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Historiography and Self-Definition

Josephos, Luke-acts and Apologetic Historiography

Series:

Gregory Sterling

For centuries scholars have recognized the apologetic character of the Hellenistic Jewish historians, Josephos, and Luke-Acts; they have not, however, adequately addressed their possible relationships to each other and to their wider cultures. In this first full systematic effort to set these authors within the framework of Greco-Roman traditions, Professor Sterling has used genre criticism as a method for locating a distinct tradition of historical writing, apologetic historiography.
Apologetic historiography is the story of a subgroup of people which deliberately Hellenizes the traditions of the group in an effort to provide a self-definition within the context of the larger world. It arose as a result of a dialectic relationship with Greek ethnography. This work traces the evolution of this tradition through three major eras of eastern Mediterranean history spanning six hundred years: the Persian, the Greek, and the Roman.

Gregory E. Sterling

Abstract

One of the most surprising omissions in Philo’s retelling of Moses’s life in his De vita Moysis is the Sinai pericope. The Alexandrian omitted Exod 17:14-Num 20:13 with the exception of the spy story (Num 13:1-14:45). There appear to be three reasons for the omission. First, Philo recognized the doublet of the story of the water from the rock (Exod 17:1-7//Num 20:1-13). This provided a narrative rationale for the omission. Second, he routinely omitted place names from his narrative, an ars narrandi that helped to universalize the text. Third, the omission enabled him to avoid the association of Sinai with the covenant. Philo retold the story of Moses, but turned Moses outward into the larger world rather than inward to his own community.

The Body as Metaphor

The Structure of a Human and the Meaning of Scripture

Gregory E. Sterling

Abstract

This essay considers Philo of Alexandria’s metaphor in which he used the dual nature of embodied existence (body and soul) to argue that both literal and allegorical readings are legitimate. It examines the metaphor in the framework of Conceptual Metaphor Theory (CTM) developed by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson that argues that experience is the key to meaning. A metaphor occurs when we apply a pattern that we have observed in one setting (gestalt) to another. In this case, Philo has drawn on a Platonic/Stoic understanding of being human and applied it to contested hermeneutics within the Alexandrian Jewish community in an effort to maintain a sense of unity among two groups. The metaphorical experience is the recognition that Scripture is polyvalent in the same way that being human is.

PRAYER AS THEOLOGICAL REFLECTION

The Function of Prayer in Ephesians

Series:

E. Sterling Gregory