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Professor George van Kooten

Professor George van Kooten

Lady Margaret's Professor of Divinity

Areas of Interest:

The New Testament writings in their Graeco-Roman context, esp.

* The Gospel of John between Greek Mythology & Philosophy

* Paul in the Graeco-Roman World, including Paul & Politics, and Paul & Ancient Philosophy

* The New Testament and the Year of the Four Emperors (AD 68-69) as the setting of the Gospel of Mark, the Second Letter to the Thessalonians & the Revelation of John

George van Kooten is accepting applications for PhD students.


Biography:

 

Video of George van Kooten's inaugural lecture 'Three Symposia: Plato, Philo and John – An Exercise in Triangulation'

Text of the inaugural lecture

After 12 years as Professor at the University of Groningen, including a five-year tenure as dean of faculty, George van Kooten was elected to the Lady Margaret's Chair in Cambridge. Born in Delft (1969), he studied at Leiden, Durham and Oxford (Christ Church) in the fields of New Testament studies and Judaism of the Graeco-Roman period. Previously, he was visiting fellow at the University of Cambridge & Clare Hall, Cambridge (2013-14) and the Georg-August-Universität Göttingen (2015). Together with Gert-Jan van der Heiden (Philosophy, Radboud University Nijmegen), he conducted a 700,000 Euro research grant project, financed by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO), on the reception of Paul in modern philosophy. Together with George Boys-Stones (Ancient Philosophy, Durham), he founded the "Ancient Philosophy & Religion (APhR)" series (Brill). Following his appointment at Cambridge, he was elected a Professorial Fellow of Clare Hall, Cambridge.

Subject area and speciality

New Testament specialists:

Research Interests

Profile:

Considering that 100% of the New Testament writings has been written in Greek (in marked contrast to the contemporary Dead Sea Scrolls which have been mainly written in Hebrew and Aramaic, and only for 3% in Greek), George van Kooten is very interested in contextualising the New Testament writings in their (Jewish and pagan) Graeco-Roman context - historically, religiously, and philosophically, establishing (by way of discourse analysis) the common discourses that are reflected in these texts, trying to understand them in their commonalities and differences.

Current research projects:

(1) monograph on "Paul's Political Philosophy in Context" (Mohr Siebeck), revolving around his semi-political interpretation of the Christian self-designation "church" (ekklēsia) as the counterpart to the civic assembly of the Greek cities in the Eastern Roman Empire (see New Testament Studies 58 [2012]: 522–48).

(2) monograph on "John between Greek Mythology and Philosophy", mapping the potential Greek context of John's Gospel, revising and broadening C.H. Dodd's The Interpretation of the Fourth Gospel (CUP 1953).

Research Supervision

New potential MPhil and PhD students interested in all aspects of the New Testament in the Graeco-Roman World are encouraged to get in touch and discuss their plans and interests.  

Teaching

B5 The Johannine Tradition paper (co-ordinating and teaching, Michaelmas & Lent terms)

C1B Advanced New Testament Greek paper, segment on 1 Peter (teaching, Lent term)

Other Professional Activities

Chief Editor (with George Boys-Stones, Durham) of the "Ancient Philosophy & Religion" series (Brill; 2017-)

Member editorial board "Studies in Education and Religion in Ancient and Pre-Modern History in the Mediterranean and Its Environs" (SERAPHIM; Mohr Siebeck, 2018-)

Editor "Themes in Biblical Narrative" series (Brill; 2006-17)

Associate editor "Religion in the Roman Empire (RRE)" journal (Mohr Siebeck; 2015-18) 

Foreign scientific adviser (“wissenschaftlicher Beirat”) to the “Bildung und Religion” research project at the Georg-August-Universität Göttingen (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, SFB 1136; 2015-19)

Key Publications

Saint Paul and Philosophy: The Consonance of Ancient and Modern Thought, edited by Gert-Jan van der Heiden, George van Kooten & Antonio Cimino, Berlin/Boston: de Gruyter, 2017.

“Paul’s Stoic Onto-Theology and Ethics of Good, Evil and ‘Indifferents’: A Response to Anti-Metaphysical and Nihilistic Readings of Paul in Modern Philosophy”, in: Gert-Jan van der Heiden, George van Kooten & Antonio Cimino (eds), Saint Paul and Philosophy: The Consonance of Ancient and Modern Thought, Berlin/Boston: de Gruyter, 2017, 133-64.

Religio-Philosophical Discourses in the Mediterranean World: From Plato, through Jesus, to Late Antiquity (Ancient Philosophy & Religion 1), edited by Anders Klostergaard Petersen & George van Kooten, Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2017.

“The Last Days of Socrates and Christ: EuthyphroApologyCrito, and Phaedo Read in Counterpoint with John’s Gospel,” in: Anders Klostergaard Petersen & George van Kooten (eds), Religio-Philosophical Discourses in the Mediterranean World: From Plato, through Jesus, to Late Antiquity (Ancient Philosophy & Religion 1), Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2017, 219-43.

The Star of Bethlehem and the Magi: Interdisciplinary Perspectives from Experts on the Ancient Near East, the Greco-Roman World, and Modern Astronomy (Themes in Biblical Narrative 19 [hardback version]), edited by Peter Barthel & George van Kooten, Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2015 (+ paperback version).

“Matthew, the Parthians, and the Magi: A Contextualization of Matthew’s Gospel in Roman-Parthian Relations of the First Centuries BCE and CE”, in: Peter Barthel and George van Kooten (eds), The Star of Bethlehem and the Magi: Interdisciplinary Perspectives from Experts on the Ancient Near East, the Greco-Roman World, and Modern Astronomy (Themes in Biblical Narrative 19), Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2015, chap. 20, 496-646.

κκλησία τοῦ θεο: The ‘Church of God’ and the Civic Assemblies (κκλησίαι) of the Greek Cities in the Roman Empire: A Response to Paul Trebilco and Richard A. Horsley”, New Testament Studies58 (2012):522–48.

“Christianity in the Graeco-Roman World: Socio-Political, Philosophical, and Religious Interactions up to the Edict of Milan (CE 313)”, in: D. Jeffrey Bingham (ed.), The Routledge Companion to Early Christian Thought, London/New York: Routledge, 2010, chap. 1, 3-37.

Abraham, the Nations, and the Hagarites: Jewish, Christian, and Islamic Perspectives on Kinship with Abraham (Themes in Biblical Narrative 13), edited by Martin Goodman, George van Kooten & Jacques van Ruiten, Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2010.

“Broadening the New Perspective on Paul: Paul and the Ethnographical Debate of his Time – The Criticism of Jewish and Pagan Ancestral Customs (1 Thess 2:13-16)”, in: Martin Goodman, George van Kooten, and Jacques van Ruiten (eds), Abraham, the Nations, and the Hagarites: Jewish, Christian, and Islamic Perspectives on Kinship with Abraham (TBN 13), Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2010, 319-44.

“Philosophical Criticism of Genealogical Claims and Stoic Depoliticization of Politics: Graeco-Roman Strategies in Paul’s Allegorical Interpretation of Hagar and Sarah (Gal 4:21 -31)”, in: Martin Goodman, George van Kooten & Jacques van Ruiten (eds), Abraham, the Nations, and the Hagarites: Jewish, Christian, and Islamic Perspectives on Kinship with Abraham (TBN 13), Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2010, 361-85.

Paul’s Anthropology in Context: The Image of God, Assimilation to God, and Tripartite Man in Ancient Judaism, Ancient Philosophy and Early Christianity (Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 232), Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2008.

The Revelation of the Name YHWH to Moses: Perspectives from Judaism, the Pagan Graeco-Roman World, and Early Christianity (Themes in Biblical Narrative 9), edited by George van Kooten, Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2006.

“Moses/Musaeus/Mochos and his God YHWH, Iao, and Sabaoth, Seen from a Graeco-Roman Perspective”, in: G.H. van Kooten (ed.), The Revelation of the Name YHWH to Moses: Perspectives from Judaism, the Pagan Graeco-Roman World, and Early Christianity (Themes in Biblical Narrative 9), Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2006, 107-138.

The Creation of Heaven and Earth: Re-interpretations of Genesis I in the Context of Judaism, Ancient Philosophy, Christianity, and Modern Physics (Themes in Biblical Narrative 8), edited by George van Kooten, Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2005. 

“The ‘True Light which Enlightens Everyone’ (John 1:9): John, Genesis, the Platonic Notion of the ‘True, Noetic Light’, and the Allegory of the Cave in Plato’s Republic”, in: George van Kooten (ed.), The Creation of Heaven and Earth: Re-interpretations of Genesis I in the Context of Judaism, Ancient Philosophy, Christianity, and Modern Physics (Themes in Biblical Narrative 8), Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2005, 149-94.

Cosmic Christology in Paul and the Pauline School: Colossians and Ephesians in the Context of Graeco-Roman Cosmology (Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament II.171), Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2003.

Other Publications

i) Publications arranged by New Testament writing;

ii) General publications on philosophical anthropology, ethics, and the notions of “pistis” and “scriptural authority”

 

i) Publications arranged by New Testament writing:

GOSPEL OF MATTHEW

“Matthew, the Parthians, and the Magi: A Contextualization of Matthew’s Gospel in Roman-Parthian Relations of the First Centuries BCE and CE”, in: Peter Barthel and George van Kooten (eds), The Star of Bethlehem and the Magi: Interdisciplinary Perspectives from Experts on the Ancient Near East, the Greco-Roman World, and Modern Astronomy (Themes in Biblical Narrative 19), Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2015, chap. 20, 496-646. 

GOSPEL OF MARK

“The Jewish War and the Roman Civil War of 68-69 CE: Jewish, Pagan, and Christian Perspectives”, in: M. Popovic (ed.), The Jewish Revolt against Rome: Interdisciplinary Perspectives (Supplements to the Journal for the Study of Judaism 154), Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2011, 419-50.  

“The Desecration of ‘the Most Holy Temple of All the World’ in the ‘Holy Land’: Early Jewish and Early Christian Recollections of Antiochus’ ‘Abomination of Desolation’”, in: J. van Ruiten & J.C. de Vos (eds), The Land of Israel in Bible, History, and Theology: Studies in Honour of Ed Noort (Supplements to Vetus Testamentum 124), Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2009, 291-316.

GOSPEL OF JOHN

“Bildung, Religion, and Politics in the Gospel of John: The Erastic, Philhellenic, Anti-Maccabean, and Anti-Roman Tendencies of the Gospel of ‘the Beloved Pupil’”, in: Florian Wilk (ed.), Scriptural Interpretation at the Interface between Education and Religion (Themes in Biblical Narrative 22), Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2019, 123-77.

“The Sign of Socrates, the Sign of Apollo, and the Signs of Christ: Hiding and Sharing Religious Knowledge in the Gospel of John—A Contrapuntal Reading of John’s Gospel and Plato’s Dialogues”, in: Mladen Popovic, Lautaro Roig Lanzillotta & Clare Wilde (eds), Sharing and Hiding Religious Knowledge in Early Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam — Tension, Transmission, Transformation 10), Berlin/Boston: de Gruyter, 2018, 145-70.

“The Last Days of Socrates and Christ: EuthyphroApologyCrito, and Phaedo Read in Counterpoint with John’s Gospel,” in: Anders Klostergaard Petersen & George van Kooten (eds), co-ed.), Religio-Philosophical Discourses in the Mediterranean World: From Plato, through Jesus, to Late Antiquity (Ancient Philosophy & Religion 1), Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2017, 219-43.

“The ‘True Light which Enlightens Everyone’ (John 1:9): John, Genesis, the Platonic Notion of the ‘True, Noetic Light’, and the Allegory of the Cave in Plato’s Republic”, in: George van Kooten (ed.), The Creation of Heaven and Earth: Re-interpretations of Genesis I in the Context of Judaism, Ancient Philosophy, Christianity, and Modern Physics (Themes in Biblical Narrative 8), Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2005, 149-94.

PAULINE LETTERS, general

“Quaestiones disputatae: How Greek was Paul’s Eschatology?” (multi-authored with Oda Wischmeyer & N.T. Wright), New Testament Studies 61 (2015): 239-53.

“Is Early Christianity a Religion or a Philosophy? Reflections on the Importance of ‘Knowledge’ and ‘Truth’ in the Letters of Paul and Peter”, in: J. Dijkstra, J. Kroesen, and Y. Kuiper (eds), Myths, Martyrs, and Modernity: Studies in the History of Religions in Honour of Jan N. Bremmer (Numen Book Series: Studies in the History of Religions 127), Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2010, 393-408.

“The Two Types of Man in Philo of Alexandria and Paul of Tarsus: The Anthropological Trichotomy of Spirit, Soul and Body”, in: C. Jedan & L. Jansen (eds), Philosophische Anthropologie in der Antike (Themen der Antiken Philosophie / Topics in Ancient Philosophy), Frankfurt/Paris/Ebikon/Lancaster/New Brunswick: Ontos Verlag, 2010, 269-316.

“The Anthropological Trichotomy of Spirit, Soul and Body in Philo of Alexandria and Paul of Tarsus”, in: Michael Labahn & Outi Lehtipuu (eds), Anthropology in the New Testament and Its Ancient Context (Contributions to Biblical Exegesis and Theology 54), Leuven: Peeters, 2010, 87-119 (=abridged version of the fuller paper in C. Jedan & L. Jansen [eds], Philosophische Anthropologie in der Antike[2010], see above).

“St Paul on Soul, Spirit and the Inner Man”, in: Maha Elkaisy-Friemuth & John M. Dillon (eds), The Afterlife of the Platonic Soul: Reflections on Platonic Psychology in the Monotheistic Religions (Ancient Mediterranean and Medieval Texts and Contexts; Studies in Platonism, Neoplatonism, and the Platonic Tradition 9), Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2009, 25-44.

Paul’s Anthropology in Context: The Image of God, Assimilation to God, and Tripartite Man in Ancient Judaism, Ancient Philosophy and Early Christianity (Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 232), Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2008.

“Image, Form and Transformation: A Semantic Taxonomy of Paul’s ‘Morphic’ Language”, in: R. Buitenwerf, H.W. Hollander and J. Tromp (eds), Jesus, Paul, and Early Christianity: Studies in Honour of Henk Jan de Jonge (Supplements to Novum Testamentum 130), Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2008, 213-42.

LETTER TO THE ROMANS

“Pagan and Jewish Monotheism according to Varro, Plutarch and St Paul: The Aniconic, Monotheistic Beginnings of Rome’s Pagan Cult — Romans 1.19-25 in a Roman Context”, in: A. Hilhorst, É. Puech & E. Tigchelaar (eds), Flores Florentino: Dead Sea Scrolls and Other Early Jewish Studies in Honour of Florentino García Martínez (Supplements to the Journal for the Study of Judaism 122), Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2007, 633-51.

LETTERS TO THE CORINTHIANS

“Paul’s Stoic Onto-Theology and Ethics of Good, Evil and ‘Indifferents’: A Response to Anti-Metaphysical and Nihilistic Readings of Paul in Modern Philosophy”, in: Gert-Jan van der Heiden, George van Kooten & Antonio Cimino (eds), Saint Paul and Philosophy: The Consonance of Ancient and Modern Thought, Berlin/Boston: de Gruyter, 2017, 133-64.

“Rhetorical Competition within the Christian Community at Corinth: Paul and the Sophists”, in: Richard Alston, Onno M. Van Nijf & Christina G. Williamson (eds), Cults, Creeds and Identities in the Greek City after the Classical Age (Groningen-Royal Holloway Studies on the Greek City After the Classical Age 3), Leuven: Peeters, 2013, 261-88.

“Ἐκκλησία τοῦ θεοῦ: The ‘Church of God’ and the Civic Assemblies (ἐκκλησίαι) of the Greek Cities in the Roman Empire: A Response to Paul Trebilco and Richard A. Horsley”, New Testament Studies58 (2012): 522–48.

“Why Did Paul Include an Exegesis of Moses’ Shining Face (Exod 34) in 2 Cor 3? Moses’ Strength, Well-being and (Transitory) Glory, according to Philo, Josephus, Paul, and the Corinthian Sophists”, in: G.J. Brooke, H. Najman & L.T. Stuckenbruck (eds), The Significance of Sinai: Traditions about Divine Revelation in Judaism and Christianity (Themes in Biblical Narrative 12), Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2008, 149-81.

LETTER TO THE GALATIANS

“Philosophical Criticism of Genealogical Claims and Stoic Depoliticization of Politics: Graeco-Roman Strategies in Paul’s Allegorical Interpretation of Hagar and Sarah (Gal 4:21 -31)”, in: Martin Goodman, George van Kooten, and Jacques van Ruiten (eds), Abraham, the Nations, and the Hagarites: Jewish, Christian, and Islamic Perspectives on Kinship with Abraham (Themes in Biblical Narrative 13), Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2010, 361-85.

LETTER TO THE EPHESIANS 

Cosmic Christology in Paul and the Pauline School: Colossians and Ephesians in the Context of Graeco-Roman Cosmology (Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament II.171), Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2003.

“The Divine Father of the Universe from the Presocratics to Celsus: The Graeco-Roman Background to the ‘Father of All’ in Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians”, in: Felix Albrecht & Reinhard Feldmeier (eds), The Divine Father: Religious and Philosophical Concepts of Divine Parenthood in Antiquity (Themes in Biblical Narrative 18), Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2014, 293-323.

LETTER TO THE COLOSSIANS

Cosmic Christology in Paul and the Pauline School: Colossians and Ephesians in the Context of Graeco-Roman Cosmology (Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament II.171), Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2003.

1 THESSALONIANS

“Broadening the New Perspective on Paul: Paul and the Ethnographical Debate of his Time – The Criticism of Jewish and Pagan Ancestral Customs (1 Thess 2:13-16)”, in: Martin Goodman, George van Kooten, and Jacques van Ruiten (eds), Abraham, the Nations, and the Hagarites: Jewish, Christian, and Islamic Perspectives on Kinship with Abraham (Themes in Biblical Narrative 13), Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2010, 319-44.

2 THESSALONIANS

“‘Wrath Will Drip in the Plains of Macedonia’: Expectations of Nero’s Return in the Egyptian Sibylline Oracles (Book 5), 2 Thessalonians, and Ancient Historical Writings”, in: A. Hilhorst & G.H. van Kooten (eds), The Wisdom of Egypt: Jewish, Early Christian, and Gnostic Essays in Honour of Gerard P. Luttikhuizen (Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity 59), Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2005, 177-215.

LETTER OF JAMES

“The ‘Two Inclinations’ and James' Anthropological Designation of Humankind as “Double-minded” (δίψυχος): A Greek Perspective,” in: Hector Patmore, Ishay Rosen-Zvi, and J.K. Aitken (eds), The Origins of Evil in Early Rabbinic Judaism and Early Christianity, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming.

LETTERS OF PETER

“Is Early Christianity a Religion or a Philosophy? Reflections on the Importance of ‘Knowledge’ and ‘Truth’ in the Letters of Paul and Peter”, in: J. Dijkstra, J. Kroesen, and Y. Kuiper (eds), Myths, Martyrs, and Modernity: Studies in the History of Religions in Honour of Jan N. Bremmer (Numen Book Series: Studies in the History of Religions 127), Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2010, 393-408.

REVELATION OF JOHN

“The Year of the Four Emperors and the Revelation of John: The ‘pro-Neronian’ Emperors Otho and Vitellius, and the Images and Colossus of Nero in Rome”, Journal for the Study of the New Testament 30 (2007): 205-48.

ii) General publications on philosophical anthropology, ethics, and the notions of “pistis” and “scriptural authority”:

“Human Being”, in: Robert L. Brawley (ed.), The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Bible and EthicsOxford/New York: Oxford University Press, 2014, vol. 1, 394-405.

“Man as God’s Spiritual or Physical Image? Theomorphic Ethics versus Numinous Ethics and Anthropomorphic Aesthetics in Early Judaism, Ancient Philosophy, and the New Testament”, in: Matthias Konradt and Esther Schläpfer (eds), Anthropologie und Ethik im Frühjudentum und im Neuen Testament. Wechselseitige Wahrnehmungen. Internationales Symposium in Verbindung mit dem Projekt Corpus Judaeo-Hellenisticum Novi Testamenti (CJHNT) 17.-20. Mai 2012, Heidelberg (WUNT I.322), Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2014, 99-138.

“A Non-Fideistic Interpretation of Pistis in Plutarch’s Writings: The Harmony between Pistis and Knowledge”, in: Lautaro Roig Lanzillotta & Israel Muñoz Gallarte (eds), Plutarch in the Religious and Philosophical Discourse of Late Antiquity (Studies in Platonism, Neoplatonism, and the Platonic Tradition), Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2012, 215-33.

“Pagan, Jewish and Christian Philanthropy in Antiquity: A Pseudo-Clementine Keyword in Context”, in: J.N. Bremmer (ed.), The Pseudo-Clementines (Studies on Early Christian Apocrypha 10), Leuven: Peeters, 2010, 36-58.

“Ancestral, Oracular and Prophetic Authority: ‘Scriptural Authority’ according to Paul and Philo”, in: M. Popović (ed.), Authoritative Scriptures in Ancient Judaism: Proceedings of the Symposium at the Qumran Institute Groningen , 28-29 April 2008 (Supplements to the Journal for the Study of Judaism 141), Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2010, 267-308.

Moodle

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