Light from the Gentiles: Hellenistic Philosophy and Early Christianity

Collected Essays, 1959–2012, by Abraham J. Malherbe


Rather than viewing the Graeco-Roman world as the “background” against which early Christian texts should be read, Abraham J. Malherbe saw the ancient Mediterranean world as a rich ecology of diverse intellectual traditions that interacted within specific social contexts. These essays, spanning over fifty years, illustrate Malherbe’s appreciation of the complexities of this ecology and what is required to explore philological and conceptual connections between early Christian writers, especially Paul and Athenagoras, and their literary counterparts who participated in the religious and philosophical discourse of the wider culture. Malherbe’s essays laid the groundwork for his magisterial commentary on the Thessalonian correspondence and launched the contemporary study of Hellenistic moral philosophy and early Christianity.

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Carl R. Holladay, Ph.D. (Cambridge, 1975), is C. H. Candler Professor of New Testament at Emory University. A specialist in Hellenistic Judaism and Luke-Acts, he has published Fragments from Hellenistic Jewish Authors (4 vols.; SBL, 1983–1996) and A Critical Introduction to the New Testament (Abingdon, 2005).

John T. Fitzgerald, Ph.D. (Yale, 1984), is Professor of New Testament and Early Christian Literature at the University of Notre Dame. He is the author or editor of nine volumes, including Early Christianity and Classical Culture (Brill, 2003), a Festschrift in honor of Abraham J. Malherbe.

Gregory E. Sterling, Ph.D. (GTU, Berkeley, 1990), is Professor of New Testament and Dean of Yale Divinity School. He is a specialist in Greek-speaking Jewish and early Christian authors, especially Philo, Josephus, and Luke-Acts. He is the author of three books, including Historiography and Self-definition (Brill, 1992).

James W. Thompson, Ph.D. (Vanderbilt University, 1974), is Onstead Professor of New Testament at Abilene Christian University. He has published extensively in Pauline studies. His publications include Moral Formation According to Paul (Baker, 2011), Hebrews (Baker, 2008), and Pastoral Ministry According to Paul (Baker, 2006).
"The convenience of having so many of Malherbe’s key essays in one location, presumably on library (e)shelves at research universities and seminaries, will ensure that his rich work continues to get the scholarly attention it so deserves."
– Richard S. Ascough, School of Religion, Queen’s University, in: Religious Studies Review 41/3 (September 2015)

"This two-volume set is a monument. ... it is a monument to Abraham J. Malherbe’s scholarship and the substantial advance it constitutes in the scholarly understanding of, primarily, the apostle Paul and his heirs in their cultural, Graeco-Roman environment. There is no doubt that this work in its new presentation will be a κτῆμα ἐς αἰεί. And it will also be of special interest to readers of this journal who are looking for insights into the classical world." –
Troels Engberg-Pedersen, University of Copenhagen, in: Bryn Mawr Classical Review, 2015.02.29

"Abe Malherbe, dieser kluge und vielgewanderter Odysseus, der "vieler Menschen Städte gesehn und Sitte gelernt hat", ist 2012 zur Ruhe gekommen, aber die beiden postum erschienenen Bände setzen ihm ein würdiges Denkmal. Die Herausgeber um Carl Holladay verdienen dafür großen Dank." – Thomas Schmeller, in: Biblische Zeitschrift 59 (2015)

"... testament to the enduring value of Malherbe's scholarship [...] a fitting tribute to a career of world-leading research and publication. The editors of these volumes are to be commended for their careful work."
– Paul Foster, University of Edinburgh, in: The Expository Times 127/2

"(...) the end product is a collection of essays representing a focused and coherent approach to Paul and other New Testament texts that will keep its value for decades to come."
- Johan Thom, University of Stellenbosch, Early Christianity 3, vol. 9 (2018).
1 The Corinthian Contribution
2 The Task and Method of Exegesis
3 The Beasts at Ephesus
4 “Gentle as a Nurse”: The Cynic Background to 1 Thessalonians 2
5 The Inhospitality of Diotrephes
6 Social Level and Literary Culture of Early Christianity
7 ΜΗ ΓΕΝΟΙΤΟ in the Diatribe and Paul
8 Medical Imagery in the Pastoral Epistles
9 Antisthenes and Odysseus, and Paul at War
10 Exhortation in First Thessalonians
11 “In Season and Out of Season”: 2 Timothy 4:2
12 Paul: Hellenistic Philosopher or Christian Pastor?
13 “Not in a Corner”: Early Christian Apologetic in Acts 26:26
14 “Pastoral Care” in the Thessalonian Church
15 Did the Thessalonians Write to Paul?
16 Traditions and Theology of Care in the New Testament
17 Paulus Senex
18 Determinism and Free Will in Paul: The Argument of 1 Corinthians 8 and 9
19 God’s New Family at Thessalonica
20 Paul’s Self-Sufficiency (Philippians 4:11)
21 The Christianization of a Topos (Luke 12:13-34)
22 Conversion to Paul’s Gospel
23 Anti-Epicurean Rhetoric in 1 Thessalonians
24 The Apostle Paul as Pastor
25 Paraenesis in the Epistle to Titus
26 “Christ Jesus Came into the World to Save Sinners”: Soteriology in the Pastoral Epistles”
27 The Virtus Feminarum in I Timothy 2:9-15
28 How to Treat Old Women and Old Men: The Use of Philosophical Traditions and Scripture in 1 Timothy 5
29 Godliness, Self-Sufficiency, Greed, and the Enjoyment of Wealth: 1 Timothy 6:3–19 – Part 1
30 Godliness, Self-Sufficiency, Greed, and the Enjoyment of Wealth: 1 Timothy 6:3–19 – Part 2
31 Overseers as Household Managers in the Pastoral Epistles
32 Ethics in Context: The Thessalonians and Their Neighbors

1 Pseudo Heraclitus, Epistle 4: The Divinization of the Wise Man
2 Self-Definition Among the Cynics
3 Heracles
4 Hellenistic Moralists and the New Testament
5 The Cultural Context of the New Testament: The Graeco-Roman World

6 Apologetic and Philosophy in the Second Century
7 Towards Understanding the Apologists: Review Article
8 The Structure of Athenagoras, Supplicatio pro Christianis
9 Athenagoras on Christian Ethics
10 The Holy Spirit in Athenagoras
11 Athenagoras on the Location of God
12 Athenagoras on the Poets and Philosophers
13 The Apologetic Theology of the Preaching of Peter
14 Justin and Crescens
15 A Physical Description of Paul
16 “Seneca” on Paul as Letter Writer

17 A People Under the Word: Theological Interpretation
18 Continuities in Scholarship: The Work of Nils Dahl
19 A Review of Hans Dieter Betz, ed., Plutarch’s Ethical Writings and Early Christian Literature
20 A Review of Helmut Koester, Introduction to the New Testament
21 On the Writing of Commentaries
Specialists in New Testment studies (especially Paul), classicists interested in Hellenistic moral philosophy, and patristic scholars interested in early Christian apologists (especially Athenagoras)
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