Plutarch on Literature, Graeco-Roman Religion, Jews and Christians


The present book includes sixteen studies by Professor Frederick E. Brenk on Plutarch on Literature, Graeco-Roman Religion, Jews and Christians. Of them, thirteen were published earlier in different venues and three appear here for the first time. Written between 2009 and 2022, these studies not only provide an excellent example of Professor Brenk’s incisiveness and deep knowledge of Plutarch; they also provide an excellent overview of Plutarchan studies of the last years on a variety of themes. Indeed, one of the most salient characteristics of Brenk’s scholarship is his constant interaction and conversation with the most recent scholarly literature.

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Frederick Brenk, PhD (1971), University of Kentucky, is Professor Ordinarius Emeritus Pontifical Biblical Institute, Rome. He has published extensively on Plutarch during the last five decades.
Lautaro Roig Lanzillotta Dr. Litt. (1997) and Dr Theologiae (2004), is Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity.
Preface: Frederick Brenk’s Plutarch on Literature, Graeco-Roman Religion, Jews and Christians

Part 1 Literature

1 Plutarch’s Flawed Characters: The Personae of the Dialogues
 1 Introduction
 2 The Young Plutarch and Ammonius
 3 Plutarch’s Brother, Lamprias
 4 Theon
 5 Epaminondas

2 “In Learned Conversation:” Plutarch’s Symposiac Literature and the Elusive Authorial Voice
 1 Introduction
 2 Cicero’s Philosophical Dialogues
 3 Characteristics of the Symposiacs
 4 Plutarch the Persona
 5 Other Speakers
 6 Conclusion

3 Space, Time, and Language in On the Oracles of the Pythia: 3,000 Years of History, Never Proved Wrong
 1 Introduction
 2 The Trip through the Sanctuary
 3 Space and Time in the Objects Seen
 4 The New Space, Time, and Language
 5 Conclusion

4 Voices from the Past: Quotations and Intertexuality: The Oracles at Delphi
 1 Importance of Quotations
 2 Surface and Deep Structure
 3 Proper and Improper Readings
 4 Layering and Social Memory
 5 Preference for Classical Authors
 6 Rare Re-use of Quotations
 7 Primary and Secondary Texts
 8 Parody?
 9 Use of Authorities
 10 Hypertextuality
 11 Wrapped in an Enigma
 12 Ending with a Crescendo

5 Sliding Atoms or Supernatural Light: Plutarch’s Erotikos and the “On Eros” Literature
 1 Introduction
 2 Major Writers of the On Love Literature
 3 Theophrastus
 4 Epikouros
 5 Conclusion

6 Looking at Conjectures (Guesses?) in Plutarch’s Dialogue on Love
 1 Introduction
 2 The Case of Semiramis
 3 The Impossible Date of the Young Sabinus’ Visit

7 Plutarch the Greek in the Roman Questions
 1 Preston’s Roman Questions, Greek Answers
 2 The Types of Answers
 3 Are They Really Greek?
 4 Conclusion

Part 2 Graeco-Roman Religion

8 Plutarch: Philosophy, Religion, and Ethics
 1 Introduction
 2 Philosophy
 3 Religion
 4 Ethics

9 Plutarch and Pagan Monotheism
 1 Introduction
 2 Greek Philosophers and Christians on Foreign Cultures
 3 Plutarch and Egyptian Religion
 4 One God Worshipped by All Peoples
 5 Ammonius’ Middle Platonic God in On the E at Delphi
 6 Conclusion

10 “Searching for Truth”?: Plutarch’s On Isis and Osiris
 1 Searching for ‘Ancient Wisdom’
 2 Greek Culture over All
 3 Greeks and Hybrid Gods
 4 Plutarch’s Interpretation of Egyptian Religion
 5 Did Plutarch Find Common Ground?
 6 Animal Worship and Something New?

11 “None Greater Than in the Holy City:” Lucian, Pausanias, and Plutarch on Religious Shrines
 1 Introduction
 2 Differences between Plutarch, Pausanias, and Lucian
 3 Plutarch, On Isis and Osiris
 4 The Nature of Lucian’s On the Syrian Goddess
 5 Plutarch and Pausanias on the Oracular Shrine at Delphi
 6 “Tall Tales” in Plutarch, and Pausanias
 7 “Tall Tales” in On the Syrian Goddess
 8 The Religious Purpose in Plutarch, Pausanias, and Lucian
 9 Conclusion

Part 3 Jews and Christians

12 Philo and Plutarch on the Nature of God
 1 Introduction
 2 The Monotheism of Greek Philosophers
 3 Monotheism and a Place for Minor Gods
 4 Plato’s Timaeus and Plutarch
 5 Religious Monotheism
 6 Ammonius versus Plutarch
 7 Conclusion

13 A Name by a Name? The Allegorizing Etymologies of Philo and Plutarch
 1 Philo’s On the Change of Names and Plutarch’s On Isis and Osiris
 2 Etymologies in Plutarch’s On Isis and Osiris
 3 Philo’s On the Change of Names
 4 Conclusion

14 Plutarch’s Monotheism and the New Testament
 1 General Principles
 2 Plutarch’s Monotheism and That of the New Testament
 3 Plutarch’s Monotheism in On Isis and Osiris
 4 Conclusion

15 Most Beautiful and Divine: Graeco-Romans (Especially Plutarch) and Paul, on Love and Marriage
 1 Introduction
 2 The Nature of Greek On Love Literature
 3 Epikouros’ Negative Attitude toward Love and Marriage
 4 Plutarch and the On Love Literature
 5 Plutarch’s Advice to a Bride and Groom
 6 Musonius Rufus on marriage
 7 The Dialogue on Love in Reaction to Literature on Love and Marriage
 8 Seneca on Love and Marriage
 9 Plutarch’s Dialogue on Love as His Final Word
 10 Paul on Love and Marriage
 11 Conclusion

16 Plutarch on the Christians: Why So Silent? Ignorance, Indifference, or Indignity?
 1 Plutarch’s Sympotic Questions on the Jews and Hekataios
 2 The Christian Population at the Time of Plutarch
 3 How Plutarch Might Have Learned about the Christians in Other Ways
 4 Plutarch’s Other Friends and Christians
 5 Conclusion

Index Locorum
Index of Historical Names
Index Rerum
Index of Modern Authors
All interested in ancient History, Classics, Philosophy, History of Religion
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