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  1. Philo Judaeus
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  3. Individual Titles
  4. Philo of Alexandria
  5. Philo of Alexandria | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

This volume contains F. Colson and G.

Philo Judaeus

Colson and J. Philo of Alexandria c. Philo recorded the atrocities committed against the Jews, largely by the Roman governor, Flaccus. His theological and philosophical writings used allegorical exegesis to unite Greek Stoic philosophy with Jewish philosophy. His works impacted Christian Church Fathers more than Judaism. Colson was headmaster of Plymouth College and a fellow of St. He was a translator of ancient Greek.

Ralph Marcus — was a professor of Semitic Philology at the Jewish Institute of Religion from to , and an associate professor of Hellenistic culture at the University of Chicago from to Format: Digital. Be the first to rate this. Discount Price. Add to Cart. Overview This product includes 22 print volumes, but will download as three resources in your Logos digital library. Individual Titles On the Creation. Allegorical Interpretation of Genesis 2 and 3 On the Creation. The Sacrifices of Abel and Cain.

The Worse Attacks the Better. On the Posterity and Exile of Cain. On the Giants On the Cherubim.

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And if you consider, O good friend, you will find that God has created in the soul some natural qualities which are in themselves faulty and blameless, and also in every soul some which are virtuous and praiseworthy, as is the case likewise with plants and animals. And as the serpent affects man, so does pleasure too affect the soul; in reference to which fact the serpent has been compared to pleasure. The just man seeking to understand the nature of all existing things, makes this one most excellent discovery, that everything which exists, does so according to the grace of God, and that there is nothing ever given by, just as there is nothing possessed by, the things of creation.

On which account also it is proper to acknowledge gratitude to the Creator alone. Accordingly, to those persons who seek to investigate what is the origin of creation, we may most correctly make answer, that it is the goodness and the grace of God, which he has bestowed on the human race; for all the things which are in the world, and the world itself, are the gift and benefaction and free grace of God.

For he is called a just king, and a king is the opposite of a tyrant, because the one is the interpreter of law, and the other of lawlessness. But the other, the kingly mind, in the first place, does not command, but rather persuades, since it gives recommendations of such a character, that if guided by them, life, like a vessel, will enjoy a fair voyage through life, being directed in its course by a good governor and pilot; and this good pilot is right reason.

And this kingly mind shall bring forth food full of cheerfulness and joy; for "he brought forth bread and wine," which the Ammonites and Moabites were not willing to give to the beholder, that is Israel; by reason of such unwillingness they are shut out from the companionship and assembly of God.

For the Ammonites being they who are sprung from the outward sense of the mother, and the Moabites, who originate in the mind of the father, are two different dispositions, which look upon the mind and the outward sense as the efficient causes of all existing things, but take no notice of God. For reason is a priest, having, as its inheritance the true God, and entertaining lofty and sublime and magnificent ideas about him, "for he is the priest of the most high God.

For the gifts of God are great and honourable. But he made this position of Abraham also to be typical, containing an emblem worthy of attentive consideration. And, moreover, mounting up higher, it investigates the Deity itself, and his nature, through an unspeakable lore of knowledge, in consequence of which it cannot be content to abide in the original decrees, but, being improved itself, becomes also desirous of removing to a better habitation. Do you not see what he says about Isaac to Abraham, when he had no hope of any such thing, namely, that he should become the father of such an offspring, but did rather laugh at the promise, and asked, "Shall a son be born to me, who am a hundred years old; and shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bring forth a Child?

There are some good things which are an advantage to a man both when they are past, and when they are present, such as good health, a sound condition of the outwards senses, riches, if he be endowed with them, a good reputation; for all these things may, by a slight perversion of words, be called good things. But some are so not merely when they have been given to us, but even when it is predicted that they shall be so given, as joy as a good affection of the soul; for this does not cheer a man only when it is present and energises actively in him, but it delights him also by anticipations when it is hoped for--for it has this especial quality; all other good qualities have their own separate operation and effect, but joy is both a separate good and a common good, for it comes as a crowning one after all the rest--for we feel joy at good health, and we feel joy at liberty and at honour, and at all other such things, so that one may say with propriety that there is not one single good thing which has not the additional good of joy.

Since, then, joy diffuses itself over and cheers the soul, not only while it is present but also even when it is expected, it was very consistent and natural for God to think Isaac worthy of a good name and of a great gift before he was born, for the name of Isaac, being interpreted, means laughter of soul, and delight, and joy. For God, the creator of all living things, is thoroughly acquainted with all his works, and before he has completely finished them he comprehends the faculties with which they will hereafter be endowed, and altogether he foreknows all their actions and passions.

For when Rebecca, that is the patient soul, proceeds to ask an oracle from God, the answers are, "Two nations are in thy womb, and two people shall come forth from thy bowels, and one people shall be stronger than the other people, and the elder shall save the Younger. And this is the case not only when each of these two different characters is perfect in the soul, but when there is a doubt on the subject; for, altogether, a slight breeze of virtue shows power and supremacy, and not freedom only, and on the other hand, the existence of even an ordinary degree of vice enslaves the reason, even though not by any means as yet come to maturity.

And when Joseph thought this a grievous thing, and thought that his father had unintentionally made a mistake in the matter of the imposition of hands, Jacob said, "I did not make a mistake, but I knew, my son, I knew that this one should be a father of a nation, and should be exalted; but, nevertheless, his younger brother shall be greater than He.

That two natures, both utterly necessary, were created in the soul by God, one memory and the other recollection, of which memory is the best and recollection the worst. For the one has its perceptions fresh and harmonious and clear, so that it never errs through ignorance.


But forgetfulness does, in every case, precede recollection, which is but a mutilated and blind thing. Being, therefore, affected with forgetfulness at first, we subsequently recollect, until from a frequent recurrence of forgetfulness and a frequent recurrence of recollection, memory at last prevails in us in a lasting manner. On which account it is younger than recollection, for it is later in its existence.

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For, being interpreted, it means the fertility of the soul of the man fond of learning, which brings forth its appropriate fruit when it has confirmed its speculations, and preserves them in its memory. But Manasses, being interpreted, means recollection, for he is spoken of as one who has been translated from forgetfulness, and he who escapes from forgetfulness does unquestionably recollect. Most correctly, therefore, does that supplanter of the passions and practiser of virtue, Jacob, give his right hand to that prolific memory, Ephraim, while he places Manasses, or recollection, in the second rank.

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Therefore, Manasses, who is born of forgetfulness, resembles those who were the second party to sacrifice the passover; but the fertile Ephraim is like those who had sacrificed previously. And we shall know what the impression is if we previously examine the interpretation of the name.

But the shadow of God is his word, which he used like an instrument when he was making the world. And this shadow, and, as it were, model, is the archetype of other things. For, as God is himself the model of that image which he has now called a shadow, so also that image is the model of other things, as he showed when he commenced giving the law to the Israelites, and said, "And God made man according to the image of God.

The ancient philosophers used to inquire how we obtained our conceptions of the Deity?

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Philo of Alexandria

Men who, those who seemed to philosophise in the most excellent manner, said that from the world and form its several parts, and from the powers which existed in those parts, we formed our notions of the Creator and cause of the world. They, then, who draw their conclusions in this manner perceive God in his shadow, arriving at a due comprehension of the artist through his works.

For the images which are presented to the sight in executed things are subject to dissolution; but those which are presented in the One uncreate may last for ever, being durable, eternal, and unchangeable. On this account you will find the tabernacle and all its furniture to have been made in the first instance by Moses, and again subsequently by Bezaleel.

For Moses fashioned the archetypal forms, and Bezaleel made the imitations of them. For Aaron the word, and Miriam the outward sense, when they rose up against Moses were expressly told that "If there shall arise a prophet to the Lord, God shall be made known to him in a vision, and in a shadow, but not Clearly. For since God is One, so also is his storehouse of good things one likewise.

Philo of Alexandria | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

But there are many storehouses of evil things because the wicked are infinite in number. And in this observe the goodness of the true God, He opens the treasurehouse of his good things freely, but he binds fast that which contains the evil things. For it is an especial property of God to offer his good things freely and to be beforehand with men in bestowing gifts upon them, but to be slow in bringing evil on them, and Moses dwelling at length upon the munificent and gracious nature of God, says that not only have his storehouses of evil things been sealed up in all other times, but also when the soul is tripped up in the path of right reason, when it is especially fair that it should be considered worthy of punishment; for he says that, "In the day of vengeance the storehouses of evil things have been sealed up," the sacred word of scripture showing that God does not visit with his vengeance even those who sin against him, immediately, but that he gives them time for repentance, and to remedy and correct their evil conduct.

But pleasure has removed this, placing in its stead the land mark of vice, the tree of death, "Cursed indeed is he who causeth the blind man to wander in the road. In reference to which we may say that it is by reason alone that we attain to a comprehension of things, and no longer by the outward sense; for they are bodies alone that we acquire a conception of by means of the outward senses. But now, pleasure has put such great artifices in operation to injure the soul, that it has compelled it to use them as guides, cheating it, and persuading it to exchange virtue for evil habits, and to give good habit sin exchange for vice.

And the proof of this is that, when we are sated with an immoderate indulgence in pleasure, we are not able either to see, or to hear, or to smell, or to taste, or to touch with any clearness of our faculties, but we make all our essays and approaches in an obscure and imbecile manner. How then can it be anything but natural for the outward sense to denounce curses upon pleasure which thus deprives it of its faculties?

Why then does this one appear to be worse than all the other passions? Because it is almost at the bottom of them all, as a sort of base or foundation for them, for desire originates in the love of pleasure, and pain consists in the removal of pleasure; and fear again is caused by a desire to guard against its absence. So it is plain that all the passions are anchored on pleasure; and perhaps one might say that they would absolutely have had no existence at all if pleasure had not been previously laid down as a foundation to support them.

It so happens that our soul is divisible into three parts, and that one of its parts is the seat of reason, the second, the seat of courage, the third, the seat of the appetites. Some therefore of the philosophers have separated these parts from one another only in respect of their operations, and some have distinguished them also by their places.

And then they have assigned the parts about the head to the residing part, saying where the king is, there also are his guards, and the guards of the mind are the external senses, which are seated about the head, so that the king may very naturally have his abode there too, as if he had been assigned the highest part of the city to dwell in.

The chest is assigned to the courageous part, and they say, it is on this account, that nature has fortified that part with a dense and strong defence of closely conjoined bones, as though she had been arming a valiant soldier with a breastplate and shield to defend himself against his enemies. To the appetitive part they have assigned a situation about the liver and the belly, for there it is that appetite dwells, being an irrational desire.

For the moment that reason gets the upper hand pleasure is discarded; but as soon as ever pleasure prevails, reason is put to flight. But seek first rather in the breast and in the belly, where courage and anger, and appetite abide, all which are parts of the irrational faculties.

For it is there that our judgment is discovered, and also our passions.

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And first of all it speaks thus of anger, in the hope of pacifying and curing it: "And you shall put manifestation and truth the Urim and the Thummim , in the oracle of judgment, and it shall be on the breast of Aaron when he comes into the holy place before the Lord. Now language is either inconsiderate, and such as will not stand examination, or else it is judicious and well approved, and it brings us to form a notion of discreet speech.

For Moses here speaks not of a random spurious oracle, but of the oracle of the judgment, which is equivalent to saying, a well-judged and carefully examined oracle; and of this well approved kind of language he says that there are two supreme virtues, namely, distinctness and truth, and he says well. For it is language which has in the first place enabled one man to make affairs plain and evident to his neighbour, when without it we should not be able to give any intimation of the impression produced on our soul by outward circumstances, nor to show of what kind they are.

On which account we have been compelled to have recourse to such signs as are given by the voices, that is nouns and verbs, which ought by all means to be universally known, in order that our neighbours might clearly and evidently comprehend our meaning; and, in the next place, to utter them at all times with truth. For it follows inevitably that if this were allowed the hearer would be deceived, and would reap the greatest possible injury with ignorance and delusion.

For what would be the advantage of my speaking to a boy distinctly and clearly, and telling him, when I show him the letter A, that it is G, or that the letter E is O? Or what would be the good of a musician pointing out to a pupil whom comes to him to learn the rudiments of his art that the harmonic scale was the chromatic; or the chromatic, the diatonic; or that the highest string was the middle one; or that conjoined sounds were separated; or that the highest tone in the tetrachord scale was a supernumerary note?

But when he joins both distinctness and truth, then he makes his language profitable to him who is seeking information, employing both its virtues, which in fact are nearly the only ones of which language is capable. At all events, not only are the ideas of angry men, but all their expressions also, full of disorder and confusion, and therefore it is very natural for the want of clearness on the part of anger to be rectified by clearness, and, in addition, by truth; for, among other things, anger has also this particular property of being inclined to misrepresent the truth.

At all events, of all those who give way to this disposition scarcely any one speaks the strict truth, as if it were his soul and not his body that is under the influence of its intoxication. These, then, are the chief remedies suitable for that part of the soul which is influenced by anger, namely, reason, disinterestedness of language, and truth of language, for the three things are in power only one, namely, reason, curing anger, which is a pernicious disease of the soul, by means of the virtues truth and perspicuity.

Not to my mind, or to that of any chance person, but to the consecrated and purely sacrificial intellect, that, namely, of Aaron. And not even to this at all times, for it is frequently subject to change, but only when it is going on unchangeably, when it is entering into the holy place, when reason is entering in together with holy opinions, and is not abandoning them. Nor is the mind, when disposed in this way, competent to bear the oracle on its breast together with he virtues, but only that one which is going in before the Lord, that is to say, that one which doeth everything for the sake of God, and which estimates nothing as superior to the things of God; but attributes to them also their due rank, not indeed dwelling on them, but ascending upwards to the knowledge and understanding of an appreciation of the honour due to the one God.

But he attends to and cures it, and bridles it in the first instance by reason, that so, being under the guidance of the best of charioteers, it may not become exceedingly unmanageable, and in the second place, by the virtues of language, distinctness, and truth. For, if the angry passions were educated in such a way as to yield to reason and distinctness, and to cultivate the virtue of truthfulness, they would deliver themselves from great irritation and make the whole soul propitious. But Moses thinks that it is necessary completely to extirpate and eradicate anger from the soul, being desirous to attain not to a state of moderation in the indulgence of the passions, but to a state in which they shall have absolutely no existence whatever, and the most Holy Scriptures bear witness to what I am here saying; for it says, "Moses having taken the breast took it that it might be an offering before the Lord, from the ram of consecration, and this was Moses's Part.

And he removes this part not from any chance animal, but from the ram of consecration, although, indeed, a young heifer had been sacrificed; but, passing by the heifer, he came to the ram, because that is by nature an animal inclined to pushing and full of anger and impetuosity, in reference to which fact the makers of military engines call many of their warlike machines rams.