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Title: Philo-Judaeus of Alexandria
Author: Bentwich, Norman, 1883-1971
Language: English
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Sometime Scholar of Trinity College,



TO MY MOTHER [Greek: threptêria]


It is a melancholy reflection upon the history of the Jews that they
have failed to pay due honor to their two greatest philosophers.
Spinoza was rejected by his contemporaries from the congregation of
Israel; Philo-Judæus was neglected by the generations that followed
him. Maimonides, our third philosopher, was in danger of meeting the
same fate, and his philosophical work was for long viewed with
suspicion by a large part of the community. Philosophers, by the very
excellence of their thought, have in all races towered above the
comprehension of the people, and aroused the suspicion of the
religious teachers. Elsewhere, however, though rejected by the Church,
they have left their influence upon the nation, and taken a commanding
place in its history, because they have founded secular schools of
thought, which perpetuated their work. In Judaism, where religion and
nationality are inextricably combined, that could not be. The history
of Judaism since the extinction of political independence is the
history of a national religious culture; what was national in its
thought alone found favor; and unless a philosopher's work bore this
national religious stamp it dropped out of Jewish history.

Philo certainly had an intensely strong Jewish feeling, but his work
had also another aspect, which was seized upon and made use of by
those who wished to denationalize Judaism and convert it into a
philosophical monotheism. The favor which the Church Fathers showed to
his writings induced and was balanced by the neglect of the rabbis.

It was left till recently to non-Jews to study the works of Philo, to
present his philosophy, and estimate its value. So far from taking a
Jewish standpoint in their work, they emphasized the parts of his
teaching that are least Jewish; for they were writing as Christian
theologians or as historians of Greek philosophy. They searched him
primarily for traces of Christian, neo-Platonic, or Stoic doctrines,
and commiserated with him, or criticised him as a weak-kneed eclectic,
a half-blind groper for the true light.

Even during the last hundred years, which have marked a revival of the
historical consciousness of the Jews, as of all peoples, it has still
been left in the main to non-Jewish scholars to write of Philo in
relation to his time and his environment. The purpose of this little
book is frankly to give a presentation of Philo from the Jewish
standpoint. I hold that Philo is essentially and splendidly a Jew, and
that his thought is through and through Jewish. The surname given him
in the second century, "Judæus," not only distinguishes him from an
obscure Christian bishop, but it expresses the predominant
characteristic of his teaching. It may be objected that I have pointed
the moral and adorned the tale in accordance with preconceived
opinions, which--as Mr. Claude Montefiore says in his essay on
Philo--it is easy to do with so strange and curious a writer. I
confess that my worthy appeals to me most strongly as an exponent of
Judaism, and it may be that in this regard I have not always looked on
him as the calm, dispassionate student should; for I experience
towards him that warmth of feeling which his name, [Greek: philon],
"the beloved one," suggests. But I have tried so to write this
biography as neither to show partiality on the one side nor
impartiality on the other. If nevertheless I have exaggerated the
Jewishness of my worthy's thought, my excuse must be that my
predecessors have so often exaggerated other aspects of his teaching
that it was necessary to call a new picture into being, in order to
redress the balance of the old.

Although I have to some extent taken a line of my own in this Life, my
obligations to previous writers upon Philo are very great. I have used
freely the works of Drummond, Schürer, Massebieau, Zeller, Conybeare,
Cohn, and Wendland; and among those who have treated of Philo in
relation to Jewish tradition I have read and borrowed from Siegfried
(_Philon als Ausleger der heiligen Schrift_), Freudenthal
(_Hellenistische Studien_), Ritter (_Philo und die Halacha_), and Mr.
Claude Montefiore's _Florilegium Philonis_, which is printed in the
seventh volume of the Jewish Quarterly Review. Once for all Mr.
Montefiore has selected many of the most beautiful and most vital
passages of Philo, and much as I should have liked to unearth new
gems, as beautiful and as illuminating, I have often found myself
irresistibly attracted to Mr. Montefiore's passages. Dr. Neumark's
book, _Geschichte der jüdischen Philosophie des Mittelalters_,
appeared after my manuscript was set up, or I should have dealt with
his treatment of Philo. With what he says of the relation of Plato to
Judaism I am in great part in agreement, and I had independently come
to the conclusion that Plato was the main Greek influence on Philo's

To these various books I owe much, but not so much as to the teaching,
influence, and help of one whose name I have not the boldness to
associate with this little volume, but whose notes on my manuscript
have given it whatever value it may possess. The index I owe to the
kindly help of a sister, who would also be nameless. Lastly I have to
thank Dr. Lionel Barnett, professor of Sanscrit at University College,
London, and my father, who read my manuscript before it was sent to
the printers. The one gave me the benefit of his wide and accurate
scholarship, the other gave me much valuable advice and removed many a
blazing indiscretion.


_February 28, 1907._

















The three great world-conquerors known to history, Alexander, Julius
Cæsar, and Napoleon, recognized the pre-eminent value of the Jew as a
bond of empire, an intermediary between the heterogeneous nations
which they brought beneath their sway. Each in turn showed favor to
his religion, and accorded him political privileges. The petty tyrants
of all ages have persecuted Jews on the plea of securing uniformity
among their subjects; but the great conqueror-statesmen who have made
history, realizing that progress is brought about by unity in
difference, have recognized in Jewish individuality a force making for
progress. Whereas the pure Hellenes had put all the other peoples of
the world in the single category of barbarians, their Macedonian
conqueror forced upon them a broader view, and, regarding his empire
as a world-state, made Greeks and Orientals live together, and
prepared the way for a mingling of races and culture. Alexander the
Great became a notable figure in the Talmud and Midrashim, and many a
marvellous legend was told about his passing visit to Jerusalem during
his march to Egypt.[1] The high priest--whether it was Jaddua, Simon,
or Onias the records do not make clear--is said to have gone out to
meet him, and to have compelled the reverence and homage of the
monarch by the majesty of his presence and the lustre of his robes. Be
this as it may, it is certain that Alexander settled a considerable
number of Jews in the Greek colonies which he founded as centres of
cosmopolitan culture in his empire, and especially in the town by the
mouth of the Nile that received his own name, and was destined to
become within two centuries the second town in the world; second only
to Rome in population and power, equal to it in culture. By its
geographical position, the nature of its foundation, and the sources
of its population, and by the wonderful organization of its Museum, in
which the records of all nations were stored and studied, Alexandria
was fitted to become the meeting-place of civilizations.

There was already a considerable settlement of Jews in Egypt before
Alexander's transplantation in 332 B.C.E. Throughout Bible times the
connection between Israel and Egypt had been close. Isaiah speaks of
the day when five cities in the land of Egypt should speak the
language of Canaan and swear to the Lord of hosts (xix. 18); and when
Nebuchadnezzar led away the first captivity, many of the people had
fled from Palestine to the old "cradle of the nation." Jeremiah (xliv)
went down with them to prophesy against their idolatrous practices and
their backslidings; and Jewish and Christian writers in later times,
daring boldly against chronology, told how Plato, visiting Egypt, had
heard Jeremiah and learnt from him his lofty monotheism. Doubt was
thrown in the last century upon the continuance of the Diaspora in
Egypt between the time of Jeremiah and Alexander, but the recent
discovery of a Jewish temple at Elephantine and of Aramaic papyri at
Assouan dated in the fifth and fourth centuries B.C.E. has proved that
these doubts were not well founded, and that there was a
well-established community during the interval.

From the time of the post-exilic prophets Judaism developed in three
main streams, one flowing from Jerusalem, another from Babylon, the
third from Egypt. Alexandria soon took precedence of existing
settlements of Jews, and became a great centre of Jewish life. The
first Ptolemy, to whom at the dismemberment of Alexander's empire
Egypt had fallen,[2] continued to the Jewish settlers the privileges
of full citizenship which Alexander had granted them. He increased
also the number of Jewish inhabitants, for following his conquest of
Palestine (or Coele-Syria, as it was then called), he brought back to
his capital a large number of Jewish families and settled thirty
thousand Jewish soldiers in garrisons. For the next hundred years the
Palestinian and Egyptian Jews were under the same rule, and for the
most part the Ptolemies treated them well. They were easy-going and
tolerant, and while they encouraged the higher forms of Greek culture,
art, letters, and philosophy, both at their own court and through
their dominions, they made no attempt to impose on their subjects the
Greek religion and ceremonial. Under their tolerant sway the Jewish
community thrived, and became distinguished in the handicrafts as well
as in commerce. Two of the five sections into which Alexandria was
divided were almost exclusively occupied by them; these lay in the
north-east along the shore and near the royal palace--a favorable
situation for the large commercial enterprises in which they were
engaged. The Jews had full permission to carry on their religious
observances, and besides many smaller places of worship, each marked
by its surrounding plantation of trees, they built a great synagogue,
of which it is said in the Talmud, "He who has not seen it has not
seen the glory of Israel."[3] It was in the form of a basilica, with a
double row of columns, and so vast that an official standing upon a
platform had to wave his head-cloth or veil to inform the people at
the back of the edifice when to say "Amen" in response to the Reader.
The congregation was seated according to trade-guilds, as was also
customary during the Middle Ages; the goldsmiths, silversmiths,
coppersmiths, and weavers had their own places, for the Alexandrian
Jews seem to have partially adopted the Egyptian caste-system. The
Jews enjoyed a large amount of self-government, having their own
governor, the ethnarch, and in Roman times their own council
(Sanhedrin), which administered their own code of laws. Of the
ethnarch Strabo says that he was like an independent ruler, and it was
his function to secure the proper fulfilment of duties by the
community and compliance with their peculiar laws.[4] Thus the people
formed a sort of state within a state, preserving their national life
in the foreign environment. They possessed as much political
independence as the Palestinian community when under Roman rule; and
enjoyed all the advantages without any of the narrowing influences,
physical or intellectual, of a ghetto. They were able to remain an
independent body, and foster a Jewish spirit, a Jewish view of life, a
Jewish culture, while at the same time they assimilated the different
culture of the Greeks around them, and took their part in the general
social and political life.

At the end of the third and the beginning of the second century
Palestine was a shuttlecock tossed between the Ptolemies and the
Seleucids; but in the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes (_c._ 150 B.C.E.)
it finally passed out of the power of the Ptolemaic house, and from
this time the Palestinian Jews had a different political history from
the Egyptian. The compulsory Hellenization by Antiochus aroused the
best elements of the Jewish nation, which had seemed likely to lose by
a gradual assimilation its adherence to pure monotheism and the Mosaic
law. The struggle of foe as against the Hellenizing party of his own
people, which, led by the high priests Jason, Menelaus, and Alcimus,
tried to crush both the national and the religious spirit. The
Maccabæan rule brought not only a renaissance of national life and
national culture, but also a revival of the national religion. Before,
however, the deliverance of the Jews had been accomplished by the
noble band of brothers, many of the faithful Palestinian families had
fled for protection from the tyranny of Antiochus to the refuge of his
enemy Ptolemy Philometor. Among the fugitives were Onias and
Dositheus, who, according to Josephus,[5] became the trusted leaders
of the armies of the Egyptian monarch. Onias, moreover, was the
rightful successor to the high-priesthood, and despairing of obtaining
his dignity in Jerusalem, where the office had been given to the
worthless Hellenist Alcimus, he conceived the idea of setting up a
local centre of the Jewish religion in the country of his exile. He
persuaded Ptolemy to grant him a piece of territory upon which he
might build a temple for Jewish worship, assuring him that his action
would have the effect of securing forever the loyalty of his Jewish
subjects. Ptolemy "gave him a place one hundred and eighty furlongs
distant from Memphis, in the nomos of Heliopolis, where he built a
fortress and a temple, not like that at Jerusalem, but such as
resembled a tower."[6] Professor Flinders Petrie has recently
discovered remains at Tell-el-Yehoudiyeh, the "mound of the Jews,"
near the ancient Leontopolis, which tally with the description of
Josephus, and may be presumed to be the ruins of the temple.

It is difficult to arrive at an accurate idea of the nature and
importance of the Onias temple, because our chief authority,
Josephus,[7] gives two inconsistent accounts of it, and the Talmud
references[8] are equally involved. But certain negative facts are
clear. First, the temple did not become, even if it were designed to
be, a rival to the temple of Jerusalem: it did not diminish in any way
the tribute which the Egyptian Jews paid to the sacred centre of the
religion. They did not cease to send their tithes for the benefit of
the poor in Judæa, or their representatives to the great festivals,
and they dispatched messengers each year with contributions of gold
and silver, who, says Philo,[9] "travelled over almost impassable
roads, which they looked upon as easy, in that they led them to
piety." The Alexandrian-Jewish writers, without exception, are silent
about the work of Onias; Philo does not give a single hint of it, and
on the other hand speaks[10] several times of the great national
centre at Jerusalem as "the most beautiful and renowned temple which
is honored by the whole East and West." The Egyptian Jews, according
to Josephus, claimed that the prophecy of Isaiah had been
accomplished, "that there shall be an altar to the Lord in the midst
of the land of Egypt" (Is. xix. 19). But the altar, it has recently
been suggested,[11] was rather a "Bamah" (a high place) than a temple.
It served as a temporary sanctuary while the Jerusalem temple was
defiled, and afterwards it was a place where the priestly ritual was
carried out day by day, and offerings were brought by those who could
not make the pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Though the synagogue was the
main seat of religious life in the Diaspora, there was still a desire
for the sacrificial worship, and for a long time the rabbis looked
with favor upon the establishment of Onias. But when the tendency to
found a new ritual there showed itself, they denied its holiness.[12]
The religious importance of the temple, however, was never great, and
its chief interest is that it shows the survival of the affection for
the priestly service among the Hellenized community, and helps
therefore to disprove the myth that the Alexandrians allegorized away
the Levitical laws.

During the checkered history of Egypt in the first century B.C.E.,
when it was in turn the plaything of the corrupt Roman Senate, who
supported the claims of a series of feeble puppet-Ptolemies, the prize
of the warriors, who successively aspired to be masters of the world,
Julius Cæsar, Mark Antony, and Octavian, and finally a province of the
Roman Empire, the political and material prosperity of the Alexandrian
Jews remained for the most part undisturbed. Julius Cæsar and
Augustus, who everywhere showed special favor to their Jewish
subjects, confirmed the privileges of full citizenship and limited
self-government which the early Ptolemies had bestowed.[13] Josephus
records a letter of Augustus to the Jewish community at Cyrene, in
which he ordains: "Since the nation of the Jews hath been found
grateful to the Roman people, it seemed good to me and my counsellors
that the Jews have liberty to make use of their own customs, and that
their sacred money be not touched, but sent to Jerusalem, and that
they be not obliged to go before the judge on the Sabbath day nor on
the day of preparation for it after the ninth hour," _i.e._, after the
early evening.[14] This decree is typical of the emperor's attitude to
his Jewish subjects; and Egypt became more and more a favored home of
the race, so that the Jewish population in the land, from the Libyan
desert to the border of Ethiopia, was estimated in Philo's time at not
less than one million.[15]

The prosperity and privileges of the Jews, combined with their
peculiar customs and their religious separateness, did not fail at
Alexandria, as they have not failed in any country of the Diaspora, to
arouse the mixed envy and dislike of the rude populace, and give a
handle to the agitations of self-seeking demagogues. The third book of
the Maccabees tells of a Ptolemaic persecution during which Jewish
victims were turned into the arena at Alexandria, to be trodden down
by elephants made fierce with the blood of grapes, and of their
deliverance by Divine Providence. Some fiction is certainly mixed with
this recital, but it may well be that during the rule of the stupid
and cruel usurper Ptolemy Physcon (_c._ 120 B.C.E.) the protection of
the royal house was for political reasons removed for a time from the
Jews. Josephus[16] relates that the anniversary of the deliverance was
celebrated as a festival in Egypt. The popular feeling against the
peculiar people was of an abiding character, for it had abiding
causes, envy and dislike of a separate manner of life; and the
professional anti-Semite,[17] who had his forerunners before the reign
of the first Ptolemy, was able from time to time to fan popular
feelings into flame. In those days, when history and fiction were not
clearly distinguished, he was apt to hide his attacks under the guise
of history, and stir up odium by scurrilous and offensive accounts of
the ancient Hebrews. Hence anti-Jewish literature originated at

Manetho, an historian of the second century B.C.E., in his chronicles
of Egypt, introduced an anti-Jewish pamphlet with an original account
of the Exodus, which became the model for a school of scribes more
virulent and less distinguished than himself. The Battle of Histories
was taken up with spirit by the Jews, and it was round the history of
the Israelites in Egypt that the conflict chiefly raged. In reply to
the offensive picture of a Manetho and the diatribes of some
"starveling Greekling," there appeared the eulogistic picture of an
Aristeas, the improved Exodus of an Artapanus. Joseph and Moses
figured as the most brilliant of Egyptian statesmen, and the Ptolemies
as admirers of the Scriptures. The morality of this apologetic
literature, and more particularly of the literary forgeries which
formed part of it, has been impugned by certain German theologians.
But apart from the necessities of the case, it is not fair to apply to
an age in which Cicero declared that artistic lying was legitimate in
history, the standard of modern German accuracy. The fabrications of
Jewish apologists were in the spirit of the time.

The outward history of the Alexandrian community is far less
interesting and of far less importance than its intellectual progress.
When Alexander planted the colony of Jews in his greatest foundation,
he probably intended to facilitate the fusion of Eastern and Western
thought through their mediation. Such, at any rate, was the result of
his work. His marvellous exploits had put an end for a time to the
political strife between Asia and Europe, and had started the movement
between the two realms of culture, which was fated to produce the
greatest combination of ideas that the world has known. Now, at last,
the Hebrew, with his lofty conception of God, came into close contact
with the Greek, who had developed an equally noble conception of man.
Disraeli, in his usual sweeping manner, makes one of his characters in
"Lothair" tell how the Aryan and Semitic races, after centuries of
wandering upon opposite courses, met again and, represented by their
two choicest families, the Hellenes and the Hebrews, brought together
the treasures of their accumulated wisdom and secured the civilization
of man. Apart from the question of the original common source, of
which we are no longer sure, his rhetoric is broadly true; but for two
centuries the influence was nearly all upon one side. The Jew,
attracted by the brilliant art, literature, science, and philosophy of
the Hellene, speedily Hellenized, and as early as the third century
B.C.E. Clearchus, the pupil of Aristotle, tells of a Jew whom his
master met, who was "Greek not only in language but also in mind."[18]
The Greek, on the other hand, who had not yet comprehended the majesty
of his neighbor's monotheism, for lack of adequate presentation, did
not Hebraize. In Palestine the adoption of Greek ways and the
introduction of Greek ideas proceeded rapidly to the point of
demoralization, until the Maccabees stayed it. Unfortunately, the
Hellenism that was brought to Palestine was not the lofty culture, the
eager search for truth and knowledge, that marked Athens in the
classical age; it was a bastard product of Greek elegance and Oriental
luxury and sensuousness, a seeking after base pleasures, an assertion
of naturalistic polytheism. And hence came the strong reaction against
Greek ideas among the bulk of the people, which prevented any
permanent fusion of cultures in the land of Israel.

The Hellenism of Alexandria was a more genuine product. The liberal
policy of the early Ptolemies made their capital a centre of art,
literature, science, and philosophy. To their court were gathered the
chief poets, savants, and thinkers of their age. The Museum was the
most celebrated literary academy, and the Library the most noted
collection of books in the world. Dwelling in this atmosphere of
culture and research, the Hebrew mind rapidly expanded and began to
take its part as an active force in civilization. It acquired the love
of knowledge in a wider sense than it had recognized before, and
assimilated the teachings of Hellas in all their variety. Within a
hundred years of their settlement Hebrew or Aramaic had become to the
Jews a strange language, and they spoke and thought in Greek. Hence it
was necessary to have an authoritative Greek translation of the Holy
Scriptures, and the first great step in the Jewish-Hellenistic
development is marked by the Septuagint version of the Bible.

Fancy and legend attached themselves early to an event fraught with
such importance for the history of the race and mankind as the
translation of the Scriptures into the language of the cultured world.
From this overgrowth it is difficult to construct a true narrative;
still, the research of latter-day scholars has gone far to prove a
basis of truth in the statements made in the famous letter of the
pseudo-Aristeas, which professes to describe the origin of the work.
We may extract from his story that the Septuagint was written in the
reign of Ptolemy Philadelphus, about 250 B.C.E., with the approval, if
not at the express request, of the king, and with the help of rabbis
brought from Palestine to give authority to the work. But we need not
believe with later legend that each of the seventy translators was
locked up in a separate cell for seventy days till he had finished the
whole work, and that when they were let out they were all found to
have written exactly the same words. Philo gives us a version of the
event, romantic, indeed, but more rational, in his "Life of
Moses."[19] He tells how Ptolemy, having conceived a great admiration
for the laws of Moses, sent ambassadors to the high priest of Juddea,
requesting him to choose out a number of learned men that might
translate them into Greek. "These were duly chosen, and came to the
king's court, and were allotted the Isle of Pharos as the most
tranquil spot in the city for carrying out their work; by God's grace
they all found the exact Greek words to correspond to the Hebrew
words, so that they were not mere translators, but prophets to whom
it had been granted to follow in the divinity of their minds the
sublime spirit of Moses." "On which account," he adds, "even to this
day there is in every year celebrated a festival in the Island of
Pharos, to which not only Jews but many persons of other nations sail
across, reverencing the place in which the light of interpretation
first shone forth, and thanking God for His ancient gift to man, which
has eternal youth and freshness." It is significant that Philo makes
no mention in his books of the festival of Hanukah, while the Talmud
has no mention of this feast of Pharos; the Alexandrian Jews
celebrated the day when the Bible was brought within reach of the
Greek world, the Palestinians the day when the Greeks were driven out
of the temple. At the same time the celebrations in honor of the
Septuagint and of the deliverance from the Ptolemaic persecution[20]
are remarkable illustrations of a living Jewish tradition at
Alexandria, which attached a religious consecration to the special
history of the community.

It is not correct to say with Philo that the translator rendered each
word of the Hebrew with literal faithfulness, so as to give its proper
force. Rather may we accept the words of the Greek translator of Ben
Sira: "Things originally spoken in Hebrew have not the same force in
them when they are translated into another tongue, and not only these,
but the law itself (the Torah) and the prophecies and the rest of the
books have no small difference when they are spoken in their original

From the making of the translation one can trace the movement that
ended in Christianity. By reading their Scriptures in Greek, Jews
began to think them in Greek and according to Greek conceptions.
Certain commentators have seen in the Septuagint itself the infusion
of Greek philosophical ideas. Be this as it may, it is certain that
the version facilitated the introduction of Greek philosophy into the
interpretation of Scripture, and gave a new meaning to certain Hebraic
conceptions, by suggesting comparison with strange notions. This
aspect of the work led the rabbis of Palestine and Babylon in later
days, when the spread of Hellenized Judaism was fraught with misery to
the race, to regard it as an awful calamity, and to recount a tale of
a plague of darkness which fell upon Palestine for three days when it
was made;[22] and they observed a fast day in place of the old
Alexandrian feast on the anniversary of its completion. They felt as
the old Italian proverb has it, _Traduttori, traditori!_ ("Translators
are traitors!"). And the Midrash in the same spirit declares[23] that
the oral law was not written down, because God knew that otherwise it
would be translated into Greek, and He wished it to be the special
mystery of His people, as the Bible no longer was.

The Septuagint translation of the Bible was one answer to the lying
accounts of Israel's early history concocted by anti-Semitic writers.
As we have seen,[24] the Alexandrian Jews began early to write
histories and re-edit the Bible stories to the same purpose. And for
some time their writings were mainly apologetic, designed, whatever
their form, to serve a defensive purpose. But later they took the
offensive against the paganism and immorality of the peoples about
them, and the missionary spirit became predominant. Alexander
Polyhistor, who lived in the first century, included in his "History
of the Jews" fragments of these early Jewish historians and
apologists, which the Christian bishop Eusebius has handed down to us.
From them we can gather some notion of the strange medley of fact and
imagination which was composed to influence the Gentile world. Abraham
is said to have instructed the Egyptians in astrology; Joseph devised
a great system of agriculture; Moses was identified variously with the
legendary Greek seer Musaeus and the god Hermes. A favorite device for
rebutting the calumnies of detractors and attracting the outer world
to Jewish ideas, was the attachment to some ancient source of
panegyrics upon Judaism and monotheism. To the Greek philosopher
Heraclitus and the Greek historian Hecatæeus, who wrote a history of
the world, passages which glorify the Hebrew people and the Hebrew God
were ascribed. Still more daring was the conversion into archaic
hexameter verse of the stories of Genesis and Exodus, and of Messianic
prophecies in the guise of Sibylline oracles. The Sibyl, whom the
superstitions of the time revered as an inspired seeress of
prehistoric ages, was made to recite the building of the tower of
Babel, or the virtues of Abraham, and again to prophesy the day when
the heathen nations should be wiped out, and the God of Israel be the
God of all the world. Although the fabrication of oracles is not
entirely defensible, it is unnecessary to see, with Schürer, in these
writings a low moral standard among the Egyptian Jews. They were not
meant to suggest, to the cultured at any rate, that the Sibyl in one
case or Heraclitus in another had really written the words ascribed to
them. The so-called forgery was a literary device of a like nature
with the dialogues of Plato or the political fantasies of More and
Swift. By the striking nature of their utterances the writers hoped to
catch the ear of the Gentile world for the saving doctrine which they
taught. The form is Greek, but the spirit is Hebraic; in the third
Sibylline oracle, particularly, the call to monotheism and the
denunciation of idolatry, with the pictures of the Divine reward for
the righteous, and of the Divine judgment for the ungodly, remind us
of the prophecies of Isaiah and Jeremiah; as when the poet says,[25]
"Witless mortals, who cling to an image that ye have fashioned to be
your god, why do ye vainly go astray, and march along a path which is
not straight? Why remember ye not the eternal founder of All? One only
God there is who ruleth alone." And again: "The children of Israel
shall mark out the path of life to all mortals, for they are the
interpreters of God, exalted by Him, and bearing a great joy to all
mankind."[26] The consciousness of the Jewish mission is the dominant
note. Masters now of Greek culture, the Jews believed that they had a
philosophy of their own, which it was their privilege to teach to the
Greeks; their conception of God and the government of the world was
truer than any other; their conception of man's duty more righteous;
even their conception of the state more ideal.

The apocryphal book, the Wisdom of Solomon, which was probably written
at Alexandria during the first century B.C.E., is marked by the same
spirit. There again we meet with the glorification of the one true God
of Israel, and the denunciation of pagan idolatry; and while the
author writes in Greek and shows the influence of Greek ideas, he
makes the Psalms and the Proverbs his models of literary form. "Love
righteousness," he begins, "ye that be judges of the earth; think ye
of the Lord with a good mind and in singleness of heart seek ye Him."
His appeal for godliness is addressed to the Gentile world in a
language which they understood, but in a spirit to which most of them
were strangers. The early history of the Israelites in Egypt comes
home to him with especial force, for he sees it "in the light of
eternity," a striking moral lesson for the godless Egyptian world
around him in which the house of Jacob dwelt again. With poetical
imagination he tells anew the story of the ten plagues as though he
had lived through them, and seen with his own eyes the punishment of
the idolatrous land. He ends with a pæan to the God who had saved His
people. "For in all things Thou didst magnify them, and Thou didst
glorify them, and not lightly regard them, standing by their side in
every time and place."

At this epoch, and at Alexandria especially, Judaism was no
self-centred, exclusive faith afraid of expansion. The mission of
Israel was a very real thing, and conversion was widespread in Rome,
in Egypt, and all along the Mediterranean countries. The Jews, says
the letter of Aristeas, "eagerly seek intercourse with other nations,
and they pay special care to this, and emulate each other therein."
And one of the most reliable pagan writers says of them, "They have
penetrated into every state, and it is hard to find a place where they
have not become powerful."[27] Nor was it merely material power which
they acquired. The days had come which the prophet Amos (viii. 11) had
predicted, when "God will send a famine in the land, not a famine of
bread, nor a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of
the Lord." The Greek world had lost faith in the poetical gods of its
mythology and in the metaphysical powers of its philosophical schools,
and was searching for a more real object to revere and lean on. The
people were thirsting for the living God. And in place of the gods of
nature, whom they had found unsatisfying, or the impersonal
world-force, with which they sought in vain to come into harmony, the
Jews offered them the God of history, who had preserved their race
through the ages, and revealed to them the law of Moses.

The missionary purpose was largely responsible for the rise of a
philosophical school of Bible commentators. The Hellenistic world was
thoroughly sophisticated, and Alexandria was distinguished above all
towns as the home of philosophical lectures and book-making. One of
Philo's contemporaries is said to have written over one thousand
treatises, and in one of his rare touches of satire Philo relates[28]
how bands of sophists talked to eager crowds of men and women day and
night about virtue being the only good, and the blessedness of life
according to nature, all without producing the slightest effect, save
noise. The Jews also studied philosophy, and began to talk in the
catchwords of philosophy, and then to re-interpret their Scriptures
according to the ideas of philosophy. The Septuagint translation of
the Pentateuch was to the cultured Gentile an account in rather bald
and impure Greek of the history of a family which grew into a petty
nation, and of their tribal and national laws. The prophets, it is
true, set forth teachings which were more obviously of general moral
import; but the books of the prophets were not God's special
revelation to the Jews, but rather individual utterances and
exhortations: and their teaching was treated as subordinate to the
Divine revelation in the Five Books of Moses. Those, then, who aimed
at the spread of Jewish monotheism were impelled to draw out a
philosophical meaning, a universal value from the Books of Moses.
Nowadays the Bible is the holy book of so much of the civilized world
that it is somewhat difficult for us to form a proper conception of
what it was to the civilized world before the Christian era. We have
to imagine a state of culture in which it was only the Book of books
to one small nation, while to others it was at best a curious record
of ancient times, just as the Code of Hammurabi or the Egyptian Book
of Life is to us. The Alexandrian Jews were the first to popularize
its teachings, to bring Jewish religion into line with the thought of
the Greek world. It was to this end that they founded a particular
form of Midrash--the allegorical interpretation, which is largely a
distinctive product of the Alexandrian age. The Palestinian rabbis of
the time were on the one hand developing by dialectic discussion the
oral tradition into a vast system of religious ritual and legal
jurisprudence; on the other, weaving around the law, by way of
adornment to it, a variegated fabric of philosophy, fable, allegory,
and legend. Simultaneously the Alexandrian preachers--they were never
quite the same as the rabbis--were emphasizing for the outer world as
well as their own people the spiritual side of the religion,
elaborating a theology that should satisfy the reason, and seeking to
establish the harmony of Greek philosophy with Jewish monotheism and
the Mosaic legislation. Allegorical interpretation is "based upon the
supposition or fiction that the author who is interpreted intended
something 'other' [Greek: allo] than what is expressed"; it is the
method used to read thought into a text which its words do not
literally bear, by attaching to each phrase some deeper, usually some
philosophical meaning. It enables the interpreter to bring writings of
antiquity into touch with the culture of his or any age; "the gates of
allegory are never closed, and they open upon a path which stretches
without a break through the centuries." In the region of jurisprudence
there is an institution with a similar purpose, which is known as
"legal fiction," whereby old laws by subtle interpretation are made to
serve new conditions and new needs. Allegorical interpretation must be
carefully distinguished from the writing of allegory, of which
Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress" is the best-known type. One is the
converse of the other; for in allegories moral ideas are represented
as persons and moral lessons enforced by what purports to be a story
of life. In allegorical interpretation persons are transformed into
ideas and their history into a system of philosophy. The Greek
philosophers had applied this method to Homer since the fourth century
B.C.E., in order to read into the epic poet, whose work they regarded
almost as a Divine revelation, their reflective theories of the
universe. And doubtless the Jewish philosophers were influenced by
their example.

Their allegorical treatment of the Bible was intended, not merely to
adapt it to the Greek world, but to strengthen its hold on the
Alexandrian Jews themselves. These, as they acquired Hellenic culture,
found that the Bible in its literal sense did not altogether satisfy
their conceptions. They detected in it a certain primitiveness, and
having eaten further of the tree of knowledge, they were aware of its
philosophical nakedness. It was full of anthropomorphism, and it
seemed wanting in that which the Greek world admired above all
things--a systematic theology and systematic ethics. The idea that the
words of the Bible contained some hidden meanings goes back to the
earliest Jewish tradition and is one of the bases of the oral law; but
the special characteristic of the Alexandrian exegesis is that it
searched out theories of God and life like those which the Greek
philosophers had developed. The device was necessary to secure the
allegiance of the people to the Torah. And from the need of expounding
the Bible in this way to the Jewish public at Alexandria, there arose
a new form of religious literature, the sermon, and a new form of
commentary, the homiletical. The words "homiletical" and "homily"
suggest what they originally connoted; they are derived from the Greek
word [Greek: homilia], "an assembly," and a homily was a discourse
delivered to an assembly. The Meturgeman of Palestine and Babylon, who
expounded the Hebrew text in Aramaic, became the preacher of
Alexandria, who gave, in Greek, of course, homiletical expositions of
the law. In the great synagogue each Sabbath some leader in the
community would give a harangue to the assembly, starting from a
Biblical text and deducing from it or weaving into it the ideas of
Hellenic wisdom, touched by Jewish influence; for the synagogues at
Alexandria as elsewhere were the schools (_Schule_) as much as the
houses of prayer; schools, as Philo says, of "temperance, bravery,
prudence, justice, piety, holiness, and in short of all virtues by
which things human and Divine are well ordered."[29] He speaks
repeatedly of the Sabbath gatherings, when the Jews would become, as
he puts it, a community of philosophers,[30] as they listened to the
exegesis of the preacher, who by allegorical and homiletical fancies
would make a verse or chapter of the Torah live again with a new
meaning to his audience. The Alexandrian Jews, though the form of
their writing was influenced by the Greeks, probably brought with them
from Palestine primitive traces of allegorism. Allegory and its
counterpart, allegorical interpretation, are deeply imbedded in the
Oriental mind, and we hear of ancient schools of symbolists in the
oldest portions of the Talmud.[31] At what period the Alexandrians
began to use allegorical interpretation for the purpose of harmonizing
Greek ideas with the Bible we do not know, but the first writer in
this style of whom we have record (though scholars consider that his
fragments are of doubtful authenticity) is Aristobulus. He is said to
have been the tutor of Ptolemy Philometor, and he must have written at
the beginning of the first century B.C.E. He dedicated to the king his
"Exegesis of the Mosaic Law," which was an attempt to reveal the
teachings of the Peripatetic system, _i.e._, the philosophy of
Aristotle, within the text of the Pentateuch. All anthropomorphic
expressions are explained away allegorically, and God's activity in
the material universe is ascribed to his [Greek: Dunamis] or power,
which pervades all creation. Whether the power is independent and
treated as a separate person is not clear from the fragments that
Eusebius[32] has preserved for us. Aristobulus was only one link in a
continuous chain, though his is the only name among Philo's
predecessors that has come down to us. Philo speaks, fifteen times in
all, of explanations of allegorists who read into the Bible this or
that system of thought[33] regarding the words of the law as "manifest
symbols of things invisible and hints of things inexpressible." And if
their work were before us, it is likely that Philo would appear as the
central figure of an Alexandrian Midrash gathered from many sources,
instead of the sole authority for a vast development of the Torah. We
must not regard him as a single philosophical genius who suddenly
springs up, but as the culmination of a long development, the supreme
master of an old tradition.

If the allegorical method appears now as artificial and frigid, it
must be remembered that it was one which recommended itself strongly
to the age. The great creative era of the Greek mind had passed away
with the absorption of the city-state in Alexander's empire. Then
followed the age of criticism, during which the works of the great
masters were interpreted, annotated, and compared. Next, as creative
thought became rarer, and confidence in human reason began to be
shaken, men fell back more and more for their ideas and opinions upon
some authority of the distant past, whom they regarded as an inspired
teacher. The sayings of Homer and Pythagoras were considered as
divinely revealed truths; and when treated allegorically, they were
shown to contain the philosophical tenets of the Platonic, the
Aristotelian, or the Stoic school. Thus, in the first century B.C.E.,
the Greek mind, which had earlier been devoted to the free search for
knowledge and truth, was approaching the Hebraic standpoint, which
considered that the highest truth had once for all been revealed to
mankind in inspired writings, and that the duty of later generations
was to interpret this revealed doctrine rather than search
independently for knowledge. On the other hand, the Jewish
interpreters were trying to reach the Greek standpoint when they set
themselves to show that the writers of the Bible had anticipated the
philosophers of Hellas with systems of theology, psychology, ethics,
and cosmology. Allegorism, it may be said, is the instrument by which
Greek and Hebrew thought were brought together. Its development was in
its essence a sign of intellectual vigor and religious activity; but
in the time of Philo it threatened to have one evil consequence, which
did in the end undermine the religion of the Alexandrian community.
Some who allegorized the Torah were not content with discovering a
deeper meaning beneath the law, but went on to disregard the literal
sense, _i.e._, they allegorized away the law, and held in contempt the
symbolic observance to which they had attached a spiritual meaning. On
the other hand, there was a party which adhered strictly to the
literal sense ([Greek: to hrêton]) and rejected allegorism.[34] Philo
protested against these extremes and was the leader of those who were
liberal in thought and conservative in practice, and who venerated the
law both for its literal and for its allegorical sense. To effect the
true harmony between the literal and the allegorical sense of the
Torah, between the spiritual and the legal sides of Judaism, between
Greek philosophy and revealed religion--that was the great work of

Though the religious and intellectual development of the Alexandrian
community proceeded on different lines from that of the main body of
the nation in Palestine, yet the connection between the two was
maintained closely for centuries. The colony, as we have noticed,
recognized whole-heartedly the spiritual headship of Jerusalem, and at
the great festivals of the year a deputation went from Alexandria to
the holy sanctuary, bearing offerings from the whole community. In
Jerusalem, on the other hand, special synagogues, where Greek was the
language,[35] were built for Alexandrian visitors. Alexandrian
artisans and craftsmen took part in the building of Herod's temple,
but were found inferior to native workmen.[36] The notices within the
building were written in Greek as well as in Aramaic, and the golden
gates to the inner court were, we are told by Josephus,[37] the gift
of Philo's brother, the head of the Alexandrian community. Some
fragments have come down to us of a poem about Jerusalem in Greek
verse by a certain Philo, who lived in the first century B.C.E., and
was perhaps an ancestor of our worthy. He glorifies the Holy City,
extols its fertility, and speaks of its ever-flowing waters beneath
the earth. His greater namesake says that wherever the Jews live they
consider Jerusalem as their metropolis. The Talmud again tells how
Judah Ben Tabbai and Joshua Ben Perahya, during the persecution of the
Pharisees by Hyreanus, fled to Alexandria, and how later Joshua Ben
Hanania[38] sojourned there and gave answers to twelve questions which
the Jews propounded to him, three of them dealing with "the Wisdom."
The Talmud has frequent reference to Alexandrian Jews, and that it
makes little direct mention of the Alexandrian exegesis is explained
by the distrust of the whole Hellenistic movement, which the rise of
Christianity and the growth of Gnosticism induced in the rabbis of the
second and third centuries. They lived at a time when it had been
proved that that movement led away from Judaism, and its main tenets
had been adopted or perverted by an antagonistic creed. It was a
tragic necessity which compelled the severance between the Eastern and
Western developments of the religion. In Philo's day the breach was
already threatened, through the anti-legal tendencies of the extreme
allegorists. His own aim was to maintain the catholic tradition of
Judaism, while at the same time expounding the Torah according to the
conceptions of ancient philosophy. Unfortunately, the balance was not
preserved by those who followed him, and the branch of Judaism that
had blossomed forth so fruitfully fell off from the parent tree. But
till the middle of the first century of the common era the Alexandrian
and the Palestinian developments of Jewish culture were complementary:
on the one side there was legal, on the other, philosophical
expansion. Moreover, the Judæo-Alexandrian school, though, through its
abandonment of the Hebrew tongue, it lies outside the main stream of
Judaism, was an immense force in the religious history of the world,
and Philo, its greatest figure, stands out in our annals as the
embodiment of the Jewish religious mission, which is to preach to the
nations the knowledge of the one God, and the law of righteousness.

       *       *       *       *       *



"The hero," says Carlyle, "can be poet, prophet, king, priest, or what
you will, according to the kind of world he finds himself born
into."[39] The Jews have not been a great political people, but their
excellence has been a peculiar spiritual development: and therefore
most of their heroes have been men of thought rather than action,
writers rather than statesmen, men whose influence has been greater on
posterity than upon their own generation. Of Philo's life we know one
incident in very full detail, the rest we can only reconstruct from
stray hints in his writings, and a few short notices of the
commentators. From that incident also, which we know to have taken
place in the year 40 C.E., we can fix the general chronology of his
life and works. He speaks of himself as an old man in relating it, so
that his birth may be safely placed at about 20 B.C.E. The first part
of his life therefore was passed during the tranquil era in which
Augustus and Tiberius were reorganizing the Roman Empire after a
half-century of war; but he was fated to see more troublesome times
for his people, when the emperor Gaius, for a miserable eight years,
harassed the world with his mad escapades. In the riots which ensued
upon the attempt to deprive the Jews of their religious freedom his
brother the alabarch was imprisoned;[40] and he himself was called
upon to champion the Alexandrian community in its hour of need.
Although the ascent of the stupid but honest Claudius dispelled
immediate danger from the Jews and brought them a temporary increase
of favor in Alexandria as well as in Palestine, Philo did not return
entirely to the contemplative life which he loved; and throughout the
latter portion of his life he was the public defender as well as the
teacher of his people. He probably died before the reign of Nero,
between 50 and 60 C.E. In Jewish history his life covered the reigns
of King Herod, his sons, and King Agrippa, when the Jewish kingdom
reached its height of outward magnificence; and it extended probably
up to the ill-omened conversion of Judæa into a Roman province under
the rule of a procurator. It is noteworthy also that Philo was partly
contemporary with Hillel, who came from Babylon to Jerusalem in 30
B.C.E., and according to the accepted tradition was president of the
Sanhedrin till his death in 10 C.E. In this epoch Judaism, by contact
with external forces, was thoroughly self-conscious, and the world was
most receptive of its teaching; hence it spread itself far and wide,
and at the same time reached its greatest spiritual intensity. Hillel
and Philo show the splendid expansion of the Hebrew mind. In the
history of most races national greatness and national genius appear
together. The two grandest expressions of Jewish genius immediately
preceded the national downfall. For the genius of Judaism is
religious, and temporal power is not one of the conditions of its

Philo belonged to the most distinguished Jewish family of
Alexandria,[41] and according to Jerome and Photius, the ancient
authorities for his life, was of the priestly rank; his brother
Alexander Lysimachus was not only the governor of the Jewish
community, but also the alabarch, _i.e._, ruler of the whole Delta
region, and enjoyed the confidence of Mark Antony, who appointed him
guardian of his second daughter Antonia, the mother of Germanicus and
the Roman emperor Claudius. Born in an atmosphere of power and
affluence, Philo, who might have consorted with princes, devoted
himself from the first with all his soul to a life of contemplation;
like a Palestinian rabbi he regarded as man's highest duty the study
of the law and the knowledge of God.[42] This is the way in which he
understood the philosopher's life[43]: man's true function is to know
God, and to make God known: he can know God only through His
revelation, and he can comprehend that revelation only by continued
study. [Hebrew: v-nbi' lbb hkma], God's interpreter must have a wise
heart,[44] as the rabbis explained. Philo then considered that the true
understanding of the law required a complete knowledge of general culture,
and that secular philosophy was a necessary preparation for the deeper
mysteries of the Holy Word. "He who is practicing to abide in the city
of perfect virtue, before he can be inscribed as a citizen thereof,
must sojourn with the 'encyclic' sciences, so that through them he may
advance securely to perfect goodness."[45] The "encyclic," or
encyclopædic sciences, to which he refers, are the various branches of
Greek culture, and Philo finds a symbol of their place in life in the
story of Abraham. Abraham is the eternal type of the seeker after God,
and as he first consorted with the foreign woman Hagar and had
offspring by her, and afterwards in his mature age had offspring by
Sarah, so in Philo's interpretation the true philosopher must first
apply himself to outside culture and enlarge his mind with that
training; and when his ideas have thus expanded, he passes on to the
more sublime philosophy of the Divine law, and his mind is fruitful in
lofty thoughts.[46]

As a prelude to the study of Greek philosophy he built up a harmony of
the mind by a study of Greek poetry, rhetoric, music, mathematics, and
the natural sciences. His works bear witness to the thoroughness with
which he imbibed all that was best in Greek literature. His Jewish
predecessors had written in the impure dialect of the Hellenistic
colonies (the [Greek: koinê dialektos]), and had shown little
literary charm; but Philo's style is more graceful than that of any
Greek prose writer since the golden age of the fourth century. Like
his thought, indeed, it is eclectic and not always clear, but full of
reminiscences of the epic and tragic poets on the one hand, and of
Plato on the other,[47] it gives a happy blending of prose and poetry,
which admirably fits the devotional philosophy that forms its subject.
And what was said of Plato by a Greek critic applies equally well to
Philo: "He rises at times above the spirit of prose in such a way that
he appears to be instinct, not with human understanding, but with a
Divine oracle." From the study of literature and kindred subjects
Philo passed on to philosophy, and he made himself master of the
teachings of all the chief schools. There was a mingling of all the
world's wisdom at Alexandria in his day; and Philo, like the other
philosophers of the time, shows acquaintance with the ideas of
Egyptian, Chaldean, Persian,[48] and even Indian thought. The chief
Greek schools in his age were the Stoic, the Platonic, the Skeptic and
the Pythagorean, which had each its professors in the Museum and its
popular preachers in the public lecture-halls. Later we will notice
more closely Philo's relations to the Greek philosophers: suffice it
here to say that he was the most distinguished Platonist of his age.

Philo's education therefore was largely Greek, and his method of
thought, and the forms in which his ideas were associated and
impressed, were Greek. It must not be thought, however, that this
involved any weakening of his Judaism, or detracted from the purity of
his belief. Far from it. The Torah remained for him the supreme
standard to which all outside knowledge had to be subordinated, and
for which it was a preparation.[49] But Philo brought to bear upon the
elucidation of the Torah and Jewish law and ceremony not only the
religious conceptions of the Jewish mind, but also the intellectual
ideas of Greek philosophy, and he interpreted the Bible in the light
of the broadest culture of his day. Beautiful as are the thoughts and
fancies of the Talmudic rabbis, their Midrash was a purely national
monument, closed by its form as by its language to the general world;
Philo applied to the exposition of Judaism the most highly-trained
philosophic mind of Alexandria, and brought out clearly for the
Hellenistic people the latent philosophy of the Torah.

Greek was his native language, but at the same time he was not, as has
been suggested, entirely ignorant of Hebrew. The Septuagint
translation was the version of the Bible which he habitually used, but
there are passages in his works which show that he knew and
occasionally employed the Hebrew Bible.[50] Moreover, his etymologies
are evidence of his knowledge of the Hebrew language; though he
sometimes gives a symbolic value to Biblical names according to their
Greek equivalent, he more frequently bases his allegory upon a Hebrew
derivation. That all names had a profound meaning, and signified the
true nature of that which they designated, is among the most firmly
established of Philo's ideas. Of his more striking derivations one may
cite Israel, [Hebrew: v-shr-'l], the man who beholdeth God; Jerusalem,
[Hebrew: yrv-shlom], the sight of peace; Hebrew, [Hebrew: 'bri], one who
has passed over from the life of the passions to virtue; Isaac, [Hebrew:
ytshk], the joy or laughter of the soul. These etymologies are more
ingenious than convincing, and are not entirely true to Hebrew philology,
but neither were those of the early rabbis; and they at least show that
Philo had acquired a superficial knowledge of the language of Scripture.
Nor can it be doubted that he was acquainted with the Palestinian Midrash,
both Halakic and Haggadic. At the beginning of the "Life of Moses" he
declares that he has based it upon "many traditions which I have
received from the elders of my nation,"[51] and in several places he
speaks of the "ancestral philosophy," which must mean the Midrash
which embodied tradition. Eusebius also, the early Christian
authority, bears witness to his knowledge of the traditional
interpretations of the law.[52]

It is fairly certain, moreover, that Philo sojourned some time in
Jerusalem. He was there probably during the reign of Agrippa (_c._ 30
C.E.), who was an intimate friend of his family, and had found a
refuge at Alexandria when an exile from Palestine and Rome. In the
first book on the Mosaic laws[53] Philo speaks with enthusiasm of the
great temple, to which "vast assemblies of men from a countless
variety of cities, some by land, some by sea, from East, West, North,
and South, come at every festival as if to some common refuge and
harbor from the troubles of this harassed and anxious life, seeking to
find there tranquillity and gain a new hope in life by its joyous
festivities." These gatherings, at which, according to Josephus,[54]
over two million people assembled, must, indeed, have been a striking
symbol of the unity of the Jewish race, which was at once national and
international; magnificent embassies from Babylon and Persia, from
Egypt and Cyrene, from Rome and Greece, even from distant Spain and
Gaul, went in procession together through the gate of Xistus up the
temple-mount, which was crowned by the golden sanctuary, shining in
the full Eastern sun like a sea of light above the town. Philo
describes in detail the form of the edifice that moved the admiration
of all who beheld it, and for the Jew, moreover, was invested with the
most cherished associations. Its outer courts consisted of double
porticoes of marble columns burnished with gold, then came the inner
courts of simple columns, and "within these stood the temple itself,
beautiful beyond all possible description, as one may tell even from
what is seen in the outer court; for the innermost sanctuary is
invisible to every being except the high priest." The majesty of the
ceremonial within equalled the splendor without. The high priest, in
the words of Ben Sira (xlv), "beautified with comely ornament and
girded about with a robe of glory," seemed a high priest fit for the
whole world. Upon his head the mitre with a crown of gold engraved
with holiness, upon his breast the mystic Urim and Thummim and the
ephod with its twelve brilliant jewels, upon his tunic golden
pomegranates and silver bells, which for the mystic ear pealed the
harmony of the world as he moved. Little wonder that, inspired by the
striking gathering and the solemn ritual, Philo regarded the temple as
the shrine of the universe,[55] and thought the day was near when all
nations should go up there together, to do worship to the One God.

Sparse as are the direct proofs of Philo's connection with Palestinian
Judaism, his account of the temple and its service, apart from the
general standpoint of his writings, proves to us that he was a loyal
son of his nation, and loved Judaism for its national institutions as
well as its great moral sublimity. His aspiration was to bring home
the truths of the religion to the cultured world, and therefore he
devised a new expression for the wisdom of his people, and transformed
it into a literary system. Judaism forms the kernel, but Greek
philosophy and literature the shell, of his work; for the audience to
which he appealed, whether Jewish or Gentile, thought in Greek, and
would be moved only by ideas presented in Greek form, and by Greek
models he himself was inspired.

Philo's first ideal of life was to attain to the profoundest knowledge
of God so as to be fitted for the mission of interpreting His Word:
and he relates in one of his treatises how he spent his youth and his
first manhood in philosophy and the contemplation of the universe.[56]
"I feasted with the truly blessed mind, which is the object of all
desire (_i.e._, God), communing continually in joy with the Divine
words and doctrines. I entertained no low or mean thought, nor did I
ever crawl about glory or wealth or worldly comfort, but I seemed to
be carried aloft in a kind of spiritual inspiration and to be borne
along in harmony with the whole universe." The intense religious
spirit which seeks to perceive all things in a supreme unity Philo
shares with Spinoza, whose life-ideal was the intuitional knowledge of
the universe and "the intellectual love of God." Both men show the
pursuit of righteousness raised to philosophical grandeur.

In his early days the way to virtue and happiness appeared to Philo to
lie in the solitary and ascetic life. He was possessed by a noble
pessimism, that the world was an evil place,[57] and the worldly life
an evil thing for a man's soul, that man must die to live, and
renounce the pleasures not only of the body but also of society in
order to know God. The idea was a common one of the age, and was the
outcome of the mingling of Greek ethics and psychology and the Jewish
love of righteousness. For the Greek thinkers taught a psychological
dualism, by which the body and the senses were treated as antagonistic
to the higher intellectual soul, which was immortal, and linked man
with the principle of creation. The most remarkable and enduring
effect of Hellenic influence in Palestine was the rise of the sect of
Essenes,[58] Jewish mystics, who eschewed private property and the
general social life, and forming themselves into communistic
congregations which were a sort of social Utopia, devoted their lives
to the cult of piety and saintliness. It cannot be doubted that their
manner of life was to some degree an imitation of the Pythagorean
brotherhoods, which ever since the sixth century had spread a sort of
monasticism through the Greek world. Nor is it unlikely that Hindu
teachings exercised an influence over them, for Buddhism was at this
age, like Judaism, a missionizing religion, and had teachers in the
West. Philo speaks in several places of its doctrines.[59] Whatever
its moulding influences, Essenism represented the spirit of the age,
and it spread far and wide. At Alexandria, above all places, where the
life of luxury and dissoluteness repelled the serious, ascetic ideas
took firm hold of the people, and the Therapeutic life, _i.e._, the
life of prayer and labor devoted to God, which corresponded to the
system of the Essenes, had numerous votaries. The first century
witnessed the extremes of the religious and irreligious sentiments.
The world was weary and jaded; it had lost confidence in human reason
and faith in social ideals, and while the materialists abandoned
themselves to hideous orgies and sensual debaucheries, the
higher-minded went to the opposite excess and sought by flight from
the world and mortification of the flesh to attain to supernatural
states of ecstasy. A book has come down to us under the name of
Philo[60] which describes "the contemplative life" of a Jewish
brotherhood that lived apart on the shores of Lake Mareotis by the
mouth of the Nile. Men and women lived in the settlement, though all
intercourse between the sexes was rigidly avoided. During six days of
the week they met in prayer, morning and evening, and in the interval
devoted themselves in solitude to the practice of virtue and the study
of the holy allegories, and the composition of hymns and psalms. On
the Sabbath they sat in common assembly, but with the women separated
from the men, and listened to the allegorical homily of an elder; they
paid special honor to the Feast of Pentecost, reverencing the mystical
attributes of the number fifty, and they celebrated a religious
banquet thereon. During the rest of the year they only partook of the
sustenance necessary for life, and thus in their daily conduct
realized the way which the rabbis set out as becoming for the study of
the Torah: "A morsel of bread with salt thou must eat, and water by
measure thou must drink; thou must sleep upon the ground and live a
life of hardship, the while thou toilest in the Torah."[61]

We do not know whether Philo attached himself to one of these
brotherhoods of organized solitude, or whether he lived even more
strictly the solitary life out in the wilderness by himself. Certainly
he was at one period in sympathy with ascetic ideas. It seemed to him
that as God was alone, so man must be alone in order to be like
God.[62] In his earlier writings he is constantly praising the ascetic
life, as a means, indeed, to virtue rather than as a good in itself,
and as a helpful discipline to the man of incomplete moral strength,
though inferior to the spontaneous goodness which God vouchsafes to
the righteous. Isaac is the type of this highest bliss, while the life
of Jacob is the type of the progress to virtue through asceticism.[63]
The flight from Laban represents the abandonment of family and social
life for the practical service of God, and as Jacob, the ascetic,
became Israel, "the man who beholdeth God," so Philo determined "to
scorn delights and live laborious days" in order to be drawn nearer to
the true Being. But he seems to have been disappointed in his hopes,
and to have discovered that the attempt to cut out the natural desires
of man was not the true road to righteousness. "I often," he says,[64]
"left my kindred and friends and fatherland, and went into a solitary
place, in order that I might have knowledge of things worthy of
contemplation, but I profited nothing: for my mind was sore tempted by
desire and turned to opposite things. But now, sometimes even when I
am in a multitude of men, my mind is tranquil, and God scatters aside
all unworthy desires, teaching me that it is not differences of place
which affect the welfare of the soul, but God alone, who knows and
directs its activity howsoever he pleases."

The noble pessimism of Philo's early days was replaced by a noble
optimism in his maturity, in which he trusted implicitly in God's
grace, and believed that God vouchsafed to the good man the knowledge
of Himself without its being necessary for him to inflict
chastisements upon his body or uproot his inclinations. In this mood
moderation is represented as the way of salvation; the abandonment of
family and social life is selfish, and betrays a lack of the humanity
which the truly good man must possess.[65] Of Philo's own domestic
life we catch only a fleeting glimpse in his writings. He realized the
place of woman in the home; "her absence is its destruction," he said;
and of his wife it is told in another of the "Fragments" that when
asked one day in an assembly of women why she alone did not wear any
golden ornament, she replied, "The virtue of a husband is a sufficient
ornament for his wife."

Though in his maturity Philo renounced the ascetic life, his ideal
throughout was a mystical union with the Divine Being. To a certain
school of Judaism, which loves to make everything rational and
moderate, mysticism is alien; it was alien indeed to the Sadducee
realist and the Karaite literalist; it was alien to the systematic
Aristotelianism of Maimonides, and it is alien alike to Western
orthodox and Reform Judaism. But though often obscured and crushed by
formal systems, mysticism is deeply seated in the religious feelings,
and the race which has developed the Cabbalah and Hasidism cannot be
accused of lack of it. Every great religion fosters man's aspiration
to have direct communion with God in some super-rational way.
Particularly should this be the case with a religion which recognizes
no intermediary. The Talmudic conceptions of [Hebrew: nb'a], prophecy,
[Hebrew: shkyna], the Divine Presence, and [Hebrew: rua hkdsh], the
holy spirit, which was vouchsafed to the saint, certainly are mystic, and
at Alexandria similar ideas inspired a striking development. Once again we
can trace the fertilizing influence of Greek ideas. Even when the old
naturalistic cults had flourished in Greece, and political life had
provided a worthy goal for man, mystical beliefs and ceremonies had a
powerful attraction for the Hellene; and, when the belief in the old
gods had been shattered, and with the national greatness the liberal
life of the State had passed away, he turned more and more to those
rites which professed to provide healing and rest for the sickening
soul. Many of the Alexandrian Jews must have been initiated into these
Greek mysteries, for Philo introduces into his exegesis of the law of
Moses an ordinance forbidding the practice.[66] He himself advocates a
more spiritual mysticism, and it is a cardinal principle of his
philosophy to treat the human soul as a god within and its absorption
in the universal Godhead as supreme bliss, the end of all endeavor. He
claimed to have attained, himself, to this union, and to have received
direct inspiration. Giving a Greek coloring to the Hebrew notion of
prophecy, "My soul," he says, "is wont to be affected with a Divine
trance and to prophesy about things of which it has no knowledge"[67]....
"Many a time have I come with the intention of writing, and knowing
exactly what I ought to set down, but I have found my mind barren and
fruitless, and I have gone away with nothing done, but at times I have
come empty, and suddenly been full, for ideas were invisibly rained
down upon me from above, so that I was seized by a Divine frenzy, and
was lost to everything, place, people, self, speech, and thought. I
had gotten a stream of interpretation, a gift of light, a clear survey
of things, the clearest that eye can give."[68]

In his "Guide of the Perplexed,"[69] Maimonides describes the various
degrees of the [Hebrew: rua hkdsh], or what we call religious "genius,"
with which man may be blessed. He distinguishes between the man who
possesses it only for his own exaltation, and the man who feels
himself compelled to impart it to others for their happiness. To this
higher order of genius Philo advanced in his maturity. He consciously
regarded himself as a follower of Moses, who was the perfect
interpreter of God's thought. So he, though in a lesser degree, was an
inspired interpreter, a hierophant (as he expressed it in the language
of the Greek mystics) who expounded the Divine Word to his own
generation by the gift of the Divine wisdom. When he had fled from
Alexandria, to secure virtue by contemplation, he had as his final
goal the attainment of the true knowledge of God, and as he advanced
in age, he advanced in decision and authority. He was conscious of his
philosophic grasp of the Torah, and the diffidence with which he
allegorized in his early works gave place to a serene confidence that
he had a lesson for his own and for future generations. Hoping for the
time when Judaism should be a world-religion, he spoke his message for
Jew and Gentile. We can imagine him preaching on Sabbaths to the great
congregation which filled the synagogue at Alexandria, and on other
days of the week expounding his philosophical ideas to a smaller
circle which he collected around him.

Essentially, then, he was a philosopher and a teacher, but he was
called upon to play a part in the world of action. Following the
passage already quoted, wherein Philo speaks of the blessings of the
life of contemplation that he had led in the past,[70] he goes on to
relate how that "envy, the most grievous of all evils, attacked me,
and threw me into the vast sea of public affairs, in which I am still
tossed about without being able to make my way out." A French
scholar[71] conjectures that this is only a metaphorical way of saying
that he was forced into some public office, probably, a seat in the
Alexandrian Sanhedrin; and he ascribes the language to the bitter
disappointment of one who was devoted to philosophical pursuits and
found himself diverted from them. Philo's language points rather to
duties which he was compelled to undertake less congenial than those
of a member of the Sanhedrin would have been; and probably must refer
to the polemical activity which he was called upon to exert in
defending his people against misrepresentation and persecution. During
the reign of Augustus and the early years of Tiberius (30 B.C.E.-20
C.E.) the Roman provinces were firmly ruled, and the governors were as
firmly controlled by the emperor. To Rectus, who was the prefect of
Egypt till 14 C.E., and who was removed for attempted extortion,
Tiberius addressed the rebuke, "I want my sheep to be shorn, not
strangled." But when Tiberius fell under the influence of Sejanus, and
left to his hated minister the active control of the empire, harder
times began for the provincials, and especially for the Jews. Sejanus
was an upstart, and like most upstarts a tyrant; and for some
reason--it may be jealousy of the power of the Jews at Rome--he hated
the Jewish race and persecuted it. The great opponent of Sejanus was
Antonia, the ward of Philo's brother, and a loyal friend to his
people; and this, too, may have incited Sejanus' ill-feeling. Whatever
the reason, the Alexandrian Jews felt the heavy hand, and when Philo
came to write the story of his people in his own times, he devoted one
book to the persecution by Sejanus. Unfortunately it has not survived,
but veiled hints of the period of stress through which the people
passed are not wanting in the commentary on the law.

There were always anti-Semites spoiling for a fight at Alexandria, and
there was always inflammable material which they could stir up. The
Egyptian populace were by nature, says Philo, "jealous and envious,
and were filled moreover with an ancient and inveterate enmity towards
the Jews,"[72] and of the degenerate Greek population, many were
anxious from motives of private gain as well as from religious enmity
to incite an outbreak; since the Jews were wealthy and the booty would
be great. Among the cultured, too, there was one philosophical school
powerful at Alexandria, which maintained a persistent attitude of
hostility towards the Jews. The chief literary anti-Semites of whom we
have record at this period were Stoics, and it is probably their
"envy" to which Philo refers when he complains of being drawn into the
sea of politics. In writings and in speeches the Stoic leaders Apion
and Chæremon carried on a campaign of misrepresentation, and sought to
give their attacks a fine humanitarian justification by drawing fancy
pictures of the Jewish religion and Jewish laws. The Jews worshipped
the head of an ass,[73] they hated the Gentiles, and would have no
communication with them, they killed Gentile children at the Passover,
and their law allowed them to commit any offences against all but
their own people, and inculcated a low morality. When it was not
morally bad, it was degraded and superstitious. Whereas the modern
anti-Semite usually complains about Jewish success and dangerous
cleverness, Apion accused them of having produced no original ideas
and no great men, and no citizen as worthy of Alexandria as himself!
Against these charges Philo, the most philosophical Jew of the time
and the most distinguished member of the Alexandrian community, was
called upon to defend his people, and that part of his works which
Eusebius calls [Greek: Hypotheticha]; _i.e._ apologetics, was probably
written in reply to the Stoic attacks. The hatred of the Stoics was a
religious hatred, which is the bitterest of all; the Stoics were the
propagators of a rival religious system, which had originally been
founded by Hellenized Semites and borrowed much from Semitic sources.
They had their missionaries everywhere and aspired to found a
universal philosophical religion. In their proselytizing activity they
tried to assimilate to their pantheism the mythological religion of
the masses, and thus they became the philosophical supporters of
idolatry. Their greatest religious opponents were the Jews, who not
only refused to accept their teachings, but preached to the nations a
transcendental monotheism against their impersonal and accommodating
pantheism, and a divinely-revealed law of conduct against their vague
natural reason. In the Stoic pantheism the first stand of the pagan
national deities was made against the God of Israel, and at Alexandria
during the first century the fight waxed fierce. It was a fight of
ideas in which persons only were victims, but at the back of the
intermittent persecutions of which we have record we may always
surmise the influence of the Stoic anti-Semites. The war of words
translated itself from time to time into the breaking of heads.

Philo, indeed, never mentions Apion by name, but he refers covertly in
many places to his insolence and unscrupulousness.[74] Josephus wrote
a famous reply to his attacks, refuting "his vulgar abuse, gross
ignorance and demagogic claptrap,"[75] and the fact that a Palestinian
Jew thought this apology necessary, proves the wide dissemination of
the poison. The disgrace and death of Sejanus seem to have brought a
relief from actual persecution to the Alexandrian Jews; but the
ill-will between the two races in the city smouldered on, and it only
required a weakening of the controlling hand at Rome to set the
passions aflame again. Right through Philo's treatise "On the
Confusion of Tongues," we can trace the tension. As soon as Gaius,
surnamed Caligula, came to the imperial chair, the opportunity of the
anti-Semites returned. Gaius, after reigning well a few months, fell
ill, was seized with madness, and proved how much evil can be done in
a short space by an imbecile autocrat. Flaccus, the governor of Egypt,
who had hitherto ruled fairly, hoping to ingratiate himself by
misrule, allowed himself to be led by worthless minions, who, from
motives of private greed, desired a riot at Alexandria; he was won
over by the anti-Semites and gave the mob a free hand in their attacks
upon the "alien Jews."[76] The arrival of Agrippa, the grandson of
Herod, who was on his way to his kingdom of Palestine, which the
capricious emperor had just conferred upon him, excited the ill-will
of the Alexandrian mob. Flaccus looked on while the people attacked
the Jewish quarters, sacked the houses, and assailed everyone that
came within their reach. The most distinguished Jews were not spared,
and thirty members of the Council of Elders were dragged to the
marketplace and scourged. Philo's account gives a picture strikingly
similar to that of a modern pogrom. The brutal indifference of Flaccus
did not indeed avail to ingratiate him with the emperor, and he was
recalled to Italy, exiled, and afterwards executed.

The recall of Flaccus did not, however, put an end to the troubles;
the mob had got out of hand, the anti-Semitic demagogues were elated,
and a fresh opportunity for outrage soon presented itself. The mad
emperor, having exhausted ordinary human follies, went on to imagine
himself first a god and then the Supreme God, and finally ordered his
image to be set up in every temple throughout his dominion. The Jews
could not obey the order, and the mob rushed into fresh excesses upon
them, defiled the synagogues with images of the lunatic, and in the
great synagogue itself set up a bronze statue of him, inscribed with
the name of Jupiter. With bitterness Philo points out that it was easy
enough for the vile Egyptians, who worshipped reptiles and beasts, to
erect a statue of the emperor in their temples; for the Jews, with
their lofty idea of God, it was impossible. Against the attack upon
their liberty of conscience they appealed directly to Gaius. An
embassy was sent to lay their case before him, and Philo went to Italy
at the head of the embassy. "He who is learned, gentle, and modest,
and who is beloved of men, he shall be leader in the city." So said
one of the rabbis of old, and the maxim is especially appropriate to
Philo, who in name and deed was "beloved of men." Philo has left us a
very full account of his mission, so that this incident of his life is
a patch of bright light, which stands out almost glaringly from the
general shadow. The account is not merely, nor, indeed, entirely
history. Looking always for a sermon or a subject for a philosophical
lesson, Philo has tricked out the record of the facts with much
moralizing observation on the general lot of mankind, and elaborated
the part of Providence more in the spirit of religious romance than of
scientific history. Yet the main facts are clear. Philo prepared a
long philosophical "apologia" for the Jews and set out with five
colleagues for Italy. Nor were the enemies of the Jews remiss; and
Apion, the Alexandrian anti-Semite, was sent at the head of a hostile
deputation. The emperor, Gaius, was in one of his most flippant moods
and little inclined to listen to philosophical or literary
disquisitions. At first he received the Jewish deputation in a
friendly way, and led them to think that he was favorable; but when
they came to plead their cause, they had a rude awakening. Philo, who
was not likely to appreciate the bitter humor of the situation,
tells[77] with gravity that he expected that the emperor would hear
the two contending parties in all proper judicial form, but that in
fact he behaved like an insolent, overbearing tyrant. The audience--if
it can be so called--took place in the gardens of the palace, and the
emperor dragged the unfortunate deputation after him about the place,
while he gave orders to his gardeners, builders, and workmen. Whenever
they tried to put forward their arguments, he would rush ahead,
enjoying the fright and dismay of his helpless victims. At times he
would stop to make some ribald and jeering remark, as, "Why don't you
eat pork, you fools?" at which the Egyptians following loudly
applauded. Philo and his comrades, half-dead with agony, could only
pray; and in response to the prayer, says our moralizing chronicler,
the emperor's heart was turned to pity, so that he dismissed them
without giving any hostile answer. According to Josephus, he drove
them away in a passion, and Philo had to cheer his companions by
assuring them of the Divine aid.[78]

The affair was a pathetic farce, and the Jewish actors in it had a
sorry time. The people about the palace, taking their lead from the
emperor, treated them as clowns, and hissed and mocked them, and even
beat them. The scene is somewhat revolting when one conjures up the
picture of the aged Jewish philosopher being roughly handled by the
set of ruffians and impudent slaves who surrounded a Roman emperor.
Happily Gaius jeered once too often in his mad life. One Chaerea, a
Roman of position, nursed an insult of the emperor, and stabbed him
shortly after these events; and the world had the respite of a
tolerably sane emperor before the crowning horror of Nero was let
loose upon it.

The murder of the capricious tyrant released not only the Jews of
Alexandria, but also the Jews of Palestine, from the burden of fear
for their religion. The order had been given to set up a bronze statue
of the emperor in the temple; the Roman governor Petronius was averse
to obeying the edict, but the emperor insisted. King Agrippa, who had
been but lately advanced by him to the kingdom of Judæa, interceded
zealously on behalf of his people. Philo gives us an account of this
appeal by the Jewish king,[79] which recalls at every turn the scenes
of the book of Esther. We have again the fasting, the banquet, the
emperor's request, the appeal of the royal favorite for his people.
One higher critic, indeed, has been found to suggest that the Biblical
book really relates Agrippa's intercession at Rome disguised in the
setting of a Persian story. Agrippa secured for a short time the
rescission of the fateful decree, but the capricious madman soon
returned to his old frame of mind, and ordered his image to be set up
immediately. Had not his death intervened, there would certainly have
been rebellion in Palestine. As it was, the great revolt was postponed
for thirty years. For a little the Jews prevailed over their
adversaries; the anti-Semitic influences were put down in Judæa and
in Alexandria, and in both places "there was light and joy and
gladness for the Jews." Their political privileges were reaffirmed by
imperial decree, and Philo's brother Alexander, who had been
imprisoned, was restored to honor.[80] "It is fitting," ran the
rescript of Claudius, "to permit the Jews everywhere under our sway to
observe their ancient customs without hindrance. And I charge them to
use my indulgence with moderation, and not to show contempt for the
religious rites of other peoples."

The note of triumph rings through the political references to be found
in the last parts of Philo's allegorical commentary, and no doubt it
was accentuated in the lost book which he added as an epilogue, or
palinode, to his history of the embassy. God had again preserved his
people, and discomfited their foes; recently-discovered papyri have
revealed that the arch anti-Semites, Isidorus and Lampon, were tried
at Rome and executed. Claudius was well-disposed to the Jewish race,
and before the final storm there was a calm. Howbeit, after the death
of Agrippa, in 44 C.E., Judæa became a Roman province, and under the
rapacious governorship of Felix Florus and Cestius Gallus, the
hostility of the people to the Romans grew more and more bitter. But
in Alexandria there was tranquillity, or at least we know of no
disquieting events during the next decade.

"Old age," said Philo, "is an unruffled harbor,"[81] and the saying
refers possibly to his own experience. For he must have died full of
years and full of honors. Through his life he was the spiritual and
philosophical guide, and finally he had become the champion of his
people against their persecutors, giving dignity to their cause and
inspiring respect even in their enemies. He was happy in the time of
his death, for he did not live to see the destruction of the national
home of his people and of that temple which he had loved to
contemplate as the future centre of a universal religion. The
disintegration of his own community at Alexandria followed full soon
on the greater disaster; the temple of Onias was dismantled and
interdicted against Jewish worship by Vespasian in the year 73 C.E.,
and though, as has been noted, this was not in itself of great
importance, it is symbolic of the uprooting of national life in the
Diaspora as well as in Palestine itself. On the downfall of Jerusalem
in 70 C.E. many of the extreme anti-Roman party, known as the Zealots,
fled to Alexandria and stirred up rebellion and dissension. Nothing
but disaster could have attended the outbreak, but it is a sad
reflection that the governor who put it down and ruthlessly
exterminated the rebels was none other than Tiberius Alexander, the
nephew of Philo, who was in turn procurator of Judæa and Egypt. By
another irony of history he had in the previous year been largely
instrumental in securing for Vespasian, who was besieging Jerusalem,
the imperial throne of Rome.[82] With him ends our knowledge of
Philo's family, and it ends significantly with one who has ceased to
be a Jew. The ruin of the Jewish-Alexandrian community was completed
by a desperate revolt in the reign of Trajan, 114-117 C.E., after
which they were deprived of their chief political privileges; and
finally, after incessant conflicts with the Christians, they were
expelled from the city by the all-powerful Bishop Cyril (415 C.E.).

Philo himself passed out of Jewish tradition within a short time, to
become a Christian worthy. The destruction of the nation and the
gradual severance of the Christian heresy from the main community
compelled the abandonment of missionary activity and distrust of the
work of its exponents. The dangerous aspect of the Alexandrian
development was revealed. Its philosophical allegorizing might attract
the Gentile to the Jewish Scriptures, but it also led the Jew away
from his special conduct of life. The Alexandrian Church, which
claimed to continue the tradition of Philo, departed further and
further from the Jewish standpoint, and formulated a dogmatic creed
that was utterly opposed to Jewish monotheism. A philosophical Judaism
for the whole world was a splendid ideal, but unfortunately in Philo's
time it was incapable of accomplishment. The result of the attempt to
found it was the establishment of a religion in which, together with
the adoption of Hebraic teachings about God, certain ideas of
Alexandrian mysticism became stereotyped as dogmas, and Jewish law was
abrogated. When Babylon replaced Palestine as the centre of Jewish
intellect, the works of Philo, like the rest of the Hellenistic-Jewish
literature, written as they were in a strange tongue, fell into
disuse, and before long were entirely forgotten. The Christians, on
the other hand, found in Philo a notable evidence for many of their
beliefs and a philosophical testimony for the dogmas of their creed.
They claimed him as their own, and the Church Fathers, to bind him
more closely to their tradition, invented fables of his meeting with
Peter at Rome and Mark at Alexandria, They traced, in the treatise "On
the Contemplative Life," a record of early Christian monastic
communities, and on account of this book especially regarded Philo
almost with the reverence of an apostle. To the Christian theologians
of Alexandria we owe it that the interpretation of Judaism to the
Hellenic world in the light of Hellenic philosophy has been preserved.
Of the two Jewish philosophers who have made a great contribution to
the world's intellectual development, Spinoza was excommunicated in
his lifetime, and Philo suffered moral excommunication after his
death. The writings of both exercised their chief influence outside
the community; but the emancipated Jewry of our own day can in either
case recognize the worth of the thinker, and point with pride to the
saintliness of the man.

       *       *       *       *       *



The first thing that strikes a reader of Philo is the great volume of
his work: he is the first Jewish writer to produce a large and
systematic body of writings, the first to develop anything in the
nature of a complete Jewish philosophy. He had essentially the
literary gift, the capacity of giving lasting expression to his own
thought and the thought of his generation. Treating him merely as a
man of letters, he is one of the chief figures in Greek literature of
the first century. We have extant over forty books of his composition,
and nearly as many again have disappeared. His works are one and all
expositions of Judaism, but they fall into six distinct classes of

I. The allegorical commentary, or "Allegories of the Laws," which is a
series of philosophical treatises based upon continuous texts in
Genesis, from the first to the eighteenth chapter. Together with this,
the best authorities place the two remaining books on the "Dreams of
the Bible," which are a portion of a larger work, and deal
allegorically with the dreams of Jacob and Joseph.

II. The Midrashic commentary on the Five Books of Moses, for which we
have no single name, but which was clearly intended to be an ethical
and philosophical treatise upon the whole law.

III. A commentary in the form of "Questions and Answers to Genesis and
Exodus," which is incomplete now, and save for detached fragments
exists only in a Latin translation. In its original form it provided a
short running exegesis, verse by verse, to the whole of the first
three books of the Pentateuch, and was contained in twelve parts.

IV. A popular and missionizing presentation of the Jewish system in
the form of a "Life of Moses," and three appended tractates on the
virtues "Courage," "Humanity," and "Repentance." Scholars[83] are of
opinion that there are gaps in the extant "Life of Moses," but the
general plan of the work is clear. It is at once an abstract and an
interpretation of Jewish law for the Greek world, and also an ideal
biography of the Jewish lawgiver.

V. Philosophical monographs, not so intimately connected with the
Bible as the preceding works; but in the nature of rhetorical
exercises upon the stock subjects of the schools, which receive a
Jewish coloring by reason of Biblical illustrations.

VI. Historical and apologetic works that set out the case of the
contemporary Jews against their persecutors and traducers. Of these
writings the larger part has disappeared, and of a portion of those
which remain the genuineness has been doubted.

Lastly, there is a miscellaneous number of works ascribed to Philo,
which all good scholars[84] now admit to be spurious: "On the
Incorruptibility of the World," "On the Universe," "On Samson," and
"On Jonah," etc.

It will be seen from this classification of Philo's works, that he has
dealt in several ways with the Biblical material. The reason of this
is partly that his mind developed, and the interpretation of his
maturer years differed widely from that of his earliest writings.
Partly, however, it arises from the fact that the different treatments
were meant for different audiences, and Philo always took the measure
of those whom he was addressing. His most representative works are "a
triple cord" with which he binds the Jewish Scripture to Greek
culture. For the Greek-speaking populace he set out a broad statement
of the Mosaic law; for the cultured community of Alexandria, Jew and
Gentile, a more elaborate exegesis, in which each character and each
ordinance of the Pentateuch received a particular ethical value; and,
finally, for the esoteric circle of Hellenic-Jewish philosophers, a
theological and psychological study of the allegories of the law.
Origen, the first great Christian exegete of the Bible and a close
student of the Philonic writings, distinguished three forms of
interpreting: the historical, the moral, and the philosophical; he
probably took the distinction from Philo, who exemplifies it in his
commentaries upon the Books of Moses.

Varied as is its scope, the religious idea dominates all his work, and
endows it with one spirit. Whether he is writing philosophical,
ethical, or mystical commentary, whether history, apology, or essay,
his purpose is to assert the true notion of the one God, and the
Divine excellence of God's revelation to His chosen people. Thus he
regards history as a theodicy, vindicating the ways of God to man, and
His special providence for Israel; philosophy as the inner meaning of
the Scriptures, revealed by God in mystic communion with His holy
prophets,[85] and, if comprehended aright, able to lead us on to a
true conception of His Divine being. The greater part of the
Hellenistic-Jewish literature has disappeared, but Philo sums up for
us the whole of the Alexandrian development of Judaism. He represents
it worthily in both its main aspects: the infusion of Greek culture
into the Jewish pursuit of righteousness, and the recommendation of
Jewish monotheism and the Torah to the Greek world. Aristaeus,
Aristobulus, and Artapanus are hardly more than names, but their
spirit is inherited and glorified in Philo-Judæus. His work,
therefore, is more than the expression of one great mind; it is the
record and expression of a great culture.

The chronology of Philo's writings is as uncertain as the chronology
of his life. Yet it is possible to trace a deepening of outlook and an
increasing originality, if we work our way up from the sixth to the
first division of the classification. It does not follow that the
works were written in this order--and it may well be that Philo was
producing at one and the same time books of several classes--but we
may use this order as an ideal scale by which to mark off the stages
of his philosophical progress. In the first place come the [Greek:
Hypotheticha], or apologetic works, which have a practical purpose.
With these we may associate the moralizing history that dealt in five
books respectively with the persecutions of Sejanus, Flaccus, and
Caligula, the ill-starred embassy, and the final triumph of the Jews
over their enemies. The [Greek: Hypotheticha] proper, as we gather
from Eusebius, contained a general apology for Judaism, and an account
of the Essenes--which have disappeared--and the suspected book on the
Therapeutic sect known by the title "On the Contemplative Life."
Whether they received this generic name because they are suggestions
for the Jewish cause, or because they are written to answer the
insinuations ([Greek: kath' hypothesin]) of adversaries, is a moot
point. But their general purport is clear: they were an apologetic
presentation of Jewish life, written to show the falsity of
anti-Semitic calumnies. The Jews are good citizens and their manner of
life is humanitarian. The Essene sect is a living proof of Jewish
practical socialism and practical philosophy, the Therapeutae show the
Jewish zeal for the contemplative life.

Next we come to Philo's philosophical monographs, which are not, as
one might expect, the work of his mature thought, but rather the
exercises of youth. Dissertations or declamations upon hackneyed
subjects were part of the regular course of the university student at
Alexandria, and Philo prepared himself for his Jewish philosophy by
composing in the approved style essays upon "Providence," "The Liberty
of the Good," and "The Slavery of the Wicked," etc. What chiefly
distinguishes them above other collections of commonplaces is the
appeal to the Bible for types of goodness, and here again the Essenes
figure as the type of the philosophical life.[86] The writer, while
still engaged in the studies of the Greek university, is feeling his
way towards his system of universal Mosaism.

This he expounds confidently and enthusiastically in his "Life of
Moses." Philo in this book is not any longer the apt pupil of Greek
philosophers, nor the eloquent defender of the Jewish-Alexandrian
community against lying detractors. He preaches a mission to the whole
world, and he lays before it his gospel of monotheism and humanity.
Each Greek school has its ideal type, its Socrates, Diogenes, or
Pythagoras; but Philo places above them all "the most perfect man that
ever lived, Moses, the legislator of the Jews,[87] as some hold, but
according to others the interpreter of the sacred laws, and the
greatest of men in every way." And above all the ethical systems of
the day he sets the law of life that God revealed to His greatest
prophet: "The laws of the Greek legislators are continually subject to
change; the laws of Moses alone remain steady, unmoved, unshaken,
stamped as it were with the seal of nature herself, from the day when
they were written to the present day, and will so remain for all time
so long as the world endures. Not only the Jews but all other peoples
who care for righteousness adopt them.... Let all men follow this code
and the age of universal peace will come about, the kingdom of God on
earth will be established."[88] Nor is the Greek to fear the lot of a
proselyte. "God loves the man who turns from idolatry to the true
faith not less than the man who has been a believer all his life;"[89]
and in the little essays upon Repentance and Nobility, which are
attached to the larger treatise, Philo appeals to his own people to
welcome the stranger within the community. "The Life of Moses" is the
greatest attempt to set monotheism before the world made before the
Christian gospels. And it is truer to the Jewish spirit, because it
breathes on every page love for the Torah. Philo in very truth wished
to fulfil the law.

If Judaism was to be the universal religion, it must be shown to
contain the ultimate truth both about real being, _i.e._ God, and
about ethics; for the philosophical world in that age--and the
philosophical world included all educated people--demanded of religion
that it should be philosophical, and of philosophy that it should be
religious. The desire to expound Judaism in this way is the motive of
Philo's three Biblical commentaries. The "Questions and Answers to
Genesis and Exodus" constitute a preliminary study to the more
elaborate works which followed. In them Philo is collecting his
material, formulating his ideas, and determining the main lines of his
allegory. They are a type of Midrash in its elementary stage, the
explanation of the teacher to the pupil who has difficulties about the
words of the law: at once like and unlike the old Tannaitic Midrash;
like in that they deal with difficulties in the literal text of the
Bible; unlike in that the reply of Philo is Agadic more usually than
Halakic, speculative rather than practical. In these books,[90] as has
been pointed out, there are numerous interpretations which Philo
shares with the Palestinian schools. A few specimens taken from the
first book will illustrate Philo's plan, but it should be mentioned
that in every case he sets out the simple meaning of the text, the
_Peshat_, as well as the inner meaning, or _Derash_.

"Why does it say: 'And God made every green herb of the field before
it was upon the earth'? (Gen. ii. 4.)

"By these words he suggests symbolically the incorporeal Idea. The
phrase, 'before it was upon the earth,' marks the original perfection
of every plant and herb. The eternal types were first created in the
noetic world, and the physical objects on earth, perceptible by the
senses, were made in their likeness."

In this way Philo reads into the first chapter of the Bible the
Platonic idealism which we shall see was a fundamental part of his

"Why, when Enoch died, does it say, 'And he pleased God'? (Gen. v.

"He says this to teach that the soul is immortal, inasmuch as after it
is released from the body it continues to please."

"What is the meaning of the expression, 'And Noah opened the roof of
the ark'? (Gen. viii. 13.)

"The text appears to need no interpretation; but in its symbolical
meaning the ark is our body, and that which covers the body and for a
long time preserves its strength is spoken of as its roof. And this is
appetite. Hence when the mind is attracted by a desire for heavenly
things, it springs upwards and makes away with all material desires.
It removes that which threw a shade over it so as to reach the eternal

The "Questions and Answers" are essentially Hebraic in form, designed
for Jews who knew and studied their Bible; and we can feel in them the
influences of a training in traditional Mishnah and Midrash; but Philo
passed from them to a more artistic expression and a more thoroughly
Hellenized presentation of the philosophy of the Bible. This work is
the largest extant expression of his thought and mission; it embraces
the treatises which we know as "On the Creation of the World," "The
Lives of Abraham and Joseph," "On the Decalogue," and finally those
"On the Specific Laws," which are partly thus entitled and partly have
separate ethical names, as "On Honoring Parents," "On Rewards and
Punishments," "On Justice," etc. Large portions of it have
disappeared, notably the "Lives of Isaac and Jacob"; and also the
"Life of Moses," which was introductory to his laws. For the book
which we have under that name does not belong to the series, but is
separate. The purpose of the work broadly is to deepen the value of
the Bible for the Jews by revealing its constant spiritual message,
and to assert its value for the whole of humanity by showing in it a
philosophical conception of the universe and its creation, the most
lofty ethical and moral types, the most admirable laws, and, above
all, the purest ideas of God and His relation to man. All that seems
tribal and particularist is explained away, and the spiritual aspect
of every chapter--of every word almost--of the Torah is emphasized.
Philo expounds the sacred book, not of one particular nation, but of
mankind. The Roman and Greek peoples were waiting for a religious
message which should at once harmonize with rational ideas and satisfy
their longing for God. All the philosophical schools were converting
the scientific systems of the classical age into [Greek: Tropoi Biou],
"plans of life," and Philo challenges them all with a new faith which
has as its basis a God who not only was the sole Creator and Ruler of
the world, but who had revealed to man the way of happiness, and the
good life, social as well as individual. To-day, when the world about
us has accepted--or has professed to accept--the ethical law of the
Bible, we are apt to regard the essentials of Judaism as the belief in
One God and the observance of ceremonies. But to Philo Judaism was
something more comprehensive. It was the spiritual life, and the
Mosaic law is the complete code of the Divine Republic, of which all
are or can be citizens. In the introduction to the "Life of Abraham,"
Philo explains the scheme of his work:[91]

     "'The Sacred Laws' [as he regularly calls the Bible] were
     written in five books, of which the first is entitled
     Genesis. It derives its title from the account of the
     creation which it contains, though it deals also with
     endless other subjects, peace and war, hunger and plenty,
     great cataclysms, and the histories of good and evil men. We
     have examined with great care the accounts of the creation
     in our former treatise ['On the Making of the Universe'],
     and we now go on naturally to inquire into the laws; and
     postponing the particular laws, which are as it were copies,
     we will first of all examine the more universal, which are
     their models. Now men who have lived irreproachable lives
     are these laws, and their virtues are recorded in the Holy
     Scriptures not only by way of eulogy, but in order to lead
     on those who read about them to emulate their life. They are
     become living standards of right reason, whom the lawgiver
     has glorified for two reasons: (1) To show that the laws
     laid down are consistent with nature [the conception of a
     natural law binding upon all peoples was one of the fixed
     ideas of the age]. (2) To show that it is not a matter of
     terrible labor to live according to our positive laws if a
     man has the will to do so; seeing that the patriarchs
     spontaneously followed the unwritten principles before any
     of the particular laws were written. So that a man may
     properly say that the code of law is only a memorial of the
     lives of the patriarchs. For the patriarchs, of their own
     accord and impulse, chose to follow nature, and, regarding
     her course with truth as the most ancient ordinance, they
     lived a life according to the law."

Philo dwells affectionately on the patriarchs, because, as he held,
they proved the Jewish life to be truest to man's nature and to the
highest ideal of humanity, and served therefore as examples to the
Gentile world of the universal truth of the religion. The rabbis also
took the patriarchs as the perfect type of our life, saying,
"Everything that happens to them is a sign to future generations,"[92]
and again: "The patriarchs are the true [Hebrew: mrbba], manifestation of
God." But while he emphasized the broad moral teachings of Judaism
exemplified by the patriarchs, Philo nevertheless upheld in its
integrity the Mosaic law, and found in every one of the six hundred
and thirteen precepts a spiritual meaning. Even the details of the
tabernacle offerings have their universal lesson when he expounds them
as symbols. Voltaire speaks cynically of Judaism as a religion of
sacrifices: Philo shows that the ritual of sacrifice suggests moral
lessons. The command of the red heifer, a part of the law which was
particularly subject to attack, emphasizes the law of moral as well as
of physical cleanliness. The prohibition to add honey or leaven to the
sacrifice[93] (Lev. ii. 13) points the lesson that all superfluous
pleasure is unrighteous; and so on with each prescription.

The Mosaic code in his exposition is commensurate with life in all its
aspects. It deals not only with the duties of the individual but also
with the good government of the state. The life of Joseph is made the
text of a political treatise, and throughout the books "On the
Specific Laws," the socialism of the Bible is emphasized,[94] and held
up as the ideal order of the future. The Jewish State is enlarged in
Philo's vision from a national theocracy into a world-city inspired by
the two ideas of love of God and love of humanity. In this conception,
no doubt, the influence of Greek philosophy is to be seen; the Jewish
interpreter keeps before him the "Republic" of Plato, and the "Polity"
of Aristotle. With him, however, the ideal state is not a vision
"laid up in heaven";[95] its foundation is already laid upon earth,
its capital is Jerusalem, and it is the mission of his people to
extend its borders till it embraces all nations[96]--an idea which
permeates the Jewish litany.

This commentary of the law is allegorical in the sense that beneath
the particular law the interpreter constantly reveals a spiritual
idea, but it is not allegorical in the sense that he makes an exchange
of values. He is not for the most part reading into the text
conceptions which are not suggested by it, but really and truly
expounding; and where he gives a philosophical piece of exegesis, as
when he explains the visit of the three angels to Abraham as a theory
of the human soul about God's being,[97] he does so with diffidence or
with reference to authorities that have founded a tradition. It is
quite otherwise with the last class of Philo's work, the fruit of his
maturest thought, with which it remains to deal.

Throughout the "Allegories of the Laws" he takes the verse of the
Bible not so much as a text to be amplified and interpreted, but as a
pretext for a philosophical disquisition. The allegories indeed are
only in form a commentary on the Bible; in one aspect they are a
history of the human soul, which, if they had been completed, would
have traced the upward progress from Adam to Moses. It is not to be
expected, however, that Philo should adhere closely to any plan in the
allegories. Theology, metaphysics, and ethics have as large a part in
the medley of philosophical ideas as the story of the soul. His
Hebraic mind, even when fortified by the mastery of philosophy, was
unable to present its ideas systematically; it passed from subject to
subject, weaving the whole together only by the thread of a continuous
commentary upon Genesis. Parts of the work are missing, it is true,
which adds to the seeming want of plan; and--greatest loss of all--the
first part, which gave the philosophical account of the first chapter
of Genesis, the first six days of creation, referred to as "The
Hexameron" [Greek: to Hexêmeron], has disappeared.[98] Here must
have been the general introduction to the allegories, wherein Philo
declared his purpose and his method of exposition. The first treatise
that we possess starts abruptly with a comment on the first verse of
the second chapter, "'And the heaven and earth and all their world
were completed.' Moses has previously related the creation of the mind
and sense, and now he proceeds to describe their perfection. Their
perfection is not the individual mind or sense, but their archetypal
'ideas.' And symbolically he calls the mind heaven, because in heaven
are the ideas of the mind, and the sense he calls earth, because it is
corporeal and material."[99]

So in a rambling, unsystematic way Philo embarks upon a discourse on
idealism and psychology, making a fresh start continually from a verse
or a phrase of the Bible. The Biblical narrative in the earliest
chapters offered a congenial soil for his explorations, but no ground
is too stubborn for his seed. The genealogy of Noah's sons is as
fertile in suggestion as the story of Adam and Eve, for each name
represents some hidden power or possesses some ethical import.

The allegorical commentary is clearly the work of Philo's maturity,
wherein he exhibits full mastery of an original method of exegesis.
His allegories are no longer tentative, and he writes with the
confidence of the sage, who has received not only the admiration of
his people, but the inspiration of God. Another sign of their maturity
is that asceticism seems no longer the true path to virtue, as it was
to the author of "The Lives of the Patriarchs" and "The Specific
Laws," but, on the contrary, a moderate use of the world's goods and a
share in political life are marks of the perfect man. These
characteristics bespeak the firmer hand and the profounder experience.
Yet the series of works which form together Philo's esoteric doctrine
were certainly put together over a long period of years, as the varied
political references indicate. It has indeed been suggested by a
modern German scholar[100] that large parts were originally given in
the form of detached lectures and sermons, and that Philo later
composed them together into a continuous commentary, working them up
with much literary elaboration. In support of this theory, it may be
urged that several of the treatises contain political addresses to
public audiences, notably the _De Agricultura_ and _De Confusione
Linguarum_, while in others there are invocations to prayer, or a
summons to read a passage in the Bible, addressed apparently by the
preacher to the Hazan, who had before him the scroll of the law. From
Philo's own statements we know that the wisest men used to deliver
philosophical homilies upon the Bible on the Sabbath day; and it is
natural that the man who was appointed to head the Jewish embassy to
Gaius had made himself known in the past to his brethren for oratory
and wisdom of speech. "Sermons," said Jowett, "though they deal with
eternal subjects, are the most evanescent form of literature." The
dictum is true for the most part, but occasionally the sermon, by its
depth of thought, the universality of its message, and the beauty of
its expression, has become part of the world's heritage from the ages.
Moreover, at Alexandria philosophy was associated with preaching. And
the sermons of the Jewish-Hellenistic writer, in their style as well
as in their thought, represent an epoch. Philo spoke in the language
of the intellectual world of his day, and strove to associate the
intellectual precepts of Hellenism with the Hebraic passion for
righteousness. In his great moments, however, the Hebraic spirit
towers supreme. "He was," said Croiset, the historian of Greek
literature, "the first Greek prose writer who could speak to God and
of God to man with the ardent piety and reverence of the Jewish

It is a serious misconception to imagine that Philo's philosophical
allegories were meant for the general body of Alexandrian Jews. He
frequently[102] declares that he is speaking to a specially initiated
sect, and warns his hearers not to divulge his teaching. The
notion of an esoteric doctrine for the aristocracy of intellect had
become a fixed idea in the Greek schools for three centuries, ever
since the days of Aristotle; and whether through Greek influence or
otherwise it had been generally adopted by the Jewish teachers. The
rabbis of the Talmud derived from the first chapters of Genesis the
inner mystery of the law, which was cognizable only by the sage; and
the same idea is found in later Jewish tradition, which, expounding
Paradise ([Hebrew: prds]) as four stages of interpretation, each
marked by a letter of the word, Peshat, Remez, Derash, and Sod
([Hebrew: sod]),[103] regarded the last as the final reward of the
devoted seeker after God, as it is said in the Psalms, "The secret of
the Lord is for those who fear Him." Jewish religious philosophers
have in all ages designed their work for a select few. The Halakah, or
way of life, is the fit study of the many. So Maimonides wrote his
Moreh only for those who already were masters of the law. And Philo
likewise at Alexandria taught an esoteric doctrine to an esoteric
circle, which alone was fitted to receive the profoundest
theology.[104] The allegories of the law do not take the place of the
law itself, nor of its ethical ordinances. They are additional to the
other exegesis and distinct, destined only for the man of learning.
And as we shall see, he asserts emphatically in the midst of his
allegories[105] that the perception of the philosophical value does
not release man from the practice itself. The wise man even as the
fool must obey the law.

Why, it may be asked, does Philo artificially attach his philosophy to
the Scriptures? He does so for two reasons: first, because he holds
and wishes to prove that between faith and philosophy there is no
conflict, and his generation worked out the agreement by this method;
he does so also because he wishes to establish the Torah and Judaism
upon a sure foundation for the man of outside culture. The pursuit of
philosophy must have menaced the attachment to Judaism and challenged
the authority of the Bible at Alexandria. A superficial knowledge of
the materialistic or rationalistic theories, which were propagated
respectively by the Epicurean and Stoic schools, was made the excuse
for indifference to the law. Then as now the advanced Jew would mask
his self-indulgence under the guise of a banal philosophy, and jeer
easily at archaic myths and tribal laws. The dominating motive of
Philo's work is to show that the Bible contains for those who will
seek it the richest treasures of wisdom, that its ethical teaching is
more ideal and yet more real than that which hundreds of sophists
poured forth daily in the lecture-theatres[106] to the gaping
dilettanti of learning, and lastly that the cultured Jew may search
out knowledge and truth to their depths, and find them expressed in
his holy books and in his religious beliefs and practices. Philo
frequently introduces into his philosophical interpretation a polemic
against the disintegrating and demoralizing forces which were at work
in the Alexandria of his day. His commentary therefore is a strange
medley, compounded of idealistic speculation, theology, homiletics,
moral denunciation, and polemical rhetoric. The idea, which is not
uncommon, that Philo represents the extreme Hellenic development of
Judaism, and that he gathered into his writings the opinions of all
Greek schools to the ruin of his Jewish individuality, is utterly
erroneous. In fact, he chooses out only the valuable parts of Greek
thought, which could enter into a true harmony with the Hebraic
spirit; and he not only rejects, but he attacks unsparingly those
elements which were antagonistic to holiness and righteousness. With
the enthusiasm of a Maccabee, if with other weapons, he fought against
the bastard culture, which meant self-indulgence and the excessive
attention to the body, the idol-worship, the degraded ideas of the
Divine power, and the disregard of truth and justice, that were
current in the pagan society about him. The seeking after sensual
pleasure and luxury was the most glaring evil of his city--as the
Talmud says,[107] of ten parts of lust nine were given to
Alexandria--and with every variety of denunciation he returns again
and again to the charge. Epicureanism is detestable not only for its
low idea of human life, but for its godless conception of the
universe. Its theory that the world was a fortuitous concourse of
atoms, which was governed by blind chance, and that the gods lived
apart in complete indifference to men--this was to Philo utter
atheism, and as such the greatest of sins. He attacked paganism not
only in its crude form of idolatry,[108] but in its more seductive
disguise of a pretentious philosophy. Always and entirely he was the
champion of monotheism.

Nearly as godless, and therefore as vile in his eyes as the follower
of Epicurus, is the follower of the Stoic doctrines. It has been shown
that the Jews and the Stoics were continually in conflict at
Alexandria; and the "Allegories of the Laws" are filled with attacks,
overt and hidden, upon the Stoic doctrines. The Stoics, indeed,
believed in one supreme Divine Power, not however in a transcendental
and personal God, but a cosmic, impersonal, fatalistic world-force.[109]
To Philo this conception, with its denial of the Divine will and the
Divine care for the individual, was as atheistic as the Epicurean
"chance." Equally repulsive to his religious standpoint was the Stoic
dogma, that man is, or should be, independent of all help, and that
the human reason is all-powerful and can comprehend the universe by
its own unaided power.[110] Repulsive also were their pride, their
rejection of the emotions, their hard rationalism. The battle of Philo
against the Stoics is the battle of personal monotheism against
impersonal pantheism, of religious faith and revelation against
arrogant rationalism, and of idealism against materialism. Hostile as
he is to the Stoic intellectual dogmatism, Philo is none the less
opposed to its converse, intellectual skepticism and agnosticism. Man,
he is convinced, has a Divine revelation[111] which he may not deny
without ruin. He holds with Pope that we have

  "Too much of knowledge for the Skeptic side,
  Too much of weakness for the Stoic's pride,"

and he attacks the Skeptics of the day who devoted their minds to
destructive dialectical quibbling and sophistry[112] instead of
seeking for God and the human good. They are the Ishmaels of

Philo's polemic is directed less against the Greek schools in
themselves than against the Jewish followers of the Greek schools. He
saw the danger to Judaism in the teachings of these anti-religious
philosophers, and deeply as he loved Greek culture, he loved more
deeply his religion. He wanted to reveal a philosophy in the Bible
which should win back to Judaism the men who had been captivated by
foreign thought. In one aspect, therefore, his master-work is a plea
for unity. The community at Alexandria was a very heterogeneous body;
not only were the sects which had appeared in Palestine, the Sadducees,
Samaritans, Pharisees, and Essenes, represented there too, but in
addition there were parties who attached themselves to one or other of
the Greek schools, the Pythagoreans, Skeptics, and the like, and
lastly Gnostic groups, who cultivated an esoteric doctrine of the
Godhead, and were lax in their observance of the law, which they held
to be purely symbolical and of no account in its literal meaning. The
mental activity which this growth of sects exemplified was in some
respects a healthy sign, but it contained seeds of religious chaos,
which bore their fruit in the next century. Men started by thinking
out a philosophical Judaism for themselves; they ended by ceasing to
be Jews and philosophers. Philo foresaw this danger, and he tried to
combat it by presenting his people with a commentary of the Bible
which should satisfy their intellectual and speculative bent, but at
the same time preserve their loyalty to the Bible and the law. To the
Greek world he offered a philosophical religion, to his own people a
religious philosophy. Thus the allegorical commentary is the crowning
point of his work, the offering of his deepest thought to the most
cultured of the community; and though much of its detail had only
relevancy for its own time, and its method may repel our modern taste,
yet the spirit which animates it is of value to all ages, and should
be an inspiration to every generation of emancipated Jews. That spirit
is one of fearless acceptance of the finest culture of the age
combined with unswerving love of the law and loyalty to catholic

We have already treated of the general characteristics of Philo's
method of allegorical interpretation, but we must now consider rather
more closely the way in which he employs it. The general principle
upon which he depends is, that besides and in addition to the literal
meaning which the Bible bears for the common man, it has a hidden and
deeper meaning for the philosopher. It is, as it were, a sort of
palimpsest; the writing on the top all may read, the writing below the
student alone can decipher. With the rabbis Philo holds that the Torah
was written "in the language of the sons of man,"[113] but he believes
with them again that it contains all wisdom. And if the ideas of
reason do not appear in its literal meaning, then they must be
searched out in some inner interpretation. Commenting on the verse in
Genesis (xi. 7), "Let us confound their language, that they may not
understand one another's speech," he says: "Those who follow the
literal and obvious interpretation think that the origin of the Greek
and barbarian languages is here described; [the contrast between
Greek, on the one hand, and barbarian--in which Hebrew, it seems, is
included--on the other, is remarkable]. I would not find fault with
them, because they also, perhaps, employ right reason, but I would
call on them not to remain content with this, but to follow me to the
metaphorical renderings, considering that the actual words of the holy
oracle are, as it were, shadows of the real bodies, and the powers
which they reflect are the true underlying ideas."[114]

Elsewhere he tells a story of the condign punishment which befell a
godless and impious man, perchance a Samaritan Jew, who made mock of
the race of allegorical interpreters, jeering at the idea that the
change of names from Abram to Abraham and from Sarai to Sarah
contained some deep meaning. He soon paid a fitting penalty for his
wicked wit, for on some very trivial pretext he went and hanged
himself. Which was just, says Philo; for such a rascal deserved a
rascal's death.[115] It is noteworthy that the Talmud also lays stress
upon the deep meaning of the patriarch's change of name.[116] "He who
calls Abraham Abram," said Bar Kappara, "transgresses a positive
command" [Hebrew: mtsva 'sha]. "Nay," said Rabbi Levi, "he transgresses
both a positive and a negative command (and commits a double sin)." Clearly
this was a test-question and an article of faith, possibly because the
letter [Hebrew: h], which was added to the name, was a letter of
mystical import in the opinion of the age. Both the rejection of the
literal and the rejection of the allegorical value of the Bible, Philo
regarded as impious, and he had to struggle against opposite factions
that were one-sided. The true son of the law believes in both [Greek:
to hrêton] and [Greek: to en hyponoiais].[117] Seeing that the
Bible was the inspired revelation of God, who is the fountain of all
wisdom and knowledge--this is Philo's cardinal dogma--it is not to be
supposed, on the one hand, that it was silent about the profoundest
ideas of the human mind, or, on the other, that it contained ideas
opposed to right reason and truth. Yet at first sight it seemed to
lack any definite philosophy and to offer anthropomorphic views of
God. Hence the true interpreter must use the actual words of the sage
as metaphors, following the maxim, "Turn it about and about, because
all is in it, and contemplate it and wax grey over it, for thou canst
have no better rule than this."[118] The principle upon which Philo,
Saadia, Maimonides, and in fact the whole line of Jewish philosophical
exegetes have worked, is that the "words of the law are fruitful and
multiply"; or, as the Bible phrase runs, "The Torah which Moses
commanded unto us is the inheritance of the congregation of Jacob." It
is the separate inheritance of each generation, which each must
cultivate so as to gather therefrom its own fruit.

The Halakah is the outcome of this devotion in one aspect, the
philosophical exegesis in another. In the one case Jewish
jurisprudence and the body of legal tradition, in the other,
philosophical ideas inspired by outer civilization, are attached to
the text of the Bible by ingenious devices of association. The device
is partly a pious fiction, partly a genuine belief; in other words,
the teachers honestly thought that there was respectively a hidden
philosophical meaning in the Bible and an oral tradition,
supplementary to the written law and arising out of it; but on the
other hand they would not have urged that their particular
interpretation alone was portended by the Scriptures. This is shown in
the Talmud by the fact that different rabbis deduced the same lessons
from different verses, and contrary laws from the same verse; in Philo
by the fact that he often gives various interpretations of one text in
different parts of his work. All that was claimed was that knowledge
and truth must be primarily referred to the Divine revelation, and all
law and practice to the authority of the Mosaic code. Philo, then, in
the same way as the rabbis, deduces all his teaching from the Bible,
not because he holds that it was explicitly contained there, but
because he desires to give to his philosophical notions Divine
authority. Like the rabbis, again, he suggests definite rules of
interpretation which may always be applied [Greek: kanones tês
allêgorias].[119] He declares that every name in the Torah has a deep
symbolical meaning, and symbolizes some power.[120] Thus the names of
the sons of Jacob typify each some moral quality, and these qualities
together make the perfect man and the perfect nation. Reuben is "the
son of insight" [Hebrew: ru'bn], Simeon is learning [Hebrew: shm'-on],
Judah [Hebrew: yhuda] stands for the praise of God.[121] It may be noted,
by the way, that all these values show traces of Hebrew etymology. Again,
the synonyms in the Bible are to be carefully studied, while even
particles and parts of words have their special value and importance.
And the skilful exegete may for homiletical purposes make slight
changes in a word, following the rabbinical rule,[122] "Read not so,
but so." Thus he plays upon the name Esau, and takes the Hebrew word
as though it were written, not [Hebrew: 'eshaw] but [Hebrew: 'ashav], a
thing made.[123] Whence he shows that Esau represents the sham
(made-up) greatness, which is boastful and insolent and shameless.
Philo is referring perhaps to Apion, the vainglorious anti-Semite,
whom he often covertly attacks. Again, whenever there is repetition in
the text, a deeper meaning is portended. Dealing with the verse,
"Sarah the wife of Abraham took Hagar the Egyptian" (Gen. xvi. 3),
Philo comments, that we already knew that Sarah was Abraham's wife:
why, then, does the Bible mention it again? And following certain
values which he has made, he draws the lesson that the study of
philosophy must always go together with the study of general
culture.[124] These examples are not isolated; yet it is rather a
barren science to search for the canons of Philo's allegory, as
Siegfried has done.

For his allegory is a very flexible instrument, which can be employed
at pleasure to deduce anything from anything. And Philo regards these
"points of construction" as the excuse, not as the motive, of his
ethical and philosophical teaching. He does not depend on such
devices, for he wanders into allegory more often than not without any
pretext of the kind.

The modern reader may consider the allegorical method artificial and
unconvincing, even if he does not go so far as Spinoza, and say that
it is "useless, harmful, and absurd."[125] We prefer to-day to show
the inner agreement of philosophical with Biblical teaching, rather
than pretend that all philosophy is contained within the Bible; and we
accept the Bible as it stands, as a book of supreme religious worth,
without requiring more of it. But that is mainly a difference of taste
or of method, and in Philo's day, and in fact down to the time of the
sixteenth-century Renaissance, Jew and Gentile alike preferred the
other way. For thought, ancient and mediæval, was pervaded with the
craving for authority or a plausible show of it. The Bible was not
only the great book of morality, but the standard of truth, that from
which knowledge in all its branches started, and that by which it was
to be judged. As all knowledge came from God, so all knowledge was in
God's Book; and allegory was the method by which the intellectual
conceptions of succeeding ages were attached to it.

The two main heads of Biblical interpretation which the Jewish
religious genius developed, Peshat and Derash,--these represent two
permanent attitudes of mind. In the first the commentator tries to get
at the exact meaning of the text before him, to make its lesson clear
and discuss the circumstances of the composition, the exact relations
of its parts. He is satisfied to take the writer of the Biblical book
for what he says in his own form of utterance. In the second the
commentator is more anxious to inculcate ideas and lessons which do
not arise obviously from the text, and to widen the significance of
what he finds in the Bible. The interpretation ceases to be a mere
exposition; it becomes creative or conciliating thought, and the
interpreter becomes a religious reformer, a philosopher, a prophet. To
this school Philo belongs, and the framework of his teaching or the
ingenuity by which he develops it from his text is of small account.
It is what he teaches and what he considers to be the vital things in
religion and life to which we must pay attention. Judged on this
ground Philo is a supreme master of Derash, and must take a place
among the most creative of the interpreters of the Bible.

       *       *       *       *       *



Over and over again Philo declares that his function is to expound the
law of Moses. Moses was the interpreter of God's word to Israel; and
Philo aspired to be the interpreter of the revelation of Moses to the
Hellenistic world, "the living voice of the holy law." He believed
that Israel was a chosen people in the sense that it had received the
Divine message on behalf of the whole human race,[126] a Kingdom of
Priests, in that it occupied to other nations the position which the
priest--using the word in the fullest sense--occupied to the common
people.[127] The Torah is God's covenant, not only with one small
nation, but with all His children, and its teachings are true for all
times and for all places. "The Bible," as Professor Butcher says,[128]
"is the one book which appears to have the capacity of eternal
self-adjustment, of uninterrupted correspondence with an ever-shifting
and ever-widening environment." Nowadays this appears a truism, but
the truth first presented itself to the Jewish-Alexandrian community
when they came in contact with external culture. The Palestinian and
Babylonian Jews, free for the most part from outside influences,
developed the Torah for the Jewish people, amplified the tradition,
and determined the Halakah, the practical law. But the Alexandrian
Jews in the first place found their own attitude to the Torah affected
by their acquaintance with Greek ethics and metaphysics, and also
found it necessary to interpret the Bible in a new fashion in order to
make its value known to their environment. The Greek world required to
be shown the general principle, the broad ethical idea in each
ordinance. And thus it came about that the Alexandrian interpreters
always emphasized the universal beneath the particular, the moral
spirit beneath the forms.

It had been one of the chief functions of the prophets to demonstrate
the moral import of the law. In their vision the God of Israel became
the God of the universe, and His law of conduct was spread over all
mankind. "For the law shall go forth from Zion, and the word of the
Lord from Jerusalem" (Micah iv. 2). Philo in effect expounds Judaism
in their spirit, though he speaks their message in the voice of Plato
and to a people whose minds were trained in Greek culture. Yet it is
significant that he wrote all his commentaries round the Five Books of
Moses, and used the prophets and other Biblical books only to
illustrate and support the Mosaic teaching, which contains the whole
way of life and the whole religious philosophy. According to the
rabbis also the Prophets formed only a complement to the Torah, "a
species of Agadah";[129] and the prophetic vision of Moses was much
clearer than that of his successors. Philo, too, clearly realized that
Judaism was the religion of the law. His view of the Torah is what the
modern world would call uncritical: that is to say, he accepts the
idea that the whole of the Five Books was an objective revelation to
Moses at Sinai. But though--or because--he is innocent of the higher
criticism, and believes in the literal inspiration of the Torah, his
conception is none the less enlightened and spiritual. The law--the
Divine Logos--is not the enactment of an outside power, arbitrarily
imposed, and to be obeyed because of its miraculous origin; it is the
expression of the human soul within, when raised to its highest power
by the Divine inspiration. Every man may fit himself to receive the
Divine word, which is, in modern language, revelation.[130] Moses,
then, is distinguished above all other legislators, not because he
alone received it, but because he received it in its purest form, and
because he was the most noble interpreter of it. It is for this reason
that the law of Moses is of universal validity for conduct. The Divine
spirit possessed him so fully that his Logos, or revelation, is
eternally true, and by following it all men become fit to be blessed
with the Divine gift themselves. This is true of the other prophets of
the Bible to a smaller degree, and in a still minor degree Philo hoped
that it was true of himself.

It should be premised that the "law of nature" was at the time of
Philo an idea as widely accepted as "evolution" is to-day. Men
believed that by a study of the processes of the universe the
individual might discover the law of conduct that should bring his
action into harmony with the whole. What the Greek philosophers
declared to be the privilege of the few, Philo declared to have been
imparted by God to His people as their law of life. Hence the Mosaic
legislation is the code of nature and reason, and the righteous man
directs his conduct in accordance with those rules of nature by which
the cosmos is ordered.[131] Obedience to the law should not be
obedience to an outward prescription, but rather the following out of
our own highest nature. The ideal which the Stoic sage continually
aspired for and never attained to--the life according to nature and
right reason--this Philo claimed had been accomplished in the Mosaic
revelation, handed down by God to Israel and through them to the

Before we deal with Philo's treatment of the law in its narrower
sense, it will be as well to consider briefly his interpretation of
the historical parts of the Torah. Here likewise he finds ideas of
natural reason and eternal truths embodied. To Philo, as we have seen,
the Torah is a unity, and every part of it has equal validity and
value. He had to contend against certain higher critics of his day,
who declared that Genesis was a collection of myths ([Greek:
mythôn plasmata]).[132] Moreover, the long catalogues of
genealogies in Genesis and the longer recitals of sacrifices in
Leviticus and Numbers seemed to refute those who declared that every
part of the Pentateuch was a Divine revelation. In the third book of
the "Questions to Genesis" Philo directly grapples with this
objection. Commenting on the verse (Gen. xv. 9), "Take for me a heifer
of three years old and a goat of three years old," etc., he says that
in interpreting any part or any verse of Scripture we must look to the
purpose of the whole and explain it from this outlook, "without
dissecting or disturbing its harmony or disintegrating its
unity."[133] Why should God, asked the scoffer, reveal these trivial
or prolix details? Philo's answer is in fact to spiritualize
everything that is material, and universalize everything that is
particular. While he believes in the literal inspiration of the Bible,
he does not insist upon the literal truth of every word of it, and in
the opening chapters of Genesis in particular, he treats the tales as
symbolical or allegorical myths. His philosophical commentary on the
creation, corresponding to the [Hebrew: m'sha br'shit] of the
rabbis, is found in the book _De Mundi Opificio_, which stands in
modern editions at the head of his writings. Its main theme is to
trace in the text the Platonic idealism, _i.e._, the theory that God
first created transcendental, incorporeal archetypes of all
physical and material things. Philo uses the double account of the
creation of man in the first and second chapters of Genesis as clear
evidence that the Bible describes--for those who have the mind to
see--the creation of an ideal before the terrestrial man.

In the "Allegories of the Laws," which is the profounder philosophical
doctrine, the account of Adam and Eve is deliberately chosen by Philo
as the text of a psychological treatise, in which he analyzes[134] the
relations of the mind, the senses, and the pleasures, represented
respectively by Adam, Eve, and the Serpent. The necessity of
explaining the story symbolically is professedly based on the fact
that otherwise we are driven to the idea that the Bible spoke
inaccurately about God. "It is silly," he says, "to suppose that Adam
and Eve can have hidden themselves in the Garden of Eden, for God
filled the whole." We are driven then to suggest another meaning; and
Philo passes into a homily about the false opinion of the man who
follows the bidding of the senses (Eve) at the instigation of pleasure
(the Serpent).[135]

The story of Cain and Abel is another piece of moral philosophy
embodied in a concrete form. Abel symbolizes pious humility, Cain the
deadly sin of atheism and intellectual pride, which denies the
absolute and ever-present power of the Deity. Philo asks himself the
question that other commentators have frequently raised, some in
reverence, some in ridicule, "Who was Cain's wife?"[136] And he
answers that the Bible expression about the children of Cain cannot be
taken literally, but suggests the union of the ill-ruled mind with
impious opinions, which have as their issue false pride and sin.

Philo here treats the stories in the opening of Genesis as pure
allegories, in which the men and women represent symbolically
characters and qualities. It should be remembered, however, that these
interpretations occur in the commentary where our author is not so
much expounding the Torah as deducing secret doctrines from it. His
proper exposition of the law proceeds from the book on the Creation to
the lives of the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and then to the
lives of Joseph and Moses. And in this commentary the Bible narrative
is taken as historical truth: only in addition to the historical fact
there is a moral and universal value in every figure and every
episode. The patriarchs' lives represent the unwritten law which the
Greek world held in high honor, for it was considered to contain the
broad principles of individual and social conduct, and to be prior
logically and chronologically to the written codes. Moses, therefore,
the perfect legislator, according to Philo, has presented in the three
founders of the Hebrew race embodiments of the unwritten law of good
conduct for all mankind. Each of them is a moral type of eternal
validity and represents one of the ways in which blessedness may be
attained.[137] Abraham represents the goodness which comes from
instruction; Isaac, the spontaneous goodness that is innate, and the
joy (or laughter) of the soul that is God's gift to his favored sons;
Jacob, the goodness that comes after long effort, through the life of
practice and severe discipline. Before this triad, the Bible presents
another group of three, who represent the virtues preparatory to the
acquisition of perfect goodness: Enosh, Enoch, and Noah.[138] They
typify respectively, as their names indicate, hope, repentance, and
justice. It is a pretty thought, helped by an error in the Septuagint
translation,[139] which sees in the name of the first (_i.e._, man,
[Hebrew: 'nosh]) the symbol of hope. Hope, the commentator suggests, is the
distinguishing characteristic of man[140] as compared with other
animals, and hope therefore is our first step towards the Divine
nature, the seed of which faith is the fruit. Next in order come
repentance and natural justice, and from these stepping-stones we can
rise to the higher self. Philo's interpretation of these Bible figures
would appear to have behind it an old Midrashic tradition. As far back
as the book of Ben Sira, in the passage on "the Praises of Famous Men"
(xliv), they are taken as typical of the different virtues, and Enoch
notably is the type of repentance. In the first century the world was
becoming incapable of understanding abstract ideas, and required
ethics to be concretely embodied in examples of life. Philo found
within the Jewish Scriptures what the Christian apostles later
transferred to other events.

Joseph, whose life followed that of the patriarchs, is the type of the
political life, the model of the man of action and ambition. Taken
alone, this is inferior to the life of the saint and philosopher, but
mixed with the other it produces the perfect man, for the truly good
man must take his part in public life. The story of Joseph, then,
illustrates the full humanity of Moses' scheme, and it marks also,
according to Philo, the great moral lesson, that if there be one spark
of nobility in a man's soul, God will find it and cause it to shine
forth.[141] For Joseph, until he comes down to Egypt, is not a
virtuous man, but full of conceit and unworthy aspiration for
supremacy; he shows his true worth when he is sold into slavery; and
then by the Divine inspiration he becomes the ideal statesman. Very
suggestive is Philo's homily, by which he develops the Bible
narrative, that the function of the statesman is to expound
dreams;[142] because his task is to interpret the life of man, which
is one long dream of changing scenes, wherein we forget what has gone
before, as the fleeting shadow leads us from childhood to youth, from
youth to manhood, from manhood to old age. Lastly, from the story of
Joseph he draws the lesson that when the Hebrew has attained to a high
position in a foreign land, as in Egypt, where there is utter
blindness about the true God, he can and should retain his national
laws,[143] and not assimilate the practices of his environment.

Eusebius[144] mentions, among the works of Philo which he had before
him, a book on "The Statesman," in which doubtless the principles of
government and social life were more fully treated. The book has
disappeared, but the life of Joseph suffices to show that Philo
recognized the place of public service in the human ideal.

Moses is not only the divinely inspired legislator, but he typifies
also the perfection of the human soul, the highest example of the man
at one with God, supreme as king, lawgiver, priest, and prophet. He is
the link between God and man, the perfect interpreter of the Divine
Word; and though Philo avoids the suggestion of any Divine power
incarnate in man, he speaks imaginatively of the Logos of Moses,[145]
_i.e._, his reason, as identical with the Logos of God, the Divine law
of the universe. It is significant of his attitude to religion that he
lays no stress upon the miracles of the Bible narrative. Not that he
rationalizes them away; he rejects all rationalizing whatsoever; but
he interprets them as great spiritual signs, rather than as diversions
from the laws of nature. His allegory of the burning bush, which Moses
saw at Horeb is typical, and presents a truth to which the whole
history of Israel bears witness. The weak thorn-bush, which was not
consumed by the fire, is the image of the idea of Israel, which almost
cries to the people in their misfortune: "Do not despair! Your
weakness is your strength, and by it you shall wound race after race.
You will be preserved by those who wish to destroy you, and you shall
not perish. In evil days you shall not suffer, and when a tyrant
thinks to uproot you, you shall shine forth the more in brighter
glory."[146] The passage is typical also of the rhetorical artifice
with which Philo, following the taste of the time, recommended the
Bible to the Greeks.

We turn now to Philo's treatment of the Mosaic legislation, the Torah
in its narrower sense, which is to modern Jewry perhaps the most
striking part of his commentary. His problem was the same as ours--to
bring the ancient law into harmony with the ideas of a non-Jewish
environment, and to show its essential value when tried by an external
cultural standard. Briefly his solution is that he sees everything in
the Torah _sub specie æternitatis_, in the light of eternity; and by
his faithfulness to the law, combined with his spiritual
interpretation of it, he stands forth as the greatest Jewish
missionary of his age. Unfortunately for Judaism, depth of thought and
philosophical judgment are not the qualities which mark the successful
religious missionary. Philo's philosophical treatment of the Torah was
understood only of the few; the fanatical Pauline rejection of the law
appealed to the masses. The spirit of the age demanded, indeed, the
ethical interpretation of the Bible, and it was carried out in many
ways, some true, some untrue to Judaism. Philo and Josephus tell us
how Judaism was spreading over the world.[147] "There is not any city
of the Greeks," says the historian, "nor of the barbarians, nor of any
nation whatsoever, to which our custom of resting on the seventh day
has not been introduced, and where our fasts and our dietary laws are
not observed.... As God Himself pervadeth all the universe, so hath
our law passed through the world." And their testimony is supported by
the frequent gibes against Judaizing Romans in the Roman poets,[148]
and by the explicit statements of Strabo,[149] the famous geographer,
and, more remarkable still, of Seneca, the Stoic
philosopher-statesman. The bitter foe of the Jews, he confessed that
this superstitious pest was infecting the whole world, and that the
conquered people (Judæa had lately been made a Roman province) were
taking their conquerors captive.[150] Philo, with his ardent hope,
looked for the near coming of the time when the worship of the Jewish
God would prevail over the world, and sought to show that the Jewish
law, which is the expression of Jewish belief, and which differs from
all others, not only in the extent of its sway, but in its
unchangeableness, could be universalized to fit its new service. To
this end he interpreted the Mosaic code, which "no war, tyrant,
persecution, or visitation, human or Divine, can destroy: for it is
eternal."[151] In the arrangement of the Torah, Philo finds a proof of
its universality. It begins with the account of the creation, to teach
us that the same Being that is the Creator and Father of the universe
is also its Legislator, and, again, that he who follows the law will
choose to live in harmony with nature, and will exhibit consistency of
action with words and of words with action. Other philosophers,
notably the Stoics, claimed to lay down a plan of life that followed
the law of nature; but their practice notoriously fell below their
unrealizable professions. In Judaism alone spirit and practice were at
one, so that each inspired the other and secured human excellence.
"Not theory but practice is the root of the matter" ([Hebrew: l' hmdrsh
'kr 'l' hm'sha]), according to the rabbis:[152] and Philo, who,
contemplative philosopher as he was, yet recognized the all-importance of
conduct, writes in the same spirit:[153] "We must first study and then act,
for we learn, not for learning's sake, but in order to action."

Philo seeks to arrange the law under general moral heads, and he finds
in the Decalogue the holy text upon which the rest of the code is but
a commentary. He may be following a tradition common among all the
Jews, for in the Midrash to Numbers (xiii) it is said that the six
hundred and thirteen precepts are all contained in the Ten
Commandments: [Hebrew: shtrig mtsvt klilit bhn]. We do not know, however,
in what way the early rabbis carried out this idea, whereas we possess
Philo's arrangement; and some of its features are very suggestive.[154]
To the first two commandments he attaches the ritual laws relating to
priests and sacrifices, to the fourth the laws of all the festivals, to
the seventh the criminal and civil law, to the tenth the dietary laws.
The Decalogue he conceives as falling into two divisions, between which
the fifth commandment is a link. For the first four commandments are
ordinances that determine man's relation to God, and the last five
those which determine his relation to his fellows. Honor of the
parents is the link between the Divine and the human virtues, even as
parents themselves are a link between immortal God and mortal man.
Corresponding to the two divisions of the Decalogue are the two
generic virtues which the Mosaic legislation has set as its goal,
piety, and humanity, or what the rabbis called charity ([Hebrew: tsdka]).
"He who loves God, but does not show love towards his own kind,
has but the half of virtue."[155] Thus in one and the same age Hillel,
incited by a single scoffer, and Philo, moved by the taunts of a tribe
of anti-Semites, looked for the most vital lesson of the Torah, and
they found it alike in "the love of our neighbor." That was Judaism on
its practical side.

In order to show the humanitarian spirit of the Torah, Philo
emphasizes its socialistic institutions, the law of the seventh year's
rest to the land ([Hebrew: shnt hshmita]), of the emancipation of the
slaves, and of the Jubilee. These to him are not tribal laws, but the
ideal institutions for the whole world, which shall one day be set up
when the theocracy has been established over all mankind. And in an age
when slavery was as accepted a condition as factory-labor is to-day,
he ventured to assert the principle of the equality of man. "If,"
saith the law, "one of thy brethren be sold to thee, let him serve
thee for six years, and in the seventh year let him go free without
payment." And Philo thereon comments:[156] "A second time Moses calls
our fellow-creature brother, to impress upon the master that he has a
tie with his servant, so that he may not neglect him as a stranger.
Nay, but if he follows the direction of the law, he will feel sympathy
with him, and will not be vexed when he is about to liberate him. For
though we call our servants slaves, yet in verity they are only
dependents who serve us in order to have the means of life." This
corresponds with the Talmud dictum, "Whoever buys a Jewish slave buys
a master for himself."[157] Commenting again upon the verse in Exodus
xxi. 6, which says with seeming harshness that a servant who wishes to
stay with his master after the year of emancipation has arrived, shall
be nailed by the ear to a door, he explains that no man should consent
of his own will to be a slave, for we should only be servants of God;
and if a man deliberately rejects freedom for comfort, he should wear
a mark of degradation. The so-called Christian principle of the
dignity of human life and the equality of man, Philo shows to be the
spirit of the Mosaic law, not limited within the confines of one
nation, but valid for the world. Nor is it contained therein as a mere
sentimental aspiration, but it is realized in the institutions of the
Jewish polity.

Philo looked for the same broad principles in his treatment of the
ceremonial law. The Sabbath day is the central observance, one might
say, the lodestar of the Jewish life, round which the other ceremonies
revolve. The Sabbath is the call to man's higher nature, for it is the
day on which we are bidden to devote ourselves to the Divine power
within us and to seek to know God. "The six days in which the Creator
made the universe are an example to us to work, but the seventh day,
on which He rested, is an example to us to meditate. As on that day
God is said to have looked upon His work, so we, too, should
contemplate the universe thereon, and consider our highest welfare.
Let us never neglect the example of the best life, the combination of
action and thought, but keeping a clear vision of it before our minds,
so far as our human nature will permit, let us liken ourselves to
immortal God by word and deed."[158] High-flown this language may be,
but what Philo wishes to mark is the spiritual value of the Sabbath.
It is not merely a day of rest from workaday toil, but it is a day
upon which we devote all our thoughts to God, and enter into closer
communion with Him, [Hebrew: mnoht 'hba vndba], a repose of love and
devotion. Heine said that on one day of the week the lowliest Jew became
a prince, Philo that he became a philosopher. As in all of Philo's
interpretations of Jewish custom, there is something mystic in his
conception of the Sabbath. For he regards all Divine service and all
prayer as a mystic rite which leads the human soul unto God. In the
special ordinances of the day he finds a spiritual motive. We may not
touch fire, because fire is the seed and beginning of industry.[159]
The servant of the house may not work,[160] because on this day he
shall have a taste of freedom and humanity, and he will work the more
cheerfully during the remaining six days. Some rabbis later, when
numbers of Gentiles had adopted this without the other institutions of
Judaism, claimed the Sabbath as the special heritage of Israel; and in
the book of Jubilees[161] it is said that Israel alone has the right
to observe the Sabbath. Not so Philo, who, desiring to give the day a
value for all, regards it as God's covenant with the whole of

The Sabbath idea is reflected in all the festivals, which have as
their dominating idea man's joyful gratitude to God. Influenced
probably by a mystic fondness for certain numbers, Philo enumerates
ten festivals, as follows:[163] (1) Each day in the year, if we use it
aright--a truly Philonic conception; (2) The Sabbath; (3) The new
moon--then in Alexandria, as in Palestine, a solemn day; (4) The
Passover; (5) The bringing of the first barley ('Omer); (6) The Feast
of Unleavened Bread. These last three are separate aspects of one
celebration, which is divided up so as to produce the holy decad. (7)
Pentecost; (8) New Year; (9) Atonement (to the mystic the Feast of
feasts); (10) Tabernacles. Following his design of revealing in
Judaism a religion of universal validity, Philo points out in all
these festivals a double meaning. On the one hand, they mark God's
providence to His chosen people, shown in some great event of their
history--this is the special meaning for the Israelite--and, on the
other, they indicate God's goodness as revealed in the march of
nature, and thus help to bind man to the universal process. So
Passover is the festival of the spring and a memorial of the creation
([Hebrew: zbr lm'sha br'shit]) as well as the memorial of the great Exodus,
and of our gratitude for the deliverance from the inhospitable land of
Egypt. And those who look for a deeper moral meaning may find in it a
symbol of the passing over from the life of the senses to the life with
God. Similarly, Philo deals with the other festivals,[164] and in their
particular ceremonies he finds symbols which stamp eternal lessons of
history and of morality upon our hearts. The unleavened bread is the
mark of the simple life, the New Year Shofar of the Divine rule of
peace, the Sukkot booth of the equality of all men, and, as he puts it
elsewhere, of man's duty in prosperity to remember the troubles of his
past, so that he may worthily recognize God's goodness. Much of this
may appear trite to us; and the association of the festivals with the
seasons of nature may to some appear a false development of historical
Judaism; nevertheless Philo's treatment of this part of the Torah is
notable. It shows remarkable feeling for the ethical import of the
law, and it establishes the harmony between the Greek and Hebrew
conceptions of the Deity by combining the God of history with the God
of nature in the same festival. The ideas were not unknown to
Palestinian rabbis; Philo, by giving them a Greek dress, opened them
to the world.

Equally remarkable and equally suggestive is Philo's treatment of the
dietary laws. We have seen that he placed them under the governing
principle of the tenth commandment, "Thou shalt not covet," or, more
broadly, "Thou shalt not have base desires." The dietary laws are at
once a symbol and a discipline of temperance and self-control. We know
that the Greeks, as soon as they had a superficial knowledge of Jewish
observance, jeered at the barbarous and stupid superstition of
refusing to eat pork. Again we are told in the letter of the false
Aristeas that when Ptolemy's ambassadors went to Jerusalem, to summon
learned men to translate the Torah into Greek, Eleazar, the high
priest, instructed them in the deeper moral meaning of the dietary
laws. Further, in the fourth book of the Maccabees--an Alexandrian
sermon upon the Empire of Right Reason--we find an eloquent defence of
these same laws as the precepts of reason which fortify our minds.
Philo, then, is following a tradition, but he improves upon it.
Accepting the Platonic psychology, which divided the soul into reason,
temper (_i.e._, will), and desire, he shows how the aim of the Mosaic
law about food is to control desire and will, so as to make them
subservient to reason. By practicing self-restraint in the two
commonest actions of life--eating and drinking--the Israelite acquires
it in all things. The hard ascetic who would root out bodily desires
errs against human nature, but the wise legislator controls them and
curbs them by precepts, so that they are bent to the higher reason.

Modern apologists for Judaism have been found who, trying to force
science to support their tottering faith, allege that the dietary law
is hygienic. Philo relies on no such treacherous reed. We may not eat,
he says,[165] the flesh of the pig or shell-fish, not because they are
unhealthy, but because they are the sweetest and most delightful of
all food, and for that very reason they are marks of the sensual life.
This and this alone is the true religious justification of the dietary

In this way, by showing how the letter represents the spirit, Philo
fulfils the law; his religion is liberal in thought, conservative in
practice. He sees clearly that to throw off the law and reject
tradition involves in the end chaos and the overthrow of
righteousness. And certain Christian--and other--theologians, if one
may make bold to say so, fail to realize the spirit of Philo, when
they speak of him as a man who approached the light, but was too tied
down by the old traditions to receive the full illumination. Rather is
it true that the Jewish aspiration of "freedom under the law," or
spirit through the letter, is absolutely fundamental in Philo, and
loyalty to the Torah is a guiding principle in his religious outlook.
He asserts it clearly and strikingly, not only in his ethical
commentary on the law, but in his philosophical allegories. Both
passages deserve quotation, since they mark the fundamental contrast
between Philo and non-Jewish allegorists of the law. In the first
Philo is commenting upon the command "Thou shalt not add to or take
away from the law" (Deut. xix. 14).[166] He shows first how each of
the virtues is marred by excess in either direction; virtue in fact,
according to the Aristotelian formula, is "a mean."

     "And in the same way, if we add anything great or small to
     piety, the queen of virtues, or take anything away, we mar
     it and change its form. Addition will engender superstition,
     and diminution impiety, and true piety will disappear, which
     above all things we should pray for to enlighten our souls:
     for it is the cause of the greatest of goods, inducing in us
     a knowledge of our conduct towards God, which is a thing
     more royal and kingly than any public office or distinction.
     Further, Moses lays down another general command, 'Do not
     remove the boundary stone of thy neighbor, which thy
     ancestors have set up.' This, methinks, does not refer
     merely to inheritances and the boundary of land, but it is
     ordained with a view to the preservation of ancient customs.
     For customs are unwritten laws, the decrees of men of old,
     not carved indeed upon pillars and inscribed upon parchment,
     but engraved upon the souls of the generations who through
     the ages maintain the chosen community. Children should take
     over the paternal customs from their parents as part of
     their inheritance, for they were reared on them, and lived
     on them from their swaddling days, and they should not
     neglect them merely because the tradition is not written.
     The man who obeys the written laws is not, indeed, worthy of
     praise, for he may be constrained thereto by fear of
     punishment. But he who holds fast to the unwritten laws
     gives proof of a voluntary goodness and is worthy of our

Clearly he is arguing here for the observance of the oral law, which
later was standardized in the Halakah.

In the other passage, which occurs in the philosophical book "On the
Migration of Abraham,"[167] he sets forth the reason of the authority
of the law with more argument, and controverts those who would
allegorize away the ordinances.

     "To whom, then, God has granted both to be and to seem good,
     he is truly happy and truly renowned. And we must have a
     great care for reputation, as a matter of great importance
     and of much value, for our social and bodily life. [By
     reputation Philo means reputation of being loyal Jews. He is
     addressing here an esoteric circle who, if they were lax,
     would bring philosophy into disrepute.] And almost all can
     secure it, who are well content not to disturb established
     customs, but diligently preserve the constitution of their
     nation. But there are some who, looking upon the written
     laws as symbols of intellectual things, lay great stress on
     these, but neglect the former. Such men I would blame for
     their shallowness of mind [Greek: euchereia]. For they
     ought to give good heed to both--to the accurate
     investigation of the unseen meaning, but also to the
     blameless observance of the visible letter. But now, as if
     they were living by themselves in a desert, and were souls
     without bodies, and knew nothing of city or village or house
     or intercourse with men, they despise all that seems
     valuable to the many, and search for bare and naked truth as
     it is in itself. Such people the sacred Scripture teaches to
     give good heed to a good reputation, and to abolish none of
     those customs which greater and more inspired men than we
     instituted in the past. For, because the seventh day teaches
     us symbolically concerning the power of the uncreated God,
     and the inactivity of the creature, we must not therefore
     abolish its ordinances, so as to light a fire, or till the
     ground, or bear a burden, or prosecute a lawsuit, or demand
     the restoration of a deposit, or exact the repayment of a
     loan, or do any other thing, which on week-days is allowed.
     Because the festivals are symbols of spiritual joy and of
     our gratitude to God, we must not therefore give up the
     fixed assemblies at the proper seasons of the year. Nor,
     because circumcision symbolizes the excision of all lusts
     and passions, and the destruction of the impious opinion
     according to which the mind imagines that it is itself
     capable of production, must we therefore abolish the law of
     fleshly circumcision. We should have to neglect the service
     of the temple, and a thousand other things, if we were to
     restrict ourselves only to the allegorical or symbolic
     sense. That sense resembles the soul, the other sense the
     body. Just as we must be careful of the body, as the house
     of the soul, so must we give heed to the letter of the
     written laws. For only when these are faithfully observed,
     will the inner meaning, of which they are the symbols,
     become more clearly realized, and, at the same time, the
     blame and accusation of the multitude will be avoided."[168]

Philo's position is, then, that man on the one hand owes loyalty to
his nation, and on the other is not only a creature of spirit, but has
a body and bodily passions. He cannot, therefore, have a religion
which is individual or merely spiritual, but he requires common forms
and ceremonies that can bind him with the rest of the community, and
train his body by good habit to obey his reason. We do not reach the
spirit by denying but by obeying the letter. To the mere formal
observance of the law and the unreasoning custom which blindly follows
the practice of our fathers [Greek: synêtheia] Philo is equally
opposed, and he protests, with the earnestness of an Isaiah, against
superstitious sacrifice and against the lip-service of the

     "If a man practices ablutions and purifications, but defiles
     his mind while he cleanses his body; or if, through his
     wealth, he founds a temple at a large outlay and expense; or
     if he offers hecatombs and sacrifices oxen without number,
     or adorns the shrine with rich ornaments, or gives endless
     timber and cunningly wrought work, more precious than silver
     or gold--let him none the more be called religious ([Greek:
     eusebês]). For he has wandered far from the path of
     religion, mistaking ritual for holiness, and attempting to
     bribe the Incorruptible, and to flatter Him whom none can
     flatter. God welcomes genuine service, and that is the
     service of a soul that offers the bare and simple sacrifice
     of truth, but from false service, the mere display of
     material wealth, he turns away."

Lot's daughter, born of a pillar of stone, symbolizes this unthinking,
hypertrophied religion; and custom, its mother, which always lags
behind and has no seed of life, is the enemy of truth. The religious
man pursueth righteousness righteously, the superstitious

Thus Philo holds the balance between a formless spirituality and an
unspiritual formalism. The end of religious observance is the love of
God, but the love of God requires more than feeling; it must
impregnate life. Dubnow, in his summary of Jewish history, formulates
an epigram, which, like most of its kind, becomes in its conciseness
and pointed antithesis a half-truth. "At Jerusalem," he says, "Judaism
appeared as a system of practical ceremonies; at Alexandria as a
complex of abstract symbols." No doubt it is true that at Jerusalem
the practical side of the law was most prominent, but the spiritual
exaltation to which it should lead was appraised as the true end by
the great rabbis. Witness Hillel, and indeed all the writers of the
gnomic wisdom in the "Ethics of the Fathers." At Alexandria, again,
while the philosophical principle underlying the outward practice was
especially emphasized, the practice itself was loyally observed, and
its value perceived, by those who most thoroughly understood Judaism.
Witness the writings of Philo, the Wisdom of Solomon, and the fourth
book of the Maccabees. The antithesis between letter and spirit, faith
and works, is in truth a false one; and wherever the significance of
Judaism has been fully comprehended, the two aspects of the law have
been inextricably intertwined. As Philo understood the Jewish mission,
it was not merely to diffuse the Jewish God-idea, but quite as much to
diffuse the Jewish attitude to God, the way of life. Abstract ideas,
however lofty, can never be the bond of a religious community, nor can
they be a safeguard for moral conduct. Sooner or later congregations
must submit themselves to some law, be it a law of dogma, or be it a
law of conduct. Antinomianism, the opposition to the law, to which
Paul later gave powerful, even fanatical, expression, was a strong
movement at Alexandria in Philo's day. Preparatory to the spread of
Christianity, numerous sects sprang up there which purported to follow
a spiritual Judaism wherein the law was abrogated because, forsooth,
its symbolism was understood! In the extreme allegorists, whom Philo
attacks for their shallowness, one may discern the prototypes of the
Cainites, Ophites, Melchizedecians, and the rest of the heretical
parties that produced the religious chaos of the next centuries. From
that welter of opinions there at last emerged dogmatic Christianity.
The Christian reformers came to free man from the yoke of the law; but
their successors imposed on the mind the fetters of dogma, and, in
order to check the passions of the body, advocated renunciation and
asceticism. So that not only Judaism as a system of belief, but
Judaism as a system of life was lost in their handiwork. Spirituality
lacking knowledge and allegorism in excess led to this result. In
Philo they are controlled by affection for the Torah, and by a
conviction of the need for national cohesion.

Philo is loyal to the Jewish tradition not only because he had a deep
feeling for what a modern teacher has called the catholic conscience
and the historical continuity of Judaism, but because his philosophy
was based on a conviction that the Jewish religion was the truest
guide to conduct and righteousness and to the love of God. To him, as
to Plato and Aristotle, the law was the outward register of the moral
ideal; the "word-and-deed symbols" of ceremonial and prayer were
emblems indeed of moral principles, but at the same time they had an
intrinsic value, in that they impressed these principles upon the
mind, and brought belief and action into harmony. "Religion is law,
not philosophy," said Hobbes. With Philo, religion is law _and_
philosophy. Thus the love of the Torah is of the essence of his
religious thought. As he puts it in the exhortation to his
fellow-ambassadors before Gaius,[170] "to die in defence of it is a
kind of life." In his philosophical Judaism he sought always for the
universal and the spiritual, but so as always to increase the honor of
the law, and not only of the law but of the customs of his ancestors,
thinking with the Psalmist that "the Torah is a tree of life to those
who keep fast hold of her, and those who support her are blessed."

       *       *       *       *       *



"The most remarkable feature about Judaism," says Darmesteter, "is
that without a philosophical system it had reached a philosophical
conclusion about the government of the world and the nature of
God."[171] The same idea underlies the statement of the Peripatetic
writer Theophrastus (who lived in the latter part of the fourth
century B.C.E.) that the Jews are a people of philosophers,[172] and
the epigram of Heine, that they pray in metaphysics. Intuitively, the
lawgiver and prophets of the Hebrew race had attained a conception of
monotheism to which the greatest of the Greek philosophers had hardly
struggled by reason. The Greeks had started with separate
nature-powers, which they had finally resolved into a supreme
nature-force; the Hebrews had started with the historical God of their
fathers, whom they had universalized into the Creator of the world and
Father of all the human race. Wellhausen has suggested that the
intellectual development of Judaism with its tendency to become a
purified monotheism moved in the same direction towards which Greek
thought tended in its philosophical speculation of the universe. The
difference between the two conceptions of God, however, remained even
in their universalized aspect; the one was an impersonal world-force,
the other a personal God in direct relation with individual man.
Elsewhere than in Judæa, it has been well said, religious development
reaches unity only by sacrificing personality. But the prophets, whose
conception of God was imaginative rather than rational, preserved His
nearness while expanding His sway. Israel, to use Philo's etymology,
is the man who sees God,[173] and his religious genius gave to the
world a personal incorporeal Deity, who is both transcendent and
immanent, personal and yet above human conception. It is unnecessary
to quote evidence of this view of the Godhead in the Bible, and it
would be superfluous to adduce passages from the rabbis, did they not
bear a striking similarity to the words of Philo. God to them is not
only the Creator of the world, but also the Father of the world, the
Governor of the world, the Only One of the world, the Space of the
world, filling it as the soul fills the body.[174] Now, this Jewish
conception of God is dominant in Philo. To him also God is not only
the Creator but the Father of the universe.[175] He is the One and the
All.[176] He is ever at rest, yet he outstrippeth everything, nearest
to everyone, yet far removed, everywhere and nowhere, above and
outside the universe, yet filling creation with Himself.[177] Philo
loves to attach to the Deity these opposite predicates, for in this
way alone can we form for ourselves some conception, however
inadequate, of His Being. Strictly, God is unconditioned, and cannot
be the subject of predication, for all determination involves
negation, and hence in one aspect He is not conceivable nor
describable, nor nameable.[178] Siegfried and Zeller press this
negative attitude to the Deity, and find that there is an inherent
contradiction in Philo's system, which ruins it, in that his God, upon
whom all depends and who is the object of all knowledge, is absolutely
unknowable and unapproachable. But this is to take Philo according to
the strict letter to the neglect of the spirit, and to do that with
one so eloquent and so careless of verbal accuracy is utterly to
misunderstand him.

The Greek philosophers in their attempt to formulate an exact notion
of the First Being by abstract metaphysics had, indeed, conceived it
in this fashion; and Philo, harmonizing Greek metaphysics and Hebrew
intuition, is drawn at times into a presentation of God which appears
to deny His personality and make of Him an abstraction. What has been
said of Spinoza is true no less of Philo.[179] "The tendency to unity,
to the infinite, to religion, overbalanced itself till, by its mere
excess, it seemed to be changed into its opposite. But this is not his
spirit, only the dead ultimate result of an imperfect logic that
confuses an abstract with a concrete unity." In truth, the moment man
tries to define his conception of God's essence in words, he either
impairs and perverts his idea, or he must use words that do not really
make the idea any clearer than it was unexpressed. Thus in the Hymn of
[Hebrew: ygdl] the writer, versifying the creeds of Maimonides, seeks to
define God: "He is a Unity, but there is no Unity like His; He is
hidden and there is no end to His oneness." But nobody can claim that
this gives any adequate conception of what he means; so, too, Philo,
when he tries to analyze God's being metaphysically, only obscures the
God of his soul, who was the historical God of Israel.

The Hebraic God, like the Greek First Being, has no qualities, but
unlike the other He has ethical attributes, and it is by these that we
know Him and by these that He is related to the universe and to man.
"Failing to comprehend Him in His essence we must aim at the next best
thing, to comprehend Him as He is manifested to the world."[180] So in
the "Hymn of Unity" it is written, "In images they told of Thee, but
not according to Thy essence! They but likened Thee in accordance with
Thy works."[181] And this is the manner in which Philo conceives Him:
"God's grace and goodness it is which are the causes of creation."[182]
"The just man, seeking the nature of all things, makes this most
excellent discovery, that all things are due to the grace of God." "To
those who ask the origin of creation, one could most easily reply that
it is the goodness and grace of God which He bestowed on the race that
is after His image."[183] "For all that is in the universe and the
universe itself are the gift and bounty and grace of God."[184] Again,
"God is omnipotent; He could make all evil, but He wills only what is
best."[185] "All is due to God's grace, though nothing is worthy of
it;[186] but God looked to His own eternal goodness, and considered
that to do good befitted His own blessed and happy nature."

Philo's life-aim, as we have seen,[187] was to see God in all things
and all things in God. He is the sole principle of being, exercising
continuous causality; and yet He is always at rest, for His energy is
the expression of His being. "He never ceases to create, for creation
is as proper to Him as it is proper to fire to burn and to snow to
cause cold."[188] Further, to Him all human activity and excellence
are directly due. He fertilizes virtue by sending down the seed from
Heaven,[189] and He brings forth wisdom from the human mind by His own
Divine effluence. "It is the distinctive feature of Jewish thought,"
said Spinoza, "never to make account of particular and secondary
causes, but in a spirit of devotion, piety, and godliness to refer all
things directly to the Deity." No Jewish thinker ever applied this
principle more thoroughly than Philo; and it gives an unique color to
his work in the history of ancient philosophy. All our lives are one
unceasing miracle, due to the constant manifestation of God's power;
and the miracles of the Bible are examples of the universal working of
Divine care rather than exceptions from it.

The dominant feeling behind Greek thought is that man is the measure
of all things: Plato, attacking the standpoint of his nation, had
declared that God is the measure, and Philo repeats his maxim with a
new intensity. It means for him that man's mind is a fragment or
particle of the Divine universal mind, which, however, is impotent
till called into activity by the further Divine gift of inspiration.
Knowledge and happiness, therefore, come not through God, but from
God.[190] "The Divine Word streams down from the fount of wisdom, and
waters the plants of virtuous souls."[191] "To God alone is it fitting
to use the word 'my,'"[192] or, put in another way, man has only the
usufruct and God the ownership of his powers. Pride of intellect is
therefore a deadly sin, because it involves a false, incomplete idea
of God, and true knowledge involves reverence. The ideal of the Greek
sage, the independent reason, is a godless thing, and those in whom a
knowledge of Greek philosophy produces intellectual pride are not
disciples of Divine Wisdom. In a fine passage Philo charges with
hypocrisy those who talk in high-sounding language about the
all-powerful Deity, and yet declare that by their own intellect they
can comprehend the world.[193] This was the attitude not only of the
proud Stoic, but of certain kindred Jewish sects, which were subject
to Greek influences, such as the Gnostics and the Cainites. And upon
them Philo appears to be pouring his wrath when he exclaims: "How have
you the effrontery to go on making and listening to fine professions
about piety and the honor of God, when you have within you, forsooth,
the mind equal to God that comprehends all human things, and can
combine good and evil portions, giving to some a mixed, to others an
unmixed lot? And when anybody accuses you of impiety, you brazenly
declare that you belong to the school of that noble guide and teacher
Cain (_i.e._ insolent reason), who bade you pay honor to the secondary
rather than the primary cause."

Philo has often been reproached with intellectualism, and excessive
regard to acquired wisdom, and it may be urged that by his allegorical
method he tried to find in the Bible the sanction of two degrees of
religious faith, the higher for the philosopher and the lower for the
ordinary man. At the same time, however, before his God he retains the
childlike simplicity of the most un-Hellenic rabbi, and the perfect
humility of the Hasid. His conviction of the dependence of all upon
God's grace is the perfect corrective of his intellectual
exclusiveness. The idea of God as the unity which comprehends
everything and causes everything is the great Jewish contribution to
thought, and binds our literature together in all its manifestations.
It characterizes and unites the poetical utterance of the Bible
prophets, the pious wisdom of the rabbis, the philosophical systems of
Philo and Maimonides.

The more sublime and exalted the conception of God, the more
imperative became the need for the thinking Jew to explain how the
perfect infinite Being came into relation with the imperfect finite
world of man and matter. How can the incorporeal God be the founder of
the material universe? How can the infinite mind be present in the
finite thought of man? How can the all-good Power be the creator of
the evil which we see in the material world and of the wickedness that
flourisheth among men? These questions presented themselves to the
Israelite after he had consummated his marvellous religious intuition,
and became the starting-point of a theology which is nascent in the
Wisdom literature of the Bible. Theology is the reasoning about God
which follows always in the footsteps of religious certitude. First,
man by his intuitive reason rises to some idea of the Godhead
satisfying to his emotion; next, by his discursive reason, he
endeavors to justify that idea to his experience in analyzing God's
operations. Renan, disposing sweepingly of a great question, declares
that the Jewish monotheism excluded any true theology. But, in fact,
in Palestine, and still more in Alexandria from the third century
B.C.E., Jewish thought had as one of its constant aims to develop a
theory of the operations of the one God in the world of material
plurality. When the Jews came in contact with the cosmological
mythology of Babylon, their God seemed to soar beyond the reach of
men, and they looked to powers nearer them to bridge the widening
gulf. To some extent this aim engendered a modification in the
religious monotheism, and led to the interposition of intermediate
conceptions between the Inconceivable and man. "The whole angelology,"
says Deutsch,[194] "so strikingly simple before the Captivity and so
wonderfully complex after it, owes its quick development in Babylonian
soil to some awe-stricken desire which grows with growing culture,
removing the inconceivable Being further and further from human touch
or knowledge." Speaking generally, it may be said that reflection
about God's relations produced in Palestine the doctrine of angels, in
Alexandria the doctrine of Wisdom and the Logos. At the same time the
Wisdom and the Word were not unknown to the Palestinian Midrash, and
the hierarchies of angels to the Alexandrian, for the suggestion of
the different subordinate powers had been evolved before the two
traditions had become independent. The doctrine of angels never indeed
won recognition from the rabbis, but it was for centuries an element
of popular belief.

More philosophical than the doctrine of angels was the conception of
different attributes of God [Hebrew: mdot], which were different
manifestations of His activity, to the human mind separable and
distinguishable from each other, though absolutely they were
inseparable aspects of the Godhead. Chief among these were the
attribute of mercy and the attribute of justice, [Hebrew: mdt hrhmim]
and [Hebrew: mdt hdin],[195] by which, according to a Midrash, Adam
was driven from Eden. And these conceptions, though distrusted by the
Synagogue, entered into later parts of the Prayer Book. "Attribute of
Mercy, reveal thyself for us; make our supplication to fall at the feet of
Thy Creator; and on behalf of Thy people beseech for mercy"; thus runs
a fine prayer in the Ne'ilah service of the Day of Atonement, and many
of the other Selihot prove the persistence of this development of
Jewish belief. The theory of Divine attributes was common to Palestine
and Alexandria, and plays, as we shall see, an important part in
Philo's[196] thought; but the distinctive Hellenistic theology is the
hypostasis of the Wisdom and the Word of God. In the Bible itself, and
notably in Proverbs, we find Wisdom personified--the first vague,
poetical suggestion of a Jewish theology. As the Jews came into
contact with Hellenic influence, the tendency to develop the
personification into a power increased, and may be traced through the
first flower of Græco-Jewish culture, the Wisdom literature. The Greek
philosophers had conceived the First Cause as a ruling Mind, or
universal Reason, and influenced by this conception, yet loyal to
their monotheistic faith, the Jewish writers of the Hellenistic age
spoke of the Wisdom as the minister of God, the power by which He
ruled creation. The apocryphal books of Ecclesiasticus and the Wisdom
of Solomon exhibit Wisdom passing from the poetical personification of
the Bible to the separate hypostasis of theology. In the verse of the
Bible sage, "Wisdom hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her
seven pillars" (Prov. ix. 1), she is the creation of the purely
poetical fancy, but in the Wisdom of Solomon she has become a link
between Heaven and earth, the creation of the theologian's reflection.
"She reacheth from one end of the world to the other with strength,
and ordereth all things graciously. She is settled by God on His
throne, and by her He made the world, by her the righteous were saved.
She watched over the father of the human race, and she delivered
Israel from Egypt." In Ecclesiasticus it is written, "All Wisdom is
from the Lord and is with Him forever. She cometh forth from the mouth
of the Most High, and was created before all things. God having
fashioned her from the beginning placed her over all His works. Then
she covered the earth as a mist, she pitched her tent in high places
and her palace was in a pillar of cloud. She ministered in the
tabernacle, and was established in Zion, in Jerusalem, the beloved
city." In similar strain, in the apocalyptic book of Enoch (xxx), God
says, "On the sixth day I ordered My Wisdom to make man"; and in the
Sibylline Oracles and Aristobulus she appears as the assessor of God
who ruleth over men.

Parallel with Wisdom, the Word of God was developed into something
between a poetical image and a separate power. Again the development
starts from a Biblical metaphor. "By the word of the Lord were the
heavens created, and all their host by the breath of His mouth" (Ps.
xxxiii). "God of our Fathers and Lord of Mercy, who didst make all
things by Thy word," says the writer of the Wisdom of Solomon.
Inspired again by the phrase of the Psalmist, "He sent His word, and
healed them" (Ps. cvi. 20), he hymns the Divine Logos as the
all-powerful emissary doing God's bidding among men. "It was neither
herb nor emollient that cured Israel in the wilderness (when bitten by
the fiery scorpions), but Thy Logos, O Lord, which heals all things."
Later, when he describes the destruction of the first-born in Egypt,
he rises in a pæan to a finer poetical flight: "When tranquil silence
folded all things, and night in her own swiftness was in the midst of
her course, Thy all-powerful Logos leaped from heaven, from his royal
throne, a stern warrior into the midst of the doomed land, bearing as
a sharp sword Thy Divine commandment, and having taken his stand
filled all things with death: and he touched heaven and walked upon
earth." The Jewish poet, rejecting the idea that the perfect God could
descend to earth and slay men, brushes away the anthropomorphism of
the Bible, and summons from his mind this creation mixed of Hebrew
imagination and Greek reason. So, too, Onkelos, wherever activity upon
earth was ascribed to God, wrote, in his translation (Targum) of
Scripture, "the word of the Lord," and for the material hand he
substituted the more abstract might. The same development,[197] under
the names of Memra and (less frequently) of [Hebrew: dbor], shows that
the word-agent of God appealed to certain of the rabbis in their
desire to explain away, on the one hand, expressions in the Bible
which seemed to invest the Deity with corporeal qualities, and, on the
other, so to divide His infinite perfection as to make His presence
immanent upon earth.

The teachers at Alexandria were above all others induced to develop
the Word into the active power, since they seemed thereby to find in
the Bible a remarkable anticipation of Greek philosophy. The Greek
Logos, by which "the Word" was translated in the Septuagint, meant
also thought and reason, and during the Hellenistic age was the
regular term by which the philosophical schools expressed the
impersonal world-force which governed all things. The Logos idea among
the Jews was a modification of intuitive and naïve monotheism; among
the Greeks it was a step upwards, demanded by reason, from polytheism
to a monistic view of the universe. By the first century its
recognition as the ruling power in both the physical and moral
universe had become a point of union in all philosophical schools--the
common stamp of philosophical theology. Between the Semitic
ministerial word uttered by a personal Being and the Greek pantheistic
governing reason, there was probably an early connection, due to
Eastern influences which operated upon the founders of Greek
philosophy, which later schools lost sight of. When the Hebrew
Scriptures were translated, the two coalesced more fruitfully in the
Greek term Logos, and a point of union was provided between the
philosophical and the Jewish theology. Moreover the local Egyptian
influence aided the union, for the god Thoth was also identified with
the Logos, which thus appeared as a religious conception common to all
races, the basis of a universal creed. And besides the world-reason of
the philosophers, another Greek influence no doubt tended to further
the development of the Logos in Jewish thought. One of the most marked
characteristics of the Hellenistic age is the renascence of wonder at
the institutions of human life, and more especially at numbers and

Numbers were held to contain the essence of things, and the marvellous
powers of four, seven, and ten received honor from all sects and
schools. Words, too, were regarded almost as a mystic power, distinct
from thought, incorporeal things which made thought real and gave it
expression. The mystical susceptibility of Philo to the power of
numbers has been noticed by every critic and exaggerated by not a few;
his mystical valuation of words and speech, though far more important
in his thought, has been commonly passed over. The analysis which
Greek writers made of the relation between the mental thought, the
sound which utters it, and the mind which thinks it, was invested with
special importance for the Jewish thinker, who transferred it from the
human to the Divine sphere. He applied it to interpret the constant
Biblical phrases "and God said" or "and God spoke," according to
notions in which philosophy and theology are mixed; and propounded a
mystic idealism and a mystic cosmology, in which God's thought or
comprehensive Word becomes the archetype of the visible universe, His
single words the substantive universe and the laws of nature. A
century before Philo, Aristobulus--assuming the genuineness of his
Fragments--wrote:[198] "We must understand the Word of God, not as a
spoken word, but as the establishment of actual things, seeing that we
find throughout the Torah that Moses has declared the whole creation
to be words of God." Philo, following his predecessor, says, "God
speaks not words but things,"[199] and, again, commenting on the first
chapter of Genesis, "God, even as He spake, at the same moment
created."[200] And of human speech he has this pretty conceit a little
before: "Into the mouth there enter food and drink, the perishable
food of a perishable body; out of it issue words, immortal laws of an
immortal soul, by which rational life is guided."[201] If human speech
is "immortal law," much more is the speech of God. His words are ideas
seen by the eye of the soul, not heard by the ear.[202] The ten
commandments given at Sinai were "ideas" of this incorporeal nature,
and the voice that Israel heard was no voice such as men possess, but
the [Hebrew: shkina], the Divine Presence itself, which exalted the
multitude.[203] Philo is here expanding and developing Jewish
tradition. In the "Ethics of the Fathers" (v) we read: "By ten words
was the world created"; and in the pages of the Midrash the [Hebrew:
bt-kol], i.e._, the mystic emanation of the Deity, which revealed itself
after the spirit of prophecy had ceased to be vouchsafed, is credited
with wondrous and varied powers, now revealing the Decalogue, now
performing some miracle, now appearing in a vision to the blessed, now
prophesying the future fate of the race to a pious rabbi. The
fertilizing stream of Greek philosophical idealism nourished the
growth of the Jewish pious imagination, and in the Logos of Philo the
fruit matured. It is idle to try to formulate a single definite notion
of Philo's Logos. For it is the expression of God in all His multiple
and manifold activity, the instrument of creation, the seat of ideas,
the world of thought which God first established as the model of the
visible universe, the guiding providence, the sower of virtue, the
fount of wisdom, described sometimes in religious ecstasy, sometimes
in philosophical metaphysics, sometimes in the spirit of the mystical
poet. Of his last manner let us take a specimen singled out by a
Christian and a Jewish theologian as of surprising beauty. Commenting
on the verse of the Psalmist, "The river of God is filled with water,"
Philo declares that it is absurd to call any earthly stream the river
of God.

     "The poet clearly refers to the Divine Logos that is full of
     the fountain of wisdom, and is in no part itself empty. Nay,
     it is diffused through the universe, and is raised up on
     high. In another verse the Psalmist says, 'The course of the
     river gladdens the city of God.' And in truth the continuous
     rush of the Divine Logos is borne along with eager but
     regular onset, and overflows and gladdens all things. In one
     sense he calls the world the city of God, for it has
     received the 'full cup' of the Divine draught, and has
     quaffed a perpetual, eternal joy. But in another sense he
     gave this name to the soul of the wise, wherein God is said
     to walk as in a city. And who can pour out the sacred
     measures of their joy to the blissful soul which holds out
     the holy cup, that is its own reason, save the Logos, the
     cupbearer of God, the master of the feast? Nor is the Logos
     cupbearer only, but it is itself the pure draught, itself
     the joy and exultation, itself the pouring forth and the
     delight, itself the ambrosial philtre and potion of

Through the luxury of metaphor and imagination one may discern the
underlying thought of the mystic writer, that the Logos is the
effluence of God, either in the whole universe or the individual man,
filling the one as the other with the Divine Shekinah. It is the link
which joins God and man, the ladder of Jacob's dream, which stretches
from Heaven to earth.[205] That man can attain the Divine state by the
help of God's effluence was a cardinal thought of Philo's; this,
indeed, is the form in which he conceives the Messianic hope. God does
not come down to earth incarnate in man's form, but God's active
influence possesses the soul of man, and makes it live with God, and
if man be peculiarly blessed, carries it up to the ineffable Spirit.
Similarly his idea of the Messiah is more spiritual than that of the
popular belief. The ascent of man to God's height, not the descent of
God to man's level, will produce the age of universal peace.

There are various degrees of the Divine influence, stretching from
complete possession by the Deity Himself to the advent of single
Divine thoughts. These Philo regards as [Greek: logoi], words or
thoughts--for he does not clearly distinguish between the two--and he
resolves the realistic angels of the Bible into this spiritual
conception.[206] Thus he says, "the place" where Jacob alighted and
had the vision (Gen. xxvii. 11) is the symbol of the perfect
contemplation of God; the angels which he saw ascending and descending
are the inferior light of Divine precepts. These thoughts are
continually vouchsafed to all of us, prompting us to noble actions,
comforting us in times of sadness, inspiring lofty ideas.

     "Up and down through the whole soul the Logoi of God move
     without end; when they ascend, drawing it up with them, and
     severing it from the mortal part, and showing only the
     vision of ideal things; but when they descend, not casting
     it down, but descending with it from humanity or compassion
     towards our race, so as to give assistance and help, in
     order that, inspiring what is noble, they may revive the
     soul which is borne along on the stream of the body."[207]

Conversely, the rabbis taught that from each word that proceeded from
the mouth of God an angel was created, as it is said: "By the word of
the Lord the Heavens were made, and all the host of them by the breath
of His mouth."[208]

Apart from these sudden and occasional emanations of the Divine
Spirit, the individual man has within him a permanent Divine Logos by
which he may direct his conduct aright. Viewed in this aspect, the
Logos, _i.e._, the activity of God, is conscience, the Judge in the
soul, which is the true man dwelling within,[209] ruler and king,
judge and arbiter, witness and accuser, correcting and restraining.
Rising to bolder personification, Philo, who loves to present a
spiritual thought in a concrete image, calls it the undefiled high
priest in us.[210] In this power he finds a sure refutation of
skepticism; for in virtue of the Divine voice man may secure moral
certitude: and he finds also a philosophical value for popular
superstition. It was a common notion of the pagans as well as
the Jews of the time that an intermediate order of beings passed
between heaven and earth and brought supernatural aid to men; and also
that a familiar spirit, or Dæmon, dwelt within the soul of each man.
The finer spirit of Philo resolves the attendant Dæmon and the
messenger-dæmons or angels into the spiritual effluences of the one
Deity; save for a few places where he makes a pose of agreement with
popular notions and speaks of winged denizens of Heaven[211] who
descend to earth, he habitually expounds angels as inward revelations
of God.

As the revelation of God to the individual is a Logos, so, too, is his
revelation to the whole of mankind. It was pointed out in the last
chapter that Philo identified the Torah with the law of nature, and he
did this by regarding it as the Divine Logos. The more perfect
emanation of God is in one view the power by which He directs the
physical creation, in another the perfect law which He set up as the
model of conduct for His highest creatures. The rabbis, indeed, were
prone to glorify the law as the primal creation of God, and the
instrument of all the later creations, [Hebrew: kli hmra shbu gbrao
shmim].[212] They speak of it as the light, the pillar, and the bond
of the universe, the model whereon the architect looked;[213] and Philo
amplifies this simple poetical concept and develops it afresh in the
light of Greek idealistic and cosmical notions,[214] so that the Torah,
as the Logos of God, is equated with the source of all being, wisdom, and
knowledge, with the ideal world which is the archetype of the
material, and with all the law and order of nature. And as the Torah
is the Logos, so also its particular precepts are Logoi.

It seems difficult to trace the unity among all these different
aspects of the "Word," but in fact they are only different expressions
of the Divine activity in the universe. All these are comprehended in
the Logos, and then again divided out of it, so that it is, as it
were, a crystal prism reflecting the light of the Godhead in a myriad
different ways. One curious illustration of the universal sense in
which Philo understood the Logos is his interpretation of the manna;
it is typical also of his manner of exegesis and his habit of
spiritualizing the material. It is related in Exodus (xvi. 15) that
when the Israelites saw the heavenly food they exclaimed [Hebrew: mn
hu'], "What is it?" and hence the food obtained its name of manna. Now the
Greek Septuagint word for [Hebrew: mn] is [Greek: ti], which means not
only "what" but "anything." Philo sees in the gift of the heavenly
food a symbol of the inspiration of the chosen people by the Divine
Logos, and says that the Logos is rightly called manna, _i.e._,
anything, because it is the "most generic of all things, and that by
which man may be nourished."[215]

The central thought of Philo's system is that God is immanent in all
His work; but it would seem to him sacrilegious to apply to the
Godhead itself this universal, unceasing activity, and so he develops
the Logos as the most ideal attribute of the Deity, and the sum of all
His immanence and effluence. He preferred the Logos to the older
Wisdom, probably because he could by this conception bring his idea of
God into closer relation with Greek philosophical notions, for already
the Hellenistic world had come spontaneously to revere the cosmical
Logos. Only Philo gave to the expression of their physical and
metaphysical speculation a religious warmth new to it, when he
associated it with the word uttered by the personal God. Philosophy,
theology, and religion were all joined and harmonized in his

If we have followed thus far the spirit of Philo aright, the Logos is
only the immanent manifestation of the One God, who is both
transcendental and immanent, metaphorically, not metaphysically,
separate. In other words, it is the complete aspect of God as He
reveals Himself to the world. Above it and including it is the being
or essence of God, seen in Himself, and not in relation to His outward
activity. But it is often suggested that the Logos appears to Philo as
a second God, subordinate, indeed, to the Supreme Being, but yet a
separate personality. It is said, with truth, that he speaks of it as
a person, now calling it king, priest, primal man, the first-born son
of God, even the second God, and identifying it at other times with
some personal being, Melchizedek or Moses, and apostrophizing it as
man's helper, guide, and advocate.[216] Now we have reason to think
that Gnostic sects of Jews, both in Alexandria and in Palestine, were
at this time tending towards the division of the Godhead into separate
powers. The heresy of "Minut," frequently mentioned in the Talmud,
consisted originally, in the opinion of modern scholars, of a Gnostic
ditheism;[217] and during the latter part of the first century and
thereafter we hear of sects in Egypt and Syria which supported similar
theories. Theology here produced its fantastic offspring theosophy,
and the followers of the esoteric wisdom let their speculations carry
them away from the cardinal principle of Judaism. Influenced by
Egyptian speculation, they imagined an incarnation of the Divine
Spirit, and in the mystical thought of the day they adumbrated
theories of virgin birth.

Now these prototypes of Christian belief had undoubtedly manifested
themselves at Alexandria in Philo's day. His treatises show traces of
them,[218] and the question is whether he countenanced them or tried
to summon the theosophists of his generation back to the true Jewish
conception of God. Certain Christian and philosophical critics of
Philo, for whom the wish was perhaps father to the thought, have found
in Philo's Logos a conception which is at times impersonal, at times
personal, at times an aspect of the One God, and at times a second
independent God. If we take Philo literally, this certainly is the
case. But let it be clearly understood, this interpretation not only
involves Philo in inconsistency, but it utterly ruins and destroys his
religious and philosophical system. It means that the champion of
Jewish monotheism wanders into a vague ditheism. And in view of this,
the modern commentators of Philo, notably Professor Drummond,[219]
have examined his words more carefully and studied them in relation to
their context; and they have shown how, judged in this critical
fashion, the personality of the Logos is only figurative. It is,
indeed, probable that certain extreme passages, where the Logos is
presented most explicitly as a separate Deity, are due to
Christological interpolation. The Church Fathers found in the popular
belief in the Divine Word a remarkable support of the Trinity, and
regarding, as they did, Philo's writings as valuable testimony to the
truth of Christianity, they had every temptation to bring his passages
about the Logos still closer to their ideas. And between the first and
the fifth century, when we first hear from Eusebius of manuscripts of
Philo at the Christian monastery of Cæsarea--from which we can trace
our texts in direct line--there was no high standard in dealing with
ancient authorities. It is the Christian teachers who preserved Philo,
and they preserved him not as scholars but as missioners. The best
editors have recognized that our text has been interfered with by
evidenced-making scribes, as where a passage about the new Jerusalem
appears, agreeing almost word for word with the picture of
Revelations. Similarly, not a few passages about the Logos are
probably spurious.[220]

Yet, even when we have expurgated our text of Philo, there remain, it
will be said, numerous passages where the Logos is spoken of and
apostrophized as a person. This is so, but the conclusion which is
drawn, that the Logos is regarded as a second deity, is unjustifiable.
The Jewish mind from the time of the prophets unto this day has
thought in images and metaphors, and the personification of the Logos
is only the most striking instance of Philo's regular habit of
personifying all abstract ideas. The allegorical habit particularly
conduces to this, for as persons are constantly resolved into ideas,
so ideas come to be naturally represented as persons. There are thus
two steps in Philo's theology, which seem to some extent to counteract
each other; in the first place, he resolves the concrete physical
expressions of the Bible into spiritual ideas, in the second he
portrays those ideas in pictorial language and clothes them in
personifications. The allegorizer requires an allegorist to interpret
him aright.

Nor must it be forgotten that Philo was preaching spiritual monotheism
not only to Jews, but also to the Hellenic world, for whom it was a
vast bound from their naturalistic polytheism. Zealous as he was for
the pure faith, he realized that mankind could not attain it directly,
but must approach it by conceptions of the One God gradually
increasing in profundity and truth. The Greek thinkers had
approximated closest to the Hebraic God-idea when they conceived one
supreme, immanent reason in the universe; and Philo, in carrying his
audiences beyond this to the transcendent-immanent Being, transformed
the Greek cosmical concept into a Divine power of the One Being. For
the true believer this is the stepping-stone to the perfect idea. "The
Logos," he says, "is the God of us imperfect people, but the true
sages worship the One Being."[221] And, again, "The imperfect have as
their law the holy Logos."[222] And in this sense, it is "intermediate
([Greek: methorios]) between God and man."[223] What such passages
mean is that the separation of the Logos is a stage in man's progress
up to the true idea of God. It is a second-best Deity, so to say,
rather than a second Deity; for those who regard the Logos as God have
no conception at all of the perfect Being of which it is only the
principal attribute.

The theology of Philo is characterized throughout by a tolerant and
philosophical grasp of the difficulty of pure monotheism, and of the
necessity of a long intellectual searching before the goal can be
attained. To declare the Unity of God is simple enough; to have a real
conception of it is a very different and a very difficult thing. And
Philo's theology has a two-fold aim, in which either part complements
the other. It explains, on the one hand, how God is revealed to the
world through His powers or attributes or modes of activity, and, on
the other, how man can ascend to an ecstatic union with the Real Being
through comprehension of those powers. By the ideal ladder which
brings down God to earth, man can climb again to Heaven. The three
chief rungs of the ladder are the attributes of creation, and of
ruling power, and the Logos. The perfect unity of the Godhead is not,
of course, properly the subject of attributes, but the limited mind of
man so conceives it for its own understanding, and speaks of God's
justice, God's goodness, God's wisdom. These are, to use philosophical
terminology, categories of the religious understanding, which are
finally resolved by the perfect sage in "the synthetic apperception of

Philo follows what may have been a Hebrew tradition in explaining the
two names of God, "Elohim" and "Jehovah," as connoting His two chief
attributes: (1) the creative or beneficent, (2) the ruling or
judicial, or, as it is sometimes called, the law-giving power.[224]
Names, as we know, were always regarded by Philo as profound symbols,
and naturally the names of God are of vital import; and the twofold
expression for the Hebrew Deity, of which the higher critics have made
much destructive use, was noticed by the earliest commentators, but
made the basis by them of a constructive theology. The ruling and the
creative attributes of God are outlined and contained in the highest
mode of all, the Logos, "the reason of God in every phase and form of
it that is discoverable and realizable by man." For by the Logos, God
is both ruler and good.[225] This is the profound interpretation of
the story in Genesis, that "God placed at the east of the garden of
Eden the two Cherubim and a flaming sword, which turned every way to
keep the way of the tree of life" (Gen. iv. 24). The Cherubim are the
symbols of the powers of majesty and goodness; the flaming sword is
the Logos; "because," says our author quaintly, "all thought and
speech are the most mobile and the most ardent (_i.e._, the most
intensive) of things, and especially the thought and speech of the
only Principle."[226]

To correspond with the descending attributes of God we have the
ascending dispositions of man towards Him, fear, love, and thirdly
their synthesis in loving knowledge. When we are in the first stage of
religion we obey the law in hope of reward or fear of punishment; when
we have progressed higher in thought, we worship God as the good
Creator; when we have ascended one further stage, we surpass both fear
and love in an emotion which combines them, realizing, as Browning
puts it, that "God is law and God is love." In illustration of this
scheme of Philo's we may examine two passages out of his philosophical
commentary. In the first he is commenting upon the appearance of the
three angels to Abraham as he sat outside his tent (Gen. xviii).[227]
And, by the way, it may be remarked that the Midrash commenting on
this passage notes that it begins, "And the Lord appeared unto
Abraham," and then continues, "And he lifted up his eyes and looked,
and, lo, three men stood before him." Hence we may learn that it was
really the one God who appeared to the Patriarch, and that the three
angels were but a vision of his mind. This is the dominant note of
Philo's interpretation, but he as usual elaborates the old Midrash

     "The words," he says, "are symbols of things apprehended by
     intelligence alone--the soul receives a triple expression of
     one being, of which one is the representative of the actual
     existent, and the other two are shadows, as it were, cast
     from this. So it happens also in the physical world, for
     there often occur two shadows of bodies at rest or in
     motion. Let no one suppose, however, that shadow is properly
     used in relation to God. It is only a popular use of words
     for the clearer understanding of our subject. The reality is
     not so, but, as one standing nearest to the truth might say,
     the middle one is the Father of the universe, who is called
     in Scripture the 'Self-existent'; and those on either side
     of Him are the two oldest and chief powers, the Creative and
     the Regal. The middle one, then, being attended by the
     others as by a bodyguard, presents to the contemplative mind
     a mental image or representation now of one and now of
     three; of one whenever the soul, being properly purified and
     perfectly initiated, rises to the idea which is unmingled
     and free from limitation, and requires nothing to complete
     it; but of three whenever it has not yet been initiated into
     the great mysteries, and still celebrates the lesser rites,
     unable to apprehend the Being in itself without
     modification, but apprehending it through its modes as
     either creating or ruling. This is, as the proverb says, a
     second-best course, but yet it partakes of godlike opinion.
     But the former does not partake of--for it _is_ itself--the
     Godlike opinion, or rather it is truth, which is more
     precious than all opinion.

     "Further, there are three classes of human character, to
     each of which one of the three conceptions of God has been
     assigned. The best class goes with the first, the conception
     of the absolute Being; the next goes with the conception of
     Him as a Benefactor, in virtue of which He is called God;
     the third with the conception of Him as a Ruler, in virtue
     of which He is called Lord. The noblest character serves Him
     who is in all the purity of His absolute Being; it is
     attracted by no other thing or aspect, but is solely and
     intently devoted to the honor of the one and only Being; the
     second is brought to the knowledge of the Father through His
     beneficent power; the third through His regal power."

In the second passage, which occurs in the treatise on flight from the
world,[228] Philo is allegorizing the law about founding six cities of
refuge (Exodus xxxii). These are but material symbols for the six
stages of the ascent of the mind to the pure God-idea. The chief city,
the metropolis, is the Divine Logos, next come the two powers already
considered, and then three secondary powers, the retributive, the
law-giving, and the prohibitive. "Very beautiful and well-fenced
cities they are, worthy refuges of souls that merit salvation." Each
of these cities is an aspect of the religious mind; when it settles in
the first it obeys the law from fear of punishment and thinks of God
as the Judge; in the second it observes the precepts in hope of reward
and conceives God as the legislator of a fixed code; in the next it is
repentant and throws itself on God's grace, marking the first step of
the spiritual life. Then it ascends in order to the idea of God as the
governor of the universe, and the emotion which the rabbis called
[Hebrew: yrat shmim], the fear of Heaven; and to the idea of God as the
Creator and the universal Providence, which has as its emotional
reflex the love of Heaven, [Hebrew: 'hbt shmim].

But even this, which is the highest stage for many men, is not an
adequate conception. Above it is the contemplation of God, apart from
all manifestations in the perceptible world, in His ideal nature, the
Logos, which at once transcends and comprehends the universe. And the
attitude of this man can be best expressed perhaps by Spinoza's
phrase, "the intellectual love of God," _amor intellectualis Dei_. The
worshipper of the Logos has grasped and has harmonized all the
manifestations of the Deity; he sees and honors all things in God; he
comprehends the universe as the perfect manifestation of one good

Is this the highest point which man can reach? Many religious
philosophers have held that it is, but Philo, the mystic, yearning to
track out God "beyond the utmost bound of human thought," imagines one
higher condition. The Logos is only the image or the shadow of the
Godhead.[229] Above it is the one perfect reality, the transcendent
Essence. Now, man cannot by any intellectual effort attain knowledge
of the Infinite as He truly is, for this is above thought. But to a
few blessed mortals God of His grace vouchsafes a mystic vision of His
nature. Thus Moses, the perfect hierophant, had this perfect
apprehension, and passed from intellectual love to holy adoration. And
the true philosopher has as the goal of his aspirations the
heaven-sent ecstasy, in which he sees God no longer through His
effects, or in the modes of His activity, but through Himself in His
own essence. The philosopher, when he receives this vision ([Greek:
epopteia]) is possessed by the Shekinah,[230] and, losing
consciousness of his individuality, becomes at one with God.

So much for Philo's theory of man's upward progress. We may add a word
about his treatment of the problem which troubled thinkers in that
age, and which has harassed theologians ever since, viz., to show how
punishment and evil could be derived from a God who was all-powerful
and all-good. The Gnostics were driven by the difficulty to imagine an
evil world-power, which was in incessant conflict with the Good God:
and popular belief had conjured up a legion of subordinate powers, who
took part in the work of creation and the government of the world.
When Philo is speaking popularly, he accepts this current theology and
speaks also of a punitive power of God[231] ([Greek: dunamis
kolastikê]); but not when he is the philosopher. For then, in
perfect faith, he denies the absolute existence of evil. "It is
neither in Paradise nor indeed anywhere whatsoever."[232] Man,
however, by his free will causes evil in the human sphere; and when
God formed in man a rational nature capable of choosing for itself,
moral evil became the necessary contrary of good.[233] Moreover, the
punitive activity of God, though it seems to cause suffering and
misery, is in truth a good, simulating evil, and if men judged the
universal process as a whole, they would find it all good. The
existence of evil involves no derogation from the perfect unity of

If we have understood correctly Philo's theology, neither Logos, nor
subordinate powers, nor angels, nor demons have an objective
existence; they are mere imaginings of varying incompleteness which
the limited minds of men, "moving in worlds not realized," make for
themselves of the one and only true God. Philo's theology is the
philosophical treatment of Jewish tradition, just as Philo's legal
exegesis is the philosophical treatment of the Torah. While
maintaining and striving to deepen the conception of God's unity, he
aims at expounding to the reason how, on the one hand, that unity is
revealed in the world about us, and how, on the other, we may advance
to its true comprehension. It was, however, unfortunate that Philo
expressed his theology in the current language, which was vague and
inexact, and adapted certain foreign theosophical ideas to Judaism;
hence succeeding generations, paying regard to the pictorial
representation rather than to the principles of his thought, sought
and found in him evidence of theories of Divine government to which
Judaism was pre-eminently opposed. The first chapter of the Fourth
Gospel shows that gradual process of thought which finally made the
Logos doctrine the antithesis of Judaism. In the first verse we have a
thought which might well have been written by Philo himself: "In the
beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was
God." But in the fourteenth verse there is manifest the sharp
cleavage: "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we
beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,
full of grace and truth." There may be a fine spiritual thought
beneath the letter here, but the notion of the Incarnation is not
Jewish, nor philosophical, nor Philonic. Philo's work was made to
serve as the guide of that Christian Gnosticism which, within the next
hundred years, proclaimed that Judaism was the work of an evil God,
and that the essential mission of Jesus--the good Logos--was to
dethrone Jehovah! But though the Logos conception was turned to
non-Jewish and anti-Jewish purposes, it was in Philo the offspring of
a pure and philosophical monotheism. Whatever the later abuse of his
teaching, Philo constructed a theology which, though affected by
foreign influences, was essentially true to Judaism; and more than
that, he was the first to weave the Jewish idea of God into the
world's philosophy.

       *       *       *       *       *



Save for a few monographs of no great importance, because of the
absence of original thought, Philo's works form avowedly an exegesis
of the Bible and not a series of philosophical writings. Nor must the
reader expect to find an ordered system of philosophy in his separate
works, much more than in the writings of the rabbis. As Professor
Caird says,[234] "The Hebrew mind is intuitive, imaginative, incapable
of analysis or systematic connection of ideas." Philo's philosophical
conceptions lie scattered up and down his writings, "strung on the
thread of the Bible narrative which determines the sequence of his
thoughts." Nevertheless, though he has not given us explicit treatises
on cosmology, metaphysics, ethics, psychology, etc., and though he was
incapable of close logical thinking, he has treated all these subjects
suggestively and originally in the course of his commentary, and his
readers may gather together what he has dispersed, and find a
co-ordinated body of religious philosophy. However loosely they are
set forth in his treatises, his ideas are closely connected in his
mind. Herein he differs from his Jewish predecessors, for the notion
of the old historians of the Alexandrian movement, that there was a
systematic Jewish philosophy before Philo, does not appear to have
been well-founded. All that Aristeas and Aristobulus and the
Apocryphal authors had done was to assimilate certain philosophemes to
their religious ideas; they had not re-interpreted the whole system of
philosophy from a Jewish point of view or traced an independent
system, or an eclectic doctrine in the Holy Scriptures. This was the
achievement of Philo. His thought is not original in the sense of
presenting a new scheme of philosophy, but it is original in the sense
of giving a fresh interpretation to the philosophical ideas of his age
and environment. He ranges them under a new principle, puts them in a
new light, and combines them in a new synthesis. This again is
characteristic of the Jewish mind. Intent on God, it does not endeavor
to make its own analysis of the universe by independent reasoning, but
it utilizes the systems of other nations and endeavors to harmonize
them with its religious convictions. Hence it is that nearly all
Jewish philosophy appears to be eclectic; its writers have ranged
through the fields of thought of many schools and culled flowers from
each, which they bind together into a crown for their religion. They
do not, with few exceptions, pursue philosophy with the purpose of
widening the borders of secular knowledge; but rather in order to
bring the light of reason to illuminate and clarify faith, to
harmonize Judaism with the general culture of its environment, and to
revivify belief and ceremony with a new interpretation. All this
applies to our worthy, but at the same time he was a philosopher at
heart, because he believed that the knowledge of God came by
contemplation as well as by practice, and, further, because he had a
firm faith in the universalism of Judaism; and he believed that this
universal religion must comprehend all that is highest and truest in
human thought. Like most Jewish philosophers he is synthetic rather
than analytic, believing in intuition and distrusting the discursive
reason, careless of physical science and soaring into religious
metaphysics. Again, like most Jewish philosophers, he is deductive,
starting with a synthesis of all in the Divine Unity, and making no
fresh inductions from phenomena. It has been said that, though Philo
was a philosopher and a Jew, yet Saadia was the first Jewish
philosopher. But Philo's philosophical ideas are in complete harmony
with his Judaism; and if by the criticism it is meant that most of the
content of his works is based upon Greek models, it is true on the
other hand that the spirit which pervades them is essentially Jewish,
and that by the new force which he breathed into it he reformed and
gave a new direction to the Greek philosophy of his age.

Philo's philosophy is certainly eclectic in some degree, and we find
in it ideas taken from the schools of Plato, Aristotle, Pythagoras,
and the Stoics. Its fixed point was his theology, and wherever he
finds anything to support this he adapts it to his purpose. He
approached philosophy from a position opposed to that of the Greeks:
they brought a questioning and free mind to the problems of the
universe; he comes full of religious preconceptions. Yet in this lies
his strength as well as his limitation, for he gains thus a point of
certainty and a clear end, which other eclectic systems of the day did
not possess. He welds together all the different elements of his
thought in the heat of his passion for God. His cosmology and his
ontology are a philosophical exposition of the Jewish conception of
God's relation to the universe, his ethics and his psychology of the
Jewish conception of man's relation to God.

The religious preconceptions of Philo drew him to Plato above all
other philosophers, so that his thought is essentially a religious
development of Platonism. It is not too much to say that Philo's work
has a double function, to interpret the Bible according to Platonic
philosophy and to interpret Plato in the spirit of the Bible. The
agreement was not the artificial production of the commentator, for in
truth Plato was in sympathy with the religious conscience as a whole.
The contrast between Hellenism and Hebraism is true, if we restrict it
to the average mind of the two races. The one is intent on things
secular, the other on God. But the greatest genius of the Hellenic
race, influenced perhaps by contact with Oriental peoples, possessed,
in a remarkable degree, the Hebraic spirit, which is zealous for God
and makes for righteousness. Plato was not only a great philosopher,
but also a great theologian, a great religious reformer, and a great
prophet, the most perfectly developed mind which the world, ancient or
modern, has known. His "Ideas," which are the archetypes of sensible
things, were not only logical concepts but also a kingdom of Heaven
connected with the human individual by the Divine soul. And as he grew
older so his religious feeling intensified, and he translated his
philosophy into theology and positive religion. Platonism, it has been
well said, is a temper as much as a doctrine; it is the spirit that
turns from the earth to Heaven, from creation to God. In his last
work, "The Laws," wherein he designs a theocratic state, which has
striking points of resemblance with the Jewish polity, he says: "The
conclusion of the matter is this, which is the fairest and truest of
all sayings, that for the good man to sacrifice and hold converse with
the Deity by means of prayers and service of every kind is the noblest
thing of all and the most conducive to a happy life, and above all
things fitting."[235]

This is typical of Plato's attitude towards life in his old age; and
further, his metaphysical system of monistic idealism is the most
remarkable approach to Hebrew monotheism which the Greek world made.
The Patristic writers in the first centuries of the Christian era were
so struck by this Hebraism in the Greek thinker, that they attributed
it to direct borrowing. Aristobulus had written of a translation of
the Pentateuch older than the Septuagint, which Plato was supposed to
have studied. Clement called him the Hebrew philosopher, Origen and
Augustine comment on his agreement with Genesis, and think that when
he was in Egypt he listened to Jeremiah.[236] Eusebius worked out in
detail his correspondences with the Bible. Some early neo-Platonist,
perhaps Numenius, declared that Plato was only the Attic Moses; and in
more modern times the Cambridge Platonists of the sixteenth century
harbored similar ideas, and Nietzsche spoke bitterly of the day when
"Plato went to school with the Jews in Egypt."

Of Philo, then, we may say, as Montaigne said of himself, that he was
a Platonist before he knew who Plato was. Yet he was the first
Hellenistic Jew who perceived the fundamental harmony between the
philosopher's idealism and Jewish monotheism, and he was the first
important commentator of Plato who developed the religious teaching of
his master into a powerful spiritual force.

It is true that the seeds of neo-Platonism, _i.e._, the religious
re-interpretation of Platonism under the influence of Eastern thought,
had been sown already; and Philo must have received from his
environment to some extent the mystical version of the master's
system, with its goal of ecstatic union with God, and its tendency to
asceticism as a means thereto. But the earlier products of the
movement had been crude, and had lacked a powerful moving spirit. This
was provided by Philo when he introduced his overmastering conception
of God. The popular saying, "Either Plato Philonizes or Philo
Platonizes"[237] contains a deep truth in its first as well as in its
second part. It not only marks the likeness in style of the two
writers, but it suggests that Philo, on the one hand, made fruitful
the religious germ in Plato's teaching by his Hebraism, and, on the
other, nourished the philosophical seed in Judaism by his Platonism.
Plato's teaching falls into two main classes, the dialectical and the
mythical, and it is with the latter that Philo is in specially close
connection. For in his myths Plato tries to achieve a synthesis by
imaginative flight where he had failed by discursive reason. He
unifies experience by striking intuitions, something in the spirit of
a Hebrew prophet. Moreover his style, as well as his thought, has here
affinity with Jewish modes of thought. As Zeller says, speaking of the
myths: "From the first, in the act of producing his work he thinks in
images. They mark the point where it becomes evident that he cannot be
wholly a philosopher because he is still too much of a poet." And this
is true of all Philo's writings, and to generalize somewhat widely, of
most Jewish philosophy. In "The Timæus," particularly, Plato,
throughout, is the poet-philosopher, writing imaginative myths, which
present pictorially an idealistic scheme of the universe; and "The
Timæus" is for Philo, after the Bible, the most authoritative of
books, the source of his chief philosophical ideas.

The dominant philosophical principle of Plato is what is known as the
Theory of Ideas. He imagined a world of real existences, invisible,
incorporeal, eternal, grasped only by thought, prior to the objects of
the physical universe, and the models or archetypes of them. In "The
Timæus," which is a system of cosmology at once religious and
metaphysical, the "Ideas" are represented as the thoughts of the one
Supreme Mind, the intermediate powers by which the Supreme Unity,
known as the "Idea of the Good," or "the Creator," evolves the
material universe. Thus the universe is seen as the manifestation of
one Beneficent Spirit, who brings it into existence and rules over it
through His "ideal" thoughts. Philo adopts completely and uncritically
this theory of transcendental ideas in his philosophical exegesis of
the cosmogony in Genesis. "Without an incorporeal archetype God brings
no simple thing to fulfilment."[238] There is an idea of stars, of
grass, of man, of virtue, of music. And the Platonic conception
receives a religious sanction. The ideas are a necessary step between
God and the material universe, and those who deny them throw all
things into confusion.[239] "God would not touch matter Himself, but
He did not grudge a share of His nature to it through His powers, of
which the true name is ideas." We have already noticed[240] how
ingeniously Philo deduces the Theory of Ideas from the Biblical
account of the creation, and associates it with the Hebraic conception
of the ministerial Wisdom and Word. He, however, gives a new direction
to the Platonic theory, owing to his Hebraic conception of God. The
ideas with him are not the thoughts of an impersonal mind, but the
emanations of a personal, volitional Deity. Keeping close to Jewish
tradition, he says that they are the words of the Deity speaking. As
human speech consists of incorporeal ideas, which produce an effect
upon the minds of others, so the Divine speech is a pattern of
incorporeal ideas which impress themselves upon a formless void, and
so create the material world.[241] In this way Philo associates his
cosmology with his theology. The creative "Ideas" are equated
collectively with the Supreme Logos,[242] individually with the Logoi
which represent God's particular activities. Thus the Logos represents
the whole ideal or noetic world, "the kingdom of Heaven"; and it is in
this metaphysical sense that the Logos is the first creation, "the
first-born son of God," prior to the physical universe, which is His
grandson. The whole universe is thus seen as the orderly manifestation
of one principle. Philo, expanding a favorite image of the Haggadah,
illustrates God's creation by the simile of a king founding a city.
"He gets to him an architect, who first designs in his mind the parts
of the perfect city, and then, looking continually to his model,
begins to construct the city of stones and wood. So when God resolved
to found the world-city, He first brought its form into mind, and
using this as a model he completed the visible world."[243]

The theory of religious idealism is the centre of Philo's philosophy,
and provides the basis of his explanation of the material universe.
Physics, indeed, he considered of small account, because he believed
there could be no certainty in such speculations.[244] His mind was
utterly unscientific; but as a religious philosopher he found it
necessary to give a theory of the creation. Jewish dogma held that the
world had been called into being out of nothing; the Greek
philosophers repudiated such an idea, and held that creation must be
the result of a reasonable process; Aristotle had imagined that matter
was a separately existent principle with mind, and that the world was
eternal; and the Stoics held that matter was the substance of all
things, including the pantheistic power itself:

  "All are but parts of one stupendous whole,
  Whose body nature is, and God the soul."

Philo impugns both these theories,[245] the one because it denies the
creative power of God, the other because it confuses the Creator with
His creation. He looked for a system which should satisfy at once the
Jewish notion that the world was brought out of nothing by the will of
God, and the philosophical concept that God is all reality; and he
found in Plato's idealism a view of the creation which he could
harmonize with the religious view. Plato declared that the material
world had been created out of the _Non-Ens_ ([Greek: mê on]) _i.e._,
that which has no real existence. He conceived space and matter as the
mere passive receptacle of form, which is nothing till the form has
given it quality. Though Philo's language is vague, this seems to be
his view when he is speaking philosophically. It is, perhaps, a slight
deviation from the earlier religious standpoint of the Jews, which
looks to a direct and deliberate creation of the world-stuff, rather
than to the informing of space by spirit, and regards the world as
separate from God, and not as a manifestation of His being. But the
more philosophical conception appears likewise in the Wisdom of
Solomon. "For Thine all-powerful hand that created the world out of
formless matter," says the author (xi. 17), establishing before Philo
the compromise between two competing influences in his mind. More
emphatically Philo rejects the notion of creation in time.[246] Time,
he says, came into being after God had made the universe, and has no
meaning for the Divine Ruler, whose life is in the eternal present.

Summing up, we may say that Philo regards the universe as the image of
the Divine manifestation or evolution in thought produced by His
beneficent will; and this view is true to the religious standpoint of
traditional Judaism in spirit if not in letter.

In his conception of the human soul, Philo again harmonizes the simple
Jewish notion with the developed Greek psychology by means of the
Platonic idealism. The soul in the Bible is the breath of God; in
Plato it is an Idea incarnate, represented in "The Timæus" as a
particle of the Supreme Mind. Philo, following the psychology of his
age, divides the soul into a higher and a lower part: (1) the Nous;
(2) the vital functions, which include the senses. He lays all the
stress upon the former, which gives man his kinship with God and the
ideal world, while the other part is the necessary result of its
incarnation in the body. He variously describes the Nous as an
inseparable fragment of the Divine soul, a Divine breath which God
inspires into each body, a reflection, an impression, or an image of
the blessed Logos, sealed with its stamp.[247] Following the Platonic
conception, Philo occasionally speaks of the Divine soul as having a
prenatal existence,[248] holding, as the English poet put it, that

  "The soul that rises with us, our life's star,
    Hath had elsewhere its setting
  And cometh from afar."

Here, too, he follows an older Jewish-Hellenistic tradition, which
appears in the Wisdom of Solomon (viii. 19 and 20), where it is
written: "A good soul fell to my lot. Nay rather, being good, I came
into a body undefiled." The Nous is in fact the god within, and it
bears to the microcosm Man the relation which the infinite God bears
to the macrocosm.[249] Indeed, it is the Logos descended from above,
but yearning to return to its true abode. Thus Philo sings its Divine

     "It is unseen, but sees all things: its essence is unknown,
     but it comprehends the essence of all things. And by arts
     and sciences it makes for itself many roads and ways, and
     traverses sea and land, searching out all things within
     them. And it soars aloft on wings, and when it has
     investigated the sky and its changes it is borne upwards
     towards the æther and the revolutions of the heavens. It
     follows the stars in their orbits, and passing the sensible
     it yearns for the intelligible world."

The Nous is the king of the whole organism, the governing and unifying
power, and hence is often called the man himself. The senses,
resembling the powers of God, are only the bodyguard, subordinate
instruments, and inferior modes of the Divine part.[250] So Philo
explains that all our faculties are derived from the Divine principle,
and he draws the moral lesson that our true function is to bend them
all to the Divine service, so as to foster our noblest part. The aim
of the good man is to bring the god within him into union with the God
without, and to this end he must avoid the life of the senses,[251]
which mars the Divine Nous, and may entirely crush it. The Divine
soul, as it had a life before birth, so also has a life after death;
for what is Divine cannot perish. Immortality is man's most splendid
hope. If the Divine Presence fills him with a mystic ecstasy, he has,
indeed, attained it upon this earth, but this bliss is only for the
very blessed sage; and he, too, looks forward to the more lasting union
with the Godhead after this terrestrial life is over.[252] True at
once to the principles of Platonism and Judaism, Philo admits no
anthropomorphic conception of Heaven or of Hell. He is convinced that
there is a life hereafter, and finds in the story of Enoch the
Biblical symbol thereof,[253] but he does not speculate about the
nature of the Divine reward. The pious are taken up to God, he says, and
live forever,[254] communing alone with the Alone.[255] The unrighteous
souls, Philo sometimes suggests, in accordance with current Pythagorean
ideas, are reincarnated according to a system of transmigration within
the human species ([Greek: palengenesia]).[256] Yet the sinner
suffers his full doom on earth. The true Hades is the life of the
wicked man who has not repented, exposed to vengeance, with uncleansed
guilt, obnoxious to every curse.[257] And the Divine punishment is to
live always dying, to endure death deathless and unending, the death
of the soul.[258]

The Divine Nous constitutes the true nature of man; Philo, however,
insists with almost wearisome repetition, that the god within us has
no power in itself, and depends entirely on the grace and inspiration
of God without for knowledge, virtue, and happiness.[259] The Stoic
dogma, that the wise man is perfectly independent and self-contained
([Greek: autarchês]) appears to him as a wicked blasphemy. "Those
who make God the indirect, and the mind the direct cause are guilty of
impiety, for we are the instruments through which particular
activities are developed, but He who gives the impulse to the powers
of the body and the soul is the Creator by whom all things are
moved."[260] All thought-functions, memory, reasoning, intuition, are
referred directly to Divine inspiration, which is in Platonic
terminology the illumination of the mind by the ideas. Thus, finally,
all human activity is referred back to God.

This guiding principle determines Philo's attitude to knowledge,
involving, as it does, that we only know by Divine inspiration, or, as
he says, by the immanence of the Logoi.[261] The possibility of
knowledge was one of the burning questions of the age, and it was the
failure of the old dogmatic schools to answer it which led to a great
religious movement in Greek philosophy. How can man attain to true
knowledge, it was asked, about the universe, seeing that perceptions
vary with each individual, and of conceptions we have no certain
standard? The old Hebrew attitude to this question is expressed by the
verse of the Psalmist: "The heavens are the heavens of the Lord, but
the earth hath He given to the sons of men" (Psalm cxv), which implies
that man must not try to penetrate the secrets of the universe. Philo
is sufficiently a philosopher to desire knowledge about things Divine
and human, but at the same time he has a complete distrust in the
powers of human sense and human reason. About the physical universe he
is frankly a skeptic,[262] but his religious faith leads him to hold
that God vouchsafes to man some knowledge of Himself and of the proper
way of life, _i.e._, ethics. "Man knows all things in God."[363] Plato
similarly had despaired of knowledge of the physical world, and had
turned to the heavenly ideas as the true object of thought. Moreover,
in his early period, while his theory was still poetical and mystical,
he had conceived that knowledge was made possible in the subject, by
the entrance of "forms," or emanations, from the ideas. This theory
Philo adapts to his Jewish outlook. Like Plato, he turns away from the
physical to the ideal world,[264] and he regards the ideas of wisdom,
virtue, bravery, etc., which are theologically powers of God, as
continually sending forth Logoi, forms or forces (the angels of
popular belief), to inform and enlighten our minds. Throughout, God is
the cause of all knowledge as well as of being, for these effluences
are but an expression of God's activity. In Philo's theory, object and
subject are really one. What can be known are the modes or attributes
of God, which philosophically are "Ideas"; what knows is the emanation
of the Idea, which God sends into the human soul that is prepared to
receive it by pious contemplation. "Through the heavenly Wisdom,
wisdom is seen, for wisdom sees itself." "Through God, God is known,
for He is His own light."[265]

Thus all knowledge is intuition, and man's function is not so much to
reason as to lead a life of piety and contemplate the Divine work in
the hope of being blessed with inspiration. It would be a mistake,
however, to take Philo's words quite literally. He does not deny the
need of human effort and striving for knowledge; for the Divine
influence is not vouchsafed till we have prepared for it and
consecrated all our faculties to God. But, devout mystic as he is,
he ascribes every consummation to the direct help of the Deity. "The
mind is the cause of nothing, but rather the Deity, who is prior to
mind, generates thought."[266] The Greek philosopher had ascribed the
final synthesis of knowledge to a superhuman force. Philo ascribes to
God all the intermediate steps from sense-perception. It may be
admitted that his passive notion of philosophy involves the
abandonment of the Greek ideal, the eager searching of Plato after
truth. He lived in an age in which, through loss of intellectual
power, man had come to despair of the attainment of knowledge by human
effort, and to rely entirely upon supernatural means, Divine
revelations, visions, and the like. It is consistent with his whole
position that the crown of life is represented, not as an intellectual
state, but as a superhuman ecstasy of the Nous, wherein it is freed
not only from the body but from the rest of the soul, and is, so to
say, led out of itself.[267] He comments on the verse, "And the sun
went down and a deep sleep fell on Abraham" (Gen. xv. 12). "When the
Divine light," he says, "shines upon the mortal soul, the mortal light
sinks, and our reason is driven out at the approach of the Divine
spirit."[268] This is the Alexandrian interpretation of [Hebrew: shkina]
and [Hebrew: nboah], and though it is much affected by Greek mystical
ideas, yet at the same time it is broadly true to the spirit of Jewish
mysticism, as we see it presented in writers of all ages, and as the
Psalmist expressed it, "to abide under the shadow of the Almighty."

Philo's ethics, like the rest of his philosophy, exhibits the
transfusion of Greek ideas with his Hebrew spirit. The Greek
philosophers had evolved a rational plan of life, while the Jewish
teachers were impregnated with burning ardor for the living God; and
Philo brings the two things together, making ethics dependent on
religion. The Stoics, who were the most powerful school of his day,
regarded as the ideal of goodness life according to unbending reason
and in complete independence of God or man. Philo understands God as a
personal power making for righteousness, and man's excellence,
accordingly, which is likeness to God, is piety and charity.[269]
Above all he insists upon Faith ([Greek: pistis]) and he defines
virtue as a condition of soul which fixes its hopes upon the truly
Existent God. The Stoics also professed to honor faith or confidence
above all things, but the virtue which they meant was reliance upon
man's own powers. Philo's virtue is almost the converse of this. Man
must feel completely dependent upon God, and his proper attitude is
humility and resignation. So only can he receive within his soul the
seed of goodness, and finally the Divine Logos.[270] Yet at the same
time Philo remains loyal to the Jewish ideal of conduct: faith without
works is empty, and, as he puts it, "The true-born goods are faith and
consistency of word and action."[271]

The attainment of the highest excellence demands severe discipline,
save for those few blessed souls whom God perfects without any effort
on their part. The rest can only secure self-realization by
self-renunciation; they must avoid the bodily passions and bodily
lusts.[272] At times the Divine enthusiasm causes Philo, like many a
Jewish saint and like his master Plato, to scorn all bodily
limitations and recommend "insensibility" ([Greek: apatheia])[273]
by which he means that man should crush his physical desires and
repress his feelings. Not that the good life seems to him to imply
absence of pleasure. On the contrary, it is filled with the purest of
joy, for when man rises to the love of God "in calm of mind, all
passion spent," then and then alone has he tasted true joyousness. The
symbol of this bliss is Isaac ([Hebrew: ytshk]), the laughter of the

It was noticed in the second chapter that Philo modified his ethical
ideas during his life. In the earlier period he insists more strongly
on the need of ascetic self-denial, and has almost a horror of the
world. Maturer experience, however, taught him that man is made for
this world, and that a wise use of its goods was a surer path to
happiness and to God than flight from all temptations. In his later
writings, therefore, he exhibits a striking moderation. He reproaches
the ascetics for their "savage enthusiasm,"[274] probably hinting at
the extreme sects of the Essenes and the Therapeutæ. "Those who follow
a gentler wisdom seek after God, but at the same time do not despise
human things."

     "Truth will properly blame those who without discrimination
     shun all concern with the life of the State, and say that
     they despise the acquisition of good repute and pleasure.
     They are only making grand pretensions, and they do not
     really despise these things. They go about in torn raiment
     and with solemn visage, and live the life of penury and
     hardship as a bait, to make people believe that they are
     lovers of good conduct, temperance, and self-control."[275]

Philo's aphorism, which follows, "Be drunk in a sober manner," is
characteristic. The Stoic extreme of passionlessness is almost as
false as the Epicurean hedonism, and the mean between them is the
ideal Jewish life, in which godliness and humanity are blended.

We have now examined the main divisions of Philo's philosophy, and we
see that his metaphysics, cosmology, theory of knowledge, and ethics
are all religious in tone, and all determined in their main lines by
his Jewish outlook. His Hebraism is a seal which stamps all that
enters his mind from Greek sources, and the Bible, spiritually
interpreted, is the canon of all his wisdom.

There remains one minor aspect of his work which must be briefly
examined, because it has become closely associated with his name. This
is his number-symbolism, by which he ascribes important powers to
certain numbers, so that they are regarded as holy themselves and
sanctifying that to which they are attached. This feature of his
thought is commonly ascribed to Pythagorean influence, which was
strong at Alexandria, and, indeed, throughout the world, at this era.
The exact details of the holiness of four, seven, ten, fifty, etc.,
Philo may have borrowed from neo-Pythagorean sources, but the general
tendency was the natural result of his environment and his stage of
thought. It was a feature of the recurring childishness of ideas and
the renascence of wonder at common things which is apparent on many
hands. To have denied the powers of numbers would have seemed as
absurd and eccentric then as to deny the powers of electricity to-day.
And in all ages people have been found to regard numbers mystically as
a link between God and earth, and a means of solving all physical and
metaphysical problems. The Hebrew intellect, primitive as it was,
tended particularly to the reverence of the numerical powers. Witness
the Bible itself, which emphasizes certain numbers; and witness also
the fifth chapter of the Pirke Abot, with its lists ranged under four,
seven, and ten, which is only typical of the rabbinical attitude.
Philo is not original in his views concerning numbers, not above nor
below the loose thinking of his age. He accepts unquestioningly the
potency of seven, because of its marvellous mathematical properties,
ratios, etc., its geometrical efficacy, and because of the seven
periods of life from infancy to old age, of the seven parts of the
body, the seven motions, the seven strings of the lyre, the seven
vowels, and the very name, which is connected with worship ([Greek:
sebasmos]). All this is trifling and trite, but what is of
importance is the use which Philo makes of the sentiment. He converts
it throughout to the support and glorification of Jewish institutions.
Thus, if a man honors seven, he says, he will devote the Sabbath to
meditation and philosophy.[276] Further, as seven is the symbol of
rest and tranquillity, the Sabbath must be a day of perfect rest. Ten
is magnified so as to honor the Decalogue,[277] fifty so as to honor
the Feast of Pentecost. So, too, the Pythagoreans' mathematical
conceptions of God as "the beginning and limit of all things," or,
again, as the principle of equality, are approved by Philo, "because
they breed in the soul the fairest and most nourishing fruit--piety."
In short, Philo's Pythagoreanism only emphasizes his commanding
purpose--to deepen and recommend the Jewish God-idea and the Jewish
method of life.

Jewish influences throughout are the determining element of Philo's
teaching; they are the dynamic forces working upon the Greek matter
and producing the new Platonism, which constitutes Philo's
contribution to Greek philosophy. It may, indeed, be said that his
Hebraism makes Philo anti-philosophical, because he has no desire or
hope of adding to positive knowledge, but aims only at the calm of the
individual soul in union with its God. The Platonic Theory of Ideas,
metaphysical in origin, plays a very important part in his works, but
it is adapted mystically, and turned from an ideal of the human
intellect to a support of monotheism and piety. Here Philo is at once
the leader and the child of his generation; men were no longer
satisfied with rational systems, but wanted a religious philosophy,
based upon a transcendental principle and a Divine revelation which
could give them some certainty and some positive hope in life.
Doubtless, the strong mystical tendency in Philo destroyed the balance
between the intuitive and the discursive reason which makes the
perfect philosopher. In his overpowering passion for God, he distrusts
overmuch the analytical efforts of the human mind. Nevertheless, his
acquired Hellenism gives his Jewish conceptions a philosophical
impress, and this has made him the model of the school of religious
philosophers. The ministerial "Word" became the "ideal" expression of
God's mind, the governing reason, the world-soul; the angels were
spiritualized as a kingdom of Ideas. Piety received an intellectual as
well as a religious value, and the Mosaic law was raised to a higher
dignity as an ethical code of universal validity.

A complete harmony between the Hellenic and the Hebraic outlook upon
life was impossible, but Philo at least accomplished a harmony between
Hebraic monotheism and Greek metaphysics. He desired to show that
faith and philosophy were in agreement, and that the imaginative and
reflective conceptions of God and the Divine government were in
unison. And he may be considered to have realized his desire in his
synthesis of Jewish theology and Platonic idealism. He is through and
through a great interpreter, elucidating points of unity between
distinct systems of thought. In him the fusion of cultures, which
began with the Septuagint translation, reached its culmination. It
reached its zenith and straightway the severance began.

In the next chapter we shall trace Philo's place in Jewish thought;
here we may glance at his place in the development of Greek
philosophy. The fusion between Eastern and Western thought, which he
himself so strikingly illustrates, continued to dominate philosophy
for the next four hundred years; and Plato, who, with his deep
religious spirit, had a broad affinity with the Oriental conception of
the universe, was the supreme philosophical master. All the chief
teachers looked to him for the intellectual basis of their ideas and
read into his works their particular religious beliefs; but they
failed to maintain a true harmony between the two. The cultures of all
countries and races mingled, even as their peoples mingled under the
Roman Empire, but they were so combined as to lose the purity and
individuality of each element. The Eastern Platonists who followed
Philo brought to their interpretation less noble conceptions of the
Godhead, the Gnosticism of Syria, the dualism of Persia, the
impersonal pantheism of India, and the theurgies of Egypt, and
produced strange hybrids of the human mind. The one point of agreement
between them is that they conceive the Supreme God as impersonal and
entirely inactive, "a deified Zero," and endeavor by a system of
emanation to trace the descent of this baffling principle into man and
the universe. Philo was as unfortunate in his philosophical as in his
religious following, who both transformed his poetical metaphors into
fixed and rigid dogmas. His doctrine of the Logos was, on the one
hand, the forerunner of the Trinity of the Church, on the other of the
Trinity of the Alexandrian neo-Platonists. It is difficult, indeed, to
trace with certainty the connection between Philo and the later school
of Alexandrian Platonists, but there appears to be at least one clear
link in the teaching of the Syrian Numenius, who flourished in the
middle of the second century. To him are attributed the two sayings:
"Either Plato Philonizes or Philo Platonizes," and "What is Plato but
the Attic Moses?" Modern scholars have questioned the correctness of
the reference, but be this as it may, it is certain that Numenius used
the Bible as evidence of Platonic doctrines. "We should go back," he
says, in a fragment, "to the actual writings of Plato and call in as
testimony the ideas of the most cultured races; comparing their holy
books and laws we should bring in support the harmonious ideas which
are to be found among the Brahmans and the Jews."[278] Origen tells
us,[279] moreover, that he often introduced excerpts from the books of
Moses and the Prophets, and allegorized them with ingenuity. In one of
the few remains of his writings which have come down to us, we find
him praising the verse in the first chapter of Genesis, "The spirit of
God was upon the waters"; because, as Philo had interpreted
it--following perhaps a rabbinical tradition--water represents the
primal world-stuff. And elsewhere he mentions the efforts of the
Egyptian magicians to frustrate the miracles of Moses, following
Philo's account in his life of the Jewish hero.

The work of Philo helped to spread a knowledge of the Hebrew
Scriptures far and wide and to give them general authority as a
philosophical book; but it did not succeed in spreading the pure
Hebrew monotheism. The exalted Hebrew idea of God was still too
sublime for the pagan nations, even for their philosophers. The world
in truth was decaying morally and intellectually, and most of all in
powers of imagination; and its hunger for God found expression in
crude and stunted conceptions of His nature. Unable any longer to soar
to Heaven, it sullied the majesty of the Deity, and divided the
Godhead in order to bridge the gap. Numenius represents in philosophy
the Gnostic ideas about God which were widely held by the heretics,
Jewish and Christian, of the second century. He divides the Godhead
into two separate powers: (1) the impersonal Being behind all reality,
free from all activity whatsoever; (2) the Demiurge or active governor
of the universe, who again is subdivided into a transcendent and an
immanent power.

The teaching of Plotinus, the most famous of the later Alexandrian
neo-Platonists, shows a further step in the development of religious
Platonism. Viewed from its higher side it is an attempt to explain
everything as the emanation of the One. But philosophy in the third
century debased itself in order to support the tottering polytheistic
religion of the pagan world against the modified Hebraic creed,
Christianity, which was fast demolishing its power. Against the
Trinity of the Church the philosophers set up a heavenly Trinity of
so-called reason: the Ineffable One, the Demiurgic Mind, and the World
Soul; and between this Trinity and man they placed intermediate
hierarchies of gods, angels, and demons--in fact, the whole fugitive
army of Greek polytheism thinly disguised. All the vulgar fancies and
superstitions which Philo had intellectualized, these later Eastern
Platonists sought to revive and justify by conceptions of physical
emanation blended of false science and mysticism. They hoped to found
a universal religion by finding room in one system for the deities of
all nations!

From Plotinus down to Proclus, neo-Platonism became more
unintellectual, more insane, more pagan, and, finally, with its vapid
dreams, it brought the history of Greek philosophy to an inglorious
close. Its finer teachings, however, deeply affected mediaeval
philosophy, and not least the Arab-Jewish school. The theory of
emanations and spiritual hierarchies pervades the writings of Ibn
Ezra, Ibn Gabirol, and Ibn Daud, and thus indirectly provides a
connection between the culture of Alexandrian Judaism and the culture
of Spanish Judaism. The praise of God known as the [Hebrew: ktr mlkot] by
Ibn Gabirol is a splendid example of the Hebraizing of neo-Platonic
doctrines, which, though probably quite independent of his teaching,
recalls constantly the ideas of Philo.

By his place at the head of the neo-Platonic school Philo enters the
broad stream of the world's philosophical development, but his more
lasting influence was exercised over the religious philosophy of
Christianity. He was the direct master of what is known as the
Patristic school, which sought to combine the intellectual conceptions
of Plato with the religious ideas of the Gospels. Its most celebrated
teachers were Clement and Origen, both of Alexandria, who flourished
in the second century. They resorted largely to allegorical
interpretation, learning from Philo to trace in the Bible principles
of universal thought and profound philosophy; but they used his method
and his lessons to support notions of God and the Logos which were
alien to his spirit. He had possessed pre-eminently the soaring
imagination of poetry, which is the crown of the intellectual and of
the religious mind, and unites them in their highest excellence; but
they bounded their philosophy within the narrow limits of dogma, and
thereby destroyed the harmony between Hebraism and Hellenism which he
had contrived to effect. The controversy of Origen and Celsus began
again the battle between reason and faith, "which was to destroy for
centuries the independence of philosophy and to break the continuity
of civilization." Had Philo really been ploughing the sand, and was an
agreement between faith and reason, between religion and philosophy,
impossible? Can the two finest creations of the mind only be combined
on the terms that one is subordinate, or rather servile, to the other?
In Judaism, if anywhere, the combination should be possible, for
Judaism has as its basis an intuitional conception of God, which is in
harmony with the philosophical conception of the universe, and it has
little dogma besides. The neo-Platonists and the Church Fathers failed
to carry on the ideal of Philo, but it was to be expected that among
his own people, the nation of philosophers, as he had called them, he
would have found true successors. Yet the use made of his work by the
Christians compelled his people to regard him as a betrayer of the law
and to avoid his goal as a treacherous snare. For centuries Greek
philosophy was banned from Jewish thought, and Philo's works are not
mentioned by any Jewish writer. Strangers possessed his inheritance,
and his name alone, "Philo-Judæus," bore witness to his nationality.
It is an interesting speculation to consider how different might have
been the history, not only of the Jews, but of the world, if the
Hellenistic Judaism of Philo had prevailed in the Roman-Greek world
instead of "the impurer Hellenism of Christianity." When, in the tenth
century, the leaders of Jewish thought broke the bonds of seclusion,
and brought anew to the interpretation of their religion the culture
of the outer world, Greek philosophy became again a powerful
influence, though it was Aristotle rather than Plato whom they
studied. The harmonizing spirit of Philo, which may be accounted part
of the genius of the race, lives on in Saadia, Maimonides, Ibn Ezra,
Ibn Gabirol, and Judah Halevi. But the difference between him and the
Arabic school is marked. They do not inherit his whole object, for
they aimed not at a philosophical Judaism which should be a
world-religion, but at a philosophical Judaism for the more
enlightened Jews alone. Philo's work was the culminating point,
indeed, of a great development in Judaism, produced by the mingling of
the finest products of human reason and human imagination, but it was
particularly the expression of his own commanding genius. He lacked a
true successor, for those who shared his aim did not inherit his
Jewish outlook, and those who shared his Jewish outlook did not
inherit his aim. What is characteristic of and peculiar to Philo is
the combination of the missionary and the philosopher. Living at a
time when the Jewish genius expanded most brilliantly, and when
Judaism exercised its greatest influence, he hoped to make his
religion universal by showing it to be philosophical, and to bring
about by the aid of Plato the ideal of the prophets.

       *       *       *       *       *



We have seen from time to time how Philo's interpretation of the Bible
corresponds with Palestinian Jewish tradition; and we must now
consider more in detail the relations of the two schools of Jewish
learning. Until the last century it was commonly supposed that no
close relation existed, and that the Alexandrian and Palestinian
schools were independent and opposed; Scaliger, the greatest scholar
of the seventeenth century, wrote[280] that "Philo was more ignorant
of Hebraic and Aramaic lore than any Gaul or Scythian," and this was
the opinion generally held. The researches of Freudenthal and
Siegfried[281] have shown the falsity of these views; and, most
important of all, Philo refutes them out of his own mouth. He refers
in many different parts of his works[282] to the tradition and the
wisdom of his ancestors, he tells us how on the Sabbath the Jews
studied in their synagogues their special philosophy,[283] and he
commences his "Life of Moses" by declaring that against the false
calumnies of Greek writers he will set forth the true account which he
has learnt from the sacred writings and "from certain elders of his
race." In support of his statement we have the remark of Eusebius, the
Christian historian, and our chief ancient authority for Philo's
work,[284] that he set forth and expounded not only the laws of the
Bible, but many institutions and opinions of his fathers. Apart from
these direct references, the numerous points of correspondence between
Philo's interpretations and those of the Talmud and later Midrash
would compel us to admit a connection between Alexandria and

The break between the two schools did not show itself till after the
time of Philo. Up to the first century of the Christian era the rabbis
encouraged the union of Shem and Japheth--the two good sons of one
parent--and the stream of ideas flowed quite freely between the
teachers in Palestine and the Hellenized colony in Egypt.[285] Hence
the Palestinian Jews, on the one hand, received the first fruits of
this mingling of cultures, and the Alexandrian Jews, on the other,
must have inherited the early tradition of the rabbinical interpreters
embodied in ancient Halakah and Haggadah. By this common heritage,
rather than by any direct borrowing, it seems more reasonable to
account for the correspondence in the two Midrashim. It should be
remembered that until the second century of the common era the mass of
Jewish tradition was a floating and developing body of opinion not
consigned to writing or formalized, but handed down by word of mouth
from teacher to pupil, and preacher to congregation: in this way it
was diffused throughout the mind of the race, indefinitely and, to
some extent, unconsciously shaping its thought. The detailed points of
agreement between Philo and the Talmud and Midrash are not of great
moment in themselves, but they are the signs of a unity of development
and the catholicity of Judaism in the East and West. Doubtless the
development was more national and at the same time more legal in
Judæa, in Alexandria more Hellenistic and philosophical, but there is
a common spiritual bond between the two expressions, pious images,
fancies, similes, interpretations which they share. They are, as it
were, children of one family, and despite the varying influences of
environment they maintain a family resemblance. With the Sibylline
oracles we may compare Daniel and the Psalms of Solomon; with Aristeas
and his fellow-Apologists, Josephus; with the allegorical commentaries
of Philo, the Midrashim. Modern scholars have gone far to prove that
Philo was the expounder of an Hellenic Midrash upon the Bible, in
which were gathered the thoughts and ideas that had been brought to
Egypt by the Jewish settlers, modified, no doubt, by Greek influences,
but still bearing the stamp of their origin. Philo, then, appears in
the direct line of the tradition which from the time of the Great
Synagogue was disseminated through two channels, the schools of
Palestine and the writers of Alexandria. He developed the national
Jewish theology in a literary form, which made it available for the
world, but with him the tradition as a Jewish tradition ends; in its
further Hellenistic development it departed entirely from its original

It is natural that the larger number of parallels between Philo and
the rabbis is to be found in the Haggadic portions of Talmudic
teaching, for the Haggadah represents the same spirit as underlies
Philo's work, though in a more peculiarly Jewish form; it is an
allegory, a play of fancy, a tale that points a moral, or illustrates
a question. It had, too, largely the same origin, for it gathered
together the popular discourses given in the synagogue on the
Sabbaths. Yet the relation of Philo to the other domain of the Talmud,
the code of life, or the Halakah, is of great interest; for, as we
have seen,[286] the Alexandrian community had a Sanhedrin of their
own, of which Philo's brother was the president, and he himself
probably a member; and in his exposition of the "Specific Laws" he has
preserved for us the record of certain interpretations of the Jewish
code, which are illuminating as much by their difference from, as by
their agreement with, the practices of Palestine. The general aim of
Philo's exegesis of the law was to show its broad principles of
justice and humanity rather than to formulate its exact detail. It is
true, he makes it an offence[287]--unknown to the rabbis--for
a Jew to be initiated into the Greek mysteries, but usually he is
concerned to recommend the Halakah to the world rather than expand it
for his own community. This is shown in his treatment of the civil as
much as the moral law. The great system of jurisprudence in his day,
with which every code claiming to have universal value had necessarily
to challenge comparison, was Roman Law. That part of it which was
applied throughout the Empire, the _jus gentium_, was regarded as
"written reason." It is probable that contact with Roman jurisprudence
had affected the practical interpretations which the Alexandrian
Sanhedrin put upon the Biblical legislation, and was the cause of some
of their differences from the Palestinian Halakah. In treating the
ethical law, Philo's object was to show its agreement with the
loftiest conceptions of Greek philosophers, and, indeed, its
profounder truth; in treating the civil law of the Bible, his object
likewise was to show its agreement with the highest principles of
jurisprudence and its superiority to pagan codes. If at times he
supports a greater severity than the Palestinian rabbis eventually
allowed, that is where greater severity implies a closer relation to
Roman Law. Thus he has not the horror of capital punishment which the
Jerusalem Sanhedrin exhibited; he would condemn to death the man who
commits wilful homicide, whether by his own hand or by poison;[288]
whereas the other Halakah allows it only in the former case. He who
commits perjury also is to suffer capital punishment.[289] He adds a
law which finds no place in the Palestinian tradition, making the
exposure of children a capital crime.[290] Again, following the text
of the Biblical law literally (see Deut. xxi. 18), he gives power of
life and death to parents over their rebellious children, whereas the
Jewish law demands a trial before a court to make the death sentence
legal. He approves of the _lex talionis_, "an eye for an eye, a tooth
for a tooth," agreeing here, indeed, with the opinion of earlier
rabbis like R. Eliezer (see Baba Kama 84, [Hebrew: 'yn tht 'yn mmsh],
"the law of eye for eye is to be taken literally"), and disagreeing with
the later Halakic interpretation, which says that the law of Moses means
the award of the value of an eye for an eye, etc.

This is one instance among many of Philo's adoption of the older
tradition, established probably under the Sadducæan predominance,
which was modified in the rabbinical schools of the first and the
second century. Paradoxically, in his exposition of the law, Philo
follows the letter more closely as the expression of justice, while
the later rabbis often allegorize it in order to support their humaner
interpretation. Thus, commenting on the passage in Exodus xxii. 3
about the law of theft, "If the sun be risen upon him, blood shall be
shed for blood," he, like R. Eliezer, interprets [Hebrew: dbrim kktbm][291]
_i.e._, literally. "If," he says, "the owner catches the thief before
sunrise, he may kill him, but after the sun has risen he must bring him
before the court."[292] This also was the Roman law, but the Halakah
interprets more artificially: "If it were as clear as sunlight that
the thief would not have killed the owner, then the owner may not kill
him." Philo would justify the old law; the rabbis explain it away. On
the other hand, in his treatment of the law relating to slaves, Philo
extends the liberality both of the Bible and the Halakah. He declares
that the slave is to be set free when by his master's violence he loses
an eye or even a tooth.[293] The Bible and the Talmud direct emancipation
only where the slave loses a limb; but Philo writes eloquently of the
humanity of which man is deprived by the loss of sight; and he would
apparently condemn the master who injured his slave more seriously to the
full penalties of the ordinary law.[294] Maimonides, in his exposition of
the law, approves the milder practice,[295] and this suggests that it
had an old tradition behind it. Beautiful is Philo's stray maxim,
"Behave to your servants as you pray that God may behave to you. For
as we hear them, so shall we be heard, and as we regard them, so shall
we be regarded."[296] In his whole treatment of slavery, Philo shows
remarkable enlightenment for his age. He objects, indeed, to the
institution altogether, and he tempers it continually with ideas of
equality. Thus, following the Halakah, he directs the redemption of a
slave seven years after his purchase, and he treats the laws of the
seventh-year rest to the land and of the jubilee as of universal

Coming to the more specifically religious laws we find that Philo,
missionary as he is, prohibits altogether marriage with Gentiles,[297]
and that though, in the opinion of certain rabbinic teachers, the
Biblical prohibition extended only to marriage with the Canaanite
tribes, and unions with other Gentiles were permitted.[298] Philo
recognizes how dangerous such unions are for the cause which he had so
dearly at heart, the spreading of Judaism. "Even," says he, "if you
yourself remain true to your religion through the influence of the
excellent instruction of your parents, yet there is no small danger
that your children by such a marriage may be beguiled away by bad
customs to unlearn the true religion of the one only God."[299]
Throughout, Philo is true to the mission of Israel in its highest
sense. That mission is not assimilation, and it is to be brought about
by no easy method of mixing with the surrounding people. It can be
effected only by holding up the Torah in its purity as a light to the
nations, and by offering them examples of life according to the law.

Of the special ordinances for Sabbaths and festivals Philo mentions
only those consecrated by the Biblical law or ancient tradition, which
probably were the only ones settled in his day. He lays down the
prohibition to kindle fire,[300] to make or return deposits, or to
plead in the law courts on the Sabbath; he speaks of the reading of
the Haggadah and Hallel on the night of Passover, of the bringing of a
barley cake during the 'Omer and of the first fruits to the Temple on
the Feast of Weeks, of the Shofar at New Year, and of the Sukkah, but
not of the Lulab at Tabernacles. It should be remembered that the
Halakah was not consolidated till the second or third century, and in
Philo's time it was in the process of formation by different schools
of rabbis. But the passage quoted in an earlier chapter, about adding
to the law, proves his reverence for the oral law.[301]

Though his statement of the civil and religious law is of great
interest to the student of Halakic development, Philo's work presents
greater correspondence, on the whole, with the Haggadah, which in a
primitive way draws philosophical and ethical lessons from the Bible
narrative. It is a free interpretation of the Scriptures, the
expression of the individual moralist; it loves to point a moral and
adorn a tale, and in many cases it is in agreement with the
Hellenistic school. To take a few typical examples: An early
interpretation explains the story of the Brazen Serpent, as Philo
does,[302] to mean that as long as Israel are looking upward to the
Father in Heaven they will live, but when they cease to do so they
will die. Another, like him again, finds the motive of the command to
bore the ear of the slave who will not leave his master at the seventh
year of redemption, in the principle that men are God's servants, and
should not voluntarily throw away their precious freedom. So, too, the
Haggadah agrees in numerous points with Philo's stories about the
patriarchs.[303] If one were to go through the Midrashic
interpretations of the Five Books of Moses, he would find in nearly
every section interpretations reminiscent of Philo. In some cases,
however, there are striking contrasts in the two commentaries. Thus
the Midrash[304] tells that the four rivers of Eden symbolize the four
great nations of the old world; to Philo, they represent the four
cardinal virtues established by Greek philosophers. The Palestinian
commentators were prone to see an historical where Philo saw a
philosophical image.

The question may be asked, Who is the originator and who the borrower
of the common tradition? And it is a question to which chronology can
give no certain answer, and for which dates or records have no
meaning. For the Haggadah was not committed to writing till many
generations had known its influences, and it was not finally compiled
till many generations more had handed it down with continuous
accretions. The Haggadah in fact is part of the permanent spirit of
the race going back to a hoary past, and stretching down "the echoing
grooves of time" to the tradition of Judaism in our own day. The
Hebrew Word means, and the thing is, "what is said": the utterances of
the inspired teacher, some tale, some happy play of fancy, some moral
aphorism, some charming allegory which captivated the hearers, and was
handed down the generations as a precious thought. It is significant
in this regard that the Haggadah is remarkable for the number of
foreign words which it contains, Greek, Persian, and Roman terms
jostling with Hebrew and Aramaic. For while the Halakah was the
production of the Palestinian and Babylonian schools alone, the
Haggadah brought together the harvest of all lands; and scraps of
Greek philosophy found their way to Palestine before the Alexandrian
school developed its systematic allegory. In the Mishnah, the earliest
body of Jewish lore which was definitely formulated and written down,
one section is Haggadic, the passages we know as the "Ethics of the
Fathers." Now, we cannot place the date of this compilation before the
first century,[305] and thus it would seem to be contemporary with
Philo's work, to which it affords numerous parallels. But the great
mass of the Haggadah, the Pesikta, the Mekilta, and the other
Midrashim, were all later compilations, some of them as late as the
fifth and the sixth century. Are we to say, then, that where they
correspond to Philo they show his influence? At first this would
appear the natural conclusion.

There is a better test of priority, however, than the date of
compilation, the test of the thought itself and its expression. And
judged by this test we see that the Haggadah is the more ancient, the
primal development of the Hebrew mind. The "Sayings of the Fathers"
are typical of the finest and most concentrated wisdom of the
Haggadah, and exhibit thought in its impulsive, unsystematic, gnomic
expression, neither logical nor illogical, because it knows not logic.
Beautiful ethical intuitions and profound guesses at theological truth
abound; anything like a definite system of ethics and theology is not
to be found, whence it is said, "Do not argue with the Haggadah." Even
more so is this the case with the bulk of the Midrash. There, pious
fancy will weave itself around the history and ideals of the people,
and suddenly one comes across a sage reflection or a philosophical
utterance. With Philo it is otherwise. Compared with the Greeks he is
unsystematic, inaccurate, wanting in logic, exuberant in imagination.
Compared with the rabbis he is a formal and accurate philosopher, an
exact and scholarly theologian. The floating poetical ideas of the
Haggadah are woven by him into the fabric of a Jewish philosophy and a
Jewish theology, and knit together with the rational conceptions of
Aristotle's "Metaphysics" and Plato's "Timæus." We may say, then,
almost with certainty, that Philo derives from the early Jewish
tradition, though at the same time he introduced into that tradition
many an idea taken from the Greek thinkers, which found its way to the
later Palestinian schools of Jamnia and Tiberias, and was recast by
the Hebraic imagination.

Over and over again we find that he adopts some fancy of his ancestors
and develops it rhetorically and philosophically in his commentary. To
give many examples or references to examples of this feature of
Philo's work is not within the scope of this book, but of his
development of an old Palestinian tradition the following passage may
serve as a typical instance:

     "There is an old story," he writes, "composed by the sages
     and handed down by memory from age to age.... They say that,
     when God had finished the world, he asked one of the angels
     if aught were wanting on land or in sea, in air or in
     heaven. The angel answered that all was perfect and
     complete. One thing only he desired, speech, to praise God's
     works, or to recount, rather than praise, the exceeding
     wonderfulness of all things made, even of the smallest and
     the least. For the due recital of God's works would be their
     most adequate praise, seeing that they needed no addition of
     ornament, but possessed in the sincerity of truth the most
     perfect eulogy. And the Father approved the angel's words,
     and afterwards appeared the race gifted with the muses and
     with song. This is the ancient story; and in accord with it,
     I say that it is God's peculiar work to do good, and the
     creature's work to give Him thanks."[306]

Now this legend and moral appear in another form in the collection of
Midrash, the Pirke Rabbi Eliezer, which apparently had ancient sources
that have disappeared. There it is told: "When the Holy One, blessed
be He, consulted the Torah as to the completeness of the work of
creation, she answered him: 'Master of the future world, if there be
no host, over whom will the King reign, and if there be no creatures
to praise him, where is the glory of the King?' And the Lord of the
world was pleased with her answer and forthwith He created man."[307]

The Haggadah is rich also in allegorical speculation, of which there are
traces in the Biblical books themselves. In the book of Micah, for
example, we find that the patriarchs are taken as types of certain
virtues, Abraham of Kindness, [Hebrew: hsd], and Jacob of Truth,
[Hebrew: 'mt] (vii. 20). And when the ideas of the people expanded
philosophically in Palestine and in Alexandria, the profounder
conceptions were attached to Scripture by the device of allegorical
interpretation, and certain rabbis attributed a higher value to the
inner than to the literal meaning. Thus Akiba, who wrote an elaborate
allegorical work upon the Song of Songs,[308] held that the book was the
most profound in the Bible, and Rabbi Judah similarly regarded the book
of Job.[309] The Palestinian allegorists took to themselves a wider
field than the Alexandrian, and looked for the deeper meanings rather in
the Wisdom Literature than in the Pentateuch, which was to them
essentially the Book of the Law, and, therefore, not a fit subject for
Mashal, _i.e._, inner meanings.[310] Hence, their allegorism was more
natural, more real, and truer to the spirit of that which they
interpreted. They allegorized when an allegory was invited, whereas
Philo and his school often forced their philosophical meanings in face
of the clear purport of the text, and without regard to the Hebrew. In
the one case allegory was a genuine development, and might have been
adopted by the original prophet: in the other, it was reconstruction;
and the artificial un-Hebraic character of the Hellenistic commentary
was one of the causes of its disappearance from Jewish tradition. While
the Palestinian allegorists based their continuous philosophical
interpretation upon the Wisdom Books, they, at the same time, looked for
secondary meanings wherever opportunity offered, and found lessons in
letters and teachings in names. An early school of commentators was
actually known as [Hebrew: dorsh rshomot][311] or interpreters of signs,
and their method was by examination of the letters of a word, or by
comparison of different verses, to explore homilies. For instance, the
verse, "And God showed Moses a tree" (Exod. xvi. 26), by which he
sweetened the waters at Marah, symbolized, by a play on the word
[Hebrew: vyvrhu],[312] that God taught Moses the Torah, of which it is
said, "She is a tree of life" (Prov. iii. 18). Another happy example of
this method occurs in the sixth section of the Pirke Abot, where the
names in the itinerary, [Hebrew: mmtna nhlial, vmnhlial bmot] (Numb.
xxi. 19), are invested with a spiritual meaning. Whoever believes in the
Torah, it is written, shall be exalted, as it is said, "From the gift of
the law man attains the heritage of God, and by that heritage he reaches

In this passage of Palestinian allegorism, it may be noticed that the
Torah is regarded as a spiritual bond between man and God, and as a
sort of intermediary power between them. This feature is almost as
frequent in the Midrash as the Logos-idea in Philo, so that it may be
said that rabbinic theology finds an idealism in the Torah which
corresponds to the idealism of the Philonic Word. It is expressed, no
doubt, naïvely and fancifully, even playfully, without attempt at
philosophical deductions. It is informed by the same spirit as the
Alexandrian allegory, but it is essentially poetical and impulsive,
and set forth in mythical personification, not in deliberate
metaphysics. The Torah to the rabbis was the embodiment of the Wisdom
which the writer of Proverbs had glorified, and it takes its
prerogatives. God gazes upon the Torah before He creates the
world.[313] The Torah, though the chief, is not, however, the only
object of rabbinic idealism. God and His name, it is said, alone
existed before the world was created,[314] and in a Talmud legend
relating the birth of man, the ideal power is identified with Truth,
which, like the Logos, is pictured as God's own seal.

  "From Heaven to Earth, from Earth once more to Heaven
  Shall Truth, with constant interchange, alight
  And soar again, an everlasting link
  Between the world and Sky."

  (Translation of Emma Lazarus.)[315]

Correspondingly, Philo identifies the Logos with the name of God and
with Truth.

Of another piece of Talmudic idealism we catch a trace in Maimonides'
"Guide of the Perplexed,"[316] where he says that the rabbis explained
the designation of God, [Hebrew: lrubb b'rbot] [rendered in the authorized
version, "He who rideth on the heavens" (Ps. lxviii. 4)], to mean that
He dwelt in the highest sphere of heaven amid the eternal ideas of
Justice and Virtue, as it is said: "Justice and Righteousness are the
base of Thy throne" (Ps. lxxxix. 15). These fancies and
interpretations indicate that in Palestine as well as in Alexandria an
idealistic theology and a religious metaphysics were developing at
this period, though in the East it was more imaginative, more Hebraic,
more in the spirit of the old prophets.

The more serious metaphysical and theological speculation of the
rabbis was embodied in the doctrine of the "Creation," and the
"Chariot," [Hebrew: m'sha br'shit] and [Hebrew: m'sha mrkba], which in
form were commentaries on the early chapters of Genesis and the visions
of Ezekiel. They were reserved for the wisest and most learned, for the
rabbis had always a fear of introducing the student to philosophy until
his knowledge of the law was well established. They held, with Plato, that
metaphysical speculation must be the crown of knowledge, and if treated as
its foundation, before the necessary discipline had been obtained, it
would produce all sorts of wild ideas. Judaism for them was primarily
not a philosophical doctrine but a system of life. The Hellenistic
school was so far false to their standpoint that it laid stress for
the ordinary believer upon the philosophical meaning as well as upon
the law. And as events proved, this led to the neglect of the law and
the dogmatic establishment of speculative theories as the basis of a
new religion. Doubtless the consciousness that the philosophical
development led away from Judaism increased the distrust of the later
rabbis for such speculation, and made them regard esoteric as a milder
term for heretical; but the warning is already given in Ben Sira: "It
is not needful for thee to see the secret things."[317] The Talmud,
indeed, records certain ideas about the powers of God and His relation
to the universe in the names of the great masters; and in these ideas
there are striking resemblances to Philo's conceptions. The Word is
spoken of as an intermediate agency;[318] the finger of God is really
the Word; the angels are sprung from the Words of God: Ben Zoma
declared that the whole work of creation was carried out by the Word,
as it is written, "And God said."[319] But on the other hand there are
passages in which the rabbis oppose the Alexandrian attitude, and
point out in its excessive philosophizing a danger to Judaism, so that
in the end they exclude it. Rabbi Ishmael, we are told, warned his
pupils of the danger of Greek wisdom.[320] Akiba, living at a time
when the Jews were fighting for spiritual as well as for physical life
against the combined forces of the Greeks and Romans, proposed to ban
all the [Hebrew: sfrim hitsonim],[321] and the Gemara argues that among
these were included the Apocryphal works which showed Greek influence.
Again, Elisha ben Abuya, the arch-heretic, is held up to reproach because
he read [Hebrew: sfri minim],[322] under which title Greek Gnostic books
are probably implied.

At the time when this spirit shows itself, the appearance of heretical
offshoots from Judaism was already pronounced. Heresy was the
aftermath of the combination of Judaism and Hellenism, and if further
disintegration was to be avoided, the seductive Greek influence had to
be discouraged. There is always the danger in a mingling of two
cultures, that each will lose its particular excellence in a compound
which has certain qualities, but not the virtues, of either element.
Compromises may be desirable in political affairs; in affairs of
thought they are perilous. Down to the time of Philo, the fusion of
thought at Alexandria had been beneficial, and had broadened the
Jewish outlook without impairing its strength, but the dissolving
forces of civilization never operated more powerfully than in the
early centuries of the common era, when the intellect of the world was
jaded and weary, and the great movement in culture was a jumbling
together of the ideas of East and West. More especially in the
cosmopolitan towns, Alexandria, Antioch, and Rome, national life,
national culture, and national religion were undermined; and even the
Jew, despite the stronghold of his law and tradition, was caught in
the general vortex of mingling creeds and theologies. Out of this
confusion (which was in one aspect a continuation of the work of
Philo) emerged, first, fantastic Gnostic religious and philosophical
sects, and, finally, the Christian Church, which proved the system
best fitted to survive in the circumstances, but was in essence as
well as in origin a blending of different outlooks, and true to the
cardinal points of neither Hebraism nor Hellenism. The rabbis, with
remarkable intuition, saw that the Hellenistic development of Judaism,
which had vainly striven to make Judaism universal, had ended in
violating its monotheism and abrogating its law; and in that era of
disintegration, denationalization, and decomposition they determined
to keep their heritage pure and inviolate. Judaism by their efforts
was the only national culture which survived, and some sacrifice had
to be made to secure this end. The literary monuments of the
Alexandrian community from the Septuagint translation to the
philosophy of the Christian scholarchs were cut out of Jewish
tradition, and the Babylonian school was ignorant altogether of the
[Hebrew: hkma yonit] (Greek wisdom). When Ben Zoma desired to study the
[Hebrew: sfrim hitsonim], and asked of his teacher at what hour of the
day it was lawful to do so, he received the reply that it was permissible
at an hour which was neither day nor night; for the precept was to study
the Torah by day and night, as it is said, [Hebrew: ] (Josh. i. 8). Bar
Kappara, indeed, a rabbi of the third century, explained Genesis ix. 27,
"God shall enlarge Japheth and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem," to
mean that the words of the Torah shall be recited in the speech of
Japheth (_i.e._, Greek) in the synagogues and schools,[323] but by
most other teachers the union between Shem and Japheth was no longer
encouraged, because Japheth had become degraded and was allied with
the cruel children of Edom (Rome).

Besides the Talmud and the Midrash we have, in the work of Josephus,
another indication that there was in Philo's own day communication
between Alexandria and Palestine. The Jewish historian marks the
influence of Hellenic ideas in Palestine in fullest measure, and like
Philo he seeks by embellishment to recommend the histories and
Scriptures of his people to the non-Jew and to bring home their
thought to the cultured Roman-Greek world. Thus, in the preface to his
"Antiquities," he notes, as Philo noted in his commentary, that Moses
begins his laws with a philosophical cosmology; he says also that
Moses spoke some things under a fitting allegory, hiding beneath it a
very remarkable philosophical theory. The allegorical commentary which
Josephus declared that he intended to write has not--if it was
written--come down to us, but we have in his writings certain
allegorical valuations of names that agree directly with Philo. Abel
he explains as signifying mourning, Cain, [Hebrew: kin], as selfish
possession. In the priestly garments of Aaron he sees with Philo a
symbol of the universe, which the high priest supported when he
entered the Holy of Holies. And the ritual vessels of the tabernacle
have also their universal significance.

     "If," says the Palestinian Hellenist, "any man do but
     consider the fabric of the tabernacle and regard the
     vestments of the high priest, he will find that our
     legislator was a Divine man, and that we are unjustly
     reproached by those who attack us for tribal narrowness. For
     if he look upon these things without prejudice, he will find
     that each one was made by way of imitation and
     representation of the universe. When Moses ordered twelve
     loaves to be set on the table, he denoted the years as
     distinguished into so many months. By branching out the
     candlestick into seven parts, he intimated the seven
     divisions of the planets.... The vestments of the high
     priest, being made of linen, signified the earth, the blue
     color thereof denoted the sky, the pomegranates symbolized
     lightning, and the noise of the bells resembled thunder. And
     the fashion of the ephod showed that God had made the world
     of four elements."[324]

Let us now listen now to Philo: "The raiment of the priest is
altogether a representation and imitation of the universe, and its
parts are the parts of the other. His tunic is all of blue linen, the
symbol of the sky. [The rabbis had a similar fancy of the Tsitsith
(fringes).] And the flowers embroidered thereon mark the earth, from
which all things flower. And the pomegranates are a symbol of the
water, being skilfully called thus ([Greek: rhoischoi], _i.e._,
flowing fruit) because of their juice, and the bells are the symbols
of the harmony of all the elements."[325]

It is true that the symbolism of two allegorists is varied, but a
common spirit and aim underlie their interpretations. This is true
alike of their account of the ritualistic and civil law of Moses.
Either, then, there was a common source of Jewish apologetic
literature, or Josephus must have borrowed from Philo. It is
significant that he is the only contemporary of Philo that mentions
him. He speaks of him as a distinguished philosopher, the brother of
the alabarch, and the leader of the embassy to Gaius.[326] He knows
also of the anti-Semitic diatribes of Philo's great enemy Apion, and
two of his extant books are masterly reply to their outpourings. Hence
it is not rash to assume that he knew at least that part of Philo's
work which had a missionary and apologetic purpose--the "Life of
Moses" and the "Hypothetica." He makes no acknowledgment to them, it
is true, but expressions of obligation were not in the fashion of the
time. Plagiarism was held to be no crime, and citation of authorities
in notes or elsewhere was almost unknown in literature--save in the
Talmud,[327] where to tell something in the name of somebody else is a
virtue. But one can hardly doubt that the man who devoted himself to
refuting the lying calumnies of Apion first made himself master of the
classical work of Apion's opponent, which claimed to give to the Greek
world the authoritative account of the Jewish lawgiver and his

What Josephus knew must have been known to other cultured Jews of
Palestine. Yet Philo, save in one doubtful case which will be noticed,
is not mentioned by any Jewish writer between Josephus in the first
and Azariah dei Rossi in the sixteenth century. The compilers of the
Midrashim and the Yalkut, the philosophers of the Dark and Middle
Ages, finally the Cabbalists, are continually reminiscent of his
doctrines, but they do not mention his works or his existence. The
Midrash Tadshé,[328] a tenth century compilation of allegorical
exegesis, contains definite parallels to Philonic passages, especially
in its quotations from an Essene Tannaite, Pin[h.]as ben Jaïr; but
again the trace of influence is indirect. On the other hand, the
Christian writers from the time of Clement in the second century quote
him freely, make anthologies of his beautiful sayings, and in their
more imaginative moments acclaim him the comrade of Mark and the
friend of Peter. The rise of the Christian Church, which coincided
with the downfall of the nation, caused the rabbis to emphasize the
national character of Judaism in order to preserve the old faith of
their fathers in the critical condition in which exile, persecution,
and assimilation placed it. The first century was a time of feverish
dreams and wild hopes that were not realizable: men had looked for the
coming of the days of universal peace and good-will, and the
Alexandrian Jews in particular hoped for the spreading of Judaism over
the world. The rabbis recognized that this consummation was far away,
and that Judaism must remain particularist for centuries in the hope
of a final universalism. Meantime it must hold fast to the law and, in
default of a national home, strengthen the national religious life in
each Jewish household. They regarded Greek as not only a strange but a
hostile tongue, and the allegorical exegesis of the Bible, which had
led to the whittling away of the law, as a godless wisdom. The
Septuagint translation, which had offered a starting point for
philosophical speculation, was replaced by a new Greek version of the
Old Testament made by Aquila, a proselyte, in the first century. It
gave a baldly literal translation of the Hebrew text, sacrificing form
and even lucidity to a faithful transcript. With unconscious irony the
rabbis, who rejoiced in its truth to the Hebrew, said of Aquila, "Thou
art fairer than the children of men, grace is poured into thy
lips"[329] (Ps. xlv). In truth the work was utterly innocent of
literary grace. A translation of the Bible marked the end, as it had
marked the beginning, of Jewish-Hellenistic literature, but if the
first had suggested the admission, so the other suggested the
rejection of Greek philosophy from the interpretation of Judaism and a
return to the exclusive national standpoint. The rabbinical
appreciation of Aquila's work shows that, while the Jews were in
Palestine, many still required a Greek translation of the Bible; but
when in the third century C.E. the centre of the religion was moved to
Babylon, Greek was forgotten, and the rabbis for a period lost sight
of Greek culture. It is another irony of history that our manuscripts
of Philo go back to an archetype in the library of Cæsarea in
Palestine, which Eusebius studied in the fourth century. Philo came to
the land of his fathers in the possession of his people's enemies, and
at a time when he could no longer be understood by his people.

Philo's works were not translated into Hebrew, and as Greek ceased to
be the language of the cultured, they could not, in their original
form, have influenced later Jewish philosophers. But the Christians,
in their proselytizing activity, had translated them into Latin and
Armenian before the fifth century, and through one of these means they
may possibly have exercised an influence upon the new school of Jewish
philosophy, which, opening with Saadia in the tenth century, blossomed
forth in the Arabic-Spanish epoch. The light of historical research is
beginning to illumine the obscurity of the Dark Ages, and has revealed
traces of an Alexandrian allegorist in the writings of the Persian Jew
Benjamin al-Nehawendi, himself a distinguished allegorizer of the
Bible, who wrote in the ninth century and taught that God created the
world by means of one ministerial angel.[330] Benjamin relates that
the doctrine was held by a Jewish sect known as the Maghariya, which
probably sprang up in the fourth or the fifth century, when sects grew
like mushrooms. The Karaite al-Kirkisani, who wrote fifty years later,
says that the Maghariya sect used in support of their doctrine the
"prolegomena of an Alexandrian sage" who gave certain remarkable
interpretations of the Bible; and in one of Dr. Schechter's Genizah
fragments, which is probably to be ascribed to Kirkisani, there are
contained examples of the Alexandrian's explanations of the Decalogue,
which occur, and occur only, in Philo's treatise on the "Ten

This connection between Philo and an obscure Jewish sect, or an
obscurer Persian-Jewish writer, may appear far-fetched and not worth
the making. In itself doubtless it is unimportant, but it serves to
keep Philo, however barely, within Jewish tradition. For it shows that
Alexandrian literature, though probably through the medium of a
Mohammedan source, was known to some Jews in the centuries of
transition. It may be that further examination of the great Genizah
collection, which has opened to Jewish scholarship a new world, will
reveal further and stronger ties to unite Philo with his philosophical
successors, of whom the first is Saadia Gaon (892-942 C.E.). Indeed
the main interest of this newly-discovered connection, if it can be
seriously so regarded, is that it suggests the possibility of Saadia's
acquaintance with Philo by means of a translation. That Saadia read
the works upon which Christian theologians relied, is certain; and a
fragment in which he refers to the teaching of Judah the
Alexandrian[331]--also unearthed from the Cairo Genizah--goes some way
to support the suggestion. The passage refers to the connection of the
number "fifty" with the different seasons of the year, and though it
does not tally exactly with any piece of the extant Philo, it is in
the Philonic manner. And Philo, who was surnamed Judæus by the Church,
would have been re-named by his own people, translating from the
Church writers, [Hebrew: yhuda]. One would the more willingly catch on to
this floating straw, because Saadia was at once a compatriot of Philo,
born in the Fayyum of Egypt, and the first Jew who strove to carry on
his work. He aimed at showing the philosophy of the Torah, and its
harmony with Greek wisdom in particular. Aristotle, who had been
translated into Arabic, had meantime supplanted Plato as the master of
philosophy for theologians, and Saadia's _magnum opus_, [Hebrew: amonot
tsd'ot], is colored throughout by Aristotelian ideas. But the difference
of masters does not obscure the likeness of aim, and, albeit
unconsciously, Saadia renews the task of the Hellenic-Jewish school.

Saadia's work was carried on and expanded in a great outburst of the
Jewish genius, which showed itself most brilliantly in the
Moorish-Spanish kingdom. The general cultural conditions of Alexandria
in the first century B.C.E. were reproduced in Spain in the tenth
century. Once again the Jews found themselves politically emancipated
amid a sympathetic environment, and again they illumined their
religious tradition with all the culture which their environment could
afford. The mingling of thought gave birth to a great literature, both
creative and critical; to a striking body of lyric poetry; to a
systematic theology, and a religious philosophy.

While the study of the old Talmudic lore was maintained, the greatest
teachers developed tradition afresh by a philosophical restatement
designed to make it appeal to the mental attitude of the enlightened.
The sermon flourished again, collections of Haggadah (Yalkut) were
made as storehouses of homilies, and metaphysical treatises modelled
upon the works of the schoolmen set forth a philosophical Judaism for
the learned world. It is notable also that these last were not written
in Hebrew or in the Talmudic dialect, but in Arabic, the language of
their cultured environment; for though the missionary spirit was dead,
the controversial activity of the period impelled the Jewish
philosophers to present their ideas in the form used by the
philosophers of the general community.

It is not only the general conditions of the Arab-Jewish period, but
also the special development of Jewish ideas, which recalls the work
of the Alexandrian school. This was, indeed, to be expected, seeing
that in both cases there was a mingling of Hebraism and Hellenism. In
Spain, however, the Jews acquired Hellenism at second hand, and
through the somewhat distorted medium of Arabic translations or
scholastic misunderstanding, and hence the harmony is neither complete
nor pure. They endeavored to show that the teachings of Aristotle are
implicit in the written and the oral law, but the interpretation is
hardly convincing even in "The Guide of the Perplexed," of Maimonides,
the monumental work which marks the culmination of mediæval Jewish

If there is one figure in Jewish tradition with whom Philo challenges
at once comparison and contrast, it is Maimonides, the brightest star
of the Arabic, as he was of the Hellenic, development of the Jewish
religion. Though there is nothing on which to found any direct
influence of the one on the other, the aim, the method, the scope of
their philosophical work are the same, the relation which they hold to
exist between faith and philosophy wellnigh identical. The metaphysics
of the Bible, according to both, is hidden beneath an allegory, and
is meant only for the more learned of the people. To Maimonides the
Bible is not only the standard of all wisdom, but it is "the Divine
anticipation of human discovery." In the words of Hosea, God has
therein "multiplied visions and spoken in similitudes" (xii. 11). The
duty of the Jewish philosopher is to expound these metaphors and
similes; and Maimonides, endeavoring to knit Greek metaphysics closely
with Jewish tradition, propounds a science of allegorical values,
which by exact philological study traces the inner as well as the
outer meaning of the Hebrew words. But differentiated as it is by
greater mastery of the tradition and closer adherence to the Hebrew
text, his method is nearly as artificial and his thought as extraneous
to the text as the method and thought of Philo. The content of their
philosophies is, indeed, strikingly alike, save that the one is a
Platonist, the other an Aristotelian. This involves not so much a
difference of philosophical views as a difference of temper and of
objective. The followers of Plato are mystics, yearning for the love
of God; the followers of Aristotle are rationalists, seeking for the
abstract knowledge of God. Hence in Maimonides there is less soaring
and more argument than in Philo. Everything is deduced, so far as may
be, with exactitude and logical sequence--according to the logic of
the schoolmen--and everything is formalized according to scholastic
principles. But the subjects treated are the same--the nature of God
and His attributes, His relation to the universe and man, the manner
of the creation, and the way of righteousness.

Maimonides, who is in form more loyal to Jewish tradition, is to a
larger degree than Philo dependent on authority for the philosophical
ideas which he applies to religion. To a great extent this is due to
the spirit of his age, for in the Middle Ages not only was the matter
of thought, but also its form, accepted on authority, and Aristotle
ruled the one as imperiously as the Bible ruled the other. The
differences of form and substance do not, however, obscure the
essential likeness with Philo's interpretation of Judaism. With him
Maimonides holds that the essential nature of God is incognizable.[332]
No positive predication can properly be applied to Him, but we know
Him by His activities in relation to man and the world, _i.e._, by His
attributes or by what Philo called His powers. Maimonides does not
preserve the absolute monarchy of the Divine government, but places
between God and man intermediate beings with subordinate creative
powers--the separate intelligences of the stars, which are identified
with the angels of the Bible.[333] But he maintains inviolate the sole
causality of God and His immanence in the human soul. Maimonides, like
Philo, gives in addition to a metaphysical theology a philosophical
exposition of the law of Moses, which has the same guiding principle
as the books on the "Specific Laws." Moses was the perfect
legislator,[334] whose ordinances are [Hebrew: tsdikim], _i.e._, perfectly
equitable, attaining "the mean"--the Aristotelian conception of
excellence--and identical with the eternal laws of nature.[335]
Numerous details of Maimonides' interpretations agree with those given
in the books on the "Specific Laws." Whether correspondence of thought
is merely an indication of the similar workings of Jewish genius in
similar conditions, or whether it is the effect of an early tradition
common to both, or whether, finally, there was connection, however
indirect, between the two minds, it is now impossible to say. But at
least the philosophy of Maimonides confirms the inner Jewishness of
the philosophy of Philo, and its essential loyalty to Jewish

Not less striking than his correspondence with later Jewish religious
philosophy, though not less indefinite, is the relation of Philo to
the later Jewish mystical and theosophical literature, purporting also
to be a development of hoary tradition, and indeed calling itself
simply the tradition, [Hebrew: kbla]. Between Philo and the Cabbalah it is
as difficult to establish any direct connection as between Philo and
rabbinic Midrash, but the likeness in spirit and the signs of a common
source are equally remarkable. To trace God in all things through
various attributes and emanations, to bring God and man into direct
union, to prove that there is an immanent God within the soul of the
individual, and to show how this may be inspired with the
transcendental Deity--this is common to both. In the earliest times
the mystic doctrine appears to have been a form of Jewish Gnosticism,
speculation about the nature of God and His connection with the world.
It probably embraced the [Hebrew: m'sha br'shit] and the [Hebrew: m'sha
mrkba], though we know not what these exactly contained.[336] But it was
not till the Middle Ages that Jewish mysticism received definite and
separate literary expression, and by that time it was mixed up with a
number of neo-Platonic and magical fancies and foreign theosophies. The
later compilations of this character form what is more regularly known
as the Cabbalah; but, apart from the professions of the later writers,
a continuous train of tradition affirms the existence of secret
teachings in Judaism from the time of the Babylonian captivity. Jewish
mysticism is as much a continuous expression of the spirit of the race
as the Jewish law. We may then without rashness conclude that the
later Cabbalah is a coarser development, for a less enlightened and
less philosophical age, of the Gnostic material which Philo
refashioned in the light of Platonism for the Hellenized community at
Alexandria. Modern scholars have favored the idea that the Essenes
were the first systematizers of and the first practitioners in the
Cabbalah, and have interpreted their name[337] to mean those engaged
in secret things, but the mystic tradition itself is earlier than the
foundation of a special mystic sect. It is part of the heritage from
the Jewish prophets and psalmists and the Babylonian interaction with

Philo had large sympathies with the Essenic development of Judaism, and
he speaks at times as though he had joined one of their communities, and
therein had been initiated into the great mysteries and secret
philosophies of the sages. We have noted that he offers his most
precious wisdom to the worthy few alone, "who in all humility practice
genuine piety, free from all false pretence." They, in turn, are to
discourse on these doctrines only to other members of the brotherhood.
"I bid ye, initiated brethren, who listen with chastened ears, receive
these truly sacred mysteries in your inmost souls, and reveal them not
to one of the uninitiated, but laying them up in your hearts, guard them
as a most excellent treasure in which the noblest of possessions is
stored, the knowledge, namely, of the First Cause and of virtue, and
moreover of what they generate."[338] These mysteries, it is not
unlikely, represent according to some scholars the [Hebrew: sod] of the
Talmudical rabbis, which was elaborately developed in the Zohar and
kindred writings. Be this as it may, Philo's religious intensity
expresses the spirit of the Cabbalists, his mystic soaring is the
prototype of their theosophical ecstasies; his persistent declaration
that God encloses the universe, but is Himself not enclosed by anything,
contains the root of their conception of the En Sof ([Hebrew: 'yn
sof]),[339] his Logos-idealism, with its Divine effluences, which are
the true causes of all changes, physical and mental, is companion to
their system of [Hebrew: 'olmim] and [Hebrew: sfirot], emanations and
spheres. His fancies about sex and the struggle between a male and
female principle in all things[340] are a constant theme of their
teachers, and form a special section of their wisdom, [Hebrew: sof
htsrog], the mystery of generation. His conception of the Logos as the
heavenly archetype of the human race, the "Man-himself," is the Platonic
counterpart of their [Hebrew: adm kdmon], or "primal man," who is known
in the ancient allegorizing of the Song of Songs. His number-mysticism
and his speech-idealism reappear more crudely, but not obscurely, in
their ideas of creative letters, of which the cosmogony by the
twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet in the Sefer Yezirah is
typical. Finally, his teachings of ecstasy and Divine possession are
repeated in divers ways in their descriptions of the pious life
([Hebrew: hnanot]).

Philo, indeed, viewed from the Jewish standpoint, is the Hellenizer
not only of the law but also of the Cabbalah, the philosophical
adapter of the secret traditional wisdom of his ancestors. He brings
it into close relation with Platonism and purifies it; he clears away
its anthropomorphisms and superstitious fantasies, or rather he raises
them into idealistic conceptions and sublime exaltations of the soul.
By his deep knowledge of the intellectual ideas of Greece he refined
the strange compound of lofty imagination and popular fancy, and
raised it to a higher value. Plato and the Cabbalah represent the same
mystic spirit in different degrees of intellectual sublimity and
religious aspiration; Philo endeavored to unite the two
manifestations. He lived in a markedly non-rational age given over to
mystical speculation; and Alexandria especially, by her cosmopolitan
character, "furnished the soil and seed which formed the mystic
philosophy that knew how to blend the wisdom and folly of the
ages."[341] Through the mass of apocalyptic literature that was poured
forth in the first centuries of the common era, through the later
books of the Apocrypha, through the Sefer Yezirah of the ninth and the
Zohar of the thirteenth century, and through the vast literature
inspired by these books, run the ideas that composed Philo's mystic
theology. Philo himself was unknown, but his religious interpretation
of Platonism had entered into the world's thought, and inspired the
mystics of his own race as well as of the Christian world.

After a thousand years of Latin domination the Renaissance revived the
study of Greek in Western Europe, and to the most cultured of his race
Philo was no longer a sealed book. The first Jewish writer to show an
intimate acquaintance with him and a clear idea of his relation to
Jewish tradition was Azariah dei Rossi, who lived in the sixteenth
century. His "Meor Einayim" dealt largely with the Hellenistic epoch
of Judaism, and its attitude towards it is summed up in the remark
that "all that is good in Philo agrees with our law."[342] He pointed
out many instances of agreement, and some of disagreement, but he
objected in general to the allegorizing of the historical parts of the
Torah and to the absence of the traditional interpretations in Philo's
commentaries. He shared largely the rabbinical attitude and could not
give an independent historical appreciation of Philo's work. That was
not to come for two hundred years more. To Dei Rossi we owe the Jewish
translation of Philo's name, [Hebrew: ydydim 'lksndri].[343] To the outer
world Philo was "the Jew"; to his own people, "the Alexandrian."

As soon as Greek was reintroduced into the scholarly world, Philo
began to reassert an important influence on theology. One remarkable
school of English mystics and religious philosophers, the Cambridge
Platonists, who wrote during the seventeenth century, founded upon him
their method and also their general attitude to philosophy.[344] They
were Christian neo-Platonists, who looked for spiritual allegories in
the Old and New Testaments, and combined the teachings of Jesus with
the emotional idealism of the Alexandrian interpreters of Plato. They
affirmed enthusiastically God's revelation to the universe and to
individual man through the Logos. Their imitation of Philo's
allegorism serves to mark the important place that he occupied in the
learned world during the seventeenth century; and supports, however
slightly, the suggestion that he influenced, directly or indirectly,
the supreme Jewish philosopher of the age, Baruch de Spinoza. That he
was well known in Holland at the time is shown in divers ways. He is
quoted by the famous jurist Grotius in his book which founded the
science of international law; he is quoted and criticised, as we have
seen, by Scaliger; and curiously enough, his name, "Philo-Judæus," is
applied by Rembrandt to the portrait of his own father, now in the
Ferdinandeum at Innsbruck. It is tempting to conjecture that there was
a direct connection between the Jewish philosophers of the ancient and
the modern world. Whether it existed or not, there is certainly
kinship in their ideas. Spinoza does actually refer in one place, in
his "Theologico-Political Tractate" (ch. x), to the opinion of
Philo-Judæus upon the date of Psalm lxxxviii, and there are other
places in the same book, where he almost echoes the words of the
Jewish Platonist; as where he speaks of God's eternal Word being
divinely inscribed in the human mind: "And this is the true original
of God's covenant, stamped with His own seal, namely, the idea of
Himself, as it were, with the image of His Godhead" (iv); or, again,
"The supreme reward for keeping God's Word is that Word itself."
Spinoza knew no Greek, but, master as he was of Christian theology, he
may have studied Philo in a Latin translation, and caught some of his
phrases. With or without influence, he developed, as Philo had done, a
system of philosophy, starting from the Hebrew conception of God and
blending Jewish tradition with scientific metaphysics. The Unity of
God and His sole reality were the fundamental principles of his
thought, as they had been of Philo's. He rejected, indeed, with scorn
the notion that all philosophy must be deduced from the Bible, which
was to him a book of moral and religious worth, but free from all
philosophical doctrine. Theology, the subject of the Bible, according
to him, demands perfect obedience, philosophy perfect knowledge.[345]
Both alike are saving, but the spheres of the two are distinct: and
Moses and the prophets excel in law and imagination, not in reason and
reflection. Hence Spinoza approached the Bible from the critical
standpoint; and, on the other hand, he approached philosophy with a
free mind searching for truth, independent of religious dogmatism, and
he was, therefore, the founder of modern philosophy. None the less his
view of the universe is an intellectual expression of the Hebraic
monotheism, which unites a religious with a scientific monism. He
regards God as the only reality, sees and knows all things in Him, and
deduces all things from His attributes, which are the incomplete
representations that man makes of His true nature; he explains all
thought, all movement, and all that seems material as the working of
His modes; and, finally, he places as the end of man's intellectual
progress and the culmination of his moral life the love of God. In
truth, Jewish philosophy has its unity and its special stamp, no less
than Jewish religion and tradition, from which it receives its
nurture. Thrice it has towered up in a great system: through Philo in
the classical, through Maimonides in the mediæval, through Spinoza in
the modern world. In the Renaissance of Jewish learning during the
nineteenth century, Philo was at last studied and interpreted by scholars
of his own people. The first modern writer to reveal the philosophy of
Jewish history was Nachman Krochmal (1785-1840), and his posthumous Hebrew
book, "The Guide of the Perplexed of the Time," edited by Zunz,
contained the first critical appreciation of the Hellenistic Jewish
culture by a rabbinic scholar. He knew no Greek, but he studied the
works of German writers, and in his account of Philo gives a summary
of the remarks of the theologian Neander, himself a baptized Jew. In
his own criticism he discerns the weakness and strength of Philo from
the Jewish aspect. "There are," he says, "many strange things in
Philo's exegesis, not only because he draws far-fetched allegories
from the text, but also because he interprets single words without a
sure foundation in Hebrew philology. He uses Scripture as a sort of
clay which he moulds to convey his philosophical ideas. Yet we must be
grateful to him because many of his interpretations are beautiful
ornaments to the text; and we may apply to them what Ibn Ezra said of
the teachings of the Haggadah, 'Some of them are fine silks, others as
heavy as sack-cloth.'"

Krochmal translated into Hebrew examples of Philo's allegories and
gave parallels and contrasts from the Talmud. The relation between the
Palestinian and the Alexandrian exegesis was more elaborately
considered by a greater master of Hellenistic literature, Zacharias
Frankel (1801-1875), who has been followed by a band of Jewish scholars.
Yearly our understanding of the Alexandrian culture becomes fuller.
Philo, too, has in part been translated into Hebrew. Indirect in the
past, his influence on Jewish thought in the future bids fair to be
direct and increasing.

       *       *       *       *       *



The hope which Philo had cherished and worked for was the spreading of
the knowledge of God and the diffusion of the true religion over the
whole world.[346] The end of Jewish national life was approaching, but
rabbis in Palestine and philosophers at Alexandria, unconscious of the
imminent doom, thought that the promise of the prophet was soon to be
fulfilled, and all peoples would go up to worship the one God at the
temple upon Mount Zion, which should be the religious centre of the
world. In Philo's day a universal Judaism seemed possible, a Judaism
true to the Torah as well as to the Unity of God,[347] spread over the
Megalopolis of all peoples; and in the light of this hope Philo
welcomed proselytism. The Jews had a clear mission; they were to be
the light of the world, because they alone of all peoples had
perceived God. Israel ([Hebrew: 'shr'l]), to repeat Philo's etymology, is
the man who beholds God, and through him the other nations were to be
led to the light. The mission of Israel was not a passive service, but
an active preaching of God's word, and an active propagation of God's
law to the Gentile. He must welcome the stranger that came within the
gates.[348] Philo struggled against the separative and exclusive
tendency which characterized a section of his race. He laid stress
upon the valuelessness of birth, and the saving power of God's grace
to the pagan who has come to recognize Him, in language which
Christian commentators call incredible in a Jew, but which was in fact
typical of the common feeling at Alexandria. Appealing to the
Gentiles, Philo declared that "God has special regard for the
proselyte, who is in the class of the weak and humble together with
the widow and orphan[349]; for he may be alienated from his kindred
when he is converted to the honor of the one true God, and abandons
idolatrous, polytheistic worship, but God is all the more his advocate
and helper." And speaking to the Jews he says:[350] "Kinship is not
measured by blood alone when truth is the judge, but by likeness of
conduct and by the pursuit of the same objects." Similarly, in the
Midrash, it is said that proselytes are as dear to God as those who
were born Jews;[351] and, again, that the Torah was given to Israel
for the benefit of all peoples;[352] or[353] that the purpose of
Israel's dispersion was that they might make proselytes. Philo's short
treatise on "Nobility" is an eloquent plea for the equal treatment of
the stranger who joins the true faith; and the author finds in the
Bible narratives support for his thesis, that not good birth but the
virtue of the individual is the true test of merit. Of the
valuelessness of the one, Cain, Ham, and Esau are types; of the
supreme worth of the other, Abraham, who is set up as the model of the
excellent man brought up among idolaters, but led by the Divine
oracle, revealed to his mind, to embrace the true idea of God. If the
founder of the Hebrew nation was himself a convert, then surely there
was a place within the religion for other converts. Remarkable is the
closing note of the book:

     "We should, therefore, blame those who spuriously
     appropriate as their own merit what they derive from others,
     good birth; and they should justly be regarded as enemies
     not only of the Jewish race, but of all mankind; of the
     Jewish race, because they engender indifference in their
     brethren, so that they despise the righteous life in their
     reliance upon their ancestors' virtue; and of the Gentiles,
     because they would not allow them their meed of reward even
     though they attain to the highest excellence of conduct,
     simply because they have not commendable ancestors. I know
     not if there could be a more pernicious doctrine than this:
     that there is no punishment for the wicked offspring of good
     parents, and no reward for the good offspring of evil
     parents. The law judges each man upon his own merit, and
     does not assign praise or blame according to the virtues of
     the forefathers."

And, again, he writes: "God judges by the fruit of the tree, not by
the root; and in the Divine judgment the proselyte will be raised on
high, and he will have a double distinction, because on earth he
'deserted' to God, and later he receives as his reward a place in

Unfortunately, the development of missionizing activity, which
followed Philo's epoch, threatening, as it did, the fundamental
principles of Judaism, necessitated the reassertion of its national
character and antagonism to an attitude which sought expansion by
compromise. It is the tragedy of Philo's work that his mission to the
nations was of necessity distrusted by his own race, and that his
appeal for tolerance within the community was turned to a mockery by
the hostility which the converts of the next century showed to the
national ideas. Christian apologists early learned to imitate Philo's
allegorical method, and appropriated it to explain away the laws of
Moses. Within a hundred years of Philo's death, his ideal, at least in
the form in which he had conceived it, had been shattered for ages.
While he was preaching a philosophical Judaism for the world at
Alexandria, Peter and Paul were preaching through the Diaspora an
heretical Judaism for the half-converted Gentiles. The disciples of
Jesus spread his teaching far and wide; but they continually widened
the breach which their Master had himself initiated, and so their work
became, not so much a development of Judaism, as an attack upon it. In
some of its principles, indeed, the message of Jesus was the message
of Philo, emphasizing, as it did, the broad principles of morality and
the need of an inner godliness. But it was fundamentally
differentiated by a doctrine of God and the Messiah which was neither
Jewish nor philosophical, and by the breaking away from the law of
Moses, which cut at the roots of national life. Whatever the moral
worth of the preaching of Jesus, it involved and involves the
overthrow of the Jewish attitude to life and religion, which may be
expressed as the sanctification of ordinary conduct, and as morality
under the national law. To this ideal Philo throughout was true, and
the Christian teachers were essentially opposed, and however much they
approximated to his method and utilized his thought, they were always
strangers to his spirit. Philo's philosophy was in great part a
philosophy of the law; the Patristic school borrowed his allegorizing
method and produced a philosophy of religious dogma! Those who spread
the Christian doctrine among the Hellenized peoples and the
sophisticated communities that dwelt round the Mediterranean found it
necessary to explain and justify it by the metaphysical and ethical
catchwords of the day, and in so doing they took Philo as their model.
They followed both in general and in detail his allegorical
interpretations in their recommendation of the Old Testament to the
more cultured pagans, as the apology of Justin, the commentaries of
Origen, and the philosophical miscellany ([Greek: Strômateis]) of
Clement abundantly show.

Certain parts of the New Testament itself exhibit the combination of
Hebraism and Hellenism which characterizes the work of Philo. In the
sayings of Jesus we have the Hebraic strain, but in Luke and John and
the Epistles the mingling of cultures. Thus the Apostles seem to some
the successors of Philo, and the Epistles the lineal descendants of
the "Allegories of the Laws." In the Fourth Gospel and the Epistle to
the Hebrews especially the correspondence is striking. But there is,
in fact, despite much that is common, a great gulf between them. The
later missionaries oppose the national religion and the Torah: Philo
was pre-eminently their champion.

The most commanding of the Apostles, Paul of Tarsus, when he took the
new statement of Judaism out of the region of spirit and tried to
shape it into a definite religion for the world, "forgot the rock from
which he was hewn." As a modern Jewish theologian says,[355] "His
break with the past is violent; Jesus seemed to expand and
spiritualize Judaism; Paul in some senses turns it upside down." His
work may have been necessary to bring home the Word to the heathen,
but it utterly breaks the continuity of development. Paul himself was
little of a philosopher, and those to whom he preached were not
usually philosophical communities such as Philo addressed at
Alexandria, but congregations of half converted, superstitious pagans.
The philosophical exposition of the law was too difficult for them,
while the observance of the law in its strictness demanded too great a
sacrifice. The spiritual teaching of Jesus was dissociated by his
Apostle from its source, and the break with Judaism was deliberate and
complete. The fanatical zest of the missionary dominated him, and he
proclaimed distinctly where the new Hebraism which was offered to the
Gentile should depart from the historic religion of the Jews: "For Christ
is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth,"[356]
he says to the Romans; and to the Galatians: "As many as are of the works
of the law are under the curse."[357] "Christ hath redeemed us from the
curse of the law.... But before faith came, we were kept under the law,
shut up with the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore
the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ that we might be
justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer
under a schoolmaster." Paul's position then--and he is the forerunner
of dogmatic Christianity--involved a rejection of the Torah; and it is
this which above all else constituted his cleavage from both Judaism
and the Philonic presentation of it.

Philo is commonly regarded as the forerunner of Christian teaching,
and it is doubtless true that he suggested to the Church Fathers parts
of their theology, and represented also the missionary spirit which
inspired the teaching of some Apostles. But it must be clearly
understood that he shared still more the spirit of Hillel, whose maxim
was "to love thy fellow-creatures and draw them near to the Torah,"
and that he would have been fundamentally opposed to the new
missionary attitude of Paul. The doctrines of the Epistle to the
Romans, or the Epistle to the Ephesians, are absolutely antipathetic
to the ideal of the "Allegories of the Laws." Paul is allied in
spirit--though his expression is that of the fanatic rather than of
the philosopher--to the extreme allegorist section of philosophical
Jews at Alexandria, attacked by Philo for their shallowness in the
famous passage, quoted from _De Migratione Abrahami_ (ch. 16[358]),
who, because they recognized the spiritual meaning of the law,
rejected its literal commands; because they saw that circumcision
symbolized the abandonment of the sensual life, no longer observed the
ceremony. The same antinomian spirit is shown in the Epistle to the
Galatians by the allegory of the children whom Abraham had by Hagar
the bondwoman and Sarah the free wife: "For there are the two
covenants, the one from the mount of Sinai which gendereth to bondage,
which is Hagar.... But we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of
promise." To Philo the law and the observance of the letter were the
high-road to freedom and the Divine spirit, and, remaining loyal to
the Jewish conception of religion, for all his philosophical outlook,
he said: "The rejection of the [Greek: Nomos] will produce chaos in
our lives." To Paul the law was an obstacle to the spread of religious
truth and a fetter to the spiritual life of the individual.

It is possible that an extremist section of the Jews pressed the
letter of the law to excess, so as to lose its spirit, but the
opposite excess, into which Paul plunged the new faith, was as narrow.
It involved a glorification of belief, which did not imply any
relation to conduct. Philo had pleaded no less earnestly than the
Apostle for the reliance upon grace and the saving virtue of faith,
but he did not therefore absolve men from the law which made for
righteousness.[359] And lest it be thought that the stress laid upon
faith was peculiar to Hellenizing Judaism, we have only to note such
passages as Dr. Schechter has adduced from the early Midrash on the
rabbinic conception.[360] "Great was the merit of faith which Israel
put in God; for it was by the merit of this faith that the Holy Spirit
came over them, and they said the [Hebrew: shira], (_i.e._, the Song of
Moses) to God, as it is said, 'And they believed in the Lord and His
servant Moses. Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song
unto the Lord.'" Or again[361]--and the passage reminds us still more
strongly of both Philo and Christian Gospel--"Our Father Abraham came
into the possession of this world and the world hereafter only by the
merit of his faith."

What is new in the Christian position is not the magnifying of faith;
it is the severance of faith from the law and the particular faith
which is magnified. Philo, and the rabbis, too, believed that faith
was the goal of virtue, and the culmination of the moral life; but
faith to them implied the sanctification of the whole of life, the
love of God "shown in obedience to a law of conduct." Paul, however,
hating the law, set up a new faith in the saving power of Jesus and in
certain beliefs about him, which afterwards were crystallized, or
petrified, into merciless dogmas, contrary alike to the Jewish ideas
of God and of life. The new religion, when it was denationalized,
inevitably became ecclesiastical: for as the national regulation of
life was rejected, in order to ensure some kind of uniformity, it had
to bind its members together by definite articles of belief imposed by
a central authority. The true alternative was not between a legal and
a spiritual religion--for every religion must have some external
rule--but between a law of conduct and a law of belief. Philo and the
rabbis chose the former way; Paul and the Church, the latter.
Christian theology, no less than the Christian conception of religion,
exhibits also a complete breach with the Jewish spirit of Philo. In
the Epistles there are, indeed, in many places doctrines of the Logos
in the same images and the same Hebraic metaphors as Philo had worked
into his system; but their purport is entirely changed by association
with new un-Jewish dogmas. Philo, allegorizing,[362] had seen the holy
Word typified in the high priest, and in Melchizedek, the priest of
the Most High; he had called it the son of God and His first-born.
Paul, dogmatizing, exalts Jesus Christ, the incarnate Word, above
Melchizedek and the high priest, and calls on the Hebrews to gain
salvation by faith in the son of God, who died on behalf of the sinful
human race. Philo, in his poetic fancy, speaks of God associating with
the virgin soul and generating therein the Divine offspring of holy
wisdom;[363] the Christian creed-makers enunciated the irrational
dogma of the immaculate conception of Jesus. So, too, the earliest
philosophical exponents of Christianity, Clement of Alexandria, and
Origen, may have derived many of their detailed ideas from Philo, but
they converted--one might rather say perverted--his monotheistic
theology into a dogmatic trinitarianism. They exalted the Logos, to
Philo the "God of the imperfect," and a second-best Deity, to an equal
place with the perfect God. For man, indeed, he was nearer and the
true object of human adoration. And this not only meant a departure
from Judaism; it meant a departure from philosophy. The supreme unity
of the pure reason was sacrificed no less than the unity of the
soaring religious imagination. The one transcendental God became
again, as He had been to the Greek theologians, an inscrutable
impersonal power, who was unknown to man and ruled over the universe
by His begotten son, the Logos. The sublimity of the Hebrew
conception, which combines personality with unity, was lost, and the
harmony of the intellectual and emotional aspirations achieved by
Philo was broken straightway by those who professed to follow him. The
skeleton of his thought was clothed with a body wherein his spirit
could never have dwelt. It was the penalty which Philo paid for
vagueness of expression and luxuriance of words that his works became
the support of doctrines which he had combated, the guide of those who
were opposed to his life's ideal.

The experience of the Church showed how right was Philo's judgment
when he declared that the rejection of the Torah would produce chaos.
The fourth and fifth centuries exhibit an era of unparalleled disorder
and confusion in the religious world,[364] sect struggling with sect,
creed with creed, churches rising and falling, dogmas set up by
councils and forced upon men's souls at the point of the Roman sword!
And out of this struggling mass of beliefs and fancies, theologies and
superstitions, sects and political forces, there arose a tyrannical,
dogmatic Church which laid far heavier burthens on men's minds than
ever the most ruthless Pharisee of the theologian's imagination had
laid upon their body and spirit. The yoke of the law of Moses,
sanctifying the life, had been broken; the fiat of popes and the
decrees of synods were the saving beliefs which ensured the Kingdom of
Heaven! Was it to this that the allegorizing of the law, the search
for the spirit beneath the letter, the reinterpretation of the holy
law of Moses in the light of philosophical reason, had brought
Judaism? And was the association of Jewish religion with Greek
philosophy one long error? That would be a hard conclusion, if we had
to admit that Judaism cannot stand the test of contact with foreign
culture. But in truth the Hellenistic interpretation of the Bible, so
long as it was genuinely philosophical, remained loyal to Judaism.
Only when it became hardened into dogma, fixed not only as good
doctrine, but as the only saving doctrine, as the tree of life opposed
to the Torah, the tree of death--only then did it become anti-Jewish,
and appear as a bastard offspring of the Hebraic God-idea and Greek
culture. Nor should it be forgotten that the Christian theology and
the Christian conception of religion are a falling away also from the
highest Hellenic ideas; for to Plato as well God was a purely
spiritual unity, and religion "a system of morality based upon a law
of conduct and touched with emotion." In Philo, as we have seen, the
Hebraic and Hellenic conceptions of God touch at their summits in
their noblest expressions; the conceptions of Plato are interfused
with the imagination of the prophets. The Christian theology was a
descent to a commoner Hellenism--or one should rather call it a
commoner syncretism--as well as to an easier, impurer Hebraism.

It must not be put down to the fault of the Septuagint or the
allegorists or Philo that the Alexandrian development of Judaism led
on to Roman Christianity. It is to be ascribed rather to the infirmity
of human nature, which requires the ideas of its inspired teachers and
peoples to be brought down to the common understanding, and causes the
progress towards universal religion to be a slow growth. The masses of
the Alexandrian Jews in his own day cannot have grasped his teaching;
for Philo, to some degree, lived in a narrow world of philosophical
idealism, and he did not calculate the forces which opposed and made
impossible the spread of his faith in its integrity. He was aiming at
what was and must for long remain unattainable--the establishment
among the peoples of philosophical monotheism.

No man is a prophet in his own land--or in his own time--and because
Philo has in him much of the prophet, he seems to have failed. But it
is the burden of our mission to sow in tears that we may reap in joy.
And the work of the Alexandrian-Jewish school may be sad from one
aspect of Jewish history, but it is nevertheless one of the dominating
incidents of our religious annals. It did not succeed in bringing over
the world to the pure idea of God, but it did help in undermining
cruder paganism. It brought the nations nearer to God, and it
introduced Hebraism into the thought of the Western peoples. It
marked, therefore, a great step in the religious work of Israel; yet
by the schools of rabbis who felt the hard hand of its offspring upon
their people it was regarded as a long misfortune, to be blotted from
memory. What seemed so ominous to them was that the annihilation of
the nation came at the same time as the cleavage in the religion.
Judaism seemed attacked no less by internal foes than by external
calamity; and was likely to perish altogether or to drift into a lower
conception of God, unless it could find some stalwart defence. Hence
they insisted on the extension of the fence of the law, and abandoned
for centuries the mission of the Jews to the outer world. This was the
true Galut, or exile; not so much the political exclusion from the
land of their fathers, but the enforced exclusion from the mission of
the prophets. Philo is one of the brightest figures of a golden age of
Jewish expansion, which passed away of a sudden, and has never since
returned. In the silver and bronze ages which followed, his place in
Judaism was obscured. But this age of ours, which boasts of its
historical sense, looking back over the centuries and freed from the
bitter dismay of the rabbis, can appraise his true worth and see in
him one who realized for himself all that Judaism and Jewish culture
could and still can be.

Some Jewish teachers have thought that Philo's work was a failure,
others that it provides a warning rather than an example for later
generations of Jews, proving the mischief of expanding Judaism for the
world. As well one might say that Isaiah's prophecy was a calamity,
because the Christian synoptics used his words as evidences of
Christianity. What is universal in Jewish literature is in the fullest
sense Jewish, and we should beware of renouncing our inheritance because
others have abused and perverted it. Other critics, again, say that
Philo is wearisome and prolix, artificial and sophisticated. There is
certainly some truth in this judgment; but Philo has many beautiful
passages which compensate. Part of his message was for his own
generation and the Alexandrian community, and with the passing away of
the Hellenistic culture, it has lost its attraction. But part of it is
of universal import, and is very pertinent and significant for every
generation of Jews which, enjoying social and intellectual emancipation,
lives amid a foreign culture. Doubtless the position of Philo and the
Alexandrian community was to some extent different from that of the Jews
at any time since the greater Diaspora that followed the destruction of
the temple. They had behind them a national culture and a centre of
Jewish life, religious and social, which was a powerful influence in
civilization and united the Jews in every land. And this gave a
catholicity to their development and a standard for their teaching which
the scattered communities of Jews to-day do not possess. None the less
Philo's ideal of Judaism as religion and life is an ideal for our time
and for all time. Its keynote is that Israel is a holy people, a kingdom
of priests, which has a special function for humanity. And the
performance of this function demands the religious-philosophical
ordering of life. From the negative side Philo stands for the struggle
against Epicureanism, which in other words is the devotion to material
pleasures and sensual enjoyments. In adversity, as he notes, the race is
truest to its ideals, but as soon as the breeze of prosperity has caught
its sails, then it throws overboard all that ennobles life. The hedonist
whom he attacks, like the Epicuros ([Hebrew: 'fikuros]) of the rabbis,
is not the banal thinker of one particular age, but a permanent type in
the history of our people. We seem to spend nearly all our moral
strength in the resistance of persecution, and with tranquillity from
without comes degradation within. Emancipation, which should be but a
means to the realization of the higher life, is taken as an end, and
becomes the grave of idealism. With a reiteration that becomes almost
wearisome, but which is the measure of the need for the warning, Philo
protests against this desecration of life, of liberty, and of Judaism.
His position is, that a free and cultured Jewry must pursue the mission
of Israel alike by the example of the righteous life devoted to the
service of God, and by the preaching of God's revealed word. This is his
"burden of the word of the Lord" to the worldly-wise and the
materialists of civilized Alexandria--and to Jews of other lands.

From the positive side Philo stands for the spiritual significance of
the religion. Judaism, which lays stress upon the law, the ceremonial,
and the customs of our forefathers, is threatened at times with the
neglect of the inward religion and the hardness of legalism. Not that
the law, when it is understood, kills the spirit or fetters the
feelings, but a formal observance and an unenlightened insistence upon
the letter may crush the soul which good habits should nurture.
Religion at its highest must be the expression of the individual soul
within, not the acceptance of a law from without. Although Philo's
estimate of the Torah is from the historical and philological
standpoint uncritical, in the religious sense it is finely critical
inasmuch as it searches out true values. Philo looks in every
ordinance of the Bible for the spiritual light and conceives the law
as an inspiration of spiritual truth and the guide to God, or, as he
puts it sometimes, "the mystagogue to divine ecstasy." For the crown
of life to him is the saint's union with God. In mysticism religion
and philosophy blend, for mysticism is the philosophical form of
faith. Just as the Torah to Philo has an outward and an inward
meaning, so, too, has the religion of the Torah; and the outward
Judaism is the symbol, the necessary bodily expression of the inward,
even as the words of Moses are the symbol, the suggestive expression
of the deeper truth behind them. Yet mystic and spiritual as he is,
Philo never allows religion to sink into mere spirituality, because he
has a true appreciation and a real love for the law. The Torah is the
foundation of Judaism, and one of the three pillars of the universe,
as the rabbis said; and neither the philosopher nor the mystic in
Philo ever causes him to forget that Judaism is a religion of conduct
as well as of belief, and that the law of righteousness is a law which
must be practiced and show itself in active life. He holds fast,
moreover, to the catholicity of Judaism, which restrains the
individual from abrogating observance till the united conscience of
the race calls for it; unless progress comes in this ordered way, the
reformer will produce chaos.

Philo is conservative then in practice, but he is pre-eminently
liberal in thought. The perfect example himself of the assimilation of
outside culture, he demands that Judaism shall always seek out the
fullest knowledge, and in the light of the broadest culture of the age
constantly reinterpret its religious ideas and its holy books. Above
all it must be philosophical, for philosophy is "the breath and finer
spirit of all knowledge," and it vivifies the knowledge of God as well
as the knowledge of human things. Without it religion becomes bigoted,
faith obscurantist, and ceremony superstitious. But the Jew does not
merely borrow ideas or accept his philosophy ready-made from his
environment; he interprets it afresh according to his peculiar
God-idea and his conception of God's relation to man, and thereby
makes it a genuine Jewish philosophy, forming in each age a special
Jewish culture. And as religion without philosophy is narrow, so, to
Philo, philosophy without religion is barren; remote from the true
life, and failing in the true purpose of the search for wisdom, which
is to raise man to his highest function. Philosophy, then, is not the
enemy of the Torah: it is its true complement, endowing it with a
deeper meaning and a profounder influence. Thus the saying runs in the
"Ethics of the Fathers,"

[Hebrew: 'm 'yn tora 'yn hkma; 'm 'yn hkma 'yn tora]

"If there is no Torah, there is no wisdom; if there is no wisdom,
there is no Torah." The thought that study of the law is essential to
Judaism Philo shares with the rabbis, and the Torah is in his eyes
Israel's great heritage, not only her literature but her life. As
Saadia said later,[365] "This nation is only a nation by reason of its
Torah." It is because Philo starts from this conviction that his
mission is so striking, and its results so tragical. The Judaism which
he preached to the pagan world was no food for the soul with the
strength taken out to render it more easily assimilated. He emphasizes
its spiritual import, he shows its harmony, as the age demanded, with
the philosophical and ethical conceptions of the time, but he
steadfastly holds aloft, as the standard of humanity, the law of
Moses. The reign of "one God and one law" seemed to him not a far-off
Divine event, but something near, which every good Jew could bring
nearer. He was oppressed by no craven fear of Jewish distinctiveness;
and the Biblical saying that Israel was a chosen people was real to
him and moved him to action. It meant that Israel was essentially a
religious nation, nearer God, and possessed of the Divine law of life,
and that it had received the Divine bidding to spread the truth about
God to all the world. It was a creed, and more, it was an inspiration
which constantly impelled to effort. It would be difficult to sum up
Philo's message to his people better than by the verses in Deuteronomy
which he, the interpreter of God's Word and the successor of Moses, as
he loved to consider himself, proclaims afresh to his own age, and
beyond it to the congregation of Jacob in all ages, "Keep therefore my
commandments and do them; for this is your wisdom and your
understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these
statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and
understanding people.

"For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as
the Lord our God is in all things that we call upon Him for?

"And what nation is there so great that hath statutes and judgments so
righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?" (Deut.
iv. 5-7).

       *       *       *       *       *


  The following are the chief works which have been
  consulted and are recommended to the student of Philo:

  The standard edition of Philo is still that of Thomas
  Mangey, _Philonis Judæi opera quæ reperiri potuerunt
  omnia._ 1742. Londini.

  A far more accurate and critical edition, which is
  provided with introductory essays and notes upon the
  sources of Philo, is in course of publication for the
  Berlin Academy, by Dr. Leopold Cohn and Dr. Paul Wendland.
  The first five volumes have already appeared, and
  the remainder may be expected before long. The only
  complete edition which contains the Latin text of the
  _Quaestiones_ as well as the Greek works is that published
  by Tauchnitz in eight volumes; but the text is not reliable.

  There is an English translation of Philo's works in
  the Bohn Library (G. Bell & Sons) by C.D. Yonge (4 vols.),
  but it is neither accurate nor neat. The same may
  he said of the German translation of Jost, but an
  admirable German version edited by Dr. L. Cohn is now
  appearing, which contains notes of the parallel passages
  in rabbinic and patristic literature.

  Works bearing on Philo and his period generally:

  Schürer, "History of the Jewish People at the Time
  of Jesus Christ" (English translation).

  Siegfried, _Philo von Alexandrien als Ausleger der
  heiligen Schrift_.

  Zeller, _Geschiehte der Philosophie der Griechen_,
  vol. III, sec. 2.

  Drummond, "Philo-Judæus and the Jewish Alexandrian
  School." 2 vols. (London.)

  Herriot, _Philon le Juif_.

  Vacherot, _École d'Alexandrie_, vol. I.

  Eusebius, _Præparatio Evangelica_, ed. Gifford.

  Freudenthal, J., _Hellenistische Studien_.

  Harnack, "History of Dogma," vol. I.

  Josephus, "Wars of the Jews"; "Antiquities of the Jews."

  Mommsen, Th., "The Roman Provinces."

  Works bearing on the special subjects of the different

    Graetz, "History of the Jews" (Eng. trans.), vol. II.
    Swete, "introduction to the Septuagint."
    Hirsch, S.A., "The Temple of Onias," in the
  Jews' College Jubilee Volume.
    Friedländer, M. (Vienna), _Geschichte der jüdischen
  Apologetitc_ and _Religiöse Bewegungen
  der Juden irn Zeitalter von Jesus._

    Conybeare, edition of _De Vita Contemplativa_. (Oxford.)
    Hils, _Les juifs en Rome. Revue des Etudes
  Juives_, vols. 8 and 11.
    Reinach, Théodor, _Textes d'auteurs grecs et romains
  rélatifs au Judaisme_.
    Bréhier et Massebieau, _Essai sur la chronologie
  de Philon. Revue de l'Histoire des Religions,_ 1906.

    Hart, J.H.A., "Philo of Alexandria," Jewish
  Quarterly Review, vols. XVII and XVIII.
    Massebieau, _Du classement des oeuvres de Philon_.
    Cohn, Leopold, _Einteilung und Chronologie der
  Schriften Philon_.

    Treitel, L., _Der Nomos in Philon. Monatsschrift
  für Geschichte und Wissenschaft des Judenthums_, 1905.

    Montefiore, C., _Florilegium Philonis_, Jewish
  Quarterly Review, vol. VIII.
    Caird, Ed., "Evolution of Theology in the
  Greek Philosophers."
    Heinze, _Die Lefire vom Logos_,
    Bucher, _Philonische Studien_.
    Von Arnim, _Philonische Studien._

    Freudenthal, Max, _Die Erkenntnisstheorie von Philo._
    Bigg, "The Christian neo-Platonists of Alexandria."
    Bussell, "The School of Plato."
    Stewart, J.A., "The Myths of Plato."
    Cuyot, H., _Les reminiscences de Philon chez Plotin_. 1906.
    Neumark, _Geschichte der jildischen Philosophie
  des Mittelalters_.

    Schechter, "Aspects of Rabbinic Theology."
    Taylor, "Ethics of the Fathers."
    Ritter, Bernhard, _Philo und die Halacha_. Breslau, 1879.
    Dei Rossi, "Meor Einayim," ed. Cassel.
    Krochmal, "Moreh Nebuchei Hazeman," ed. Zunz.
    Frankel, Z., _Ueber den Einfluss der palästinensischen
  Exegese auf die alexandrinische Hermeneutik_.
    Epstein, _Le livre des Jubilis, Philon et le Midrasch
  Tadsché_, Revue des Etudes Juives, XXI.
    Ginzberg, L., "Allegorical Interpretation," in
  Jewish Encyclopedia.
    Joel, M., _Blicke in die Religionsgeschichte_.
    Treitel, L., _Agadah bei Philo. Monatsschrift
    für Geschichte und Wissenschaft des Judenthums_, 1909.


The references to Philo's works are made according to the chapters in
Conn and Wendland's edition, so far as it has appeared. In referring
to the works which they have not edited, I have used the pages of
Mangey'a edition; but I have frequently mentioned the name of the
treatise in which the passage occurs, as well as the page-number.

I have employed the following abbreviations in the references:

  L.A. I-III Legum Allegoriae.
  De Mundi Op. De Mundi Opificio.
  De Sacrif. De Sacrifices Abelis.
  Quod Det. Quod Deterius Potiori Insidiatur.
  De Post. C. De Posteritate Caini.
  De Gigant. De Gigantibus.
  Quod Deus. Quod Deus Sit Immutabilis.
  De Agric. De Agricultura.
  De Plant. De Plantatione.
  De Ebr. De Ebrietate.
  De Confus. De Confusione Linguarum.
  De Migr. De Migratione Abrahami.
  Quis Rer. Div. Quis Rerum Divinarum Heres.
  De Cong. De Congressu Eruditorum Causa.
  De Fuga. De Fuga et Inventione.
  De Mut. Nom. De Mutatione Nominum.
  De Somn. De Somniis.
  De Abr. De Vita Abrahami.
  De Jos. De Vita Josephi.
  De V. Mos. De Vita Mosis.
  De Mon. De Monarchia.
  De Spec. Leg. De Specialibus Legibus.
  De Sac. De Sacerdotum Honoribus et de Victimis.
  De Leg. De Legatione ad Gaium.
  In Flacc. In Flaccum.
  De Decal. De Decalogo.
  De Septen. De Septenario.
  De Concupisc. De Concupiscentia.
  De Just. De Justitia.
  De Exsecr. De Exsecrationibus.
  Ant. Josephus: Antiquities of the Jews,
                            tr. by Whiston.
  Bell. Jud. Wars of the Jews.
  C. Apion. Contra Apionem.
  Hist. Ecclesiast. Eusebius: Historia Ecclesiastica.
  Praep. Evang. Eusebius: Praeparatio Evangelica.
  Photius, Cod. Photius: Codex.


  Abraham (_see_ Lives of Abraham and Joseph), 83;
    model of the excellent man, 244.

  Agrippa (King), Philo's life covers reign of, 45;
    Philo in Jerusalem during reign of, 50;
    arrives at Alexandria, 65;
    advanced to Kingdom of Judea, 69;
    intercedes at Rome for his people, 69;
    death of, 70.

  Alexander (the Great), a notable figure in Talmud, 13;
    settles Jews in Greek colonies, 14;
    result of his work, 23.

  Alexander Lysimachus, Alabarch of Delta region, 46;
    guardian of Antony's daughter, 46;
    restored to honor after imprisonment, 70.

  Alexandria, Jewish community at (_see_ Jewish), 13 ff., 41, 42 f.;
    Jewish population of, under Ptolemy I, 15;
    meeting-place of civilizations, 14, 48, 95;
    centre of Jewish life, 15, 129;
    two sections occupied by Jews, 16;
    prosperity of Jews in, 21, 22, 32;
    anti-Semitic literature and influences in, 22, 62, 67, 74;
    Jewish tradition at, 27;
    synagogues at, 37;
    deputation to Jerusalem from, 41;
    rabbis flee to, 42;
    Agrippa finds a refuge at, 51, 65;
    mystical and ascetic ideas of people at, 55, 59;
    philosophical schools at, 63, 90, 92, 94, 140;
    development of Judaism in, 77, 255;
    Egyptian caste-system adopted at, 16;
    Jews of, popularize teachings of Bible, 34;
    Jews of, referred to, in Talmud, 42;
    Philo forced into Sanhedrin of, 61, 202, 203 f.;
    Philo member of, 61;
    disintegration of community at, 71;
    Zealots flee to, on fall of Jerusalem, 71;
    replaced by Babylon as centre of Jewish intellect, 73;
    Samaritans in, 106;
    antinomian movement in, 130;
    prototypes of Christian belief at, 155;
    Pythagorean influence at, 188;
    national life and culture undermined at (_see_ National), 218.

  Alexandrian, exegesis, characteristic of, 36;
    church, departs from Jewish standpoint, 72;
    Platonists, connection between Philo and later school of, 192;
    schools, relation of, to Palestinian, 199 f., 213;
    literature in the Dark and Middle Ages, 225 f.

  _Allegories of the Laws_, an allegorical commentary, 74, 87 f.;
    attacks Stoic doctrines, 94;
    the _Epistles_, lineal descendants of, 247.

  Angels, doctrine of, in Palestine, 140;
    Philo's treatment of, 150-1.

  Antiochus Epiphanes, Palestine passes to, 17.

  Anti-Semitic, party, Flaccus won over by, 65;
    literature and influences in Alexandria, 22, 62, 67, 74;
    party, punishment of, at Rome, 70.

  Apion, a Stoic leader, 63;
    accuses Jews, 63, 67;
    Philo's references to, 63, 101;
    Josephus' reply to, 65.

  Aquila, new Greek version of Old Testament made by, 224;
    rabbis' views of, 224.

  Aristeas, spirit of, glorified in Philo, 77.

  Aristobulus, first allegorist of Alexandria, 38;
    his spirit inherited by Philo, 77;
    on wisdom, 143;
    on the Word of God, 146;
    difference between Philo and, 168.

  Artapanus, Jewish apologist, 77.

  Assouan, Aramaic papyri at, 15.

  Babylon, replaces Alexandria as centre of Jewish intellect, 73;
    Greek culture forgotten in, 224.

  Bible, the, Philo's interpretation
    and views on, 49, 102, 108 ff.;
    Philo reveals spiritual message of, 83;
    authority of, challenged at Alexandria, 92;
    wisdom personified in, 141, 142.

  Cabbalah, the, Essenes practitioners in, 233;
    Philo as the Hellenizer of, 235.

  Caligula. _See_ Gaius.

  Chaldean, thought, Philo's acquaintance with, 48.

  Christian, monastic communities, 73;
    heresy, a severance from main community, 72;
    theologians, fail to realize spirit of Philo, 124;
    reformers, and the yoke of the law, 130;
    teachers preserve Philo's works, 156, 248;
    writers quote Philo, 223;
    apologists imitate allegorical method, 245.

  Christianity, the movement towards, 28;
    rise of, 42;
    conflict with Judaism at Alexandria, 72;
    Philo's writings regarded as testimony to, 156;
    Philo's influence over religious philosophy of, 195.

  Conversion to Judaism, in Egypt and Rome, 32.

  _Courage_, tractate appended to _Life of Moses_, 75.

  _Creation of the World_, description of, 83.

  Croiset, criticism of Philo by, 90.

  _Decalogue, The_, contents of, 83.

  Derash, Philo a master of, 103.

  _Dreams of the Bible_, classed with Allegories of the Laws, 74.

  Dubnow, on Alexandrian Judaism, 129.

  Egypt, Alexander's march to, 14;
    settlement of Jews in, 14;
    connection between Israel and, 14;
    visited by Plato, 15, 172;
    Diaspora in, after Jeremiah, 15;
    a favored home of the Jews, 21;
    conversion widespread in (_see_ Rome), 32;
    Flaccus, governor of, 65;
    Jews of, under same rule as Palestine Jews, 15.

  Egyptian, populace, Philo on, 62;
    thought, Philo's acquaintance with, 48.

  _Epistles_, the Pauline, lineal descendants of Allegories of the
    Laws, 247;
    doctrines of the Logos in, 250.

  Essenes, rise of, 34, 54;
    account of, in Philo's works, 78;
    type of the philosophical life, 79;
    practitioners in the Cabbalah, 233.

  Flaccus, won over by Anti-Semites, 65;
    indifference of, to attacks of Jews, 66;
    recall of, 66;
    Philo on the persecutions of, 78.

  Frankel Z., writes on Alexandrian-Jewish culture, 241.

  Gaius (Roman Emperor), comes to the imperial chair, 65;
    Jews appeal directly to, 66;
    receives Jewish deputation, 67;
    death of, 69.

  Greek philosophers, Philo's relation to, 48, 52;
    philosophy, Philo's influence on, 49, 191 f.;
    colonies, Alexander settles Jews in, 14.

  Greek culture, various branches of, 47;
    the chief schools of, 48, 54;
    fertilizing influence of ideas of, 58;
    and Jewish Scripture, 76;
    neglected in Babylon, 224.

  Haggadah, the, in Philo's works, 202, 207 f.;
    antiquity of, 209 f.;
    allegorical speculation in, 212.

  Halakah, outcome of devotion to Torah, 99;
    Palestinian Jews determine, 105;
    observance of oral law standardized in, 126;
    relation of Philo to, 202 f.;
    differences between Alexandrian Sanhedrin and Palestinian, 203 f.;
    codification of, 207.

  Hebrew, language, evidence of Philo's knowledge of, 49;
    included in barbarian languages, 97;
    Philo's derivations from, 50, 101;
    race, the three founders of, 110 f.;
    tradition, Philo follows, 159;
    mind, Professor Caird on, 167.

  Hellenism, of Palestine, 24, 25;
    of Alexandria (_see_ Greek culture), 25;
    influence of, in Palestine, 51;
    and the interpretation of the Bible, 254;
    New Testament, a combination of Hebraism and, 247;
    Christian theology a descent to a commoner, 254.

  Hillel, Philo contemporary with, 45;
    shows expansion of Hebrew mind, 45;
    on chief lesson of Torah, 117, 118;
    spirit of, shared by Philo, 249.

  _Humanity_, tractate appended to a _Life of Moses_, 75.

  Incarnation, notion of, not Jewish, 166.

  Indian, thought, Philo's acquaintance with, 48.

  Isaac, _See Lives of Isaac and Jacob_, 83.

  Israel, Philo's derivation of the name, 50, 138;
    God's special providence for, 77;
    the mission of, 206, 242.

  Italy, Philo visits, 66.

  Jacob, _See Lives of Isaac and Jacob_, 83.

  Jeremiah, prophesies in Egypt, 14;
    heard by Plato, 15.

  Jerusalem, Alexander's visit to, 14;
    Philo, on national centre at, 20, 41, 86;
    spiritual headship of, 41;
    special synagogues for Alexandrians in, 41;
    derivation of name of, 50;
    Philo's sojourn at, 50;
    downfall of, 71;
    Judaism at, 129.

  Jesus, spread of his teaching, 245;
    his message compared with that of Philo, 245;
    preaching of, effect on Jewish attitude to life, 246;
    Paul sets up a new faith in, 251.

  Jewish, community at Alexandria (_see_ Alexandria), 13 ff., 72;
    temple at Elephantine, 15;
    kingdom reaches its height, 45;
    mind, religous conception of, 49, 137, 166;
    law and ceremony, elucidation of, 49;
    race, symbol of the unity of, 51;
    aspiration toward "freedom under the law," 124;
    influences, dominant in Philo, 133, 189;
    philosophy, eclectic, 168;
    philosophy, new school of in Middle Ages, 225 f.

  Joseph (_see Lives of Abraham and Joseph_), 83;
    as Egyptian statesman, 23.

  Josephus, on Onias and Dositheus, 18;
    inconsistent accounts of Onias temple, 19;
    on Egyptian Jews, 20;
    account of Herod's temple by, 41;
    writes a reply to Apion, 65;
    description of Gaius' conduct to Jewish deputation, 68;
    on the spreading of Judaism, 115;
    indicates communication between schools of Alexandria and Palestine,
    relation to Philo and his works, 222.

  Jowett, on sermons, 90.

  Judaism, genius of, 46, 196;
    Philo's exposition of, 52, 74, 78, 81, 84, 105;
    Philo protests against desecration of, 258;
    mysticism in, 58;
    philosophical, 72, 230;
    Alexandrian development of, 77, 92;
    moral teachings of, 85;
    religion of the law, 106, 116, 260;
    Josephus on the spreading of, 115;
    a religion of universal validity, 121, 169;
    at Jerusalem and Alexandria, 129;
    catholic conscience of, 130, 131;
    Darmesteter on, 132;
    Logos doctrine and, 165;
    danger of union with Gentiles to, 206;
    a national culture, 219;
    influences of Jesus and Paul on, 247;
    Hellenistic interpretation of the Bible and, 254.

  Judas Maccabæus, struggles against Hellenizing party, 18.

  Krochmal, Nachman, criticism of Philo, 240.

  _Life of Moses_, contents of, 75, 79 f.;
    an attempt to set monotheism before the world, 80;
    tractates appended to, 75.

  _Lives of Abraham and Joseph_, description of, 83.

  _Lives of Isaac and Jacob_, contents of, 83.

  Logos, 143 ff.;
    its relation to God's Providence, 143;
    meaning of, 144-164, 148;
    Aristobulus on, 146;
    regarded as the effluence of God, 149;
    spoken of as a person, 156;
    the soul, an image of, 178;
    development of Philo's doctrine of, 192.

  Maimonides, object of his Moreh, 91;
    principles of, 99, 229;
    comparison of Philo with, 229 f.

  Mark Antony, Alexander Lysimachus in the confidence of, 46.

  Monastic communities, supposed record of Christian, in Philo, 73.

  Moses, Philo a follower of, 60, 113 f.;
    Philo's ideal type, 79 f.;
    Philo, as interpreter of his revelation, 104, 106 f.
    _See Life of Moses_.

  National, centre at Jerusalem, Philo on, 20, 41, 86;
    life undermined at Rome and Alexandria, 218.

  Old Testament, Septuagint translation of, 25-30;
    Aquila's new Greek version of, 224.

  Onias, leader of army of Egyptian monarch, 18;
    successor to high priesthood, 18;
    builds temple, 18, 19 f.;
    temple of, dismantled, 71;
    Jewish writers silent about work of, 19.

  Oral law, observance of, standardized in the Halakah, 126.

  Origen, distinguishes three methods of interpretation, 76;
    teacher of Patristic school, 195; imitates Philo, 186.

  Palestine, struggle for, between Ptolemies and Seleucids, 17;
    Hellenism of, compared with that of Athens, 24, 25;
    rabbis of, 28;
    Philo visits, 50;
    effect of Hellenic influence in, 54;
    New Moon a solemn day in, 121;
    aims of Jewish thought in, 140;
    doctrine of angels in, 140.

  Palestinian Jews, under same rule as Egyptian Jews, 15;
    rabbis, oral tradition, 34;
    development of Jewish culture, 42 f., 200;
    Midrash, Philo's acquaintance with, 52;
    schools, relation existing between Alexandrian and, 199 f., 203 f.,

  Paul, the most commanding of the apostles, 247;
    influence of, compared with that of Jesus, 247;
    rejection of the Torah by, 248;
    sets up a new faith in Jesus, 251.

 Pentateuch, Samaritan doctrines with reference to, 106.

  Peshat, as a form of interpretation, 103.

  Philo, contemporary with Herod, 45, 50;
    family of, 46;
    works of 74 ff.;
    philosophical training of, 49;
    flees from Alexandria, 60;
    meeting of Peter and Mark with, 73;
    forced into Sanhedrin of Alexandria, 61;
    writings of, regarded as testimony to Christianity, 73, 156;
    influence of, over Christian religious philosophy, 195, 242 ff.;
    relation of, to Greek philosophers, 48, 52;
    acquaintance of, with Chaldean and Indian thought, 48;
    his interpretation and views of the Bible, 49, 102, 108 ff.;
    evidence of his knowledge of Hebrew language, 49;
    follows Hebrew tradition, 159, 199 ff.;
    compared with Spinoza, 73, 134, 163;
    on persecutions of Sejanus and Flaccus, 62, 78;
    replies to attacks of stoics, 64, 95;
    stoics' view of God compared with that of, 185;
    goes to Italy, 66;
    refers to Apion, 63, 101;
    Josephus' knowledge of the works of, 222;
    Christian teachers preserve works of, 156, 247;
    relation of, to the Halakah, 202 f.;
    comparison of Maimonides with, 229 f.;
    doctrine of the Logos (_see_ Logos), 144 ff.;
    connection between Saadia and, 226 f.;
    the Hellenizer of the Cabbalah, 235;
    opposed to missionary attitude of Paul, 249.

  Plato, hears Jeremiah, 15;
    Philo's style reminiscent of, 48;
    conception of the Law in, 131;
    Philo's philosophy compared with that of, 170 ff.;
    dominant philosophical principle of, 174;
    a mystic, 230;
    conception of God in, 254.

  Ptolemies, the: Ptolemy I, increases number of Jewish inhabitants in
    Alexandria, 15;
    IV, gives Heliopolis to Onias, 16;
    admirers of Scriptures, 23.

  _Questions and Answers to Genesis and Exodus_, now incomplete, 75, 81 f.;
    a preliminary study to more elaborate works, 81;
    Hebraic in form, 82.

  _Repentance_, tractate appended to _Life of Moses_, 75.

  Rome, Alexandria second to, 14;
    conversion widespread in (_see_ Egypt), 32;
    Agrippa an exile from, 51;
    power of Jews at, 62;
    Jewish struggle with, 220;
    Philo's apocryphal meeting with Peter at, 73;
    national life and culture undermined at (_see_ National), 218.

  Saadia, founds new school of Jewish philosophy, 225 f.;
    connection between Philo and, 226 f.

  Samaritan, doctrines with reference to Pentateuch, 106;
    Jew, story of, 98.

  Sanhedrin, Hillel, president of, 45;
    Philo forced into Alexandrian, 61;
    duties of members of, 61;
    of Alexandrian community, 202;
    of Jerusalem and capital punishment, 203;
    differences between Palestinian Halakah and Alexandrian, 203 f.

  Sejanus, Tiberius falls under influence of, 62;
    Antonia opponent of, 62;
    Philo's book on persecution of, 62, 78;
    disgrace and death of, 65.

  Septuagint, Hellenistic development marked by, 25;
    Philo's version of origin of, 26;
    celebrations in honor of, 27;
    infusion of Greek philosophic ideas into, 28;
    Christianizing influence of, 29;
    value of, to the cultured Gentile, 33;
    replaced by new Greek version of Old Testament, 224.

  Solomon, Wisdom of, written at Alexandria, 31.

  _Specific Laws, The_, description of, 83;
    socialism of Bible emphasized in, 86.

  Spinoza, his ideal of life, 53;
    compared with Philo's, 73, 134, 163, 239;
    on Jewish thought, 137;
    influenced by Philo, 237 ff.;
    approaches Bible from critical standpoint, 239.

  Stoics, the chief Anti-Semites, 63;
    Philo replies to attacks of, 64, 95;
    in conflict with Jews at Alexandria, 94;
    beliefs of, 64, 94, 116, 176;
    view of God compared with that of Philo, 185.

    at Alexandria, 16, 37.

  Tiberius Alexander,
    nephew of Philo, 71.

  Tradition, Jewish,
    at Alexandria, 27;
    Philo and Jewish, 199 ff.

  Zealots, flight of,
    to Alexandria, 71.

       *       *       *       *       *


[Footnote 1: Comp. Leviticus Rabba 13.]

[Footnote 2: Comp. Josephus, Ant. IX. 1.]

[Footnote 3: Sukkah 51^{b}.]

[Footnote 4: Quoted by Josephus, Ant. XIV. 7.]

[Footnote 5: Ant. XII. 5, 9, XX. 10.]

[Footnote 6: Josephus, _Bell. Jud._ VII. 10.]

[Footnote 7: Comp. the passages in the "Antiquities" above and the
_Bell. Jud._ V. 5.]

[Footnote 8: Menahot 109, Abodah Zarah 52^{b}.]

[Footnote 9: _De Leg._ II. 578.]

[Footnote 10: Comp. _De Mon._ I. 5.]

[Footnote 11: Dr. Hirseh, in The Jews' College Jubilee Volume, p.39.]

[Footnote 12: Menahot 119.]

[Footnote 13: Comp. Ant. XIV. 14-16.]

[Footnote 14: Ant. XVI. 7.]

[Footnote 15: Philo, _In Flacc._ 6.]

[Footnote 16: _C. Apion._ II. 5.]

[Footnote 17: I have used the word anti-Semite because, though the
hatred at Alexandria was not racial, but national, it has now become
synonymous with Jew-hater generally.]

[Footnote 18: Quoted in _C. Apion_. I. 22.]

[Footnote 19: _De V. Mos_. II. 6, 7.]

[Footnote 20: See p. 22, above.]

[Footnote 21: Preface to Ecclesiasticus.]

[Footnote 22: Tract. Soferim I. 7.]

[Footnote 23: Tanhuma [Hebrew: ki tsha]]

[Footnote 24: See p. 23, above.]

[Footnote 25: _Orac. Sib_., ed. Alexandre, III. 8.]

[Footnote 26: _Ibid._, III. 195.]

[Footnote 27: Comp. Strabo, Frag. 6, Didot.]

[Footnote 28: _De Post.C._ 24.]

[Footnote 29: _De V. Mos_. II. 28.]

[Footnote 30: Comp. _De Decal_. 20.]

[Footnote 31: Comp. Yer. Berakot 24c.]

[Footnote 32: _Praep. Evang_. VIII. 10, XIII. 12.]

[Footnote 33: Comp. _De Abr_. 15 and 37, _De Jos_. II. 63, _De Spec.
Leg._ III. 32, _De Migr_. 89.]

[Footnote 34: _Quod Deus_ 11, _De Abr._ 36.]

[Footnote 35: Comp. Acts of the Apostles VI. 9, and Tosef. Meg. III.

[Footnote 36: Yoma 83^{a}.]

[Footnote 37: _Bell. Jud._ V. 5.]

[Footnote 38: Comp. Niddah 69^{b}, Sotah 47^{a}.]

[Footnote 39: "Heroes and Hero-Worship," ch. 3.]

[Footnote 40: Ant. XIX. 5.]

[Footnote 41: Photius, _Cod._ 108.]

[Footnote 42: Comp. _De Confus._ 15.]

[Footnote 43: Comp. _De Mon._ I. 6.]

[Footnote 44: Comp. Maimonides, Moreh II, ch. 36.]

[Footnote 45: _L.A._ I. 135.]

[Footnote 46: Comp. _De Cong._ 6 ff.]

[Footnote 47: Comp. Croiset, _Histoire de la littérature grecque_, V,
pp. 425 ff.]

[Footnote 48: Comp. Mills, "Zoroaster, Philo, and Israel."]

[Footnote 49: Comp. _Quis Rer. Div._ 43, _De Judice_ II, _De V. Mos._
II. 4.]

[Footnote 50: Ritter, _Philon und die Halacha_.]

[Footnote 51: Comp. _De V. Mos._ I. 1, _In Flacc._ 23 and 33, _De Mut.
Nom._ 39.]

[Footnote 52: _Præp. Evang._ VIII. v.]

[Footnote 53: _De Mon._ II. 1-3.]

[Footnote 54: Comp. _Bell. Jud._ VI. 9. 3.]

[Footnote 55: Comp. _De V. Mos._ II. 4.]

[Footnote 56: _De Spec. Leg._ III. 1.]

[Footnote 57: Comp. _De Migr._ 4, _L.A._ III. 45.]

[Footnote 58: Comp. Graetz, "History of the Jews" III. 91 ff.]

[Footnote 59: Comp. _Quod Omnis Probus Liber_ 11 ff.]

[Footnote 60: The authenticity of this book is elaborately discussed
by Conybeare in his edition of it.]

[Footnote 61: "Ethics of the Fathers" VI. 4.]

[Footnote 62: _De Mundi Op._ I. 42.]

[Footnote 63: Comp. _De Migr._ 6 ff.]

[Footnote 64: _L.A._ II. 21.]

[Footnote 65: _De Fuga_ 7 ff.]

[Footnote 66: Comp. _De Spec. Leg._ II. 260.]

[Footnote 67: Comp. _De Cherubim_ 9.]

[Footnote 68: _De Migr._ 7-9.]

[Footnote 69: II, ch. 36 ff.]

[Footnote 70: Comp. _De Spec. Leg._ III. 1.]

[Footnote 71: Massebieau, _Du classement des oeuvres de Philon_.]

[Footnote 72: _In Flacc._ 5.]

[Footnote 73: Comp. Th. Reinach, _Textes d'auteurs romains et grecs
relatifs au Judaisme_, pp. 120 ff.]

[Footnote 74: Comp. _De Confus._, _passim_.]

[Footnote 75: Josephus, _C. Apion._, Introduction.]

[Footnote 76: _In Flacc._ 10.]

[Footnote 77: _De Leg_. 27 and 28.]

[Footnote 78: Ant. XVIII. 8. 1.]

[Footnote 79: _De Leg., ad fin_.]

[Footnote 80: Ant. XIX. 5.]

[Footnote 81: Frag, preserved by John of Damascus, p. 404.]

[Footnote 82: Comp. Ant. XX. 5.]

[Footnote 83: Comp. Massebieau, _op. cit._]

[Footnote 84: Comp. Bernays, _Ueber die unter Philos Werken stehenden
Schriften [Greek: peri tês aphtharsias Kosmou]_, and Siegfried, art.
"Philo" in the Jewish Encyclopedia.]

[Footnote 85: _Quod Deus_ 86.]

[Footnote 86: _Quod Omnis Probus Liber_ 12 ff.]

[Footnote 87: _De V. Mos._ I. 1.]

[Footnote 88: _De V. Mos_. II. 5.]

[Footnote 89: "On Repentance," II.]

[Footnote 90: Comp. Treitel, _Agadah bei Philo. Monatsschrift_, 1909.]

[Footnote 91: _De Abr._ 12.]

[Footnote 92: Comp. Bereshit Rabba 47.]

[Footnote 93: _De Sac. et Victimis_ 5 and 6.]

[Footnote 94: _De Mon._ II. 3 ff.]

[Footnote 95: Comp. Plato, _Rep_. V, _ad fin_.]

[Footnote 96: _De Exsecr_. II. 587.]

[Footnote 97: _De Abr._ 3.]

[Footnote 98: Comp. _L.A._ II. 4.]

[Footnote 99: _L.A._ I. 1.]

[Footnote 100: Comp. Freudenthal, _Hellenistische Studien_.]

[Footnote 101: Croiset, _op. cit._ V, p. 427.]

[Footnote 102: Comp. _De Cherubim_, _passim_.]

[Footnote 103: Comp. Zohar III.]

[Footnote 104: _De Cherubim_, 9 and 14, _De Somn._ 8.]

[Footnote 105: _De Migr._ 12.]

[Footnote 106: _De Post. C._ 22.]

[Footnote 107: Midrash Esther I.]

[Footnote 108: Comp. _De Sac._ II. 245.]

[Footnote 109: Comp. _De Migr._ 32.]

[Footnote 110: Comp. _De Post C_, 11.]

[Footnote 111: _Quaestiones in Gen._ III. 33.]

[Footnote 112: _De Cong._ 10.]

[Footnote 113: Comp. Berakot 51^{b}, _De Agric._ 12, _De Somn._ II. 25.]

[Footnote 114: _De Confus._ 38.]

[Footnote 115: _De Mut. Nom._ 8.]

[Footnote 116: Comp. Bereshit Rabba 64.]

[Footnote 117: _De Somn._ I. 16 and 17.]

[Footnote 118: Comp. "Ethics of the Fathers" V. 25.]

[Footnote 119: Comp. _De Somn._ I. 13.]

[Footnote 120: _De Mut. Nom._ 9.]

[Footnote 121: _De Somn._ I. 5.]

[Footnote 122: Berakot 10^{a}.]

[Footnote 123: _De Cong._ 12.]

[Footnote 124: _De Cong._ 14.]

[Footnote 125: "Theologico-Political Tractate" VII.]

[Footnote 126: _De Abr._ 19.]

[Footnote 127: _De Mon._ II. 6.]

[Footnote 128: Harvard Studies, "Hellenism and Hebraism."]

[Footnote 129: Comp. Schechter, "Aspects of Rabbinic Theology," p.

[Footnote 130: Comp. _De V. Mos._ II. 9 and 10, III. 1.]

[Footnote 131: _L.A._ I. 2.]

[Footnote 132: Comp. _De Mundi Op._ 2.]

[Footnote 133: Comp. p. 85, above.]

[Footnote 134: Comp. _L.A._ I, _passim_.]

[Footnote 135: _L.A._ III. 12.]

[Footnote 136: _De Post. C._ 11.]

[Footnote 137: _De Abr._ 3 ff.]

[Footnote 138: _Ibid._ 6-10.]

[Footnote 139: The LXX renders the verse Gen. iv. 26, which is
translated in the Authorized Version: "Then began men to call upon the
name of the Lord," [Greek: outos êlpisen epi ton tôn olôn patera]
_i.e._, "He hoped in the Father of all."]

[Footnote 140: _Quod Det._ 38.]

[Footnote 141: _De Jos._ 21.]

[Footnote 142: _De Jos._ 22.]

[Footnote 143: _De Jos._ 42.]

[Footnote 144: _Hist. Ecclesiast._ II. 18, 1.]

[Footnote 145: _De V. Mos._ III. 4 ff.]

[Footnote 146: _De V. Mos._ II. 3.]

[Footnote 147: _De V. Mos._ II. 5, Josephus, _C. Apion._ II. 37.]

[Footnote 148: Comp. Horace, Satires I. 4, 138; I. 9, 60.]

[Footnote 149: Frag. preserved in Josephus, Ant. XIV. 7.]

[Footnote 150: Comp. Reinach, _op. cit._, p. 262.]

[Footnote 151: _De V. Mos._ II. 3.]

[Footnote 152: "Ethics of the Fathers" I. 17.]

[Footnote 153: _De Fuga_ 6.]

[Footnote 154: _De Decal._ 12.]

[Footnote 155: _De Decal._ 23.]

[Footnote 156: _De Septen._ 9.]

[Footnote 157: Kiddushin 20^{a}.]

[Footnote 158: _De Decal._ 20.]

[Footnote 159: _De Septen._ 7.]

[Footnote 160: _De Septen._ 6.]

[Footnote 161: Ch. 2. 31.]

[Footnote 162: Comp. _De Migr._ 23.]

[Footnote 163: _De Septen._ 1. 2.]

[Footnote 164: _De Septen._ 18 ff.]

[Footnote 165: _De Concupisc._ 1-3.]

[Footnote 166: Comp. _De Just._ II. 360.]

[Footnote 167: Ch. 16.]

[Footnote 168: I have taken this translation and that on the next page
from Mr. Claude Montefiore's _Florilegium Philonis_. Jewish Quarterly
Review, vol. VII.]

[Footnote 169: Comp. _De Ebr._ 40, and _De Spec. Leg._ II. 414.]

[Footnote 170: _De Leg._ II. 574.]

[Footnote 171: _Essais, Les Prophètes d'Israël_.]

[Footnote 172: Frag. cited by Porphyry, _De Abstinentia_ II. 25.]

[Footnote 173: _De Cong._ 10.]

[Footnote 174: Comp. Schechter, "Aspects of Rabbinic Theology," pp. 21

[Footnote 175: _L.A._ I. 7.]

[Footnote 176: _L.A._ I. 14.]

[Footnote 177: _De Confus._ 2, _De Post. C._ 5.]

[Footnote 178: Comp. _De Somn._ I. 11, _De Mut. Nom._ 4.]

[Footnote 179: Caird, "Life of Spinoza" II.]

[Footnote 180: _De Mon._ I. 5.]

[Footnote 181: Comp. "The Authorised Prayer Book." p. 78.]

[Footnote 182: _Quod Deus_ 23.]

[Footnote 183: _De Mundi Op._ 5.]

[Footnote 184: _L.A._ III. 24.]

[Footnote 185: _De Somn._ II. 38.]

[Footnote 186: _L.A._ III. 24.]

[Footnote 187: See p. 77, above.]

[Footnote 188: _L.A._ I. 3.]

[Footnote 189: _De Plant._ 7, _Quod Det._ 31.]

[Footnote 190: _De Cherubim_ 35.]

[Footnote 191: _L.A._ II. 70.]

[Footnote 192: _De Cherubim_ 32, _De Somn._ II, 56.]

[Footnote 193: _De Post. C._ 11.]

[Footnote 194: Essay on the Talmud.]

[Footnote 195: Bereshit Rabba 21, and Yalkut 26.]

[Footnote 196: Comp. _De Plant._ 30.]

[Footnote 197: Comp. [H.]agigah 14.]

[Footnote 198: Quoted by Euseb., _op. cit._ XIII. 8.]

[Footnote 199: _De Decal._ 11.]

[Footnote 200: _De Mundi Op._ 24.]

[Footnote 201: _Ibid._ 20.]

[Footnote 202: _De Migr._ 9.]

[Footnote 203: _De Decal._ 11.]

[Footnote 204: _De Somn._ II. 37.]

[Footnote 205: _De Somn._ I. 23.]

[Footnote 206: Comp. _De Somn._ II. 11.]

[Footnote 207: _De Somn._ I. 22.]

[Footnote 208: Comp. [H.]agigah 14^{a}.]

[Footnote 209: _Quod Deus_ 26 and 32.]

[Footnote 210: _De Confus._ 14.]

[Footnote 211: _De Gigant._ 2.]

[Footnote 212: "Ethics of the Fathers" III.]

[Footnote 213: Comp. Schechter, _op. cit._, "The Law as Personified in

[Footnote 214: Comp. _L.A._ III. 73, _De Somn._ II. 33.]

[Footnote 215: _De Cong._ 31.]

[Footnote 216: _De Confus._ 14, Fragments I, _L.A._ III. 23, _Quis
Rer. Div._ 42, _De Gigant._ 12.]

[Footnote 217: Comp. Graetz, "Gnosticism and Judaism," pp. 15 ff.]

[Footnote 218: Comp. _De Cherubim_ 14 and 17, _De Gigant._ 12.]

[Footnote 219: Drummond, "Philo-Judæus and the Jewish Hellenistic
School," vol. II.]

[Footnote 220: _De Somn._ I. 32, _De Confus._ 14, _L.A._ III. 25, _De
V. Mos._ III. 14.]

[Footnote 221: _L.A._ III. 73.]

[Footnote 222: _De Sacrif._ 38.]

[Footnote 223: _Quis Rer. Div._ 42.]

[Footnote 224: _De Plant._ 21.]

[Footnote 225: _L.A._ III.]

[Footnote 226: _De Cherubim_ 9.]

[Footnote 227: _De Abr._ 24 and 25.]

[Footnote 228: _De Fuga_ 18.]

[Footnote 229: _L.A._ II.]

[Footnote 230: _L.A._ I. 13, II. 15, _Quis Rer. Div._ 53.]

[Footnote 231: Comp. _De Decal._, _ad fin_.]

[Footnote 232: _L.A._ I. 20, _De Fuga_ 12.]

[Footnote 233: _De Mundi Op._ 54, _De Fuga_ 11.]

[Footnote 234: "The Evolution of Theology in the Greek Philosophers"

[Footnote 235: Plato, "Laws" 718.]

[Footnote 236: Comp. Bk. 12 of the _Præp. Evang._]

[Footnote 237: Quoted by Suidas, _s.v._ Philo.]

[Footnote 238: _De Mundi Op._ 43.]

[Footnote 239: _De Victimis_ II. 260-262.]

[Footnote 240: Comp. p. 81, above.]

[Footnote 241: _De Sacrif._ 24, _Quod Det._ 24.]

[Footnote 242: _De Mundi Op._ 24.]

[Footnote 243: _De Mundi Op._ 4.]

[Footnote 244: _De Somn._ I. 4.]

[Footnote 245: _De Victimis_ II. 260.]

[Footnote 246: _Quod Deus_ 6, _De Post. C._ 5.]

[Footnote 247: _Quod Det._ 24, _De Mundi Op._ 45 and 51.]

[Footnote 248: _L.A._ I. 32, _De Confus._ 27.]

[Footnote 249: _De Mon_. II. 214, _De Mundi Op_. I. 16.]

[Footnote 250: _De Mundi Op_. 22 and 48, _L.A._ I. 13 and II. 12 ff.]

[Footnote 251: _De Sacrif._ 32.]

[Footnote 252: _De Plant._ 9.]

[Footnote 253: _Quaestiones in Gen._ II. 59.]

[Footnote 254: _De Fuga_ 6.]

[Footnote 255: _Quaestiones in Gen._ IV. 140.]

[Footnote 256: _De Cherubim_ 32.]

[Footnote 257: _L.A._ I. 15.]

[Footnote 258: _L.A._ II. 25.]

[Footnote 259: _L.A._ I. 11 ff., II. 12-14.]

[Footnote 260: _De Cherubim_ 35.]

[Footnote 261: _De Somn._ I. 12.]

[Footnote 262: _De Somn._ I. 4.]

[Footnote 263: _De Plant._ 7.]

[Footnote 264: _Quod Det._ 31.]

[Footnote 265: _De Migr._ 8, _De Spec. Leg._ I. 9.]

[Footnote 266: _L.A._ I. 13.]

[Footnote 267: _L.A._ III. 13, 14.]

[Footnote 268: _Quis Rer. Div._ 53.]

[Footnote 269: _De Mundi Op._ 54.]

[Footnote 270: _De Abr._ 31.]

[Footnote 271: _De Fuga_ 27.]

[Footnote 272: _L.A._ I. 32, II. 25.]

[Footnote 273: Comp. _L.A._ III. 45.]

[Footnote 274: _Quod Det._ 7.]

[Footnote 275: _De Fuga_ 5 ff.]

[Footnote 276: _De Mundi Op._ 15, _L.A._ I. 46.]

[Footnote 277: _De Decal._ 6-8.]

[Footnote 278: Comp. Euseb., _Praep. Evang._ IX 411A.]

[Footnote 279: _C. Celsum_ IV. 51.]

[Footnote 280: _De Sectis Judaicis_ XVIII.]

[Footnote 281: Comp. Freudenthal, _Hellenistische Studien_, and
Siegfried, _Philo als Ausleger der hieligen Schrift_.]

[Footnote 282: Comp. _Quis Rer. Div._ XLIII, and Chapter II above.]

[Footnote 283: _De Mon_. II. 212.]

[Footnote 284: _Hist. Ecclesiast._ II. iv. 2.]

[Footnote 285: Comp. Graetz, "History" II. xviii.]

[Footnote 286: Comp. Chapter I, p. 17, above.]

[Footnote 287: _De Spec. Leg_. II. 260.]

[Footnote 288: _De Spec. Leg._ III. 17.]

[Footnote 289: _Ibid._ II. 6.]

[Footnote 290: _De Parentibus Colendis_ 56.]

[Footnote 291: Comp. Sifre Debarim 237.]

[Footnote 292: _De Spec. Leg._ IV.]

[Footnote 293: _De Spec. Leg._ III. 36.]

[Footnote 294: _De Spec. Leg._ III. 33 and 34.]

[Footnote 295: Moreh Nebukim III, ch. 39.]

[Footnote 296: _Fragmenta ex Antonio_ II. 672.]

[Footnote 297: _De Spec. Leg._ III. 5, II. 304, 305.]

[Footnote 298: Deut. vii. 3, and Abodah Zarah 36^{b}.]

[Footnote 299: _De Spec. Leg._ III. 5, II. 304.]

[Footnote 300: _De Septen._ 5 ff.]

[Footnote 301: See Chapter IV, p. 125, above.]

[Footnote 302: Mishnah Rosh Hashanah III. 8, and Philo, _De Somn._ II.

[Footnote 303: Comp. _Agadah bei Philo_, by Treitel, _Monatsschrift_,

[Footnote 304: Comp. Bereshit Rabba 16, 4.]

[Footnote 305: Comp. Taylor's edition.]

[Footnote 306: _De Plant._ 30.]

[Footnote 307: It is impossible for me to make an adequate
acknowledgment of my debt to Dr. Schechter, President of the Jewish
Theological Seminary of America. But I should say that I have borrowed
freely from his articles on rabbinic theology in the Jewish Quarterly
Review, vols. VI and VII, now included in his "Aspects of Rabbinic

[Footnote 308: Mishnah Yodayim III. 5.]

[Footnote 309: Bereshit Rabba 26. 7.]

[Footnote 310: Comp. Schechter, _op. cit._, Introduction.]

[Footnote 311: Berakot 24^{b}.]

[Footnote 312: Mekilta [Hebrew: kshla] I. 1.]

[Footnote 313: Bereshit Rabba I. 2.]

[Footnote 314: Pirke R. Eliezer III.]

[Footnote 315: Comp. Poems, II, p. 25.]

[Footnote 316: Moreh II, ch. 70.]

[Footnote 317: Eccles. III. 15.]

[Footnote 318: [H.]agigah 14 ff., Sanhedrin 37^{a}.]

[Footnote 319: Bereshit Rabba 4.]

[Footnote 320: Mena[h.]ot 99.]

[Footnote 321: Mishnah Sanhedrin II. 1.]

[Footnote 322: [H.]agigah 15^{b}.]

[Footnote 323: Bereshit Rabba 36. 8.]

[Footnote 324: Ant. III. 2.]

[Footnote 325: _De V. Mos._ II. 12.]

[Footnote 326: Comp. Ant. XVIII. 8. 1.]

[Footnote 327: Comp. "Ethics of the Fathers" VI. 6.]

[Footnote 328: See Epstein, _Philon et le Midrasch Tadsché_, Revue des
Etudes Juives, XXI, p. 80.]

[Footnote 329: Yer. Meg. I. 71^{c}.]

[Footnote 330: Comp. an article by Dr. Poznànski in the _Revue des
Études Juives_, 1905, _Philo dans l'ancienne littérature judéo-arabe_,
pp. 10 ff.]

[Footnote 331: Comp. Poznànski, _op. cit._, p. 27.]

[Footnote 332: Moreh II. ch. 1 ff.]

[Footnote 333: _Ibid._ 31.]

[Footnote 334: _Ibid._ 31.]

[Footnote 335: Moreh III. 43 ff.]

[Footnote 336: Comp. Ginzberg, art. "Cabbalah," Jewish Encyclopedia.]

[Footnote 337: Comp. Taylor's "Ethics of the Fathers," ch. 5, notes.]

[Footnote 338: _De Cherubim_ 12 and 14. Comp. _De Somn._ I. 8.]

[Footnote 339: Comp. _De Somn._ I. 12.]

[Footnote 340: Comp. _De Fuga_ 9.]

[Footnote 341: Comp. Hort, Introduction to Clement's [Greek:

[Footnote 342: Ed. Cassel, pp. 4 and 15^{b}.]

[Footnote 343: Comp. Imre Binah. Meor Einayim, ch. 30.]

[Footnote 344: Comp. J.A. Stewart, "Myths of Plato," _ad fin._]

[Footnote 345: Comp. "Theologico-Political Tractate" XV.]

[Footnote 346: Comp. _De Humanitate_ II. 395.]

[Footnote 347: _De V. Mos._ II. 1-5.]

[Footnote 348: Comp. _De Mon._ II. 6.]

[Footnote 349: _De Just._ 6.]

[Footnote 350: Comp. _De Nobilitate_ 6.]

[Footnote 351: Bamidbar Rabba 8.]

[Footnote 352: Tan[h.]uma to Debarim.]

[Footnote 353: Comp. Pesa[h.]im 87^{b}.]

[Footnote 354: _De Exsecr._ 6. II. 433.]

[Footnote 355: Comp. Montefiore, Jewish Quarterly Review, VI, p. 428.]

[Footnote 356: Epistle to the Romans V.]

[Footnote 357: Epistle to the Galatians III. 10.]

[Footnote 358: Comp. Chapter IV, above, p. 126.]

[Footnote 359: _De Abr._ 46.]

[Footnote 360: Comp. Schechter, _op. cit._, Introduction.]

[Footnote 361: Comp. Mekilta 33^{a}, ed. Friedmann.]

[Footnote 362: Comp. _L.A._ III. 26, and Chapter V, above, p. 154.]

[Footnote 363: _De Cherubim_ 12.]

[Footnote 364: Comp. Gibbon, "Decline of the Roman Empire," ch. 15.]

[Footnote 365: [Hebrew: 'monot vd'ot] III.]

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