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The Concepts of the Divine in the Greek Magical Papyri

In Eleni PACHOUMI, Magic, Mohr Siebeck, Papyrology, Paul Linjamaa on May 30, 2017 at 3:09 pm

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2017.05.11 | Eleni Pachoumi, The Concepts of the Divine in the Greek Magical Papyri. Studies and Texts in Antiquity and Christianity 102. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2017. XVI, 258 pages. ISBN 978-3-16-154018-9.

Review by Paul Linjamaa, Lund University.

This monograph is devoted to the many and varying forms of ancient magical papyri – spells, hymns, amulets, rituals, remedies, and mythological and liturgical elements, from the Greco Roman Egypt of second century BC to the seventh century CE.  The focus is, as indicated in the title, to investigate the “concepts of the divine”. The study comprises revised parts of the authors’ doctoral dissertation (chapter 3?) and “some articles” (chapter 1 and 2?) (9). The central concern, as stated on the back, is to investigate how “philosophical, religious and mystical assimilations affect the concepts of the divine in the Greek magical papyri”. The study includes an introduction, three central chapters, followed by an epilogue and appendices (comprising of a mind map of how the magical papyri were used and an assortment of lists pertaining to the source material used in the study).

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The Demiurge in Ancient Thought

In Cambridge University Press, Carl Séan O'BRIEN, Demiurge, Gnosticism, Paul Linjamaa on June 14, 2016 at 2:00 pm


2016.06.09 | Carl Séan O’Brien, The Demiurge in Ancient Thought: Secondary Gods and Divine Mediators. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015. ISBN: 9781107075368, £65.00.

Review by Paul Linjamaa, Lund University.

This book is a convenient and detailed compilation of ideas concerning the Demiurge and “demiurgry” in ancient thought—ideas on how the cosmos was generated and how matter was ordered and sustained. The work is the published version of a PhD-dissertation at Trinity College, Dublin.

The book begins with a  chapter that briefly introduces and situates the subject of “demiugry” and presents the Platonic background of it in relation to Stoic, Aristotelian and Judeo-Christian thought. Chapter 2 goes over to a detailed presentation of Plato’s introduction of the Demiurge-character in his Timaeus, as well his other dialogues. The main thrust of the book lies in chapters 3-10, in presenting the way Plato’s Demiurge was received and developed among philosophers (Jew, Gentile and Christian) from the first to the third century CE. Read the rest of this entry »

Paul’s Graeco-Roman Context

In Cilliers BREYTENBACH, Graeco-Roman Backgrounds, Paul, Paul Linjamaa, Peeters, Philosophy on December 30, 2015 at 2:00 pm


2015.12.24 | Cilliers Breytenbach, ed. Paul’s Graeco-Roman Context (BETL 277). Leuven: Peeters, 2015. Pp. 773. Hardcover. ISBN 9789042932715.

Review by Paul Linjamaa, Lund University.

Many thanks to Peeters for providing a review copy.

This book comprises the printed proceedings following the 62nd Colloquium Biblicum Lovaniense, which took place 16-18 July, 2013. Among the 34 essays, we find studies on broad issues, such as Paul’s Romanization (by Marie-Françoise Baslez), Paul’s use of Metanoia (by David Konstan) and Paul’s relation to wine and drunkenness (by John T. Fitzgerald). We also find more narrow studies, such as two articles on Romans 7:7-25, one by Samuel Byrskog investigating the identity of the “I” in this passage, and another by Antonio Pitta presenting a new interpretation of the passage from the perspective of Aristotle’s Poetics. Since I cannot comment upon all 34 essays, I have made a selection from essays that were presented by scholars invited to give a main lectures at the conference, as well as papers from each of the groups of accepted contributions. These papers fall into three categories: papers interpreting individual phrases in Pauline letters; papers on the rhetorical strategies and concepts underlying Paul’s letters; and papers focusing on historical questions and post-Pauline literature. Read the rest of this entry »

The Books of Jeu and the Pistis Sophia as Handbooks to Eternity

In Books of Jeu, Brill, Erin EVANS, Gnosticism, Nag Hammadi, Paul Linjamaa, Pistis Sophia on October 8, 2015 at 4:54 pm


2015.10.18 | Erin Evans. The Books of Jeu and the Pistis Sophia as Handbooks to Eternity: Exploring the Gnostic Mysteries to the Ineffable. Nag Hammadi and Manichaean Studies 89. Leiden: Brill, 2015.

Review by Paul Linjamaa, Lund University.

Many thanks to Brill for providing a review copy.

This is a much needed book. After the Nag Hammadi-texts became available for the broader scholarly public – after many years of preservation work, editing and legal quarrels – much effort has been devoted to tracing the different Christian stances found in the large corpus. However, there have been surprisingly few studies on the very interesting Coptic “Gnostic” texts found before the Nag Hammadi discoveries. Considering the amount of attention the different Nag Hammadi-texts have received and considering the many similarities to the texts in the Bruce and Askew codex (found long before the Nag Hammadi), this is indeed surprising. Read the rest of this entry »