Abraham J. Malherbe was one of the most influential New Testament scholars of the past half century. He is especially known for his use of Hellenistic moral philosophy in the interpretation of New Testament texts, especially Pauline literature. Whilst the comparative study of New Testament and Greco-Roman material remains a contentious approach in scholarship, Malherbe’s work provides important pointers in how to make such comparisons in a meaningful and reasoned manner, by paying due respect to the integrity of the texts being compared and to the function textual elements have within their own contexts. I discussed the salient features of Malherbe’s approach, focusing in particular on his study of topoi. One of the most significant findings was Malherbe’s emphasis on the dialectical combination of common
and individual elements in such topoi, which enabled ancient authors to embed their own texts within the cultural discourse of their time. His approach opens the way to further research of the New Testament within its philosophical context without requiring proof of a genealogical relationship between the texts or authors concerned.