13. Virtus et Humanitas: Virtues and Values in Greco-Roman, Jewish and Christian Paideia at the Turn of the Common Era (2022)

Sun., 29. May– Fri., 3. June 2022

Location: Nord University, Bodø, Norway

Meeting Chairs: Gabriella Gelardini, Jason Zurawski, Gabriele Boccaccini

For additional event information, contact Gabriella Gelardini (gabriella.gelardini@nord.no). 

Seminar Description

This interdisciplinary and multi-institutional conference at the Nord University will focus on the role of education in cultivating and passing on virtues and values in the ancient Mediterranean world at the turn of the common area.

While much has been written about education in antiquity, very little of it has been devoted to this crucial aspect of education. This is astonishing, given the fact that the transmission of values has always played a fundamental role in education, from antiquity to the present.

Values are often understood as drafts for the execution of a good life, which then take shape in guidelines or certain norms. In turn, these norms shape and support the relationship one has not only to oneself but also to one’s fellow human beings and to the gods. Values hold societies and epochs together, but they are also culturally and contextually bound.

In ancient Greco-Roman, Jewish, and Christian literature we find extensive discussions as to desired and appropriate virtues and values. This seminar will focus on these unique and varying viewpoints, exploring them both in terms of knowledge content and knowledge transfer.

This examination will take place within the framework of an interdisciplinary discussion between experts in the history and literature of the ancient Mediterranean world and experts in the educational sciences.

Therefore, in our seminar we will begin by working from the primary source materials, presenting a value (or values) found in an ancient text and attempting to understand it contextually. We will then detach it from its literary-historical context and look at it conceptually or comparatively against the background of ancient and/or current theories of education.

The 2022 conference at the Bodø campus will focus on the following materials and fields:

  1. Philosophy
  2. Greek, Roman
  3. Hebrew Bible
  4. Pseudepigrapha
  5. Philo, Josephus
  6. New Testament
  7. Education

The 2024 conference (probably held) at the Levanger campus will focus on the following materials:1. Archeology, Epigraphy, or NumismaticsØk

  1. Archeology, Epigraphy, or Numismatics
  2. New Testament Apocrypha
  3. Patristic
  4. Gnostic
  5. Rabbinic
  6. Early Islam

Volumes based on each of the conferences will be published promptly. These will initially be the papers of the main speakers, most likely also those of the respondents as well as the short papers.



Opening Reception

Presider – Gabriella Gelardini (Professor for Christianity, Religion, Worldview, and Ethics, Nord University, NO)

Lars Kirkhusmo Pharo (Professor for Christianity, Religion, Worldview, and Ethics & Vice Dean for Research and Development, Nord University, NO)

Gabriele Boccaccini (Professor of Second Temple Judaism and Early Rabbinic Literature, University of Michigan, US)

Anders Runesson (Professor of New Testament & Pro-Dean, University of Oslo, NO)

Music  –  Vocal Art

Session 1: Introduction & Values in Philosophy

Presider – Kåre Sigvald Fuglseth (Professor for Religion, Christianity, Worldview, and Ethics, Nord University, NO)

Gabriella Gelardini (Professor for Religion, Christianity, Worldview, and Ethics, Nord University, NO), Introduction

Malte Brinkman (Professor of Educational Science, Humboldt University, Berlin, DE), Educational Ethics and Ethos of Difference: Norms and Values in European Pedagogy up to the Present

Starting from Socrates as the “swirl of world history” (Nietzsche), the unfolding of the debate on fundamental values is presented and the two classical answers to it in Plato and Aristotle are discussed. With Rabbow, Hadot and Foucault, the classical texts are read as practical texts in which practices of self-care (Epimeleia heautou) are central. With Meister Eckhart, Nikolaus von Kues and Ignatius von Loyola it is determined in the horizon of a God-relationship. Meister Eckhart is the first to use the concept of Bildung (as Einbildung und Entbildung) thus establishing a fundamental figure of humanistic Bildungs-practice and theory throughout the Renaissance and into modern times. Bildung is defined here as Formatio under conditions of a withdrawal of the imagined image and the goal. The “power of imagination” (Kant) of the human being is thus based on preconceptions that are simultaneously withdrawn. With Ignatius this movement can be well understood in his spiritual exercises of self-care and self-forming (Exercitia spiritualia). With Kant and Herbart the discussion of norms and values as well as the concept of Bildung is based on the concept of subjectivity. This leads to the specific modern, normative and theoretical antinomies of dignity and fundamental rights or freedom and power. In the hermeneutic and humanities-based answer to this in Schleiermacher, Gadamer and Buck, the antinomies are historicized (principle of the history of effects), but not resolved. Eugen Fink provides a new answer to modern antinomies by propagating an ethos of difference as a practical understanding of values and norms under the conditions of technical-scientific postmodernism, with recourse to Socrates’ Scepticism, Aristotle’s phronesis, Nietzsche’s nihilism and with recourse to the idea of Bildung. Values and goals are discursively produced here in the sense of a value-setting (Scheler) in a democratic community and are understood as a risky and fragmentary practice, without subjectivistically or rationally limiting the world and self-relationship.

Respondent – James N. McGuirk (Professor of Philosophy, Nord University, NO)


Session 2: Values in the Greek World

Presider – Jason M. Zurawski (Postdoctoral Institute Fellow, Frankel Center for Judaic Studies, University of Michigan, US)

W. Martin Bloomer (Professor of Classics, University of Notre Dame, US), From Obedience to Manliness: school virtues and schooling virtue

Traditional schooling has at its heart a central contradiction: the student is to submit to the rules of the institution and through education to come to virtus, to andreia, manliness, maturity. I investigate how the ancient Greek school presented and inculcated these habits of behavior and mind (virtues). Is obedience a virtue? What are the parameters of this virtue (an open disposition to tradition, docility, humility, deference, respect, submission, cowardice, servility) and its opposite (manliness, courage, free speech, obstinacy, intransigence)? One of the achievements of schooling was to convince the schooled that present submission and self-denial would lead to future power and self-sufficiency. I consider in particular both direct prescriptions and the acts of imagination and impersonation by which the student inculcated this tenet of academic ideology (that he was growing into freedom). The progymnasmata and the gnomologies provided both prescription and the encouragement to role playing. Declamation in particular had the student compose scripts of manliness.

Respondent – Cok Bakker (Professor of Religious Education, University of Utrecht)

Tim Whitmarsh (Professor of Greek Culture, University of Cambridge, UK), The Bastards of Cynosarges and the Invention of Virtue

To the south-east of the city of Athens was a gymnasium called Cynosarges. In the fifth century BCE, this was devoted to Athens’ ‘bastards’ (i.e. those born of one Athenian and one non-Athenian parent). In time the gymnasium attracted intellectuals too, who sought to train the body alongside the mind. This paper will seek to reconstruct the alternative ideology of Cynosarges, arguing that it played a central role in inculcating the view that virtue consisted in the achievements of a life lived well, rather than in one’s moral inheritance from one’s parents.

Respondent – Idar Kjølsvik (Professor for Religion, Christianity, Worldview, and Ethics, Nord University, NO)


Session 3: Values in the Roman World

Presider – Gabriele Boccaccini (Professor of Second Temple Judaism and Early Rabbinic Literature, University of Michigan, US) 

Katell Berthelot (Professor for Judaism in the Greco-Roman World, CNRS, Aix-Marseille University, FR), The Ethical Ideal of Philanthrôpia/Humanitas

From a conceptual point of view, the virtue of philanthrôpia/humanitas—benevolence toward fellow human beings—is closely linked to the project of education. In Plato’s Euthyphro, philanthrôpia is a Socratic quality that prompts the philosopher to share his knowledge and his wisdom with all, for free. On the other hand, philanthrôpia/humanitas may also be seen as one of education’s goals. In the Hellenistic and Roman periods, the virtue of philanthrôpia/humanitas aroused intense philosophical debates between the Stoics, the Peripatetics and the New Academy precisely around the respective roles of “nature and nurture.” Numerous questions arose, such as: Is philanthrôpia a natural tendency? What is the role of rationality in its development? How is it to be practiced? Looking at Cicero, the anonymous Commentary on Theaetetus, Seneca, Epictetus, Hierocles and Porphyry, I will attempt to clarify the different positions held in these debates and identify key evolutions in the conceptualization of philanthrôpia/humanitas during the Roman period.

Respondent – Olav Eikeland (Professor in Education and International Studies, Oslomet, NO)

Jörg Rüpke (Professor of Classical Philology and Comparative Religion, Max-Weber-Kolleg, Universität Erfurt, DE), Urbanity in the Aphorisms of Publilius Syrus

Publilius Syrus was one of the most successful mimes on the stages of 1st century BC Rome. Transmitted as Sententiae of Seneca and being subject to constant re-editing and agglomeration, it is impossible to isolate an original core, free of imperial or late ancient additions. In a perspective of reception, however, a hermeneutical approach of this massively read corpus is possible. I will argue that the maxims formulated are not just a cynical commentary on contemporary society, but the proposal of a multi-faceted value “urbanity” (never described as urbanitas in object language), adequate for and welcomed by urban audiences and readers – and well worth discussing in the face of contemporary challenges in an age of planetary urbanization.

Respondent – Julia Ipgrave (Honorary Senior Research Fellow, Department of Humanities, University of Roehampton in London, UK)


Session 4: Public I – Nord University

Presider – Per Jarle Bekken (Professor for Religion, Christianity, Worldview, and Ethics, Nord University, NO) 

Adela Yarbro Collins (Buckingham Professor Em. of New Testament Criticism and Interpretation, Yale University, US), The Relevance of the Bible for Today’s Discussion of Norms and Ethics

Many of the norms and ethics that are influential today derive from the Bible. Much more can be learned from the Bible that can be useful in present discussions. This lecture will focus on the Christian part of the Bible, especially on the letters written by one of the most influential early Christian writers, the Apostle Paul. It will discuss the sources on which Paul based his ethical advice, such as the Jewish Bible, which was also the Bible of the early followers of Jesus Christ. Since Paul wrote in Greek, he normally cited the Greek version of the Bible, which he received as an interpreted Bible. He defined himself as a Pharisee and was born in Tarsus, which was the capital of the Roman province of Cilicia. So his understanding of the Bible was shaped by the Pharisaic tradition, as well as by some of the traditions of Diaspora Jews. Among the values Paul derived from the Bible was a strong sense of holiness and a concern for purity. He also drew upon Greek and Roman values and ethical teaching. His primary ethical norm, however, was love. He taught that implementing this norm meant acting for the benefit of others and not for one’s own. The primary context for ethical activity was the ecclesia, which originally meant both the local communities and the trans-local community of those who belonged to the movement. The lecture will attend to the question in what ways Paul’s ethics are meaningful and usable today.


Session 5: Values in the Hebrew Bible

Presider – Anne Katrine de Hemmer Gudme (Professor in Hebrew Bible, University of Oslo, NO) 

Meira Polliack (Professor of Bible (OT), Tel Aviv University, IL), The Educational Function of Biblical Narrative: Characterizations of Human Fragility and the Inner-Life

My paper will discuss the unique voice of biblical narrative in forging essentially non-virtuous characters, as role models. This matter posed difficulties and challenges in the Hebrew Bible’s ancient and medieval reception exegesis. I will concentrate on the mental aspects of characterization and ask whether the insights they offer served in educating by creating imperfect role models. The cases in point will concern Jephetah, David, and some female characters too. The talk thus focuses on biblical narrative as a repository of human values, on its formative function in propelling such models and on its continuing relevance in a social and psychological context of education (with virtues in mind). The commentators I will discuss include the Ancient Jewisg sages on this point yet some medieval Rabbinic scholars too such as Saadiah Gaon, who had a keen interest in the Hebrew Bible’s educational impact and structuring.

Respondent – Geir Skeie (Professor and UNESCO Chair with Focus on Diversity, Inclusion and Education, University Stavanger, NO)

Elisa K. Uusimäki (Associate Professor of Hebrew Bible and Ancient Judaism, Aarhus University, DK), Ancient Travelers, Intercultural Contacts, and the Fear of Gods

The fear of YHWH is typically presented as an intrinsic feature of the ancient Israelite religion and mindset. Yet the fear of God(s) is not limited to Israelite people in the Hebrew Bible, and similar notions of fearing a deity or deities occur in numerous texts produced by neighboring cultures. This article investigates the cross-cultural ethical relevance of this virtue with a focus on its role in intercultural contacts. First, it analyzes a cluster of Hebrew Bible texts in which the fear of God(s) characterizes or is presented as intelligible to non-Israelites (Gen 20:11; 42:18; Exod 1:17, 21; Deut 25:18; Jon 1:9; Job 1:1, 8); for the most part, these texts depict situations of human mobility in which travelers are brought into contact with “others.” Second, it explores the use of the fear motif in other ancient writings from the eastern Mediterranean region. While biblical scholars have long recognized the significance of Near Eastern parallels for our understanding of the fear of YHWH, this article argues that ancient Greek literature helps us grasp the importance of the fear of God(s) in cultural encounters.

Respondent – Clemens Cavallin (Associate Professor for Religion, Christianity, Worldview, and Ethics, Nord University, NO)


Session 6: Values in Apocrypha/Deuterocanonical and Pseudepigrapha

Presider – Matthew Ph. Monger (Associate Professor in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures, MF Norwegian School of Theology, NO)

Hindy Najman (Professor of the Interpretation of Holy Scripture, University of Oxford, UK) and Benjamin G. Wright, (Professor Religion Studies, Bible, Early Judaism, Christianity, Lehigh University, US), Virtue in Ben Sira: A Case Study in Ethical Reading

As perhaps one of the paradigmatic Jewish wisdom texts from the Hellenistic period, the book of Ben Sira ought to be a major source for thinking about virtue in ancient Judaism. Within this context, however, virtue does not equal ethics. Virtue transforms the person who acquires it. Yet, with Ben Sira, we are operating in at least two different contexts where virtue is held out as transformative. In one, given the evidence of the book, we need to consider Ben Sira’s teaching and reading about virtue in a performative context where instruction is about study of the inherited tradition and about emulating the sage who claims to have acquired virtue. In the other, readers of the book are positioned differently from Ben Sira’s students. The book transmitted in his name becomes the focus of study and emulation—and thus transformation. How does the acquisition of virtue work in these different contexts? How are readers, including modern scholarly readers, of Ben Sira’s instruction transformed by their encounter with this book?

Respondent – Kjetil Ansgar Jakobsen (Professor for Modern Intellectual History, Nord University, NO) 

Karina Martin Hogan (Associate Professor of Biblical Studies and Ancient Judaism, Fordham University, US), Listen to your Mother! Maternal Instruction in the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha

The “instruction of your mother” (torat ’immekha) is assumed to be as important as the discipline or commandment of one’s father in Proverbs (1:8; 6:20). While the role of mothers as moral teachers fades from view in the deuterocanonical wisdom books (Ben Sira and the Wisdom of Solomon), perhaps supplanted by the figure of personified Wisdom, it resurfaces in different forms in other books of the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha. Tobit names his mother Deborah as his primary teacher in the Torah of Moses, due to his father’s early death (Tob 1:8). The mother of the seven sons in 2 Maccabees 7 is depicted as exhorting her sons to accept death rather than violate the Torah of Moses, and she becomes an exemplary teacher of virtue in the recasting of that story in 4 Maccabees. The description of Deborah as “a mother in Israel” in Judges 5:7 becomes the basis of a lengthy moral instruction by Deborah in L.A.B 32-33. Finally, in 4 Ezra mothers are metaphorically connected to instruction in multiple verses, but most clearly in 13:55: “you have devoted your life to wisdom, and called understanding your mother.” This paper will explore the connections between the Torah of Moses, moral exhortation, and maternal instruction in selected texts of the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha.

Respondent – Karin Sporre (Professor in Educational Work with a Focus on Values, Gender and Diversity, Umeå University, S)


Session 7a: Short Papers

Presider – Jason M. Zurawski (Postdoctoral Institute Fellow, Frankel Center for Judaic Studies, University of Michigan, US)

Gabriella Gelardini (Professor for Christianity, Religion, Worldview, and Ethics, Nord University, NO), An Advocate of Pedagogical Eros — Quintilian and his Institutio Oratoria

This paper discusses Quintilian’s postulate of pedagogical eros in his monumental work Institutio oratoria (esp. Inst. 2.2.4 and 2.4.10-14) and its limits (Inst. 1.3.17). This “golden rule” of pedagogy, so to say, will be examined not only with regard to its literary context, but also its historical context. It will moreover be compared with contemporary advocates of this concept, and finally brought into conversation with current philosophical as well as pedagogical positions.

Wiebke-Marie Stock (Guest Research Assistant Professor, Medieval Institute, University of Notre Dame, US), The Sculptor of the Soul. Plotinus reconsidering the object and methods of virtue education

In Plato’s Phaedrus, the sculptor of the soul is a man who forms and adorns the soul of his beloved. In Plotinus’ On Beauty (I 6 [1]), the sculptor works on his own soul. This shift from the education of another, driven by love, to the self-formation of the soul is emblematic. Plotinus removes Plato’s pedagogical erôs from his philosophical system. Love is not a driving factor in education. Furthermore, the emphasis on self-formation raises the question of what an educator can do. Does habituation play a role? How can a teacher promote the development of virtue?

Kåre Sigvald Fuglseth (Professor for Christianity, Religion, Worldview, and Ethics, Nord University, NO), The Past Was the Future. Re-enactment of Values and Virtues on Historical Grounds?

The answers to this question, ‘can we learn from the past’, are of course central for the legitimation of historical studies in general and in schools particularly. Studying ancient times may be fascinating but is arguably even more interesting when we see its relevance for our dealing with contemporary issues. When it comes to the place of history-education in schools, the question is, however, of a slightly different matter because we educate for the unknown future: What kind of education today does the next generation need in their future? We have no other options than to use our own experience from the far and near past when we plan for the distant future. Thus, the question is not if we can learn from the past, but how we learn.

In this paper I shall clarify the how-question theoretically and present solutions by employing theories of temporal experience. The contribution also aims to demonstrate the usefulness of constitutional phenomenology in the Husserlian tradition in general for this kind of practice-oriented educational theory.

Dagmar M. Dahl (Associate Professor for Sports Philosophy, Nord University, NO), Human Dignity and the Christian Comprehension of Body and Sport – Possibilities for Sport Pedagogy

When discussing ethical challenges in today’s sports like violence, doping, commercialization, or alienation, “Human Dignity” is often mentioned as a guideline. In a previous study (Dahl 2009), sources from Christianity point out Human Dignity as the main category regarding ethical quality in sport as it is seen in close connection to the “Imago Dei” concept from Christian theology. However, Human Dignity as such is not clearly defined. Based on the comprehension of body and sport in Christianity, this paper intends to discuss German Philosopher Peter Bieri’s concept of Human Dignity as an ethical category applicable to the challenges of physical education and sports pedagogy.

Session 7b: Short Papers on Values in the Hebrew Bible, Apocrypha/Deuterocanonical, and Pseudepigrapha

Presider – Anne Katrine de Hemmer Gudme (Professor in Hebrew Bible, University of Oslo, NO)

Søren Lorenzen (Research Assistant at the Chair of the History of Literature and Religion of the Old Testament, University of Bonn, DE), The Educational Walk on YHWH’s Ways: On Mnemotechnics and the Method of Loci in Deuteronomy 5–11

In recent years, accelerated learning that utilize memory technics have filled YouTube-videos and popular books. A popular and effective method of remembrance is the ancient method of loci, where spaces, imaginary or real, are used to remember anything from foreign vocabulary to the digits of pi. This paper investigates the educational second introductory speech of Moses in Deuteronomy (Deut 5–12) with a view to this mnemotechnic. It will be argued that Moses’ speech utilizes the key metaphor of walking on YHWH’s way together with the events and places of the exodus in order to establish loci that help younger generations to remember YHWH and his commandments.

Moritz F. Adam (Doctorate at the Department of Old Testament Studies and Early Jewish History of Religion, University of Zurich, CH), “All Is Transient”: Qoheleth’s Polemic against Contemporary Notions of Paideia

The question of which virtues the book of Qoheleth sought to convey has received substantial attention in scholarship, not least due to the book’s puzzling rhetoric. The range of propositions extends far, including suggestions that there were the central aspirations of scepticism, hedonism, or nihilism – to name but a few – at the core of Qoheleth’s instruction, which is commonly grouped among the body of Israelite wisdom literature, i.e the exemplary genre depicting what could be called Paideia in an Israelite setting. This perspective is mistaken, due to a false superimposition of notions of education on this text, which draw from the book of Proverbs as well as contemporary Greek ideas that were assumed to guide Qoheleth’s philosophy.

Setting out from a discussion of the book’s Leitmotif הבל, it will be argued in this paper that Qoheleth’s reflection upon time and epistemology guided his instruction, rather than virtues or moral categories. Through the study of this outlier in the Jewish wisdom tradition, it will be possible to add nuance to the understanding of Paideia at the turn of the common era.

Samuel L. Adams (Mary Jane and John F. McNair Chair of Biblical Studies and Professor of Old Testament, Union Presbyterian Seminary, US), Sex, Virtue, and the Pedagogical Use of Adultery in Second Temple Instructions

The instructional literature of the Second Temple period, in encouraging restraint and family cohesion, includes colorful warnings about sex, particularly adultery. This paper will consider Proverbs, Sirach, and the Wisdom of Solomon (among other texts) to assess the relationship between virtue and sexual ethics in this material. Specifically, adultery seems to be a paradigmatic sin that undermines the fundamental goal of restraint. The discussion will also consider how the various temptresses in these texts (all of whom are women) are presented as dangerous agents who are antithetical to virtue. The patriarchal assumptions at play and the objectifying descriptions have an unfortunate legacy. As we consider such pedagogical examples in the ancient world, it becomes important to use gender theory and other tools to explore the lasting impact of these descriptions on gender relations, sexual ethics, and the treatment of women.

Matthew Ph. Monger (Associate Professor in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures, MF Norwegian School of Theology, NO), Teaching the Teacher: Books and Angels as Pedagogical Devices in Jubilees

One of the most important features of Jubilees is its focus on showing that the pre-Mosaic biblical characters possessed the same values as can be found in the Law of Moses. In order to maintain the prominence of the divine revelation to Moses and at the same time allow the earlier biblical figures to take part in the same values, Jubilees weaves together two rhetorical strategies of educating key figures: the transmission of books containing important knowledge and angelic instruction. This paper will discuss these two rhetorical strategies and show how they are used to shape the narrative and paint the biblical figures as virtuous.

Bob G. Hall (Elliott Professor em. of Religion, Hampden-Sydney College, US), Reaching toward Gods’ Thoughts: Goal and Method in Ancient Mediterranean Paideia

Ancient students often strive to follow divine thoughts and to conform to them. Gods teach, and people who aspire to wisdom examine divine teaching for insight. Since divine thinking constructs reality, following divine thought entails forsaking delusion. Since divine thought excels human thinking, human teachers cannot express it; they must formulate sayings to provoke insight. Therefore, teaching and learning require careful study: the meticulous formulation of human words to provoke insight and the assiduous training of students’ minds to wean them from conceit to glimpse reality.

This pattern of instruction appears throughout the ancient Mediterranean world: Heraclitus, Philo, Sirach, Plutarch, the Community Rule, Psalms 19 and 119, Hebrews, Parables of Enoch, Plotinus, Daniel, and Ascension of Isaiah presuppose it. After developing the pattern, this paper will focus on two works, perhaps the Community Rule (1QS) and Plutarch’s Eat Delphi, to show how following divine thoughts and conforming to them belong among virtues and values in ancient Greco-Roman, Jewish, and Christian Paideia.


Session 7c: Short Papers on Values Related to Flavius Josephus and Philo of Alexandria

Presider – Gabriele Boccaccini (Professor of Second Temple Judaism and Early Rabbinic Literature, University of Michigan, US)

Daniel Maier (Postdoc and Lecturer in New Testament Studies and Ancient Judaism, University of Zurich, CH), The Role of Virtues for Happiness in Josephus’ Antiquitates

Josephus describes the Jews in his Antiquitates as people striving for happiness through their virtues in an uncertain world. His main concern is to rehabilitate Judaism externally and consolidate it internally – barely two decades after the disastrous war in its heartland. For this pursuit, he uses happiness pragmatically, namely as a motivation for outsiders to join and as a defense against anti-Jewish stereotypes. Thereby he points out how the values of the Tora, which manifested in figures like Mose and Abraham, are the way towards the good life. Accordingly, anyone adopting these virtues has the chance to participate in the happiness the creator intended for his chosen people.

Mark Shaffer (PhD Candidate, Jewish Institute of Religion, Hebrew Union College, US), The Two-Virtue Canon in Josephus

In classical sources, the two-virtue canon distills virtue into piety for God (εὐσέβεια or ὀσιότης) and love for humankind (δικαιοσύνη or φιλανθρωπία). Some authors select the two-virtue canon over and against the four-virtue canon, or Stoic canon, for its further reduction and interconnection between piety for divinity and its result, justice for neighbor. Josephus is one of these authors. While he does employ the Stoic canon at times, Josephus selects the construct three times in Contra-Apionem and several times in Antiquitates Judaicae. This paper explores when and why Josephus opts for the two-virtue canon.

Gunnar Haaland (Associate Professor for Religion, Worldview, and Ethics, Oslo Metropolitan University, NO), Josephus at Eidsvoll 1814: Contra Apionem and the Ban on the Jews

In his game-changing study of the ban of the Jews in the Norwegian Constitution of 1814, Håkon Harket (2014) examines an unpublished manuscript by Christian Magnus Falsen (1782–1830) named Moses, eller Hebræerne til deres tilbagekomst til Canaan (Moses, or the Hebrews upon their return to Canaan). It appears that Falsen employs the Manetho fragments from Contra Apionem as part of his argument that Jews will never become loyal citizens because of their inherent hatred towards non-Jews. In my proposed paper, I intend to give a more elaborate exposition of Falsen’s (ab)use of Josephus against the backdrop of Josephus’ (ab)use of Manetho.


Session 7d: Short Papers on Values in the New Testament and Beyond

Presider – Anders Runesson (Professor of New Testament & Pro-Dean, University of Oslo, NO) 

Francis Borchardt (Associate Professor Hebrew Bible, NLA University College, Bergen, NO),
The Named Addressee and the Formation of the Student in Ancient Judaism

The Gospel of Luke, the Letter of Aristeas, 2 Maccabees, and a number of other ancient Jewish texts participate in a peculiar Greco-Roman custom by naming specific addressees at various points in their works. Luke is addressed to a figure known only as Theophilus. The Letter of Aristeas begins with an address to Philocrates. Though the literary relationship is more complicated, 2 Maccabees as it is transmitted begins with two letters addressed to Jews in Egypt. This literary flourish has previously been examined in various ways. Loveday Alexander has compared it to scientific treatises and observes that the custom is a way to honor patrons. Sylvie Honigman agrees, in part, but also points out that the addressee stands in for the readers. She, however, does not elaborate on this point. In his examination of ancient Jewish epistolography, Lutz Doering argues that this literary practice is important for the formation of the reader, offering some important examples. However, what remains largely unexamined is the way in which such texts interact with Jewish educational ideals. This paper asserts that the process can be compared to the ways that Jewish literature depicts and enacts educational situations in its readers. Using a framework introduced by Bruno Latour, I argue that such addresses create a fiction in which the audience is enrolled as an actor in the drama. In this setting they take on the role of the addressees in the script and embody their characteristics so as to realize them outside of the writing. When this occurs, the audience is itself transformed by the fiction. Although this transformation can be temporary, it has real world effects. The audience, even for a moment, becomes the addressee and inhabits the fictional world, internalizing its values, and striving for its goals.

Felix John (Postdoc and Research Assistant in Neues Testament, University of Greifswald, DE),
The Virtues of Mark’s Jesus – Paideia and the Gospel of Mark

Traditionally, the oldest gospel was considered to be the farthest away from ancient Paideia. Since the establishment of the Gospel-biography comparison the picture has changed (late, but) fundamentally. This field has seen some fresh impetus lately (John 2021). Not only was the question of the Paideia of the author and the recipients of the Gospel of Mark re-posed, but the reconstruction of the image of Jesus within ist cultural context was also expanded: Jesus as a bearer of Greco-Roman male elite virtues (Bond). Plutarch’s biographies with their virtue discourse (Duff) are thus among the most important reference works for contextualizing the oldest Gospel (John [upcoming]).

Speaker 3 – Ulrich Mell (Professor at the Institute for Education, Work, and Society, University of Hohenheim, DE), The Praise of Christian Virtues

In the prooemium of 1 Thessalonians, by which Paul introduces the body of his letter (1Thess 1:2–5:24) to the Christian congregation in Thessaloniki, a rhetorical continuation (1:2fin.–5b) follows an epistolary beginning (1:2). This continuation contains in the first part (1:2fin.–3) an equally arranged genitive triad in series which probably has its historical origins in the Christian community in Antioch. With this Paul designates the existence of the Thessalonian congregation unreservedly as an energetic implementation of Christian responsibilities. Since the triad faith, love and hope indicate in enumeration the content of the epistle, Paul begins a rhetorical epideictic with an exordium. The form of speech corresponds here to instructions for usage; thus, the letter was to be read to the members of the congregation (cf. 5:27). The relationship between habitual attitudes (faith, love, hope) and practical realizations (doing, effort, perseverance) are in agreement with Greek doctrines of virtue: That successful life is active realization of the virtues. As the eulogy appreciates the enacted deeds of the citizens, Paul is also full of praise for the Thessalonian congregation’s achievements, and will continue his laudatory and advisory epideictic writing in the body of the letter for the benefit of the parousia congregation, which has been entrusted to the apostle.

Speaker 4 – Pablo González-Alonso (Assistant Professor in New Testament, University of Navarra, ES),
What does εἰρήνη add to χάρις? An Insight of Greetings in NT Letters

The usual way to introduce a letter in classical Greek literature is Ὁ δεῖνα τῷ δεῖνι χαίρειν (Someone to someone, rejoice). However, surprisingly, NT letters start with a variation of it: Ὁ δεῖνα τῷ δεῖνι χάρις καὶ εἰρήνη (Someone to someone, grace and peace). The consistency of this difference, which seems to appear only in Paul’s letters (Rom 1:7, 1 Cor 1:3, 2 Cor 1:2, Gal 1:3, Eph 1:2, Phil 1:2, Col 1:2, 1 Thes 1:1, 2 Thes 1:2, 1 Tm 1:2, 2 Tm 1:2, Ti 1:4, Phlm 1:3), may indicate a new nuance in the meaning of χάρις and εἰρήνη in Christian milieus. This paper studies the use of these terms throughout the NT, in order to find the relevance of these virtues in Christian paideia.

Session 8: Values Related to Flavius Josephus

Presider – Anne Katrine de Hemmer Gudme (Professor in Hebrew Bible, University of Oslo, NO)

S. N. (Steve) Mason (Distinguished Professor of Ancient Mediterranean Religions and Cultures, University of Groningen, NL), Think You’re Tough? Severity as a Core Value in Josephus

Needless to say, the ancients’ grasp of science and medicine was different from ours. Likewise their views of slavery, women and children, and judicial punishment belonged to their times. Nevertheless, the Renaissance and Enlightenment encouraged us to look to the ancient past for continuity in our human values, which the Greco-Roman world often formulated with unmatched lucidity. Their reflections on life and death, justice, political community, law, and religion became canonical. While the search for continuities enriches our lives, historical understanding requires respect also for difference. This paper plumbs a prominent vein of values in Josephus’ corpus—namely, the toughness and severity of the Judean people, its laws, and its mother-city—that sits askew of our values and tries to make sense of his program in its ancient contexts.

Respondent – Jorunn Økland (Professor of Gender Studies, University of Oslo, NO; and Director at the Norwegian Institute at Athens, GR)

Daniel R. Schwartz (Professor of Jewish History in the Second Temple Period, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, IL), Josephus on Thinking Big

I propose to study Josephus’s notions, within his Jewish and Roman contexts, about “thinking big”: megalophrosynē and megalopyschia. These terms refer to people who think themselves capable of doing great things, but can run the gamut from “magnanimity” to “haughty.” If no one thinks big, nothing big will be undertaken or accomplished; but can one think big without looking down on others? Is that a problem? And is thinking big something appropriate for some but not others? How, for example, should we deal with Antiquities 18.254–256, where the emperor is twice praised for acting megalophrōn but Herodias is condemned for the same Is the difference a matter of gender? Or of station in life?

Respondent – Erich S. Gruen (Wood Professor em. of History and Classics at the University of California, Berkeley, US)


Session 9: Values Related to Philo of Alexandria

Presider – Anders Runesson (Professor of New Testament & Pro-Dean, University of Oslo, NO)

Erkki Koskenniemi (Adjunct Professor of Biblical Studies, University of Helsinki, FI), Philo and Jewish Educational Institutions in Alexandria

Philo’s works show that he had received the best Greek education in Alexandria. The privilege of gymnasium was limited to the Greek elite but at least some of the Alexandrian Jews were admitted to this institution. But what about the rest of Jewish youth? No writer directly speaks of Jewish educational institutions. Philo, however, very often quotes or refers to Greek writers and philosophers when writing to Jewish audience and sometimes presents his educational ideas. Moreover, some passages may give glimpses of the manner the Alexandrian Jews trained their youth. It is time to collect and evaluate the evidence in Philo’s works and other sources.

Respondent – Catherine Hezser (Professor of Jewish Studies, SOAS University of London, UK) 

Per Jarle Bekken (Professor for Christianity, Religion, Worldview, and Ethics, Nord University, NO), Abraham as Model within the Mosaic Paideia: Some Observations on Philo of Alexandria’s Treatise De Abrahamo in its Cultural Context

The aim of my paper is to shed fresh light on Abraham as an educational model according to Philo’s writings. Such a study leads to the following main thesis:

1. In the treatise De Abrahamo Philo negotiates Abraham in the context of the Greco-Roman distinctions between the self-taught by nature and instruction / teaching as well as between an unwritten Law in Nature and written Laws of any human constitution. The self-taught character of Abraham is regularly associated with the unwritten laws in Nature, by which Abraham obtained the instruction of Nature independent of any human teaching of written sources, such as the written Mosaic Law. This emphasis on self-taught character of Abraham is emphasized by Philo in order to present him as an education model that paradoxically disjoins him from the written Laws of Moses and at the same time displayed in the records of Abraham provided by the Mosaic Law. This means that Philo conceives the Mosaic written Law to embody two sets of Law or jurisdictions, of which the unwritten Law of Abraham provides the best possible approximation to the divine Law in Nature.

2. According to Philo, anyone can thus emulate Abraham as a model and learn the lessons of Nature, since the Law of Moses contains the records of what Abraham said and did, and is able to reproduce and replicate Abraham’s virtues. To obey the Law of Moses is the means of acquiring these virtues exemplified by Abraham in his observance of the unwritten laws, and is as easy as Abraham obeyed the unwritten Laws before the Torah was given.

3. Philo applies such a conception of Abraham as self-taught to the paideia taking place in the synagogues as schools designed for producing divine wisdom and virtues in distinction from the Greek encyclical education and teaching.

Respondent – Greg E. Sterling (The Reverend Henry L. Slack Dean and Lillian Claus Professor of New Testament, Yale University, US)


Session 10: Values in the New Testament

Presider – Per Jarle Bekken (Professor for Religion, Christianity, Worldview, and Ethics, Nord University, NO)

Kirsten Marie Hartvigsen (Associate Professor of Religious Education, University of Oslo, NO),
The Narrative Impact of Lukan Parables: Reader Construction of Virtues and Values

Insights from reader-response theory, cognitive poetics, and psychonarratology emphasize the interaction between a text and its readers—an interaction through which the narrative world and the meaning of the narrative are created. Narratives seldom mention values and virtues explicitly and instead reveal them indirectly through the portrayals of the characters, their actions, and the responses to these actions. Because of this, the interaction between the text and its readers also determines which virtues and values each reader identifies in the narrative. Each reader’s previous knowledge, experiences, emotions and ideas are evoked during the reading, and this results in the construction of different narrative worlds and divergent interpretations of the narrative. This paper explores how selected contemporary readers, such as exegetes and schoolchildren, have interpreted Luke 15:3–5. My analysis suggests that interpretations differ greatly depending on the previous knowledge, experiences, emotions, and ideas that are evoked in the readers by the parable. Even though these readers do not explicitly mention values and virtues, their readings indicate the virtues and values that the readers associate with the characters and their actions. The span of the interpretations and the diversity of the virtues and values they suggest indicate that the reading and interpretation of biblical texts are activities that are well suited to non-confessional religious education, provided that (1) the students may interpret the parables based on their own knowledge, experiences, emotions, and ideas, and (2) the students are introduced to dissimilar interpretations that represent relevant religious traditions. In this manner, students may develop their own views and explore the perspectives of others. This approach will enable them to learn both from and about religion.

Respondent – Jostein Ådna (Professor in Diaconia and Leadership Studies, VID Specialized University, NO)

Karl Olav Sandnes (Professor of New Testament, MF Norwegian School of Theology, Religion and Society, NO), Pistis as a Moral Virtue in Paul’s Letters

Galatians 5:22–23 mentions pistis alongside other moral values in the Greco-Roman world. Why does Paul do that, and what does it mean here? What are the implications of Paul’s label “fruit of the Spirit” on moral virtues, including pistis? In antiquity, moral values were considered a result of character formation which progressed gradually according to levels of thinking or paideia. Moral values were seen to evolve from a well-educated mind. How does that fit in with the label “fruits of the Spirit”? Paul’s thinking about virtues (pistis) will be scrutinized comparatively.

Respondent – Troels Engberg-Pedersen (Professor em. in Biblical Exegesis, University of Copenhagen, DK)


Session 11: Public II – City Library Stormen & Cathedral

Presider – Gabriella Gelardini (Professor for Religion, Christianity, Worldview, and Ethics, Nord University, NO)

John Collins (Professor em. of Old Testament Criticism and Interpretation, Yale University, US),
The Bible and Human Rights


John Collins (Professor em. of Old Testament Criticism and Interpretation, Yale University, US) 
Elin Vangen (Dome Provost Bodø Cathedral) 
Kyrre Kolvik (Dome Priest Bodø Cathedral) 
Kristin Jenssen (Youth Pastor and Project Manager Bodø Rønvik Church) 
Karl Olav Sandnes (Professor of New Testament, MF Norwegian School of Theology, Religion and Society, NO) 

Devotional: Cathedral

Liturgy Elin Vangen, Dome Provost Bodø Cathedral

Kyrre Kolvik, Dome Priest Bodø Cathedral

Music Brian Hepworth, Dome Cantor Bodø Cathedral

Øivind Mikalsen, Dome Cantor Bodø Cathedral

The Cathedral’s Boy’s Choir


Session 12: Values in Education & Summary

Presider – Gabriella Gelardini (Professor for Religion, Christianity, Worldview, and Ethics, Nord University, NO)

Ole Andreas Kvamme (Associate Professor in Educational Research, University of Oslo, NO), Sustainability, Values and Education

What knowledge is of most worth? Facing Resolution 71/1 of the United Nations General Assembly, Transforming our World: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (United Nations, 2015), adopting the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, the urgency of this persistent curriculum question (Spencer, 1861) is apparent.

Agenda 2030 is a response to the current challenges of global inequities, climate crisis and ecological crisis, reflecting the Anthropocene, the historical era where the impacts of the human species on the planetery earth systems and ecosystems are irreversible with devastating consequences. Out of this historical situation certain values emerge as precious and indispensable, summed up in the protection of present and future life on earth. The situation is distinguished with unequal distributions of benefits and burdens, consumption and waste, demonstrating the political dimension of the values involved. In United Nations conventions these values are articulated as universal claims expressed in a concern for present human beings, future human beings and the more-than-human world, also conceived of as matters of justice.

The current crises has prompted numerous educational initiatives. In the context of UNESCO, Agenda 2030 is translated into the global education policy of education for sustainable development (most recently ‘ESD for 2030’), to be recontextualized in educational settings around the world. From here numerous concerns may be raised. Here I discuss the relationship between universal values and context, the educational purpose of autonomy, and the tensions and contradictions that are constituted by consensus values claimed at a general level and a consistent lack of sufficient political follow-up. A vital concern is to accommodate both existential and political dimensions involved.

Respondent – Paul Otto Brunstad (Professor in Pedagogy, NLA University College Bergen, NO)

Speaker 2 – Kåre Sigvald Fuglseth (Professor for Religion, Christianity, Worldview, and Ethics, Nord University, NO), Summary & Closing

Gabriele Boccaccini (Professor of Second Temple Judaism and Early Rabbinic Literature, University of Michigan, US), Outlook