Interview with Van De Mieroop

Interview with Marc Van De Mieroop on his new book Philosophy Before the Greeks (Princeton University Press, 2016).

Link here



New Book: Epistemology & Biblical Theology

9781848935723From the publisher:
Epistemology and Biblical Theology: From the Pentateuch to Mark’s Gospel pursues a coherent theory of knowledge as described across the Pentateuch and Mark’s Gospel. As a work from the emerging field of philosophical criticism, this volume explores in each biblical text both narrative and paraenesis to assess what theory of knowledge might be presumed or advocated and the coherence of that structure across texts.

In the Pentateuch and Mark, primacy is placed on heeding an authenticated and authoritative prophet, and then enacting the guidance given in order to see what is being shown—in order to know. Erroneous knowing follows the same boundaries: failure to attend to the proper authoritative voice or failure to enact guidance creates mistaken understanding. With a working construct of proper knowing in hand, points of contact with and difficulties for contemporary philosophical epistemologies are suggested. In the end, Michael Polanyi’s scientific epistemology emerges as the most commensurable view with knowing as it appears in these foundational biblical texts. Therefore, this book will be of interest to scholars working across the fields of Biblical studies and philosophy.”

Dru Johnson is an associate professor of biblical and theological studies at The King’s College (New York City, NY); Templeton research fellow at the Logos Institute (University of St Andrews, 2017–18); co-chair of the Hebrew Bible and Philosophy unit in the Society of Biblical Literature; associate director of the Templeton Jewish Philosophical Theology Project at The Herzl Institute (Jerusalem, Israel); and a Templeton Research Fellow in Analytic Theology at the Institute for Advanced Studies—Shalem Center (Jerusalem, 2012–13). His recent books include: Knowledge by Ritual (Eisenbrauns, 2016) and Scripture’s Knowing (Cascade, 2015).

Bible and Philosophy: A Response to Levenson/Seeskin

James Diamond responds to Levenson’s critique of Seeskin about the possibility of the Hebrew Bible doing philosophy within the Jewish tradition. You can read the article HERE.


Jon Levenson on Philosophy and Torah

Mosaic_Levenson.jpgLevenson recently wrote an extensive review of Kenneth Seeskin’s book Thinking about The Torah (JPS, 2016) for Mosaic Magazine. He is both encouraged and worried about Seeskin’s approach.

You can read the full review here.

New Book: What is a God?


From the publisher:

In this book Jaco Gericke is concerned with the question of what, according to the Hebrew Bible, an Elohim (God) was assumed to be. As a supplement to the tradition of predominantly linguistic, historical, literary, comparative, social-scientific and related approaches seeking to answer the question, Gericke offers a variety of experimental philosophical perspectives which examine how Elohim could be considered from and within the perspectives of an extremely wide range of philosophers.

Consisting of a brief history of (anti-) metaphysical theories of whatness and essence from Socrates to Derrida, the relevant ideas are adapted and reapplied to the use of Elohim as common noun in the Hebrew Bible. As such it is a prolegomenon to future research related to the question by creating awareness both of possible alternative ways of conceptualizing the research problem and of the need for a more nuanced manner of speaking about what we mean in our asking of the question about what we mean when we talk about God.

Table of contents

1. Introduction: What is a God?
2. Whatness and a Socratic Definition of God-ness via Common Properties
3. Whatness and a Platonist Perspective on God-ness as Form/Universal
4. Whatness and Aristotelian Essentialism about a God as Secondary Substance
5. Whatness and a Porphyrian Tree of God as Species/Genus
6. Whatness and a Boethian Distinction between Essence/Existence in a God
7. Whatness and an Avicennian View on the Quiddity of a God
8. Whatness and Abelardian Nominalism about the Status of a God
9. Whatness and a Thomistic Perspective on the Complexity of a God
10. Whatness and a Scotian Interpretation of a God’s Haecceity
11. Whatness and a Cartesian Notion of a God’s Principle Attribute
12. Whatness and Lockean Anti-Essentialism about God as Sortal
13. Whatness and Leibnizian Superessentialism about Necessity in a God
14. Whatness and a Kantian Concept of a God as Thing-in-Itself
15. Whatness and a Hegelian View of the Essence of a God in Appearances
16. Whatness and a Nietzschean Interpretation of a God as Will-to-Power
17. Whatness and Wittgensteinian Family Resemblances among the God
18. Whatness and a Husserlian Reduction of a God’s Essence as Intentional Object
19. Whatness and a Heideggerian View of what is Ownmost in a God Identity over Time
20. Whatness and a Sartrean Idea of Existence preceding Essence in a God
21. Whatness and a Quinean denial of Necessary and Sufficient Conditions for being a God
22. Whatness and the Popperian Essentialist Fallacy in Defining a God
23. Whatness and Kripkean Modal Neo-Essentialism about God as Rigid Designator
24. Whatness and Derridian Differential Ontology for a God beyond Anti-/Essentialism
25. Summary and Conclusions
Index of Biblical References
Index of Classical Sources
Index of Subjects
Index of Authors

– See more at:

New Book on Mesopotamian Philosophy

5140Lw1QcbL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_ From the publisher (
“There is a growing recognition that philosophy isn’t unique to the West, that it didn’t begin only with the classical Greeks, and that Greek philosophy was influenced by Near Eastern traditions. Yet even today there is a widespread assumption that what came before the Greeks was “before philosophy.” In Philosophy before the Greeks, Marc Van De Mieroop, an acclaimed historian of the ancient Near East, presents a groundbreaking argument that, for three millennia before the Greeks, one Near Eastern people had a rich and sophisticated tradition of philosophy fully worthy of the name.

In the first century BC, the Greek historian Diodorus of Sicily praised the Babylonians for their devotion to philosophy. Showing the justice of Diodorus’s comment, this is the first book to argue that there were Babylonian philosophers and that they studied knowledge systematically using a coherent system of logic rooted in the practices of cuneiform script. Van De Mieroop uncovers Babylonian approaches to knowledge in three areas: the study of language, which in its analysis of the written word formed the basis of all logic; the art of divination, which interpreted communications between gods and humans; and the rules of law, which confirmed that royal justice was founded on truth.

The result is an innovative intellectual history of the ancient Near Eastern world during the many centuries in which Babylonian philosophers inspired scholars throughout the region–until the first millennium BC, when the breakdown of this cosmopolitan system enabled others, including the Greeks, to develop alternative methods of philosophical reasoning.”

Dual Book Review for the Journal of Analytic Theology

pageHeaderTitleImage_en_USDru Johnson reviews Jaco Gericke’s The Hebrew Bible and Philosophy of Religion in tandem with Seizo Sekine’s Philosophical Interpretations of the Old Testament, specifically thinking about their divergent methodologies.


SBL San Antonio: Epistemology in the HB


Calum Carmichael, Cornell University, Presiding

Danilo Verde, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
Qoheleth’s Epistemology: Thinking Critically at the Crossroads of Different Traditions (30 min)

Ryan O’Dowd, Chesterton House, Cornell University
The Painful Pedagogy of Proverbs (30 min)

Stephanie Nordby, University of Oklahoma
Metaphor and the Mind of God in Nevi’im (30 min)

Dru Johnson, The King’s College (New York)
Pictures of Epistemic Justification in the Early History of the Hebrew Bible (30 min)

Discussion (30 min)



New Book: Knowledge by Ritual


From the publisher’s website (
“What do rituals have to do with knowledge? Knowledge by Ritual examines the epistemological role of rites in Christian Scripture. By putting biblical rituals in conversation with philosophical and scientific views of knowledge, Johnson argues that knowing is a skilled adeptness in both the biblical literature and scientific enterprise. If rituals are a way of thinking in community akin to scientific communities, then the biblical emphasis on rites that lead to knowledge cannot be ignored. Practicing a rite to know occurs frequently in the Hebrew Bible. YHWH answers Abram’s skepticism—”How shall I know that I will possess the land?”—with a ritual intended to make him know (Gen 15:7–21). The recurring rites of Sabbath (Exod 31:13) and dwelling in a Sukkah (Lev 23:43) direct Israel toward discernment of an event’s enduring significance. Likewise, building stone memorials aims at the knowledge of generations to come (Josh 4:6).

Though the New Testament appropriates the Torah rites through strategic re-employment, the primary questions of sacramental theology have often presumed that rites are symbolically encoded. Hence, understanding sacraments has sometimes been reduced to decoding the symbols of the rite. Knowledge by Ritual argues that the rites of Israel, as portrayed in the biblical texts, disposed Israelites to recognize something they could not have seen apart from their participation. By examining the epistemological function of rituals, Johnson’s monograph gives readers a new set of questions to explore both the sacraments of Israel and contemporary sacramental theology.”

Call for Papers (SBL 2016)


The Hebrew Bible and Philosophy unit will be hosting two sessions:

1) invited papers from scholars of bible, theology, and philosophy examining the basis for philosophical criticism of Hebrew Bible, and

2) an open call for papers that propose to examine specific biblical texts or the Hebrew Bible as a whole for philosophical content. Preference will be given to proposals that consider neglected philosophical sub-disciplines in Hebrew Bible scholarship (e.g., metaphysics, logic/rationality, epistemology, philosophy of religion).

See for the motivations of this program unit and examples of examinations of the bible’s philosophical content.

Proposals for session 2 can be submitted HERE.