Klaus Vibe - Featured Author - EJT (Autumn, 2019)
Dr Klaus Vibe is assistant professor in New Testament at Fjellhaug International University College, Aarhus, Denmark. His article on Paul and Greek paideia is published in the October 2019 issue of the European Journal of Theology.
I was born in the southern part of Denmark and raised in a loving family that took me to church and to what we in Denmark call the Mission house, which is a lay Christian movement in Denmark. Quite early in my youth, I knew I wanted to study theology, beginning to study at Aarhus University in 1995. I enjoyed studying theology there, just as I enjoyed taking supplementing courses at a small private institution called the Lutheran School of Theology in Aarhus.
After my years at university, I started working for KFS, which is an evangelical student movement that strives to preach the gospel on campuses and universities in Denmark. Having worked for KFS in six years, I began my academic career in 2010, as I got enrolled in the Ph.D. programme at the Norwegian School of Theology, Religion and Society in Oslo with professor (now emeritus) Reidar Hvalvik as my supervisor. During my time as a Ph.D. student I worked half−time as a pastor in a small Lutheran Church not too far from Aarhus where I live, for which reason I was a Ph.D. student for quite some time.
During my years in Aarhus I had occasionally opened one of Philo of Alexandria’s books just to conclude that that was something I would never write about at any given moment in time, as Philo’s works appeared to me as something that may, perhaps, best be described as weird. However, as I started working as a Ph.D. student, I found myself being slowly but effectively drawn into Philo’s textual universe. Part of my thesis was concerned with discussing how divine and human agency are related to one another in Paul’s writings and other texts from Second Temple Judaism. Eventually, my Ph.D. thesis became a comparison of Philo’s and Paul’s reading of the Abraham story, focusing on how divine agency ensures that Abraham’s life (in Philo’s writings) or the lives of Abraham’s children (in Paul’s) are formed in accordance with the will of God. Hence, the lion’s share of my thesis was concerned with the interpretation of Philo’s writings. It has not yet been published as I am currently considering in which form this could be done.
Working intensely with Philo’s writings was an eye−opener for me in many ways. Philo provides a window into the Greco−Roman world, in which Greek education (Greek paideia) played a prominent role. Moreover, Philo’s writings provide a window into Greek and Hellenistic philosophy, thus offering students of Second Temple Judaism insight into a form of Judaism that was significantly determined by what scholars describe as the ancient virtue system. This was kind of new territory to me; however, eventually, it dawned on me that Paul also spoke within the virtue system. Like Philo, Paul admonishes his readers to pursue virtue, albeit a different kind of virtue than the one taught in ancient schools determined by the values of Greek paideia. Today I find myself wondering about the implications of this for my theology and the witness of the Church.
I defended my Ph.D. in September 2018. Hence, I still feel like a new kid on the block. My research interests lie in the relationship between Paul (or the New Testament) and Hellenistic Judaism. Paul is an interesting bridge figure, obviously incorporating both apocalyptic and Hellenistic thought strands into his own thinking. Having worked quite a lot with Philo’s writings, I am interested in examining how Paul’s theology was influenced by the kind of theology that Philo’s writings represent. Generally, I am exploring how living κατὰ Χριστόν (Rom 15:5) differs from living κατὰ φύσιν (as taught by the Stoics) or from living in accordance to the values that dominated Greek paideia. More specifically, I am currently working on an article on Romans 7, trying to draw attention to some interesting similarities between Philo’s description of Israel and Paul’s description of the “I” in Romans 7:7-25.
Currently, I work as an assistant professor in New Testament at Fjellhaug International University College, Aarhus, Denmark (formerly known as the Lutheran School of Theology in Aarhus). This semester I am teaching the Pastoral Epistles, James, 1 and 2 Peter and five books from the Apostolic Fathers. This is interesting, as these writings provide a window into how early Christianity eventually settled in the Greco−Roman world. My aim as a teacher of the New Testament is to teach my students to think biblically in a historical way, inspiring them to read the New Testament as a historical book. I am convinced that this can offer fresh insights to what it means to be a Christian – also today.
Privately, I am married with Connie with whom I have three children, Ane (15), Marie (13) and Mads (10). They keep me busy with other things than work. In the summertime, me and my family enjoy (even though Marie would probably want to modify the word enjoy) walking in the Swiss Alps and resting afterwards on a beach not too far from the mountains. In my spare time, I try to find time for running and a little bit of hunting.