medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

[Please cross-post as appropriate]

Save the dates! A formal announcement will follow later with further details.

The final two meetings of PSCO 43 will be held in consecutive weeks at the end of 
April and beginning of May: 

27 April -- Professor Hindy Najman (University of Toronto) 
"Ensouled Laws (Abraham and Moses): Sage as Text and Text as Sage in the Writings 
of Philo of Alexandria"

4 May -- Professor Vasiliki Limberis (Temple University)
"Between the Martyrs and Hagiography:  'Holiness' and the Cult
of the Martyrs in the Cappadocian Fathers, Mothers and Families."

Here are some preliminary details and suggested readings.

(1) Thursday, 27 April 2006, the Religious Studies and Jewish Studies programs at
Penn join with PSCO to welcome Hindy Najman (University of Toronto --  

There will be a cafeteria style kosher dinner in the Logan 2nd Floor Lounge at
5:30 pm sponsored by the Religious Studies and Jewish Studies programs.  (Please
let me know if you are likely to attend the dinner -- probably Chinese kosher.)

Prior to that, Dr. Najman will be available at an informal "open forum" question
and answer period from 3:30 - 5:00 pm, centering on her book Seconding Sinai and 
her current research interests, in the same location, coordinated by Bob
Kraft. Come and make a full afternoon and evening of her visit.

From 7-9 pm, Hindy Najman will speak on the subject
"Ensouled Laws (Abraham and Moses): Sage as Text and Text as Sage in the Writings 
of Philo of Alexandria"

Philo of Alexandria calls Moses and Abraham ensouled laws.  These biblical figures 
achieve such an elevated status because they intuit Natural Law on their own. What 
does it mean, for Philo, to be "like Moses" or "like Abraham" and is this possible 
or even desirable? And how does this all relate to Philo's claim that the text of 
Mosaic Law is a living thing that can guide its adherents towards becoming "soul 

This presentation explores the conception of sages and texts as exemplars in the 
first century works of Philo.  It seeks to deepen Peter Brown's analysis of late 
ancient holy men in two ways. (1)  First, it complicates Brown's distinction 
between "'the divine man', of late classical times . . . [who] continued to draw 
his powers from a bottomless sense of occult wisdom preserved for him in and by 
society . . . [and] the holy man [who] drew his powers from outside the human 
race: by going to live in the desert, in close identification with an animal 
kingdom that stood, in the imagination of contemporaries, for the opposite pole of 
all human society" ("The Rise and Function of the Holy Man in Late Antiquity," 
131-2). In Philo's view, exemplary figures (or, in Brown's terms, "divine men") 
such as Abraham and Moses drew their powers directly from nature and God, not from 
socially transmitted wisdom, and life in the desert (as with Brown's "holy men") 
was an important way to effect the necessary separation from society.  
(2) Second, this presentation examines how those who acknowledge the exemplar's 
authority understood or experienced the situation. Whereas for Brown the focus is 
on the holy man's accrual of power (paradoxically through "dissociation" from 
humanity or in "splendid isolation") -- and similarly for David Frankfurter in 
"Dynamics of Ritual Expertise in Antiquity and Beyond: Towards a New Taxonomy of 
'Magicians'" -- for Philo the power realized by the exemplars exists only as 
others attribute to them a pursuit of something other than power.

Primary texts from Philo of Alexandria:
Life of Moses 2.1-16 and 288-292; 
The Contemplative Life 77-78 and 83-90; 
On Abraham 2-6 and 275-276.

For background reading, see especially H. Najman, ch. 3 "Copying Nature, Copying 
Moses" in Seconding Sinai: The Development of Masaic Discourse in Second Temple 
Judaism (Supplements to the Journal for the Study of Judaism 77; Brill 2003), 
70-107; also "A Written Copy of the Law of Nature: An Unthinkable Paradox?" in The 
Studia Philonica Annual 15: Law Stamped with the Seal of Nature: Law and Naturein 
Hellenistic Philosophy and Philo of Alexandria
(Brown Judaic Studies 337; Brown University, 2003) 54-63.

For additional reading:
Peter Brown, "The Saint as Exemplar in Late Antiquity," pp. 3-14 in Saints and 
Virtues, ed. John Stratton Hawley (Comparative Studies in Religion and Society 2; 
Univ. of California Press, 1987).
Martin S. Jaffee, Torah in the Mouth: Writing and Oral Tradition in Palestinian 
Judaism, 200 BCE - 400 CE (Oxford University Press, 2001), ch. 7, "Torah in the 
Mouth in Galilean Discipleship Communities," 126-152, and ch. 8, "Epilogue," 
153-156 (see also the endnotes on 201-209 that correspond to those chapters); 
Pierre Hadot, What is Ancient Philosophy? (Harvard University Press, 2002) 220-233 
(see also the endnotes on 313-314).

(2) The current year will be capped off on Thursday, 4 May 2006, with a 
presentation from our own Vasiliki Limberis (Temple University

"Between the Martyrs and Hagiography:  'Holiness' and the Cult
of the Martyrs in the Cappadocian Fathers, Mothers and Families."

Here are a few suggestions for readings. The presentation is based on Dr. 
Limberis' current book project that is an outgrowth of the article in the Krueger 
volume, #2 below.  

1. Introduction to J. Leemans, W. Mayer, P. Allen, and B.
Dehandschutter, LET US DIE THAT WE MAY LIVE, Routledge, 2003.

2. Chapter two, V. Limberis, "The Cult of the Martyrs and the Cappadocian 
Krueger, ed., Fortress, 2006. 

Philadelphia, 2003.

4. Chapter 1 of P. Rousseau, BASIL OF CAESAREA, Berkeley, 1994.

5. Pp. 1-54 of H. Delehaye, LES LEGENDS HAGIOGRAPHIQUES, Brussels, 1927.

Philo and the Cappadocians; a fitting conclusion to the year!

RAK, for the co-chairs

Robert A. Kraft, Religious Studies, University of Pennsylvania
227 Logan Hall (Philadelphia PA 19104-6304); tel. 215 898-5827
[log in to unmask]

To join the list, send the message: join medieval-religion YOUR NAME
to: [log in to unmask]
To send a message to the list, address it to:
[log in to unmask]
To leave the list, send the message: leave medieval-religion
to: [log in to unmask]
In order to report problems or to contact the list's owners, write to:
[log in to unmask]
For further information, visit our web site: