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Review of Biblical Literature, October 2006
Full review available as a PDF Adobe PDF

The Works of Philo: Greek Text with Morphology

Reviewed by Torrey Seland, School of Mission and Theology, Stavanger, Norway

History

This resource is built upon the database compiled by the Norwegian “Philo Concordance Project,” which resulted in the publication of the first complete printed concordance of Philo in 2000. The history of this project is long and complicated. It started when Prof. Peder Borgen was at the University of Bergen, Norway, in the early 1970s and at first resulted in a machine-readable text from which a keyword-in–context concordance was produced. In fact, only two or three copies were printed, and when Borgen moved to Trondheim in 1976, he was in charge of one of these. When I became a research fellow in Trondheim in 1983, the concordance comprised several volumes on the bookshelves of Borgen’s office and was of great help in my own Philo studies. At the end of the 1980s efforts were made to raise money for the completion of the Philo Concordance Project; happily, the Norwegian Research Council agreed to support this work, and, finally, in 2000 a word index based on the work of the Philo Concordance Project was published by Eerdmans and Brill.1 A brief but somewhat more detailed history of the project can be read at the beginning of this Logos module and on the homepage of the Philo Concordance Project (http://webster.hibo.no/alu/seksjon/krl/kaare/filon/).

The present Logos Bible Software resource includes the complete works of Philo in Greek, drawn from the same four text editions used to compile the concordance (Cohn and Wendland, Colson, Petit, and Paramelle). The lemmatization and morphology are also supplied as established by the Philo Concordance Project scholars. According to Logos’s own presentation in the present edition, however, “The morphological analysis contained in this edition is under revision. Forms that are ambiguous or contextually uncertain are in the process of being reviewed. An updated form of this resource will be made available at no cost via download upon completion of the extended analysis.2 To my knowledge, no date has been set for this revision.

The purpose of this review is to present the Philo of Alexandria module that goes together with the Logos Bible Software platform (hereafter LBS). It is sold separately but will likely also be included in some of their comprehensive packages. The review, accordingly, will not deal with all the aspects of Logos Bible Software, but primarily with the Philo of Alexandria module and the major program functions associated with it.

Overview of the Resource

The module is called The Works of Philo: Greek Text with Morphology, which means that each word occurrence is morphologically tagged. When viewing the text in the LBS platform, one can choose to see only the Greek text or have an interlinear version in which, in addition to the Greek text, one can see the morphology tags and/or the lemma form of the words concerned. The tagging consists of letters and figures that are not that difficult to understand after some use; a tag such as “NNSM” means “noun nominative singular masculine” (a few others are harder to decode). However, one does not need to understand this tagging or even to have it visible on the screen, because when one hovers the mouse arrow over a word, the decoded morphological analysis will be visible at the bottom left side of the LBS screen. Hence, I prefer to use the nonlinear Greek text version only or the Greek text with the lemmas.

The Main Program Functions Associated with the Text Module

In fact, the module as such consists only of the tagged text, in this case a morphologically tagged text. The great profit of having it as a module in a Bible software program platform such as LBS is the possibilities offered of presenting and analyzing the text provided by facilities inherent in the main platform and the possibilities of connecting the Philo text with other modules. When it comes to the LBS platform, I would like to point especially to the following issues to demonstrate what it is like to work with a digitalized text such as this.

Having a morphologically tagged text offers great possibilities when it comes to searching the text for specific forms or word constructions. In LBS one has several ways of searching, from the unspecified to the exact form. The result is nicely listed, and an extract of the paragraph concerned is given. If one then hovers the mouse arrow over the reference, the full paragraph appears in a small pop-up window, and clicking on the reference brings up the full text paragraph concerned in the text window. Searching, for instance, for the verb ἐξαγγέλλω immediately demonstrates that the verb is found two times in the New Testament, twelve times in the LXX, and three times in the works of Philo. One sees what verb form is found, and a click brings forth the whole paragraph or verse concerned.

In the LBS one also has the possibility of installing the old English translation of C. D. Yonge. This translation is admittedly old and has its deficiencies,3 but it nevertheless is of great help in reading the Greek Philo texts. In the LBS the Greek text and the translation can be interlocked; that is, when one scrolls the one, the other follows. In this way one can always have both the Greek text and the translation immediately available on-screen.

Another beneficial aspect of using this module of the Greek text of Philo is the possibility of using the texts in association with various lexica. LBS has several lexica available. If one, for instance, has A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (3rd ed.; BDAG) in the LBS setup, one can click on a word in the Philonic text and the relevant lexicon entry will immediately pop up. Alternately, one can search the lexicon for a term; a click on a reference to a work of Philo will bring up the full paragraph. Or, one can search BDAG for references to specific passages of Philonic works. However, one needs to have the latest version of this lexicon available; the former BDG version does not have this cross-linking feature included.

The advantages of having these texts of Philo available in their Greek form are great compared to the use of text editions.4 The many possibilities presented by speedy searches of comparisons or lexical descriptions of the terminology of Philo are something to be highly appreciated. The printed Philo Index mentioned above provides only the main form of, for example, a verb and then a list of references where some form of the verb is to be found. In the digitalized version one can perform exact searches. Furthermore, one can easily make up lists of keywords-in-contexts and search across several Greek texts, according to one’s specific setup.

Philonic scholars have been greatly helped by the introduction of computers in working with texts such as these. Peder Borgen and his associates initiated this way of working with Philo texts on computers when the use of computers was still something rare in biblical and Philonic studies. The inclusion of their work in the context of software platforms such as Logos Bible Software has demonstrated how future-oriented they were in Bergen in the 1970s. Students of the works of Philo should be grateful for the inclusion of this work in the Logos Bible Software platform and for the many possibilities of searching, analyzing, and comparing various texts such computer programs represent.


1. Peder Borgen, Kåre Fuglseth, and Roald Skarsten, The Philo Index: A Complete Greek Word Index to the Writings of Philo of Alexandria (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans; Leiden: Brill, 2000).
2. See http://www.logos.com/products/details/2219.
3. On the valueof this rather old translation of C. D. Yonge for scholarly work, see the review by David T. Runia, available online at ftp://ftp.lehigh.edu/pub/listserv/ioudaios-review/4.1994/philo.runia.009.
4. After this LBS module was published, there has also been issued a multivolume edition of a key-word-in-context of Philo’s works; see The Complete Works of Philo of Alexandria: A Key-Word-In-Context Concordance R. Skarsten, P. Borgen og K. Fuglseth. Volume I-VIII (7556 pages). Gorgias Press, New Jersey, USA, 2005.

This review was published by RBL. ©  2006 by the Society of Biblical Literature. For more information on obtaining a subscription to RBL, please visit http://www.bookreviews.org/subscribe.asp. Reprinted with permission.