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Der judische Phokylides: Formgeschichtliche Zugange zu Pseudo-Phokylides und Vergleich mit der neutestamentlichen Paranese.

The author here presents the fruit of several decades of painstaking labour while engaged in the parish as a Lutheran minister. As the book's subtitle and preface suggest, his main interest lies in a detailed, primarily form-critical analysis of the sayings of Pseudo-Phocylides. This is related inter alia to the connections with similar parenetical traditions in the New Testament.

Following a general introduction, the book is divided into four major sections. Part A attempts to situate Ps.-Phocylides in the context of Jewish moral instruction, examining first the form and substance of Torah and Wisdom traditions. Six further chapters then provide detailed studies of serial instructions on Lev. 18 and the Decalogue; short imperatival forms; the parenetical topos of 'measure and weight' (from Deut. 24:13-16 and Lev. 19: 35-36); the biblical sources of Ps.-Phoc. 9-41 (Lev. 19) and 132-52 (Exod. 22-23; Deut. 13: 22); the theological themes of divine and human wisdom, morality and cult, monotheism, body and soul; oral instruction and the place of humanism in Second Temple Judaism.

Part B rather more briefly considers Ps.-Phocylides in the context of Greek learning and moral instruction. Thomas examines the place of parenesis in Hellenistic education; the use of the parenetical imperative in Isocrates and Ps.-Phocylides; and the evidence of direct Greek influence on this Jewish writer.

Part C then provides a kind of general Einleitung to the work of Ps.-Phocylides. Following a short description of its literary structure, Thomas discusses the author and addressees of the poem, offering particular insights into the use of sources.

The last section (Part D) finally, presents a comparison of Ps.-Phocylides with the parenetical forms of New Testament ethics. Thomas considers the application of the commandments to everyday life; imperatival series of negative and positive commandments (critical attention being devoted especially to the Colossian Haustafel); and the stated reasons given for these imperatives. Among the other items discussed in this section are the use of imperatival infinitives and participles; the assigning of priority to the first in a series of precepts ([GREEK TEXT OMITTED]), and several other parenetical forms and devices. The concluding chapter discusses some implications for our understanding of New Testament ethics. Here, the author reiterates the importance of form criticism for an understanding of the relationship between traditional principles and their concrete application in the New Testament. He advances a number of interesting observations on this subject: for instance, he describes early Christianity's transfer of the socially defining function of halakhic purity rules to the realm of moral purity, as similarly designating the boundary between the faithful and the world (p. 450). Eschatology and pneumatology are portrayed as significant innovative factors in the Christian formulation of parenesis.

An extensive appendix offers first a series of detailed excursuses on twelve related topics. These include observations on the text of Phocylides' Greek Bible, the interconnected triads of cardinal sins in Judaism (idolatry, sexual immorality, murder) and in Christianity (idolatry, sexual immorality, greed), and the concept of unwritten laws. The work ends with a glossary and a substantial bibliography, and four indexes complete the work.

This brief review cannot offer a full assessment of a volume whose dense typeface makes its 500 pages very tightly packed. On all accounts, this book represents an immense treasure of learning and attention to detail. Its author shows himself fully versed in scholarship on Pseudo-Phocylides. He explicitly (p. 7) takes for granted the seminal work of P. W. van der Horst, and his knowledge of a wide range of secondary literature (especially, though by no means exclusively, in German) is most impressive. Both in its major form-critical thrust and in numerous fine observations of exegetical detail, this book is clearly set to remain for many years a major landmark in scholarship on Pseudo-Phocylides.

Nevertheless, a number of criticisms are worth raising. Thomas' impressively learned presentation is nevertheless a little thin when it comes to primary literature in Hebrew or Aramaic. This leads to a particular deficit in the Dead Sea Scrolls and in rabbinic literature, where one might have hoped for greater attention to parallels with sapiential and other pertinent haggadic genres.

Given Thomas' erudition and frequent interaction with van der Horst and others, it seems particularly unfortunate that his massive volume offers no commentary on Ps.-Phocylides, but only a series of detailed individual studies. As a result, the cluttered layout and arcane structure combine with a rather ponderous style to make the whole volume almost like an extended set of footnotes to a commentary. The overall effect may seem somewhat fragmented and inaccessible even to the specialist. Even so, serious scholars will certainly find Thomas' magnum opus to be of lasting service as an outstanding reference work on this important Jewish Hellenistic text.

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Author:Bockmuehl, Markus
Publication:The Journal of Theological Studies
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Apr 1, 1995
Previous Article:Pseudo-Philo: Rewriting the Bible.
Next Article:Christian Origins and the Question of God, vol. 1, The New Testament and the People of God.

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