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Providence, Dualism, and Will in Later Greek and Early Christian Philosophy
Author: Dylan M. Burns
Is God involved? Why do bad things happen to good people? What is up to us? These questions were explored in Mediterranean antiquity with reference to ‘providence’ ( pronoia). In Did God Care? Dylan Burns offers the first comprehensive survey of providence in ancient philosophy that brings together the most important Greek, Latin, Coptic, and Syriac sources, from Plato to Plotinus and the Gnostics.

Burns demonstrates how the philosophical problems encompassed by providence transformed in the first centuries CE, yielding influential notions about divine care, evil, creation, omniscience, fate, and free will that remain with us today. These transformations were not independent developments of ‘Pagan philosophy’ and ‘Christian theology,’ but include fruits of mutually influential engagement between Hellenic and Christian philosophers.
Author: Tzvi Abusch
In this volume, Tzvi Abusch presents studies written over a span of forty years that were completed prior to his retirement from Brandeis University in 2019. They reflect several themes that he has pursued in addition to his work on witchcraft literature and the Epic of Gilgamesh. The volume begins with general articles on Mesopotamian magic, religion, and mythology; these are followed by a set of articles on Akkadian prayers, especially šuillas, focusing, first of all, on exegetical and linguistic (synchronic) studies and, then, on diachronic analyses; part two contains a series of literary studies of Mesopotamian and biblical classics; part three is devoted to comparative studies of terms and phenomena; finally, the fourth part takes up texts that are of legal interest.

The Harvard Semitic Studies series publishes volumes from the Harvard Museum of the Ancient Near East. Other series offered by Brill that publish volumes from the Museum include Studies in the Archaeology and History of the Levant and Harvard Semitic Monographs, https://hmane.harvard.edu/publications.
This volume, edited by René Brouwer and Emmanuele Vimercati, deals with the debate about fate, providence and free will in the early Imperial age. This debate is rekindled in the 1st century CE during emperor Augustus’ rule and ends in the 3rd century CE with Plotinus and Origen, when the different positions in the debate were more or less fully developed. The book aims to show how in this period the notions of fate, providence and freedom were developed and debated, not only within and between the main philosophical schools, that is Stoicism, Aristotelianism, and Platonism, but also in the interaction with other, “religious” movements, here understood in the general sense of groups of people sharing beliefs in and worship of (a) superhuman controlling power(s), such as Gnosticism, Hermetism as well as Judaism and Christianity.
In Pilgrimage and Economy in the Ancient Mediterranean, Anna Collar and Troels Myrup Kristensen bring together diverse scholarship to explore the socioeconomic dynamics of ancient Mediterranean pilgrimage from archaic Greece to Late Antiquity, the Greek mainland to Egypt and the Near East. This broad chronological and geographical canvas demonstrates how our modern concepts of religion and economy were entangled in the ancient world. By taking material culture as a starting point, the volume examines the ways that landscapes, architecture, and objects shaped the pilgrim’s experiences, and the manifold ways in which economy, belief and ritual behaviour intertwined, specifically through the processes and practices that were part of ancient Mediterranean pilgrimage over the course of more than 1,500 years.
In The Cave 3 Copper Scroll: A Symbolic Journey, Jesper Høgenhavn presents a reading of the Copper Scroll as a literary text. For more than 60 years, scholars have debated whether or not the treasures recorded here reflect historical realities. This study argues that the dichotomy between “facts” and “fiction” is inadequate for a proper understanding of the Copper Scroll. The document was designed to convey specific images to its readers, thus staying true to the format of an instruction for retrieving hidden treasures. Yet, the evoked landscape is dense with symbolical associations, and the journey through it reflects deliberate narrative patterns. The scroll was written against the background of the social and political turmoil of Jewish Palestine in the 1st century CE, and reflects contemporary concerns and interests.
Terror and Intrigue
In Gnostic Countercultures, fourteen scholars investigate countercultural aspects associated with the gnostic which is broadly conceived with reference to the claim to have special knowledge of the divine, which either transcends or transgresses conventional religious knowledge. The papers explore the concept of the gnostic in Western culture from the ancient world to the modern New Age. Contributors trace the emergence, persistence, and disappearance of gnostic religious currents that are perceived to be countercultural, inverted, transgressive and/or subversive in their relationship to conventional religions and their claims to knowledge. The essays represent a selection of the papers delivered at the international congress Gnostic Countercultures: Terror and Intrigue convened at Rice University, March 26-28, 2015. The essays were originally published in Gnosis 1.1-2 (2016) and are available for the first time under separate cover.

Abstract

In this paper I examine the mythological references contained in Clem. Alex. Str. 4,19,118-123, a passage in which Clement develops the idea that perfection is equally attainable by men and women, and illustrates it by listing examples of female perfection, including biblical women, historical figures, and mythical heroines. After an analysis of Clement’s technique of embedment of the mythical examples, I show that his wording conveys a subtle distinction between the mythical women on the one hand and the historical and biblical women on the other by signalling the poetical character of the former. In this context, it is the synthetic and selective nature of the references that allows Clement to exploit myth’s illustrative function without explicitly distancing himself from it. Finally, I argue that his source on several mythical examples is a mythographical catalogue of figures grouped under φιλο- compounds.

In: Vigiliae Christianae
Author: Daniel Greb

Abstract

In his treatise de fuga in persecutione Tertullian argues that flight is not allowed for any Christian in times of persecution. As persecution originates in God and his will, there is no possibility to flee and avoid it. Such a behaviour would be nothing else than apostasy and would result in the loss of eternal life. Only by submitting oneself completely to God and his providence and the guidance of the Holy Spirit (Paraclete) it is possible to endure persecution and fulfil God’s demand for steadfastness. To convince his addressee Fabius, Tertullian gives his treatise a classical rhetorical disposition and arranges his arguments according to the partes orationis. This article investigates the rhetorical substance of the treatise and outlines its disposition as a deliberative speech. It is demonstrated, how Tertullian’s rhetoric influences and strengthens his argumentation.

In: Vigiliae Christianae

Abstract

Justin’s First Apology contains the longest extant description of an early Christian meal. This description (ch. 65-67) poses several problems, of which this short article singles out only two. On the level of textual criticism, an oft-discussed variant, rejected in all editions, suggests that the blessing is made over a cup of water, not wine. On the level of liturgical history, Justin’s Eucharist seems to contradict the view that early Christian meals resembled Graeco-Roman symposia. By combining the textual and the historical approach, this article offers a compromise. It is argued that water and not wine was indeed used during the opening ritual, but that the rest of the event did unfold as a symposium and hence included wine.

In: Vigiliae Christianae
In: Numen