|Born||c. 20 BCE|
|Died||c. 50 CE (age c. 75)|
|Region||Ancient Roman philosophy|
|Cosmology, Philosophy of religion|
|Allegorical interpretation of the Torah|
Philo of Alexandria (//; Ancient Greek: Φίλων, romanized: Phílōn; Hebrew: יְדִידְיָה, romanized: Yəḏīḏyāh (Jedediah); c. 20 BCE – c. 50 CE), also called Philo Judaeus,[a] was a Hellenistic Jewish philosopher who lived in Alexandria, in the Roman province of Egypt.
The only event in Philo's life that can be decisively dated is his participation in the embassy to Rome in 40 CE; whereby he represented the Alexandrian Jews in a delegation to the Roman Emperor Caligula following civil strife between the Alexandrian Jewish and Greek communities.
Philo was a leading writer of the Hellenistic Jewish community in Alexandria, Egypt. He wrote expansively in Koine Greek on the intersection of philosophy, politics, and religion in his time, specifically he explored the connections between Greek Platonic philosophy and late Second Temple Judaism. For example, he maintained that the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible and additional books) and Jewish law (which was still being developed by the rabbis in this period) are a blueprint for the pursuit of individual enlightenment.
Philo's deployment of allegory to harmonize Jewish scripture, mainly the Torah, with Greek philosophy was the first documented of its kind, and thereby often misunderstood. Many critics of Philo assumed his allegorical perspective would lend credibility to the notion of legend over historicity. Philo often advocated a literal understanding of the Torah and the historicity of such described events, while at other times favoring allegorical readings.
Philo's dates of birth and death are unknown but can be judged by Philo's description of himself as "old" when he was part of the delegation to Gaius Caligula in 38 CE. Jewish history professor Daniel R. Schwartz estimates his birth year as sometime between 15 and 10 BCE. Philo's reference to an event under the reign of Emperor Claudius indicates that he died sometime between 45 and 50 CE. Philo also recounts that he visited the Second Temple in Jerusalem at least once in his lifetime.
Although the names of his parents are unknown, it is known that Philo came from a family which was noble, honourable and wealthy. It was either his father or paternal grandfather who was granted Roman citizenship from Roman dictator Gaius Julius Caesar. Jerome wrote that Philo came de genere sacerdotum (from a priestly family). His ancestors and family had social ties and connections to the priesthood in Judea, the Hasmonean dynasty, the Herodian dynasty and the Julio-Claudian dynasty in Rome.
Philo had one brother called Alexander Lysimachus who was the general tax administrator of customs in Alexandria. He accumulated an immense amount of wealth, becoming not only the richest man in that city but also in the entire Hellenistic world. Alexander was so rich that he gave a loan to the wife of king Agrippa I, as well as gold and silver to overlay the nine gates of the temple in Jerusalem. Due to his extreme wealth, Alexander was also influential in imperial Roman circles as a friend of emperor Claudius. Through Alexander, Philo had two nephews, Tiberius Julius Alexander and Marcus Julius Alexander. The latter was the first husband of the Herodian princess Berenice. Marcus died in 43 or 44.
Philo lived in an era of increasing ethnic tension in Alexandria, exacerbated by the new strictures of imperial rule. Some expatriate Hellenes (Greeks) in Alexandria condemned the Jews for a supposed alliance with Rome, even as Rome was seeking to suppress Jewish nationalism in the Roman province of Judea. In Antiquities of the Jews, Josephus tells of Philo's selection by the Alexandrian Jewish community as their principal representative before the Roman emperor Gaius Caligula. He says that Philo agreed to represent the Alexandrian Jews in regard to civil disorder that had developed between the Jews and the Greeks. Josephus also tells us that Philo was skilled in philosophy, and that he was brother to the alabarch Alexander. According to Josephus, Philo and the larger Jewish community refused to treat the emperor as a god, to erect statues in honour of the emperor, and to build altars and temples to the emperor. Josephus says Philo believed that God actively supported this refusal.
Josephus' complete comments about Philo:
There was now a tumult arisen at Alexandria, between the Jewish inhabitants and the Greeks; and three ambassadors were chosen out of each party that were at variance, who came to Gaius. Now one of these ambassadors from the people of Alexandria was Apion, (29) who uttered many blasphemies against the Jews; and, among other things that he said, he charged them with neglecting the honors that belonged to Caesar; for that while all who were subject to the Roman empire built altars and temples to Gaius, and in other regards universally received him as they received the gods, these Jews alone thought it a dishonorable thing for them to erect statues in honor of him, as well as to swear by his name. Many of these severe things were said by Apion, by which he hoped to provoke Gaius to anger at the Jews, as he was likely to be. But Philo, the principal of the Jewish embassage, a man eminent on all accounts, brother to Alexander the Alabarch, (30) and one not unskillful in philosophy, was ready to betake himself to make his defense against those accusations; but Gaius prohibited him, and bid him begone; he was also in such a rage, that it openly appeared he was about to do them some very great mischief. So Philo being thus affronted, went out, and said to those Jews who were about him, that they should be of good courage, since Gaius's words indeed showed anger at them, but in reality had already set God against himself.
This event is also described in Book 2, Chapter 5 of Eusebius's Historia Ecclesiae
Philo along with his brothers received a thorough education. They were educated in the Hellenistic culture of Alexandria and the culture of ancient Rome, to a degree in Ancient Egyptian religion and particularly in the traditions of Judaism, in the study of Jewish traditional literature and in Greek philosophy.
In his works, Philo shows extensive influence not only from philosophers such as Plato and the Stoics, but also poets and orators, especially Homer, Euripides, and Demosthenes. Philo's largest philosophical influence Plato, drawing heavily from the Timaeus and the Phaedrus , and also from the Phaedo, Theaetetus , Symposium, Republic , and Laws.
The extent of Philo's knowledge of Hebrew, however, is debated. Philo was more fluent in Greek than in Hebrew and read the Jewish Scriptures chiefly from the Septuagint, a Koine Greek translation of Hebraic texts later compiled as the Hebrew Bible and the deuterocanonical books. His numerous etymologies of Hebrew names—which are along the lines of the etymologic midrash to Genesis and of the earlier rabbinism, although not modern Hebrew philology—suggest some familiarity. Philo offers for some names three or four etymologies, sometimes including the correct Hebrew root (e.g., יָרַד, yarád, lit. '"(to) descend"' as the origin of the name Jordan). However, his works do not display much understanding of Hebrew grammar, and they tend to follow the translation of the Septuagint more closely than the Hebrew version. [b]
See also: Hellenistic Judaism
|Part of a series on|
Philo represents the apex of Jewish-Hellenistic syncretism. His work attempts to combine Plato and Moses into one philosophical system.
See also: Allegorical interpretations of Plato
Philo bases his doctrines on the Hebrew Bible, which he considers as the source and standard not only of religious truth but of all truth.[c] Its pronouncements are the ἱερὸς λόγος, θεῖος λόγος, and ὀρθὸς λόγος (holy word, godly word, righteous word), uttered sometimes directly and sometimes through the mouth of a prophet, and especially through Moses, whom Philo considers the real medium of revelation. Although he distinguishes between the words uttered by God himself, such as the Ten Commandments, and the edicts of Moses, as the special laws.
Philo regards the Bible as the source not only of religious revelation, but also of philosophic truth. By applying the Stoic mode of allegoric interpretation to the Old Testament, he interpreted the stories of the Pentateuch (first five books) as elaborate metaphors and symbols to demonstrate that Greek philosophers' ideas had already been laid out in the Bible: Heraclitus' idea of binary oppositions, according to Who is the Heir of Divine Things? § 43 [i. 503]; and the conception of the wise man expounded by Zeno, the founder of Stoicism, according to Every Good Man is Free, § 8 [ii. 454]. He did not reject the subjective experience of ancient Judaism; yet, he repeatedly explained that the Septuagint cannot be understood as a concrete, objective history.
Philo's allegorical interpretation of scripture allows him to grapple with morally disturbing events and impose a cohesive explanation of stories. Specifically, Philo interprets the characters of the Bible as aspects of the human being, and the stories of the Bible as episodes from universal human experience. For example, Adam represents the mind and Eve the senses. Noah represents tranquility, a stage of "relative" (incomplete but progressing) righteousness. According to Josephus, Philo was largely inspired in this by Aristobulus of Alexandria and the Alexandrian school.
Philo frequently engages in Pythagorean-inspired numerology, explaining at length the importance of the first 10 numerals:
Philo determines also the values of the numbers 50, 70, and 100, 12, and 120. There is also extensive symbolism of objects is very extensive. Philo elaborates an extensive symbolism of proper names, following the example of the Bible and the Midrash, to which he adds many new interpretations.
Philo stated his theology both through the negation of opposed ideas, and through detailed, positive explanations of the nature of God, he contrasted the nature of God with the nature of the physical world. Philo did not consider God similar to heaven, the world, or man; he affirmed a transcendent God without physical features or emotional qualities resembling those of human beings. Following Plato, Philo equates matter to nothingness and sees its effect in fallacy, discord, damage, and decay of things. Only God's existence is certain, no appropriate predicates can be conceived. In Philo, God exists beyond time and space and does not make special interventions into the world because he already encompasses the entire cosmos.
Philo also integrated select theology from the rabbinic tradition, including God's sublime transcendence, and man's inability to behold an ineffable God. He argued that God has no attributes (ἁπλοῡς), in consequence no name (ἅρρητος), and for that reason he cannot be perceived by man (ἀκατάληπτος). Further, God cannot change (ἅτρεπτος): He is always the same (ἀΐδιος). He needs no other being (χρῄζει γὰρ οὐδενὸς τὸ παράπαν), and is self-sufficient (ἑαυτῷ ἱκανός). God can never perish (ἅφθαρτος). He is the simply existent (ὁ ὤν, τὸ ὄν), and has no relations with any other being (τὸ γὰρ ὄν, ᾗ ὄν ἐστιν, οὐχὶ τῶν πρός τι).
Philo considered the anthropomorphism of the Bible to be a monstrous impiety that was incompatible with the Platonic opposition of God to matter, instead interpreting the ascription to God of hands and feet, eyes and ears, tongue and windpipe, as allegories. In Philo's interpretation, Scripture adapts itself to human conceptions; and so God is occasionally represented as a man for pedagogic reasons. The same holds good also as regards God's anthropopathic attributes. God as such is untouched by unreasonable emotions, as appears, e.g., from Exodus ii. 12, where Moses, torn by his emotions, perceives God alone to be calm. He is free from sorrow, pain, and all such affections. But He is frequently represented as endowed with human emotions; and this serves to explain expressions referring to His repentance.
Similarly God cannot exist or change in space. He has no "where" (πού, obtained by changing the accent in Gen. iii. 9: "Adam, where [ποῡ] art thou?"), is not in any place. He is Himself the place; the dwelling-place of God means the same as God Himself, as in the Mishnah = "God is" (comp. Freudenthal, "Hellenistische Studien," p. 73), corresponding to the tenet of Greek philosophy that the existence of all things is summed up in God. God as such is motionless, as the Bible indicates by the phrase "God stands".
Philo endeavored to find the Divine Being active and acting in the world, in agreement with Stoicism, yet his Platonic conception of Matter as evil required that he place God outside of the world, in order to prevent God from having any contact with evil. Hence, he was obliged to separate from the Divine Being the activity displayed in the world and to transfer it to the divine powers, which accordingly were sometimes inherent in God and at other times exterior to God.In order to balance these Platonic and Stoic conceptions, Philo conceived of these divine attributes as types or patterns of actual things ("archetypal ideas") in keeping with Plato, but also regarded them as the efficient causes that not only represent the types of things, but also produce and maintain them. Philo endeavored to harmonize this conception with the Bible by designating these powers as angels. Philo conceives the powers both as independent hypostases and as immanent attributes of a Divine Being.
In the same way, Philo contrasts the two divine attributes of goodness and power (ἄγαθότης and ἀρχή, δίναμις χαριστική and συγκολαστική) as expressed in the names of God; designating "Yhwh" as Goodness, Philo interpreted "Elohim" (LXX. Θεός) as designating the "cosmic power"; and as he considered the Creation the most important proof of divine goodness, he found the idea of goodness especially in Θεός.[d]
Philo also treats the divine powers of God as a single independent being, or demiurge, which he designates "Logos". Philo's conception of the Logos is influenced by Heraclitus' conception of the "dividing Logos" (λόγος τομεύς), which calls the various objects into existence by the combination of contrasts ("Quis Rerum Divinarum Heres Sit," § 43 [i. 503]), as well as the Stoic characterization of the Logos as the active and vivifying power.
But Philo followed the Platonic distinction between imperfect matter and perfect Form, and Philo's conception of the Logos is directly related to the Middle Platonic view of God as unmoved and utterly transcendent, therefore intermediary beings were necessary to bridge the enormous gap between God and the material world. The Logos was the highest of these intermediary beings, and was called by Philo "the first-born of God."
Philo also adapted Platonic elements in designating the Logos as the "idea of ideas" and the "archetypal idea". Philo identified Plato's Ideas with the demiurge's thoughts. These thoughts make the contents of Logos; they were the seals for making sensual things during world creation. Logos resembles a book with creature paradigms. An Architect's design before the construction of a city serves to Philo as another simile of Logos. Since creation, Logos binds things together. As the receptacle and holder of ideas, Logos is distinct from the material world. At the same time, Logos pervades the world, supporting it. This image of God is the type for all other things (the "Archetypal Idea" of Plato), a seal impressed upon things. The Logos is a kind of shadow cast by God, having the outlines but not the blinding light of the Divine Being. He calls the Logos "second god [deuteros theos]" the "name of God," 
There are, in addition, Biblical elements: Philo, in connecting his doctrine of the Logos with Scripture, first of all bases on Gen. i. 27 the relation of the Logos to God. He translates this passage as follows: "He made man after the image of God," concluding therefrom that an image of God existed. The Logos is also designated as "high priest", in reference to the exalted position which the high priest occupied after the Exile as the real center of the Jewish state. The Logos, like the high priest, is the expiator of sins, and the mediator and advocate for men: ἱκέτης, and παράκλητος. Logos has the function of an advocate on behalf of humanity and also that of a God's envoy to the world. He puts human minds in order. The right reason is an infallible law, the source of any other laws. The angel closing Balaam's way (Numbers XXII, 31) is interpreted by Philo as manifestation of Logos, which acts as man's conscience. As such, the Logos becomes the aspect of the divine that operates in the world—through whom the world is created and sustained.
Peter Schäfer argues that Philo's Logos was derived from his understanding of the "postbiblical Wisdom literature, in particular the Wisdom of Solomon". The Wisdom of Solomon is a Jewish work composed in Alexandria, Egypt, around the 1st century BCE, with the aim of bolstering the faith of the Jewish community in a hostile Greek world. It is one of the seven Sapiential or wisdom books included within the Septuagint.
The Logos has a special relation to man. Philo seems to look at man as a trichotomy, nous (mind), psyche (soul), soma (body), common to the Hellenistic view of mind-soul-body. In Philo's writings, however, mind and spirit are used interchangeably. It is the type; man is the copy. The similarity is found in the mind (νοῡς) of man. For the shaping of his nous, man (earthly man) has the Logos (the "heavenly man") for a pattern. The latter officiates here also as "the divider" (τομεύς), separating and uniting. The Logos as "interpreter" announces God's designs to man, acting in this respect as prophet and priest. As the latter, he softens punishments by making the merciful power stronger than the punitive. The Logos has a special mystic influence upon the human soul, illuminating it and nourishing it with a higher spiritual food, like the manna, of which the smallest piece has the same vitality as the whole.
His ethics were strongly influenced by Pythagoreanism and Stoicism, preferring a morality of virtues without passions, such as lust/desire and anger, but with a "common human sympathy". Commentators can also infer from his mission to Caligula that Philo was involved in politics. However, the nature of his political beliefs, and especially his viewpoint on the Roman Empire, is a matter of debate.
Philo did suggest in his writings that a prudent man should withhold his true opinion about tyrants:
he will of necessity take up caution as a shield, as a protection to prevent his suffering any sudden and unexpected evil; for as I imagine what a wall is to a city, that caution is to an individual. Do not these men then talk foolishly, are they not mad, who desire to display their inexperience and freedom of speech to kings and tyrants, at times daring to speak and to do things in opposition to their will? Do they not perceive that they have not only put their necks under the yoke like brute beasts, but that they have also surrendered and betrayed their whole bodies and souls likewise, and their wives and their children, and their parents, and all the rest of the numerous kindred and community of their other relations? ... when an opportunity offers, it is a good thing to attack our enemies and put down their power; but when we have no such opportunity, it is better to be quiet
The works of Philo are mostly allegorical interpretations of the Torah (known in the Hellenic world as the Pentateuch), but also include histories and comments on philosophy. Most of these have been preserved in Greek by the Church Fathers; some survive only through an Armenian translation, and a smaller number survive in a Latin translation. Exact date of writing and original plan of organization is not known for much of the text attributed to Philo.
Most of Philo's surviving work deals with the Torah (the first five books of the Bible). Within this corpus are three categories:
Philo's commentary on the Pentateuch is usually classified within three genres.
The Quaestiones explain the Pentateuch catechetically, in the form of questions and answers ("Zητήματα καὶ Λύσεις, Quæstiones et Solutiones"). Only the following fragments have been preserved: abundant passages in Armenian – possibly the full work – in explanation of Genesis and Exodus, an old Latin translation of a part of the "Genesis", and fragments from the Greek text in Eusebius, in the "Sacra Parallela", in the "Catena", and also in Ambrosius. The explanation is confined chiefly to determining the literal sense, although Philo frequently refers to the allegorical sense as the higher.
Νόμων Ἱερῶν Ἀλληγορίαι, or "Legum Allegoriæ", deals, so far as it has been preserved, with selected passages from Genesis. According to Philo's original idea, the history of primal man is here considered as a symbol of the religious and moral development of the human soul. This great commentary included the following treatises:
See also: Moses in rabbinic literature
Philo wrote a systematic work on Moses and his laws, which is usually prefaced by the treatise "De Opificio Mundi". The Creation is, according to Philo, the basis for the Mosaic legislation, which is in complete harmony with nature ("De Opificio Mundi", § 1 [i. 1]). The exposition of the Law then follows in two sections. First come the biographies of the men who antedated the several written laws of the Torah, as Enos, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. These were the Patriarchs, who were the living impersonations of the active law of virtue before there were any written laws.
Then the laws are discussed in detail: first the chief ten commandments (the Decalogue), and then the precepts in amplification of each law. The work is divided into the following treatises:
This exposition is more exoteric than allegorical and might have been intended for gentile audiences.
Philo is also credited with writing:
This is the second half of a work on the freedom of the just according to Stoic principles. The genuineness of this work has been disputed by Frankel (in "Monatsschrift", ii. 30 et seq., 61 et seq.), by Grätz ("Gesch." iii. 464 et seq.), and more recently by Ansfeld (1887), Hilgenfeld (in "Zeitschrift für Wissenschaftliche Theologie", 1888, pp. 49–71), and others. Now Wendland, Ohle, Schürer, Massebieau, and Krell consider it genuine, with the exception of the partly interpolated passages on the Essenes.
See also: Alexandrian riots (38)
In Legatio ad Gaium (Embassy to Gaius), Philo describes his diplomatic mission to Gaius Caligula, one of the few events in his life which is known specifically. He relates that he was carrying a petition describing the sufferings of the Alexandrian Jews and asking the emperor to secure their rights. Philo gives a description of their sufferings, more detailed than Josephus's, to characterize the Alexandrian Greeks as the aggressors in the civil strife that had left many Jews and Greeks dead.
In Against Flaccus, Philo describes the situation of the Jews in Egypt, writing that they numbered not less than a million and inhabited two of the five districts in Alexandria. He recounts the abuses of the prefect Aulus Avilius Flaccus, who he says retaliated against the Jews when they refused to worship Caligula as a god. Daniel Schwartz surmises that given this tense background it may have been politically convenient for Philo to favor abstract monotheism instead of overt pro-Judeanism.
Philo considers Caligula's plan to erect a statue of himself in the Second Temple to be a provocation, asking, "Are you making war upon us, because you anticipate that we will not endure such indignity, but that we will fight on behalf of our laws, and die in defence of our national customs? For you cannot possibly have been ignorant of what was likely to result from your attempt to introduce these innovations respecting our temple." In his entire presentation, he implicitly supports the Jewish commitment to rebel against the emperor rather than allow such sacrilege to take place.
This account, consisting originally of five books, has been preserved in fragments only (see Schürer, l.c. pp. 525 et seq.). Philo intended to show the fearful punishment meted out by God to the persecutors of the Jews (on Philo's predilection for similar discussions see Siegfried, "Philo von Alexandria", p. 157). Philo says he was regarded by his people as having unusual prudence, due to his age, education, and knowledge. This indicates that he was already an older man at this time (40 CE).
This work describes the mode of life and the religious festivals of a society of Jewish ascetics, who according to the author, are widely scattered over the earth, and are found especially in every nome in Egypt. The writer, however, confines himself to describing the Therapeutae, a colony of hermits settled on the Lake Mareotis in Egypt, where each lives separately in his own dwelling. Six days of the week they spend in pious contemplation, chiefly in connection with Scripture. On the seventh day both men and women assemble together in a hall; and the leader delivers a discourse consisting of an allegorical interpretation of a Scriptural passage. The feast of the fiftieth day is especially celebrated. The ceremony begins with a frugal meal consisting of bread, salted vegetables, and water, during which a passage of Scripture is interpreted. After the meal the members of the society in turn sing religious songs of various kinds, to which the assembly answers with a refrain. The ceremony ends with a choral representation of the triumphal festival that Moses and Miriam arranged after the passage through the Red Sea, the voices of the men and the women uniting in a choral symphony until the sun rises. After a common morning prayer each goes home to resume his contemplation. Such is the contemplative life (βίος θεωρητικός) led by these Θεραπευταί ("servants of Yhwh").
The ancient Church looked upon these Therapeutæ as disguised Christian monks. This view has found advocates even in very recent times; Lucius' opinion particularly, that the Christian monkdom of the third century was here glorified in a Jewish disguise, was widely accepted ("Die Therapeuten", 1879). But the ritual of the society, which was entirely at variance with Christianity, disproves this view. The chief ceremony especially, the choral representation of the passage through the Red Sea, has no special significance for Christianity; nor have there ever been in the Christian Church nocturnal festivals celebrated by men and women together.
Massebieau ("Revue de l'Histoire des Religions", 1887, xvi. 170 et seq., 284 et seq.), Conybeare ("Philo About the Contemplative Life", Oxford, 1895), and Wendland ("Die Therapeuten", etc., Leipsig, 1896) ascribe the entire work to Philo, basing their argument wholly on linguistic reasons, which seem sufficiently conclusive. But there are great dissimilarities between the fundamental conceptions of the author of the "De Vita Contemplativa" and those of Philo. The latter looks upon Greek culture and philosophy as allies, the former is hostile to Greek philosophy (see Siegfried in "Protestantische Kirchenzeitung", 1896, No.42). He repudiates a science that numbered among Its followers the sacred band of the Pythagoreans, inspired men like Parmenides, Empedocles, Zeno, Cleanthes, Heraclitus, and Plato, whom Philo prized ("Quod Omnis Probus", i., ii.; "Quis Rerum Divinarum Heres Sit", 43; "De Providentia", ii. 42, 48, etc.). He considers the symposium a detestable, common drinking-bout. This can not be explained as a Stoic diatribe; for in this case Philo would not have repeated it. And Philo would have been the last to interpret the Platonic Eros in the vulgar way in which it is explained in the "De Vita Contemplativa", 7 (ii. 480), as he repeatedly uses the myth of double man allegorically in his interpretation of Scripture ("De Opificio Mundi", 24; "De Allegoriis Legum", ii. 24). It must furthermore be remembered that Philo in none of his other works mentions these colonies of allegorizing ascetics, in which he would have been highly interested had he known of them. But pupils of Philo may subsequently have founded near Alexandria similar colonies that endeavored to realize his ideal of a pure life triumphing over the senses and passions; and they might also have been responsible for the one-sided development of certain of the master's principles. While Philo desired to renounce the lusts of this world, he held fast to the scientific culture of Hellenism, which the author of this book denounces. Although Philo liked to withdraw from the world in order to give himself up entirely to contemplation, and bitterly regretted the lack of such repose ("De Specialibus Legibus", 1 [ii. 299]), he did not abandon the work that was required of him by the welfare of his people.
See also: Pseudo-Philo
For a list of the lost works of Philo see Schürer, l.c. p. 534.
Although Philo was a Jewish Middle Platonist, his influence on both Platonism and Judaism was limited compared to his adapation by the early Christian Church fathers. His influence on Platonism was mostly restricted to Christian Middle Platonists such as Clement of Alexandria and Origen, even potential connections to Numenius of Apamea, a 2nd Century CE Middle Platonist who also wrote on Judaism and was influenced by Pythagoreanism, cannot be definitively proven.
Though never properly attributed, Philo's marriage of Jewish exegesis with Stoicism and Platonism provided a formula later picked up by other Midrash content from the 3rd and 4th centuries. Philo's ideas were further developed by later Judaism in the doctrines of the Divine Word creating the world, the divine throne-chariot and its cherub, the divine splendor and its shekinah, and the name of God as well as the names of the angels.
Some claimed this lack of credit or affinity for Philo by the Rabbinic leadership at the time was due to his adoption of allegorical instead of literal interpretations of the Hebrew Bible. However, this was more likely due to his criticism of Rabbinic scholars, as Philo argued their works and ideas were "full of Sybaritic profligacy and licentiousness to their everlasting shame", "eager to give a specious appearance to infamous actions, so as to secure notoriety for disgraceful deeds", and ultimately, that he "disregards the envious disposition of such men, and shall proceed to narrate the true events of Moses' life," of which he felt were unjustly hidden.
For a long time, Philo was read and analyzed mostly by Christian authors. Azariah dei Rossi's Me'or Enayim: Imre Binah (1575), one of the first Jewish commentaries on Philo, describes four "serious defects" of Philo: reading the Torah in Greek, not Hebrew; belief in primordial matter rather than creatio ex nihilo; unbelief in the Lord as evidenced by excessively allegorical interpretation of scripture; and neglect of the Jewish oral tradition. Dei Rossi later gives a possible defense of Philo and writes that he can neither absolve nor convict him.
Some 50 works by Philo have survived, and he is known to have written some 20 to 25 further works which have been lost. The following list gives conventional Latin and English titles and abbreviations commonly used in reference works.
|Latin title||English title||RGG||Kittel||Stud. Philonica|
|Apologia pro Judaeis||Hypothetica: Apology for the Jews||apol.||?||Hypoth.|
|De Abrahamo||On Abraham||Abr.||Abr||Abr.|
|De aeternitate mundi||On the Eternity of the World||aet.||Aet Mund||Aet.|
|De agricultura||On Husbandry||agr.||Agric||Agr.|
|De animalibus||On Animals||anim.||?||Anim.|
|De Cherubim||On the Cherubim||Cher.||Cher||Cher.|
|De confusione linguarum||On the Confusion of Tongues||conf.||Conf Ling||Conf.|
|De congressu eruditionis gratia||On Mating with the Preliminary Studies||congr.||Congr||Congr.|
|De decalogo||The Decalogue||decal.||Decal||Decal.|
|De ebrietate||On Drunkenness||ebr.||Ebr||Ebr.|
|De fuga et inventione||On Flight and Finding||?||Fug||Fug.|
|De gigantibus||On the Giants||gig.||Gig||Gig.|
|De Josepho||On Joseph||Jos.||Jos||Ios.|
|De migratione Abrahami||On the Migration of Abraham||migr.||Migr Abr||Migr.|
|De mutatione nominum||On the Change of Names||mut.||Mut Nom||Mut.|
|De opificio mundi||On the creation||opif.||Op Mund||Opif.|
|De plantatione||Concerning Noah's Work as a Planter||plant.||Plant||Plant.|
|De posteritate Caini||On the Posterity of Cain and His Exile||post.||Poster C||Post.|
|De praemiis et poenis||On Rewards and Punishments||praem.||Praem Poen||Praem.|
|De providentia||On Providence I II||prov.||?||Prov.|
|De sacrificiis Abelis et Caini||On the Birth of Abel||sacr.||Sacr AC||Sacr.|
|De sobrietate||On Sobriety||sobr.||Sobr||Sobr.|
|De somniis||On Dreams I-II||somn.||Som||Somn.|
|De specialibus legibus||The Special Laws I II III IV||spec.||Spec Leg||Spec.|
|De virtutibus||On the Virtues||virt.||Virt||Virt.|
|De vita contemplativa||On the Contemplative Life||cont.||Vit Cont||Contempl.|
|De vita Mosis||On the Life of Moses I II||Mos.||Vit Mos||Mos.|
|Legatio ad Gajum||On the Embassy to Gaius||legat.||Leg Gaj||Legat.|
|Legum allegoriae||Allegorical Interpretation I II III||LA||Leg All||Leg.|
|Quaestiones in Exodum||Questions and Answers on Exodus||QE||Quaest in Ex||QE|
|Quaestiones in Genesim||Questions and Answers on Genesis I II III||QG||Quaest in Gn||QG|
|Quis rerum divinarum heres sit||Who is the Heir of Divine Things||her.||Rer Div Her||Her.|
|Quod deterius potiori insidiari soleat||Worse is Wont to Attack Better||det.||Det Pot Ins||Det.|
|Quod Deus sit immutabilis||On the Unchangeableness of God||Deus||Deus Imm||Deus|
|Quod omnis probus liber sit||Every Good Man is Free||prob.||Omn Prob Lib||Prob.|
((cite book)): CS1 maint: others (link)
((cite book)): CS1 maint: others (link)
((cite book)): CS1 maint: others (link)
It is more than likely that Philo knew the postbiblical Wisdom literature, in particular the Wisdom of Solomon. and was influenced by it. The obvious identification of Logos and Wisdom in the Wisdom of Solomon is a case in point. Wisdom (Greek sophia) plays a prominent role in Philo as well and is yet another power among the divine powers that acts as an agent of creation. Whereas the Logos, as we have seen, is responsible for the intelligible world, Wisdom would seem to be responsible for the world perceived by the senses.
((cite book)): CS1 maint: others (link)