Philo of Alexandria - Intro Article

The following article was written by Burton L. Mack, editor of the earlier Journal Studia Philonica, in order to introduce the revamped Journal when it first appeared in 1989. It contains interesting material about the history of Philo research which forms the background to the Philo of Alexandria Seminar and The Studia Philonica Annual.

Volume 1, 1989, pages 1 - 2



Burton L. Mack

With this issue of The Studia Philonica Annual, the journal formerly known as Studia Philonica announces a new lease on life. Six issues of Studia Philonica were published during the years from 1972 to 1980, and the plans for a seventh worked their way into print with the publication of the Samuel Sandmel memorial volume, Nourished with Peace, in 1984. Since then, however, Studia Philonica has languished, tucked away in the recesses of scholarly aspirations and designs.

The idea for a journal dedicated to studies of the Alexandrian exegete and philosopher was conceived in a seminar room at McCormick Theological Seminary in 1971. Robert Hamerton-Kelly had called a few scholars together to discuss the possibility of a collaborative project on the Philonic corpus. It was, apparently, a timely call, for the energies generated at the meeting soon produced a society of Philonists that spanned North America and eventually a network of discourse that reached across the sea to engage European scholars as well. With the support of McCormick Theological Seminary, The Philo Institute was established at Chicago, and Studia Philonica soon appeared as its organ.

The original intent for the Journal was to provide a forum for those interested in a collaborative project on the sources and traditions Philo used to compose his commentaries. The outlines for such a project were indeed shared with the Society at its meeting in Chicago in 1975 and received with approval. By then, however, the Society had quadrupled in membership and the range of interests in Philonica had expanded. It was decided that the project on exegetical traditions be located at the Institute for Antiquity and Christianity in Claremont. Work also progressed, however, at Berkeley, Santa Barbara, Brown University, and at other institutions where members of the Society labored. The Philo Institute at McCormick under the direction of Earle Hilgert served as the coordinator of all activities, and the Journal reported on the work accomplished.

A period of rearrangements began in the early 1980s. Funding had become a problem both for the Journal and for the Philo Project at Claremont. Resolve determined that new ways would have to be found to channel the energies and support the productions of the new Society that had emerged. One result was the formation of a group under the auspices of the Society of Biblical Literature on Hellenistic Judaism. This group was organized and led by Horst Moehring. Another was the formation of the Philo Seminar of the Society of Biblical Literature under the direction of Earle Hilgert. Yet another was a liaison established with the Philo Seminar of Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas. Each of these groups is currently very much alive, attracting other scholars to join them in their work, and producing fine studies.

As for the Journal, Jacob Neusner came to its rescue with a generous offer tendered at the Society meetings in 1982. He agreed to publish the work of the Philo Institute and its satellite groups in Brown Judaic Studies. Since the offer included not only a future for the type of studies previously published in the Journal, but the possibility of monographs as well, new arrangements in editorial responsibility were called for. After a period of uncertainty, David Runia has been appointed editor for what is now The Studia Philonica Annual, so that plans could be forged to make it a truly international venture. Earle Hilgert and I will serve as co-editors of the Monograph series, while Jonathan Z. Smith has taken on the responsibility of General editor supervising both.

The Annual will continue to bear the title Studia Philonica in keeping with its history. But with the broadening horizons in view, the editors searched for a wider lens. The focus will now fall, not only on the works of Philo, but upon the larger world of early Judaism for which Philo had served as a singular example. With this announcement, therefore, The Studia Philonica Annual opens its pages to all aspects of the history and literature of Hellenistic Judaism. The hope is high that scholars working in this field will find the Annual helpful to them, and consider making their own contributions to the forum The Studia Philonica Annual wishes to create.

As coeditor of the first series with Earle Hilgert, I am delighted to introduce this first issue of the new series. I want to express my deep appreciation to Jacob Neusner, who has made it possible, and to David Runia, together with his associate editors David Hay and David Winston, who have accepted the responsibility for making it happen. I hereby extend my congratulations and best wishes for a most rewarding tenure.

Claremont Graduate School