary is the section addressing ‘parallels’ that begins each new chapter. Possible sources for 2 Clement’s many citations are evaluated, and Tuckett’s expertise in evaluating gospel traditions is on display in suggesting plausible solutions to notable cruces. While on the whole I might be more inclined to see Pauline influence on 2 Clement than is Tuckett (in my view, the cumulative case for such influence is stronger than any particular link in the chain), he offers well-reasoned arguments for discerning the sources of the sermon that should be taken seriously by all future scholarship on the text.

In short, then, this is an important book in an important series. Scholars and serious students of the apostolic fathers will want to own it, while others should ensure that the libraries of their academic institutions have purchased it for their reference.


A new edition of Artemidorus’ Oneirocritica

Daniel E. Harris-McCoy, Artemidorus’ Oneirocritica: Text, Translation, and Commentary.

Artemidorus was a working interpreter of dreams who wrote the five books of this treatise over a period some time in the mid-2nd to early 3rd century. This is the only surviving manual from antiquity on the interpretation of dreams, though Artemidorus himself mentions others, and belongs to that fascinating class of texts that are technical and compilatory in nature (as also, for instance, the physiognomic treatises). In this hefty volume (ix+584 pp.) Harris-McCoy offers an introduction, revised critical text with facing translation, and commentary on the extensive treatise. Harris-McCoy for the most part follows Pack’s 1963 Teubner edition on the basis of the two extant Greek manuscripts, though in 1964 a third manuscript in Arabic was published by Toufic Fahd, and Pack himself made a number of suggestions for emendation to the text in subsequent publications. These and a few others have been taken up in the present edition, which lists differences from the Teubner text on pp. 559-62.

Harris-McCoy offers a learned introduction in which he sets the treatise in its context, discussing its composition, purpose, and arrangement, and locating it at the fuzzy intersection between philosophy and science, encyclopedism and allegorism. The treatise itself ranges from the theoretical to the practical, with many different types of examples. Artemidorus is particularly concerned with the oneiros, the dream that is significant of things in the future, rather than the enhypnion which arises merely from the present. The oneiros, in turn, can be directly predictive or allegorical, and it is particularly the allegorical oneiroi that stand in need of interpretation. Sometimes the language is generalizing: ‘And preserved foods and all salted meats [and fish] signify (σημαίνει) delays and deferrals in the matters at hand. For they will be retained for a long time because of the salt.’ (1.71). At other times, as in most of Book 5, we have a long record of actual dreams and their outcomes: ‘A certain man imagined that he lit a lamp using the moon. He became blind. For he received his light from a source by which one cannot light anything. And, differently put, they say that the moon does not have its own light’ (5.11). The interpretations are notable for taking into account the status and position of the dreamer, as well as local customs. This suggests a certain polysemy that requires the good interpreter of dreams to practice an art of applying the theories that Artemidorus promotes.

Though the process of dream interpretation described in the treatise differs from what we see operative in the New Testament, this treatise offers a fascinating window into widespread (though not uncontroversial) beliefs about the nature of dreams as signifying events. One need only consider the dreams in the Matthean infancy narratives (1:20; 2:12, 13, 19, 22; cf. 27.19) – or, indeed, the dreams in Genesis, Judges or Daniel – to see a similar set of beliefs in action. In this way, while the Oneirocritica cannot be used as direct evidence for first century thought on dreams, it offers a window into a type of mindset that would have certainly been operative in the reception, if not the creation, of the biblical texts.

Harris-McCoy has done a real service in rendering Artemidorus’ treatise immediately available to a new generation in facing page Greek and English. His orientating introduction and full notes will be of much use to interpreters seeking to make sense of a treatise that is equally fascinating and puzzling.


Leave a comment