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Sometime Scholar of Trinity College, Cambridge 

The Jewish Publication Society of America 




copysight, 1910, by 
The Jewish Publication Societt op America 




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 hy his 
contemporaries from the congregation of Israel ; Philo- 
Judseus was neglected by the generations that followed 
him. Maimonides, our third philosopher, was in dan- 
ger 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 ex- 
cellence 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 command- 
ing 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 Jew- 
ish 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 philo- 
sophical monotheism. The favor which the Church 
Fathers showed to his writings induced and was bal- 
anced 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 esti- 
mate its value. So far from taking a Jewish stand- 
point 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 re- 
lation 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 sur- 
name given him in the second century, " Judaeus," 
not only distinguishes him from an obscure Christian 
bishop, but it expresses the predominant characteris- 
tic 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 expo- 
nent of Judaism, and it may be that in this regard I 
haye not always looked on him as the calm, dispas- 
sionate student should; for I experience towards him 
that warmth of feeling which his name, ^amv, 
" 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 never- 
theless I have exaggerated the Jewishness of my 
worthy's thought, my excuse must be that my prede- 
cessors 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, Schiirer, Massebieau, Zeller, 
Conybeare, Cohn, and Wendland; and among those 
who have treated of Philo in relation to Jewish tradi- 
tion I have read and borrowed from Siegfried {Philon 
als Ausleger der heiligen Schrift), Preudenthal 
(Hellenistische Studien), Eitter (Philo und die Halor 
cha), and Mr. Claude Montefiore's Florilegium Phi- 
lonis, which is printed in the seventh volume of the 
Jewish Quarterly Eeview. Once for all Mr. Montefi- 
ore 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 illumi- 


nating, I have often found myself irresistibly at- 
tracted to Mr. Montefiore's passages. Dr. Denmark's 
book, Geschichte der judischen Philosophie des 
Mittelalters, appeared after my manuscript was set 
np, 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 independ- 
ently come to the conclusion that Plato was the main 
Greek influence on Philo's thought. 

To these various books I owe much, but not so 
much as to the teaehiag, iafluence, 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. 



I. The Jewish Community at Alexandria 13 

II. The Life and Times op Philo 44 

III. Philo's Woeks and Method 74 

IV. Philo and the Tokah 104 

v. Philo's Theology 132 

VI. Philo as a Philosopheb 167 

VII. Philo and Jewish Tradition 199 

VIII. The Influence op Philo 242 


Abbeeviations Used fob the Refeeences 266 

Index 269 



The three great world-conquerors known to his- 
tory, Alexander, Julius Caesar, and Napoleon, recog- 
nized 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 con- 
queror-statesmen who have made history, realizing 
that progress is brought about by unity in difference, 
have recognized in Jewish individuality a force mak- 
ing 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/ 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 num- 
ber 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 Eome in population and power, equal 
to it in culture. By its geographical position, the 
nature of its foundation, and the sources of its popu- 
lation, and by the wonderful organization of its Mu- 
seum, 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 

1 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 

' Comp, Leviticus Rabba 13. 


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 com- 
munity during the interval. 
From the time of the post-exilic prophets Judaism 

• developed in three main streams, one flowing from Je- 
rusalem, another from Babylon, the third from Egypt. 
Alexandria soon took precedence of existing settle- 
ments of Jews, and became a great centre of Jewish 
life. The firstPtolemy, to whom at the dismember- 

, ment of Alexander's empire Egypt had fallen,^ con- 
tinued to the Jewish settlers the privileges of full citi- 
zenship which Alexander had granted them. He in- 
creased also the number of Jewish inhabitants, for 
following his conquest of Palestine (or Ccele-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 Ptole- 

* Comp. Josephus, Ant. IX. 1. 


mies treated, them well. They were easy-going and 
tolerant, and while they encouraged the higher forms 
of Greek culture, art, letters, and philosophy, hoth 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 dis- 
tinguished in the Ijandicrafts 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 re- 
ligious observances, and besides many smaller places 
of worship, each marked by its surrounding planta- 
tion 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." ' 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 

> Sukkah 51". 


self-government, having their own governor, the eth- 
narch, Jind in Eoman times their own council (San- 
hedrin), which administered their own code of laws. 
Of the ethnarch Straho says that he was like an inde- 
pendent ruler, and it was his function to secure the 
proper fulfilment of duties by the community and 
compliance with their peculiar laws.'' Thus the people 
formed a sort of state within a state, preserving their 
national life in the foreign environment. They pos- 
sessed as much political independence as the Palestin- 
ian community when under Roman rule ; and enjoyed 
all the advantages without any of the narrowing influ- 
ences, physical or intellectual, of a ghetto. They were 
able to remain an independent body, and foster a Jew- 
ish 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 Bpiphanes (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 differ- 
ent political history from the Egyptian. The com- 
* pulsory 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 

1 Quoted by Josephus, Ant. XIV. 7. 

18 philo-jud;eus of alexandeia 

, Judas Maccabseus was not so mtich against an external 
' foe as against the Hellenizing party of his own 
people, which, led by the high priests Jason, Mene- 
lans, and Alcimns, tried to crush both the national 
and the religious spirit. The Maccabsean rule brought 
not only a renaissance of national life and national 
culture, but also a revival of the national reli- 
gion. 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 Philometqr. Among 
the fugitives were Onias and Dositheus, who, accord- 
ing to Josephus,^ 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 Hel- 
lenist 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 

'Ant. XII. 5, 9, XX. 10. 


resembled a tower." ^ Professor Flinders Petrie has 
recently discovered remains at Tell-el-Yehoiidiyeli, 
the " mound of the Jews," near the ancient Leontopo- 
lis, 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 ac'curate idea of the 
nature and importance of the Onias temple, because 
our chief authority, Josephus,^ gives two inconsistent 
accounts of it, and the Talmud references ° 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 Jerusa- 
lem : 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 
Uhe benefit of the poor in Judsea, or their representa- 
tives to the great festivals, and they dispatched mes- 
I'sengers each year with contributions of gold and sil- 
i ver, who, says Philo,' " travelled over almost impass- 
able 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' several times of the great 

' Josephus, Bell Jud. VII. 10. 

' Comp. the passages in the " Antiquities " above and 
the Bell. Jud. V. 5. 
"Menahot 109, Abodah Zarah 52*. 
*De Leg. II. 578. 
" Comp. De Mon. I. 5. 


national centre at Jerusalem as "the most beauti- 
ful and renowned temple which is honored by the 
whole East and West." The Egyptian Jews, accord- 
ing 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,* 
was rather a " Bamah " (a high place) than a temple. 
It served as a temporary sanctuary while the Jeru- 
salem 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.' The religious im- 
portance 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 

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 

> Dr. Hirsch, in The Jews' College Jubilee Volume, p. 
• Menahot 119. 


of a series of feeble puppet- Ptolemies, the prize of the 
warriors, who successively aspired to be masters of the 
world, Julius Csesar, Mark Antony, and Octavian, 
and finally a province of the Eoman Empire, the 
political and material prosperity of the Alexandrian 
Jews remained for the most part undisturbed. Julius 
Caesar and Augustus, who everywhere showed special 
favor to their Jewish subjects, confirmed the privi- 
leges of full citizenship and limited self-government 
which the early Ptolemies had bestowed.^ Josephus 
records a letter of Augustus to the Jewish community 
at. Gyrene, in which he ordains: "Since the nation 
of the Jews hath been found grateful to the Eoman 
people, it seemed good to me and my counsellors that 
the Jews have liberty to make use of their own cus- 
toms, 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." 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,. :s7as estimated 
in Philo's time at not less thaii one million.' 

The prosperity and privileges of the Jews, combined 
with their peculiar customs and their religious sep- 

1 Comp. Ant. XIV. 14-16. 

•Ant. XVI. 7. 

' Phllo, In Flacc. 6. 


arateness, 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 dema- 
gogues. The third book of the Maccabees tells of a 
Ptolemaic persecution during which Jewish victims 
were turned into the arena at Alexandria, to be trod- 
den 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. 0. E.) the 
protection of the royal house was for political reasons 
removed for a time from the Jews. Josephus ' 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,' who 
had his forerunners before the reign of the first Ptol- 
emy, was able from time to time to fan popular feel- 
ings into flame. In those days, when history and fic- 
tion 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 origi- 
nated at Alexandria. 

» G. Apion. II. 5. 

" I have used the word anti-Semite because, thougli the 
hatred at Alexandria was not racial, but national, it has 
now become synonymous with Jew-hater generally. 


Manetho, an historian of the second century b'. o. b., 
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 ofEensive picture of a Manetho and the diatribes 
of some " starveling Gree!' ling," there appeared the 
eulogistic picture of an A-isteas, the improved Exodus 
of an Artapanus. Joseph and Moses figured as the 
most brilliant of Egyptian statesmen, and the Ptole- 
mies 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 Ihat artistic lying 
was legitimate in history,; the standard of modern 
German accuracy. The fabrications of Jewish apolo- 
gists were in the spirit of the time. 

The outward history of the Alexandrian com- 
munity is far less interesting and of far less impor- 
tance than its intellectual progress. When Alexander 
planted the colony of Jews in his greatest foundation, 
he probably intended to facilitate the fusion of East- 
ern 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 cul- 
ture, which was fated to produce the greatest combi- 
nation of ideas that the world has known. N'ow, at 
last, the Hebrew, with his lofty conception of God, 
came into close contact with the Greek, who had de- 
veloped an equally noble conception of man. Dis- 
raeli, in his usual sweeping manner, makes one of his 
characters in "Lothair" tell how the Aryan and 
Semitic races, after centuries of wandering upon op- 
posite 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." ' The Greek, on the 

, other hand, who had not yet comprehended the majes- 
ty of his neighbor's monotheism, for lack of ade- 
quate presentation, did not Hebraize. In Palestine 
the adoption of Greek ways and the introduction of 
Greek ideas proceeded rapidly to the point of demoral- 
ization, until the Maccabees stayed it. Unfortunately, 
the Hellenism that was brought to Palestine was not 

' Quoted in C Apion. I. 22. 


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 Ori- 
ental luxury and sensuousness, a seeking after base 
pleasures, an assertion of naturalistic polytheism. 
ni' 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 

/ 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 Scrip- 
tures into the language of the cultured world. Prom 
this overgrowth it is difficult to construct a true narra- 
tive; 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 pro- 
fesses 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 350 
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 ver- 
sion of the event, romantic, indeed, but more rational, 
in his " Life of Moses." ' He tells how Ptolemy, hav- 
ing conceived a great admiration for the laws of Moses, 
sent ambassadors to the high priest of Judsea, re- 
questing 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 

^De 7. Mos. II. 6, 7. 


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 interpreta- 
tion first shone forth, and thanking God for His 
ancient gift to man, which has eternal youth and fresh- 
ness." 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 
j 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* are remarkable illustra- 
tions 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 faith- 
fulness, so as to give its proper force. Eather 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 

' See p. 22, above. 


(the Torat) and the prophecies and the rest of the 
books have no small difference when they are spoken 
in their original language." ^ 

Prom the making of the translation one can trace 
the movement that ended in Christianity. By read- 
ing their Scriptures in Greek, Jews began to think 
•them in Greek and according to Greek conceptions. 
Certain commentators have seen in the Septuagint it- 
self 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 interpreta- 
tion 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 ; " 
and they observed a fast day in place of the old Alex- 
andrian feast on the anniversary of its completion. 
They felt as the old Italian proverb has it, Tradut- 
tori, traditori! ("Translators are traitors! "). And 
the Midrash in the same spirit declares ' 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. 

'Preface to Bcclesiastlcus. 
^ Tract. Soferim I. 7. 
'Tanhuma Ntyn O. 


The Sep'tuagint translation of the Bible was one 

4 , answer to the lying accounts of Israel's early history 

concocted by anti-Semitic writers. As we have seen/ 

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 apolo- 
getic, designed, whatever their form, to serve a de- 
fensive purpose. But later they took the offensive 
against the paganism and immorality of the peoples 
about them, and the missionary spirit became pre- 
dominant. Alexander Polyhistor, who lived in the 
first century, included in his " History of the Jews " 
fragments of these early Jewish historians and apolo- 
gists, which the Christian bishop Eusebius has handed 
down to us. Erom them we can gather some notion 
of the strange medley of fact and imagination which 
was composed to influence the Gentile world. Abra- 

' ham is said to have instructed the Egyptians in 

\ astrology; Joseph devised a great system of agri- 
culture; Moses was identified variously with the 

- legendary Greek seer Musseus 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 Heraclitas and the Greek his- 
torian HecatEeus, who wrote a history of the world, 
passages which glorify the Hebrew people and the 
Hebrew God were ascribed. Still more daring was 

* See p. 23, above. 


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 superstitious of the time revered as 
an inspired seeress of prehistoric ages, was made to 
recite the building of the tower of Babel, or the vir- 
tues 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 Schiirer, 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,' "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 

^Orac. Bib., ed. Alexandre, III. 8. 


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." * 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 Solomdn, 
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 his- 
tory of the Israelites in Egypt comes home to him 

'■lUa., III. 195. 


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 pjean 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, Juda- 
ism was no self-centred, exclusive faith afraid of ex- 
pansion. The mission of Israel was a very real thing, 
and conversion was widespread in Eome, 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." ^ 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 

* Comp. Strabo, Frag. 6, Didot. 


mythology and in the metaphysical powers of its phil- 
osophical schools, and was searching for a more real 
obiect to revere and lean on. The people were thirst- 
ing 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 commen- 
tators. The Hellenistic world was thoroughly sophis- 
ticated, 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 * 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 with- 
out 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 

^DePost. C. 24. 


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 raither individual utter- 
ances and exhortations : and their teaching was treated 
as subordisate 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. N"owadays 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 Chris- 
tian era. We have to imagine a state of culture in 
which it was only the Book of books to one small na- 
tion, 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 inter- 
pretation, which is largely a distinctive product of the 
Alexandrian age. The Palestinian rabbis of the time 
were on the one hand developing by dialectic discus- 
sion 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 varie- 
gated fabric of philosophy, fable, allegory, and legend. 
Simultaneously the Alexandrian preachers — ^they 


were never quite the same as the rabbis — ^were em- 
phasizing 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. Alle- 
gorical interpretation is " based upon the supposition 
or fiction that the author who is interpreted intended 
something 'other' (^akXo) 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 philosophi- 
cal meaning. It enables the interpreter to bring writ- 
ings 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 interpre- 
tation must be carefully distinguished from the writ- 
ing of allegory, of which Bunyan's " Pilgrim's Pro- 
gress " 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 pur- 
ports to be a story of life. In allegorical interpreta- 
tion persons are transformed into ideas and their his- 
tory into a system of philosophy. The Greek philoso- 
phers 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 influ- 
enced by their example. 

Their allegorical treatment of the Bible was in- 

, tended, 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 alto- 
gether satisfy their conceptions. They detected in 
it a certain primitiveness, and having eaten further 
of the tree of knowledge, they were aware of its philo- 
sophical 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 Alexan- 
drian 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 Jew- 
ish public at Alexandria, there arose a new form of 
religious literature, the sermon, and a new form of 
commentary, the homiletical. The words "homileti- 
cal " and " homily " suggest what they originally con- 
noted; they are derived from the Greek word (J/<ai'«, 


"an assembly," and a homily was a discourse deliv- 
ered to an assembly. The Meturgeman of Palestine 
and Babylon, vho expounded the Hebrew text in Ara- 
maic, 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 assem- 
bly, 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."' He speaks 
repeatedly of the Sabbath gatherings, when the Jews 
' would become, as he puts it, a community of philoso- 
phers," as they listened to the exegesis of the preacher, 
who by allegorical and homiletical fancies would make 
a verse or chapter of the To rah 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 Pales- 
tine primitive traces of allegorism. Allegory and its 
counterpart, allegorical interpretation, are deeply im- 
bedded in the Oriental mind, and we hear of ancient 
schools of symbolists in the oldest portions of the 

•De y. Mos. II. 28. 
' Comp. De Decal. 20. 


Talmud." 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 frag- 
ments are of doubtful authenticity) is Aristobulus. 
He is said to have been the tutor of Ptolemy Phil- 
ometor, 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 expres- 
sions are explained away allegorieally, and God's ac- 
tivity in the material universe is ascribed to his 
AOvafiti;, 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 ' 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 ex- 
planations of allegorists who read into the Bible this 
or that system of thought ' regarding the words of the 
law as "manifest symbols of things invisible and 
hints of things inexpressible." And if their work were 

' Comp. Yer. Berakot 24o. 
'Prwp. Evang. VIII. 10, XIII. 12. 

' Comp. De Ahr. 15 and 37, De Jos. II. 63, De Spec. Leg. 
III. 32, De Migr. 89. 


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 re- 
gard him as a single philosophical genius who sud- 
denly springs up, hut 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 allegori- 
cally, 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 in- 
spired 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 phil- 
osophers of Hellas with systems of theology, psychol- 
ogy, ethics, and cosmology. AUegorism, 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 ac- 
tivity; 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 dis- 
covering 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 ob- 
servance to which they had attached a spiritual 
meaning. On the other hand, there was a party which 
adhered strictly to the literal sense {rb fi-qrbv') and re- 
jected allegorism.* Philo protested against these ex- 
tremes and was the leader of those who were liberal in 
thought and conservative in practice, and who vener- 
ated 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 Philo-Judseus. 

" QuocL Bens 11, Be Air. 36. 


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,' 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." 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,' the gift of 
Philo's brother, the head of the Alexandrian com- 
munity. 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 name- 
■ sake says that wherever the Jews live they consider 
Jerusalem as their metropolis. The Talmud again 

'Comp. Acts of the Apostles VI. 9, and Tosef. Meg. 
III. 6. 
'Yorna 83a. 
" Bell. Jud. V. 5. 


tells how Judah Ben Tabbai and Joshua Ben Perahya, 
during the persecution of the Pharisees by Hyrcanus, 
fled to Alexandria, and how later Joshua Ben Hana- 
nia ' sojourned there and gave answers to twelve ques- 
tions 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 ex- 
egesis is explained by the distrust of the whole Hellen- 
istic 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 alle- 
gorists. His own aim was to maintain the catholic 
tradition of Judaism, while at the same time ex- 
pounding 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 fruit- 
fully fell off from the parent tree. But till the mid- 
dle of the first century of the common era the Alex- 
andrian and the Palestinian developments of Jewish 

' Comp. Nlddah 69', Sotah 47'. 


culture were complementary: on the one side there 
■was legal, on the other, philosophical expansion. 
Moreover, the Judaso-Alexandrian school, though, 
through its abandonment of the Hebrew tongue, it 
lies outside the main stream of Judaism, was an im- 
mense 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." ^ The Jews have 
not been a great political people, but their excellence 
has been a peculiar spiritual development: and there- 
fore 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 inci- 
dent 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 30 b. c. e. The first part of his life there- 
fore was passed during the tranquil era in which 
Augustus and Tiberius were reorganizing the Eoman 
Empire after a half-century of war ; but he was fated 
to see more troublesome times for his people, when the 
emperor Gains, 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 

' " Heroes and Hero-TVorship," ch. 3. 


imprisoned;^ 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 
Kero, 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 Judaea 
into a Eoman province under the rule of a procurator. 
It is noteworthy also that Philo was partly contempo- 
rary with Hillel, who came from Babylon to Jerusa- 
lem in 30 B. 0. E., and according to the accepted tra- 
dition was president of the Sanhedrin till his death in 
10 c. E. In this epoch Judaism, by contact with ex- 
ternal 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 great- 
ness and national genius appear together. The two 
grandest expressions of Jewish genius immediately 

' Ant. XIX. 5. 


preceded the national downfall. For the genius of 
Judaism is religious, and temporal power is not one 
of the conditions of its development. 

Philo belonged to the most distinguished Jewish 
family of Alexandria/ and according to Jerome and 
Photius, the ancient authorities for his life, was of 
the priestly rank; his brother Alexander Lysimaehus 
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 daugh- 
ter Antonia, the mother of Germanicus and the 
Eoman emperor Claudius. Born in an atmosphere 
of power and affluence, Philo, who might have eon- 
sorted 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." This 
is the way in which he understood the philosopher's 
life " : 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 revela- 
tion only by continued study, nojn aaS K'2J1, God's 
interpreter must have a wise heart,* as the rabbis 
explained. Philo then considered that the true un- 
derstanding of the law required a complete knowl- 
edge of general culture, and that secular philosophy 

' Photius, Cod. 108. 

" Comp. Be Confus. 15. 

'Comp. De Mon. I. 6. 

* Comp. Malmonides, Moreh II, ch. 36. 


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 in- 
scribed as a citizen thereof, must sojourn with the 
' encyclic ' sciences, so that through them he may ad- 
vance securely to perfect goodness." ^ The " encyclic," 
or encyclopaedic 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." 
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 
xotv^ SidXEXTO(:), 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 

»L. A. I. 135. 

' Comp. De Cong. 6 ft. 


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,^ 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 under- 
standing, but with a Divine oracle." Prom the study 
of literature and kindred subjects Philo passed on to 
philosophy, and he made himself master of the teach- 
ings 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,' 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 pro- 
fessors 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: 
sufBce it here to say that he was the most distin- 
guished 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 

'Comp. Croiset, Histoire de la Utt6rature grecque, 
V, pp. 425 ff. 
' Comp. Mills, " Zoroaster, Philo, and Israel." 


must not be thought, however, that this involved any 
weakening of his Judaism, or detracted from the pur- 
ity of his belief. Par from it. The Torah remained for 
him the supreme standard to which all outside knowl- 
edge had to be subordinated, and for which it was a 
preparation.' But Philo brought to bear upon the elu- 
cidation 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 igno- 
rant 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.' 
Moreover, his etymologies are evidence of his knowl- 
edge of the Hebrew language; though he sometimes 
gives a symbolic value to Biblical names according to 

•Comp. Quis Rer. Div. 43, Be Judice II, De V. Mot. 
II. 4. 
" Ritter, Philon und die Halacha. 


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 deri- 
vations one may cite Israel, Sk'ib''', the man vrho 
beholdeth God ; Jerusalem, diW-tw the sight of peace ; 
Hebrew, '13;^, one who has passed over from the life 
of the passions to virtue; Isaac, pns', the joy or laugh- 
ter 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 Hagga- 
dic. At the beginning of the " Life of Moses " he de- 
clares that he has based it upon "many traditions 
which I have received from the elders of my nation," ' 
and in several places he speaks of the "ancestral 
philosophy," which must mean the Midrash which em- 
bodied tradition. Eusebius also, the early Christian 
authority, bears witness to his knowledge of the tradi- 
tional interpretations of the law.° 

It is fairly certain, moreover, that Philo sojourned 
some time in Jerusalem. He was there probably 
during the reign of Agrippa (c. 30 0. e.), who was an 

*Comp. De Y. Mos. I. 1, In Flaco. 23 and 33, De Mut. 
Norn. 39. 
'Prmp. Evang. VIII. v. 


intimate friend of his family, and had found a refuge 
at Alexandria when an exile from Palestine and Eome. 
In the first book on the Mosaic laws^ 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 com- 
mon refuge and harbor from the troubles of this har- 
assed and anxious life, seeking to find there tran- 
quillity and gain a new hope in life by its joyous fes- 
tivities." These gatherings, at which, according to 
Josephus," 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 inter- 
national; magnificent embassies from Babylon and 
Persia, from Egypt and Cyrene, from Eome and 
Greece, even from distant Spain and Gaul, went in 
procession together through the gate of Xistus up the 
temple-mount, which was crovmed by the golden sanc- 
tuary, 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 burn- 
ished 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 

»Z)e Mon. II. 1-3. 

'Comp. Bell. Jud. VI. 9. 3. 


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 en- 
graved 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,' 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 in- 
stitutions 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 trans- 
formed it into a literary system. Judaism forms the 
kernel, but Greek philosophy and literature the shell, 

' Comp. De 7. Mos. II. 4. 


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 pro- 
f oundest knowledge of God so as to be fitted for the 
mission of interpreting Hie 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.* "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 re- 
ligious spirit which seeks to perceive all things in 
a supreme unity Philo shares with Spinoza, whose 
life-ideal was the intuitional knowledge of the uni- 
verse and " the intellectual love of God." Both men 
show the pursuit of righteousness raised to philo- 
sophical 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," and the worldly life an 

»Z)e Spec. Leg. III. 1. 

2 Comp. De Migr. 4, L. A. III. 45. 


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 Jew- 
ish 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," Jew- 
ish mystics, who eschewed private property and the 
general social life, and forming themselves into com- 
munistic 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 Pytha- 
gorean brotherhoods, which ever since the sixth cen- 
tury had spread a sort of monasticism through the 
Greek world. For 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." Whatever its moulding influ- 
ences, 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 

• Comp. Graetz, " History of the Jews " III. 91 ff. 
' Comp. Quod Omnis Probtis Liber 11 ff. 


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 vota- 
ries. 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 ma- 
terialists 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 supernat- 
ural states of ecstasy. A book has come down to us 
under the name of Philo ' which describes " the con- 
templative 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 de- 
voted themselves in solitude to the practice of virtue 
and the study of the holy allegories, and the composi- 
tion 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 

• The authenticity of this hook is elaborately discussed 
by Conyheare in his edition of it. 


thereon. During the rest of the year they only par- 
took 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." ^ 

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.' In his earlier writings he 
is constantly praising the ascetic life, as a means, in- 
deed, 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.' 
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 

> " Ethics of the Fathers " VI. 4. 
" De Mundi Op. I. 42. 
» Comp. De Migr. 6 ff. 


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,' "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 un- 
worthy 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 re- 
placed 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 inclinsr 
tions. 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 human- 
ity which the truly good man must possess.' Of 
iPhilo'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," 

>!,. A. II. 21. 
•De Fuga 7 ft. 


he said; and of his wife it is told in another of the 
" Fragments " that when asked one day in an assem- 
bly of women why she alone did not wear any golden 
ornament, she replied, " The virtue of a husband is a 
suflBcient 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 Sad- 
ducee realist and the Karaite literalist; it was alien 
to the systematic Aristotelianism of Maimonides, and 
it is alien alike to Western orthodox and Eeform 
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 aspira- 
tion to have direct conmiunion with God in some 
super-rational way. Particularly should this be the 
case with a religion which recognizes no intermediary. 
The Talmudic conceptions of nxnj, prophecy, nj'Jty, 
the Divine Presence, and »ipn nn, 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 attrac- 


tion for the Hellene ; and, when the belief in the old 
gods had been shattered, and with the national great- 
ness 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 ini- 
tiated into these Greek mysteries, for Philo introduces 
into his exegesis of the law of Moses an ordinance 
forbidding the practice.' 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 color- 
ing 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 "'...." 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 inter- 

^Coinp. De Spec. Leg. II. 260. 
•Comp. De Cherubim 9. 


pretation, a gift of light, a clear survey of things, the 
clearest that eye can give." ' 

In his " Guide of the Perplexed," ' Maimonides de- 
scribes the various degrees of the »npn nn, or what we 
call religious "genius," with which man may be 
blessed. He distinguishes between the man who pos- 
sesses 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 ad- 
vanced in his maturity. He consciously regarded him- 
self as a follower of Moses, who was the perfect inter- 
preter 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 genera- 
tion by the gift of the Divine wisdom. When he had 
fled from Alexandria, to secure virtue by contempla- 
tion, he had as his final goal the attainment of the true 
knowledge of God, and as he advanced in age, he ad- 
vanced in decision and authority. He was conscious 
of his philosophic grasp of the Torah, and the diffi- 
dence 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. Hop- 
ing 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 

'■ De Migr. 7-9. 
• II, ch. 36 ff. 


great congregation which filled the synagogue at 
Alexandria, and on other days of the week expound- 
ing 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,' 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 with- 
out being able to make my way out." A French 
scholar ' conjectures that this is only a metaphorical 
way of saying that he was forced into some public of- 
fice, probably a seat in the Alexandrian Sanhedrin; 
and he ascribes the language to the bitter disappoint- 
ment of one who was devoted to philosophical pursuits 
and found himself diverted from them. Philo's lan- 
guage 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 
npon to exert in defending his people against misrep- 
resentation and persecution. During the reign of 
Augustus and the early years of Tiberius (30 b. c. e.- 
20 c. E.) the Eoman provinces were firmly ruled, and 

' Comp. De Spec. Leg. III. 1. 

' Massebleau, Du classement des asuvres de PMlon. 


the governors were as firmly controlled by the emperor. 
To Eectus, who was the prefect of Egypt till 14 c. E., 
and who was removed for attempted extortion, Tibe- 
rius 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. Se- 
janus was an upstart, and like most upstarts a tyrant; 
and for some reason — it may be jealousy of the power 
of the Jews at Home — 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 Alex- 
andrian 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 ma- 
terial which they could stir up. The Egyptian popu- 
lace were by nature, says Philo, " jealous and envious, 
and were filled moreover with an ancient and invet- 
erate enmity towards the Jews," ' and of the degener- 
ate Greek population, many were anxious from motives 

'■In Flacc. 5. 


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 Alex- 
andria, which maintained a persistent attitude of hos- 
tility towards the Jews. The chief literary anti-Sem- 
ites 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 Chgeremon carried on a campaign of mis- 
representation, and sought to give their attacks a 
fine humanitarian justification by drawing fancy pic- 
tures of the Jewish religion and Jewish laws. The 
Jews worshipped the head of an ass,' 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 waa degraded and 
superstitious. Whereas the modem anti-Semite usu- 
ally complains about Jewish success and dangerous 
cleverness, Apion accused them of haviag produced no 
original ideas and no great men, and no citizen as 
worthy of Alexandria as himself! Against these 
charges Phiio, the most philosophical Jew of the time 
and the most distinguished member of the Alexan- 

■ Comp. Th. Reinach, Textes d'auteurs romains et grecs 
relatifs au Judaisme, pp. 120 ft. 


drian community, was called upon to defend his 
people, and that part of his works which Busebius 
calls 'rTro^eTixo, i. 6. 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 reli- 
gious 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 sup- 
porters 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 accommo- 
dating pantheism, and a divinely-revealed law of con- 
duct 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 vic- 
tims, 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.' Josephus wrote a famous reply to 
his attacks, refuting "his vulgar abuse, gross igno- 
rance and demagogic claptrap," ' 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 smoul- 
dered on, and it only required a weakening of the 
controlling hand at Eome to set the passions aflame 
again. Eight through Philo's treatise " On the Confu- 
sion of Tongues," we can trace the tension. As soon 
as Gains, 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. 
Flaceus, 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 Alex- 
andria; he was won over by the anti-Semites and gave 
the mob a free hand in their attacks upon the " alien 
Jews."' The arrival of Agrippa, the grandson of 
Herod, who was on his way to his kingdom of Pales- 
tine, which the capricious emperor had just conferred 
upon him, excited the ill-will of the Alexandrian 

'Coinp. De Confus., passim. 

" Josephus, G. Apion., Introduction. 

' In Flacc. 10. 


mob. Flaccus looked on while the people attacked 
the Jewish quarters, sacked the houses, and assailed 
everyone that came within their reach. The most dis- 
tinguished Jews were not spared, and thirty members 
of the Council of Elders were dragged to the market- 
place 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 fol- 
lies, 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 " beloTed 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, en- 
tirely history. Looking always for a sermon or a sub- 
ject for a philosophical lesson, Philo has tricked out 
the record of the facts with much moralizing observa- 
tion on the general lot of mankind, and elaborated the 
part of Providence more in the spirit of religious ro- 
mance than of scientific history. Yet the main facts 
are clear. Philo prepared a long philosophical 
" apologia " for the Jews and set out with five col- 
leagues 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, 
Gains, was in one of his most flippant moods and little 
inclined to listen to philosophical or literary disqui- 
sitions. 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 ^ with gravity that he expected that 

» De Leg. 27 and 28. 


the emperor would hear the two contending parties 
in all proper judicial form, but that in fact he be- 
haved 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 moraliz- 
ing 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.' 

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 ruf- 
fians and impudent slaves who surrounded a Roman 
emperor. Happily Gains jeered once too often in his 

'Ant. XVIII. 8. 1. 


mad life. One jChsrea, a Eoman 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 Eoman governor Pe- 
tronius was averse to obeying the edict, but the em- 
peror insisted. King Agrippa, who had been but 
lately advanced by him to the kingdom of Judaea, 
interceded zealously on behalf of his people. Philo 
gives us an account of this appeal by the Jewish king,' 
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 Agrip- 
pa's intercession at Eome 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 

' De Leg., ad fin. 


prevailed over their adversaries; the anti-Semitic in- 
fluences were put down in Judaea and in Alexandria, 
and in both places " there was light and joy and glad- 
ness for the Jews." Their political privileges were 
reaffirmed by imperial decree, and Philo's brother 
Alexander, who had been imprisoned, was restored to 
honor/ " 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 mod- 
eration, 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 accentu- 
ated 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 L'ampon, were 
tried at Eome 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 o. E., Judsea became a Eoman prov- 
ince, and under the rapacious governorship of Felix 
Florus and Cestius Gallus, the hostility of the people 
to the Eomans grew more and more bitter. But in 
Alexandria there was tranquillity, or at least we know 
of no disquieting events during the next decade. 

'■ Ant. XIX. 5. 


" Old age," said Philo, " is an unmfHed harbor," * and 
the saying refers possibly to his own experience. For 
he must hare died full of years and full of honors. 
Through his life he was the spiritual and philosoph- 
ical 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 uni- 
versal religion. The disintegration of his own com- 
,munity at Alexandria followed full soon on the 
greater disaster; the temple of Onias was disman- 
tled and interdicted against Jewish worship by Ves- 
pasian 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 Dias- 
pora as well as in Palestine itself. On the downfall 
of Jerusalem in 70 c. e. many of the extreme anti- 
Eoman party, known as the Zealots, fled to Alex- 
andria and stirred up rebellion and dissension. Noth- 
ing 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 Judaea and Egypt. By 
another irony of history he had in the previous year 
been largely instrumental in securing for Vespasian, 

*Frag. preserved by John of Damascus, p. 404. 


who was besieging Jerusalem, the imperial throne of 
Rome.' 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-Alex- 
andrian community was completed by a desperate 
revolt in the reign of Trajan, 114-117 0. 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 sev- 
erance of the Christian heresy from the main com- 
munity 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 PhUo, departed further and further 
from the Jewish standpoint, and formulated a dog- 
matic creed that was utterly opposed to Jewish mono- 
theism. 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 re- 
ligion in which, together with the adoption of Hebraic 

iComp. Ant. XX. 5. 


teachings about God, certain ideas of Alexandrian 
mysticism became stereotyped as dogmas, and Jewish 
law was abrogated. When Babylon replaced Pales- 
tine as the centre of Jewish intellect, the works of 
Philo, like the rest of the Hellenistic-Jewish litera- 
ture, 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 philo- 
sophical 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 Eome 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 theo- 
logians of Alexandria we owe it that the interpreta- 
tion 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 emanci- 
pated Jewry of our own day can in either ease recog- 
nize 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 expres- 
sion to his own thought and the thought of his gen- 
eration. 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 expofitions 
of Judaism, but they fall into six distinct classes of 
exegesis : 

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 philo- 
sophical treatise upon the whole law. 

III. A commentary in the fonn 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 " Cour- 
age," "Humanity," and " Eepentance." Scholars^ 
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 color- 
ing by reason of Biblical illustrations. 

VI. Historical and apologetic works that set out 
the case of the contemporary Jews against their per- 
secutors 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 

> Comp. Massebleau, op. cit. 


ascribed to Philo, which all good scholars ' 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 Bib- 
lical 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 dif- 
ferent 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 re- 
ceived a particular ethical value ; and, finally, for the 
esoteric circle of Hellenic-Jewish philosophers, a the- 
ological 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 his- 
torical, the moral, and the philosophical; he proba- 
bly took the distinction from Philo, who exemplifies 
it in his commentaries upon the Books of Moses. 

* Comp. Bernays, Veler die unter Philos Werken steh- 
enden Schriften ircpl r^g &<l>8apaiagK6a/iov, and Siegfried, art. 
" Philo " In the Jewish Encyclopedia. 


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 com- 
mentary, whether history, apology, or essay, his pur- 
pose 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 mean- 
ing of the Scriptures, revealed by Gtod in mystic com- 
munion with His holy prophets,^ 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. 
Aristseus, Aristobulus, and Artapanus are hardly more 
than names, but their spirit is inherited and glorified 
in Philo-Judseus. 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 origi- 
nality, if we work our way up from the sixth to the 

' Quod Deus 86. 


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 'TTzodsTixd, or apologetic works, which have a prac- 
tical purpose. With these we may associate the 
moralizing history that dealt in five books respectively 
with the persecutions of Sejanus, Flaccus, and Calig- 
ula, the ill-starred embassy, and the final triumph of 
the Jews over their enemies. The 'YTzoOcTixd 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 Contem- 
plative Life." Whether they received this generic 
name because they are suggestions for the Jewish 
cause, or because they are written to answer the in- 
sinuations (xad' 6r.60saiv) 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 humani- 
tarian. The Essene sect is a living proof of Jewish 
practical socialism and practical philosophy, the The- 
rapeutse show the Jewish zeal for the contemplative 

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 sub- 
jects were part of the regular course of the university 
student at Alexandria, and Philo prepared himself 
for his Jewish philosophy by composing in the ap- 
proved style essays upon " Providence," " The Lib- 
erty of the Good," and " The Slavery of the Wicked," 
etc. What chiefly distinguishes them above other col- 
lections of commonplaces is the appeal to the Bible 
for types of goodness, and here again the Bssenes fig- 
ure as the type of the philosophical life.^ The writer, 
while still engaged in the studies of the Greek univer- 
sity, is feeling his way towards his system of universal 

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 com- 
munity against lying detractors. He preaches a mis- 
sion to the whole world, and he lays before it his 
gospel of monotheism and humanity. Bach 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,' 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 

' Quod Omnis Proius Liier 12 ff. 
' De T. Mos. I. 1. 


revealed to His greatest prophet : " The laws of the 
Greek legislators are continually subject to change; 
the laws of Moses alone remain steady, unmoved, un- 
shaken, 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." ' 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 ; " ' and 
in the little essays upon Eepentance and Nobility, 
which are attached to the larger treatise, Philo ap- 
peals 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 philo- 
sophical world in that age — and the philosophical 
world included all educated people — demanded of 

' De V. Mos. II. 5. 

' " On Repentance," II. 


religion that it should be philosophical, and of 
philosophy that it should be religious. The de- 
sire to expound Judaism in this way is the motive 
of Philo's three Biblical commentaries. The " Ques- 
tions and Answers to Genesis and Exodus " constitute 
& preliminary study to the more elaborate works 
which followed. In them Philo is collecting his ma- 
terial, formulating his ideas, and determining the 
main lines of his allegory. They are a type of Mid- 
rash in its elementary stage, the explanation of the 
teacher to the pupil who has difiBculties about the 
words of the law : at once like and unlike the old Tan- 
naitic 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, specu- 
lative rather than practical. In these books,' 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 in- 
corporeal Idea. The phrase, ' before it was upon the 
earth,' marks the original perfection of every plant 

■ Comp. Treitel, Agadah bei Philo. Monatsschrift, 1909. 


and herb. The eternal types were first created in the 
noetic world, and the physical objects on earth, per- 
ceptible 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 philosophy. 

"Why, when Enoch died, does it say, 'And he 
pleased God'? (Gen. v. 24.) 

" He says this to teach that the soul is immortal, 
inasmuch as after it is released from the body it con- 
tinues 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 pre- 
serves 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 Ideas." 

The " Questions and Answers " are essentially He- 
braic in form, designed for Jews who knew and 
studied their Bible ; and we can feel in them the infiu- 
enees of a training in traditional Mishnah and Mid- 
rash; but Philo passed from them to a more artistic 
expression and a more thoroughly Hellenized presen- 
tation 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 Eewards 
and Punishments," " On Justice," etc. Large por- 
tions 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 show- 
ing 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 ex- 
pounds the sacred book, not of one particular nation, 
but of mankind. The Eoman and Greek peoples were 
waiting for a religious message which should at once 
harmonize with rational ideas and satisfy their long- 
ing for God. All the philosophical schools were con- 
verting the scientific systems of the classical age into 
TpoTzoi Bioo, "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 Euler of 


the world, but who had revealed to man the way of 
happiness, and the good life, social as well as individ- 
ual. 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 cere- 
njonies. But to Philo Judaism was something more 
comprehensive. It was the spiritual life, and the Mo- 
saic law is the complete code of the Divine Republic, 
of which all are or can be citizens. In the introduc- 
tion to the "Life of Abraham," Philo explains the 
scheme of his work : ^ 

" ' 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 vir- 
tues 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 glori- 
fied for two reasons: (1) To show that the laws laid 
down are consistent with nature [the conception of a 

' De Abr. 12. 


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 tho 
patriarchs spontaneously followed the unwritten prin- 
ciples 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, be- 
cause, 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," * and again : 
"The patriarchs are the true naoiBj 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 univer- 
sal lesson when he expounds them as symbols. Vol- 
taire speaks cynically of Judaism as a religion of 
sacrifices : Philo shows that the ritual of sacrifice sug- 

'Comp. Bereshit Rabba 47. 


gests 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' (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 govern- 
ment 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,'' 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 inter- 
preter keeps before him the "Eepublic" of Plato, 
and the " Polity " of Aristotle. With him, however, 
the ideal state is not a vision " laid up in heaven " ; ° 
its foundation is already laid upon earth, its capital is 
Jerusalem, and it is the mission of his people to ex- 
tend its borders till it embraces all nations ' — an idea 
which permeates the Jewish litany. 

This commentary of the law is allegorical in the 

^ De Sac. et Victimis 5 and 6. 
'De Mon. II. 3 ff. 
" Comp. Plato, Rep. V, ad fin. 
'De Exsecr. II. 587. 


sense that beneath the particular law the interpreter 
constantly reveals a spiritual idea, but it is not alle- 
gorical 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,^ 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 philo- 
sophical 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 ex- 
pected, 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 philo- 
sophical ideas as the story of the soul. His Hebraic 
mind, even when fortified by the mastery of Grreek 
philosophy, was unable to present its ideas systemati- 
cally; it passed from subject to subject, weaving the 
whole together only by the thread of a continuous 

'De Abr. 3. 


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 " (rd 'E^-qiiep6v), has disappeared.' 
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 pos- 
sess 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." ' 

'-' 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 gene- 
alogy 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. 

' Comp. L. A. II. 4. 
'L. A. I. 1. 


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 ' that large parts were originally given in the 
form of detached lectures arid 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 Agricvl- 
tura and De Confusione lAngwirum, 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. Prom Philo's own statements we know 
that the wisest men used to deliver philosophical 

* Comp. Freudenthal, Eellenistische Btudien. 


homilies upon the Bible on the Sabbath day; and 
it is natural that the man who was appointed to 
head the Jewish embassy to Gains had made him- 
self 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 intel- 
lectual 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 prophets."^ 

It is a serious misconception to imagine that Philo's 
philosophical allegories were meant for the general 
body of Alexandrian Jews. He frequently ' declares 
that he is speaking to a specially initiated sect, and 
warns his hearers not to divulge his teaching. The 

" Croiset, op. cit. V, p. 427. 
•Comp. De Cherubim, passim. 


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, ex- 
pounding Paradise (onna) as four stages of interpre- 
tation, each marked by a letter of the word, Peshat, 
Eemez, Derash, and Sod (^1D),' 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 philos- 
ophers 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.^ 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 em- 
phatically in the midst of his allegories' that the 

^ Comp. Zohar III. 

' De Cherubim 9 and 14, De Bomn. 8. 

'De Migr. 12. 


perception of the philosophical value does not release 
man from the practice itself. The wise man even 
as the fool must obey the lav. 
V 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^ishes 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 rational- 
istic theories, which were propagated respectively by 
the Epicurean and Stoic schools, was made the excuse 
for indifference to the law. Then as now the ad- 
vanced Jew would mask his self-indulgence under 
the guise of a banal philosophy, and jeer easily at' 
archaic myths and tribal laws. The dominating mo^ 
tive of Philo's work is to show that the Bible contains 
for those who will seek it the richest treasures of wis- 
dom, that its ethical teaching is more ideal and yet 
more real than that which hundreds of sophists 
poured forth daily in the lecture-theatres ' to the gap- 

rjng 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 

»De Post. C. 22. 


in his religious beliefs and practices. Philo frequently 
introduces into his philosophical interpretation a po- 
lemic against the disintegrating and demoralizing 
forces which were at work in the Alexandria of his day. 
His commentary therefore is a strange medley, com- 
pounded 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 tlie bastard 
culture, which meant self-indulgence and the exces- 
sive attention to the body, the idol-worship, the de- 
graded 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 pleas- 
ure and luxury was the most glaring evil of his city — 
as the Talmud says,* of ten parts of lust nine were 
given to Alexandria — and with every variety of de- 
nunciation he returns again and again to the charge. 
Epicureanism is detestable not only for its low idea of 

'Midrash Esther I. 


human life, but for its godless conception of the uni- 
verse. Its theory that the world was a fortuitous con- 
course 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,' but in its more seduc- 
tive 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 at- 
tacks, 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." 
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 re- 
pulsive 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." Eepulsive also were their pride, their rejec- 
tion of the emotions, their hard rationalism. The 

• Comp. Be Sac. 11. 245. 
' Comp. De Migr. 32. 
» Comp. De Post G, 11. 


battle of Philo against the Stoics is the battle of 
personal monotheism against impersonal pantheism, 
of religious faith and revelation against arrogant ra- 
tionalism, and of idealism against materialism. Hos- 
tile 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 ^ which he may not deny with- 
out 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 ' instead of seeking for God and the human 
•good. They are the Ishmaels of philosophy. 

Philo's polemic is directed less against the Greek 
schools in themselves than against the Jewish follow- 
ers of the Greek schools. He saw the danger to 
Judaism in the teachings of these anti-religious phil- 
osophers, 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, 

' Quaestiones in Gen. III. 33. 
' De Cong. 10. 


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 Gnos- 
tic 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 activ- 
ity 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 reli- 
gion, 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 eman- 
cipated Jews. That spirit is one of fearless acceptance 
of the finest culture of the age combined with un- 
swerving love of the law and loyalty to catholic 


We have already treated of the general characteris- 
tics of Philo's method of allegorical interpretation, 
but we must now consider rather more closely the 
way m which he employs it. The general principle ) 
upon whic^ he depends is, that besides and in addi- 
tion to thc'pteral 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 palimp- 
sest; 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,"' 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, be- 
cause they also, perhaps, employ right reason, hut I 
would call on them not to remain content with this, 
but to follow me to the metaphorical renderings, con- 
sidering that the actual words of the holy oracle are, 

• Comp. Berakot 51*, De Agric. 12, De 8omn. II. 25. 



as it were, shadows of the real bodies, and the powers 
■which they reflect are the true underlying ideas." * 

Elsewhere he tells a story of the condign punish- 
ment which befell a godless and impious man, per- 
chance 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 him- 
self. Which was ]ust, says Philo; for such a rascal 
deserved a rascal's death."" It is noteworthy that the 
Talmud also lays stress upon the deep meaning of 
the patriarch's change of name.' " He who calls 
Abraham Abram," said Bar Kappara, " transgresses 
a positive command" {rwp mxn). "Nay," said 
Eabbi 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 n. 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 t3 /J^jT-rfi/ and 
Td iv {)novoiair:* Seeing that the Bible was the in- 

'Z>e Confus. 38. 

' De Mut. Nom. 8. 

' Comp. Bereshit Rabba 64. 

'De Somn. I. 16 and 17. 


spired 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 op- 
posed 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 in- 
terpreter 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."* 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 com- 
manded 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 

'Comp. "Ethics of the Fathers" V. 25. 


words, the teachers honestly thought that there was re- 
spectively 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 interpre- 
tation 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 pri- 
marily 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 defi- 
nite rules of interpretation which may always be ap- 
plied (xoi/oxec T^T &lh)Yopiai;) } He declares that every 
name in the Torah has a deep symbolical meaning, 
and symbolizes some power.'' 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. Eeuben is "the son of in- 
sight" (p'lNi), Simeon is learning ()i-j;d»), Judah 

*Comp. De Somn. I. 13. 
'X>e Mut. Nom. 9. 


(mirr ) stands for the praise of God.' 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 im- 
portance. And the skilful exegete may for homiletical 
purposes make slight changes in a word, following 
the rabbinical rule,' "Bead not so, but so." Thus 
he plays upon the name Esau, and takes the Hebrew 
word as though it were written, not '^^Z, but 't?^, a 
thing made." Whence he shows that Esau represents 
the sham (made-up) greatness, which is boastful 
and insolent and shameless. Philo is referring per- 
haps to Apion, the vainglorious anti-Semite, whom 
he often covertly attacks. Again, whenever there 
is repetition in the text, a deeper meaning is por- 
tended. 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 men- 
tion 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.* 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. 

'De Somn. I. 5. 
' Berakot 10'. 
■ De Cong. 12. 
' De Cong. 14. 


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 con- 
struction" as the excuse, not as the motive, of his 
ethical and philosophical teaching. He does not de- 
pend 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."* 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 mediaeval, 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. 

"• Theologico-Political Tractate" VII. 


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 com- 
position, the exact relations of its parts. He is satis- 
fied 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 exposi- 
tion; it becomes creative or conciliating thought, and 
the interpreter becomes a religious reformer, a phil- 
osopher, 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 accoxmt. 
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 func- 
tion is to expound the law of Moses. Moses was the 
interpreter of God's word to Israel ; and PMlo 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/ a Kingdom of 
Priests, in that it occupied to other nations the po- 
sition which the priest — using the word in the fullest 
sense — occupied to the common people." 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 Pro- 
fessor Butcher says,' " 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 Pales- 
tinian and Babylonian Jews, free for the most part 
from outside influences, developed the Torah for the 
Jewish people, amplified the tradition, and determined 

» De Air. 19. 

'De Mon. II. 6. 

' Harvard Studies, " Hellenism and Hebraism." 


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 princi- 
ple, the broad ethical idea in each ordinance. And 
thus it came about that the Alexandrian interpreters 
always emphasized the universal beneath the particu- 
lar, 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. 
3). 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 Proph- 
ets formed only a complement to the Torah, " a 
species of Agadah";* and the prophetic vision of 

* Oomp. Sehechter, " Aspects of Rabbinic Tlieology," 
p. 119. 


Moses was much clearer than that of his successors. 
Philo, too, clearly realized that Judaism was the re- 
ligion 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 expres- 
sion 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.' 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 inter- 
preter of it. It is for this reason that the law of 
Moses is of universal validity for conduct. The Di- 
vine 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" 

• Comp. De 7. Mos. II. 9 and 10, III. 1. 


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 iudividual 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 legisla- 
tion is the code of nature and reason, and the right- 
eous man directs his conduct in accordance with those 
rules of nature by which the cosmos is ordered.' 
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 Mo- 
saic revelation, handed down by God to Israel and 
through them to the world. 

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 {iibdtov 

' L. A. I. 2. 


TsXdaiiaTa) ^ Moreover, the long catalogues of gene- 
alogies 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 " Ques- 
tions to Genesis " Philo directly grapples with this ob- 
jection. 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 dis- 
integrating its unity." ' 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 par- 
ticular. 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 Gene- 
sis in particular, he treats the tales as symbolical or 
allegorical myths. His philosophical commentary on 
the creation, corresponding to the ri'tysia Twyn 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 

' Comp. De Mundi Op. 2. 
"Comp. p. 85, above. 


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 pro- 
founder philosophical doctrine, the account of Adam 
and Eve is deliberately chosen by Philo as the text 
of a psychological treatise, in which he analyzes ' the 
relations of the mind, the senses, and the pleasures, 
represented respectively by Adam, Eve, and the Ser- 
pent. The necessity of explaining the story symboli- 
cally is professedly based on the fact that otherwise 
we are driven to the idea that the Bible spoke inaccu- 
rately 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) .' 

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 ab- 
solute and ever-present power of the Deity. Philo 
asks himself the question that other commentators 
have frequently raised, some in reverence, some in 

' Comp. L. A. I, passim. 
'L. A. III. 12. 


ridicule, "Who was Cain's wife?"^ And he an- 
swers 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 Gen- 
esis as pure allegories, in which the men and women 
represent symbolically characters and qualities. It 
should be remembered, however, that these interpreta- 
tions 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 com- 
mentary 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 in- 
dividual 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 con- 
duct for all mankind. Each of them is a moral type of 
eternal validity and represents one of the ways in 

^De Post. O. 11. 


which blessedness may be attained.* Abraham repre- 
sents 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 dis- 
cipline. Before this triad, the Bible presents another 
group of three, who represent the virtues preparatory 
to the acquisition of perfect goodness : Bnosh, Enoch, 
and Noah.' They typify respectively, as their names 
indicate, hope, repentance, and justice. It is a pretty 
thought, helped by an error in the Septuagint trans- 
lation,' which sees in the name of the first (t. e., man, 
jyiJK) the symbol of hope. Hope, the commentator 
suggests, is the distinguishing characteristic of man* 
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 re- 
pentance and natural justice, and from these step- 
ping-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 aa 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 

>De Air. 3 ff. 'Ibid. 6-10. 

• The LXX renders the verse Gen. iv. 26, which Is trans- 
lated in the Authorized Version: "Then began men to 
call upon the name of the Lord," ovro; f)krusev 'nrl riv tuw 
ohivKhTspa; i. e., "He hoped in the Father of all." 

* Quoa Det. 38. 


is the type of repentance. In the first century the 
world was becoming incapable of understanding ab- 
stract ideas, and required ethics to be concretely em- 
bodied 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.' 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 devel- 
ops the Bible narrative, that the function of the states- 
man is to expound dreams;' 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 

1 De Jos. 21. 
'De Jos. 22. 


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,^ and not assim- 
ilate the practices of his environment. 

Eusebius'' 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, su- 
preme 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 sug- 
gestion of any Divine power incarnate in man, he 
speaks imaginatively of the Logos of Moses,° 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 inter- 

'De Jos. 42. 

" Hist. Ecclesiast. II. 18. 1. 

» De V. Mos. III. 4 ff. 



prets them as great spiritual signs, rather than as di- 
versions 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 up- 
root you, you shall shine forth the more in brighter 
glory." ' 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 cetemiiatis, 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 judg- 

»Z)e y. Mos. II. 3. 


ment 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, in- 
deed, the ethical interpretation of the Bible, and it 
was carried out in many ways, some true, some un- 
true to Judaism. Philo and Josephus tell us how 
Judaism was spreading over the world.^ " 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 Him- 
self pervadeth all the universe, so hath our law passed 
through the world." And their testimony is sup- 
ported by the frequent gibes against Judaizing Ko- 
mans in the Eoman poets," and by the explicit state- 
ments of Strabo,' 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 (Judsea had lately 
been made a Eoman province) were taking their 
conquerors captive.' Philo, with his ardent hope, 
looked for the near coming of the time when the 
worship of the Jewish Grod would prevail over the 

• Be Y. Mos. II. 5, Josephus, C. Apion. II. 37. 
'Comp. Horace, Satires I. 4, 138; I. 9, 60. 

• Frag, preserved In Josephus, Ant. XIV. 7. 
•Comp. Reinach, op. cit., p. 262. 


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, tyi'ant, persecution, or visita- 
tion, human or Divine, can destroy; for it is 
eternal.'" 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 fol- 
lowed 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 " 
(niyj^Dn kSk ipj; tynnn nS), according to the rabbis :° 
and Philo, who, contemplative philosopher as he was, 
yet recognized the all-importance of conduct, writes 
in the same spirit : ° " We must first study and then 
act, for we learn, not for learning's sake, but in order 
to action." 

'Ke 7. Mos. II. 3. 

=■ " Ethics of the Fathers " I. 17. 

" De Fuga 6. 


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 hut 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: 
jna niSiSo nisn Annty. 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/ To the first 
two commandments he attaches the ritual laws re- 
lating 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 de- 
termine 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. Correspond- 
ing 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 (npnx). " He who loves God, but does 
not show love towards his own kind, has but the half 
of virtue."' Thus in one and the same age Hillel, 

'De Decal. 12. ^De Deoal. 23. 


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 (njiy 
na'Dtyn), 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 estab- 
lished 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 : ^ "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 corre- 
sponds with the Talmud dictum, "Whoever buys a 

' Be Septen. 9. 


Jewish slave buys a master for himself."' Com- 
menting 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 eman- 
cipation 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 con- 
fines of one nation, but valid for the world. Nor is it 
contained therein as a mere sentimental aspiration, 
but it is realized ia the institutions of the Jewish 

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 

'Kiddushin 20". 


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."' 
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, 
nanji nans nman, 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 philoso- 
pher. 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, be- 
cause fire is the seed and beginning of industry .° The 
servant of the house may not work,' 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 in- 
stitutions of Judaism, claimed the Sabbath as the 

^ De Decal. 20. 
'De Septen. 7. 
'Be Bepten. 6. 


special heritage of Israel ; and in the book of Jubilees ' 
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 humanity." 

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:' (1) Each day in the year, 
if we use it aright — a truly Philonie conception; 
(3) 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 re- 
ligion 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 

' Ch. 2. 31. 

= Comp. De Migr. 23. 

' De Septen. 1. 2. 


universal process. So Passover is the festival of the 
spring and a memorial of the creation (riB'jrD'? i^r 
n'B'Kna ) 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,' 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 na- 
ture may to some appear a false development of his- 
torical Judaism; nevertheless Philo's treatment of 
this part of the Torah is notable. It shows remark- 
able feeling for the ethical import of the law, and it 
establishes the harmony between the Greek and He- 
brew 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. 

•Be Septen. 18 ff. 


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 sum- 
mon 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 ser- 
mon 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 follow- 
ing 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 rea- 
son. By practicing self-restraint in the two common- 
est 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,' 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 rea- 
son 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 lib- 
eral 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 right- 
eousness. And certain Christian — and other — theo- 
logians, 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 " free- 
dom 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 philosophi- 
cal allegories. Both passages deserve quotation, since 
they mark the fundamental contrast between Philo 
and non-Jewish allegorists of the law. In the first 

'■De Ooncupiso. 1-3. 


Philo is 'coininentiiig upon the command " Thou shalt 
not add to or take away from the law " (Deut. xix. 
14) .* 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 oflSce 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 in- 
scribed upon parchment, but engraved upon the souls of 
the generations who through the ages maintain the 
chosen community. Children should take over the pa^ 
temal customs from their parents as part of their inheri- 
tance, 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 eulogy." 

' Comp. De Just. II. 360. 


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 philo- 
sophical book " On the Migration of Abraham," ^ 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 Phllo 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 dili- 
gently 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 ievxepem]. For they ought to 
give good heed to both-— to the accurate investigation of 
the unseen meaning, but also to the blameless observ- 
ance of the visible letter. But now, as if they were 
living by themselves in a desert, and were souls without 
bodies, and knevr nothing of city or village or house or 
Intercourse with men, they despise all that seems valu- 
able 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, be- 
cause the seventh day teaches us symbolically concern- 

•Ch. 16. 


ing the power of the uncreated God, and the inactivity 
of the creature, we must not therefore abolish its ordi- 
nances, so as to light a fire, or till the ground, or bear a 
burden, or prosecute a lawsuit, or demand the restora- 
tion of a deposit, or exact the repayment of a loan, or 
do any other thing, which on week-days is allowed. Be- 
cause 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 multi- 
tude will be avoided." ' 

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 pas- 
sions. He cannot, therefore, have a religion which is 
individual or merely spiritual, but he requires com- 
mon forms and ceremonies that can bind him with 

' I have taken this translation and that on the next 
page from Mr. Claude Montefiore's Florilegium Philonis. 
Jewish Quarterly Review, vol. VII. 


the rest of the commimity, and train Ms 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 Tin- 
reasoning custom which blindly follows the practice 
of our fathers {auvtjesta) Philo is equally opposed, and 
he protests, with the earnestness of an Isaiah, against 
superstitious sacrifice and against the lip-service of 
the materialist.' 

" If a man practices ablutions and purifications, but de- 
files 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 orna- 
ments, or gives endless timber and cunningly wrought 
work, more precious than silver or gold — let him none 
the more be called religious {evasP'fii). For he has wan- 
dered 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 super- 
stitious unrighteously. 

' Comp. De Ebr. 40, and De Spec. Leg. II. 414. 


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 impreg- 
nate life. Dubnow, in his summary of Jewish his- 
tory, formulates an epigram, which, like most of its 
kind, becomes in its conciseness and pointed antithe- 
sis a half-truth. "At Jerusalem," he says, "Juda- 
ism appeared as a system of practical ceremonies; at 
Alexandria as a complex of abstract symbols." N"o 
doubt it is true that at Jerusalem the practical side 
of the law was most prominent, but the spiritual ex- 
altation 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 un- 
derstood the Jewish mission, it was not merely to dif- 
fuse 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 re- 


ligious 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 power- 
ful, even fanatical, expression, was a strong move- 
ment 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 allegor- 
ists, 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 cen- 
turies. From that welter of opinions there at last 
emerged dogmatic Christianity. The Christian re- 
formers 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, Spir- 
ituality 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 be- 
cause 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. "Eeligion 
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,'^ "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." 

'De Leg. II. 574. 


"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." ^ 
The same idea underlies the statement of the Peri- 
patetic writer Theophrastus (who lived in the latter 
part of the fourth century b. c. b.) that the Jews are a 
people of philosophers/ and the epigram of Heine, 
that they pray in metaphysics. Intuitively, the law- 
giver and prophets of the Hebrew race had attained 
a conception of monotheism to which the greatest of 
the Greek philosophers had hardly struggled by rea- 
son. The Greeks had started with separate nature- 
powers, which they had finally resolved into a supreme 
nature-force; the Hebrews had started with the his- 
torical God of their fathers, whom they had universal- 
ized 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 differ- 

' Essais, Les PropMtes d' Israel. 

' Frag, cited by Porphyry, De Abstinentia II. 25. 


ence between the two conceptions of God, however, re- 
mained even in their universalized aspect; the one 
was an impersonal world-force, the other a personal 
God in direct relation with individual man. Else- 
where than in Judsea, it has been well said, religious 
development reaches unity only by sacrificing per- 
sonality. 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,' and 
his religious genius gave to the world a personal 
incorporeal Deity, who is both transcendent and 
immanent, personal and yet above human concep- 
tion. 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." 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.' He is the One and the All.' 
He is ever at rest, yet he outstrippeth everything, 

^De Cong. 10. 

• Comp. Schechter, " Aspects of Rabbinic Theology," 
pp. 21 ff. 

» L. A. I. 7. 

♦ L. A. I. 14. 


nearest to everyone, yet far removed, everywhere and 
nowhere, above and outside the universe, yet filling 
creation with Himself.' 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 uncondi- 
tioned, 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.' Siegfried and Zeller press this negative 
attitude to the Deity, and find that there is an inher- 
ent 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 ac- 
cording 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 formu- 
late an exact notion of the First Being by abstract 
metaphysics had, indeed, conceived it in this fashion ; 
and Philo, harmonizing Greek metaphysics and He- 
brew 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.' " The tendency to 
unity, to the infinite, to religion, overbalanced itself 

• De Confus. 2, Be Post. C. 5. 

' Comp. De Somn. I. 11, De Mut. Nom. i. 

" Caird, " Life of Spinoza " II. 


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 mo- 
ment man tries to define his conception of God's es- 
sence 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 Snrthe 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 at- 
tributes, 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." ' 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." ' And this is 
the manner in which Philo conceives Him : " God's 
grace and goodness it is which are the causes of crea- 

» Be Mon. I. 5. 

' Comp. " The Authorised Prayer Book," p. 78. 


tion."' "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 be- 
stowed on the race that is after His image.'' " For all 
that is in the universe and the universe itself are the 
gift and bounty and grace of God." " Again, God is 
omnipotent; He could make all evil, but He wills only 
what is best." * " All is due to God's grace, though 
nothing is worthy of it; ° but God looked to His own 
eternal goodness, and considered that to do good be- 
fitted His own blessed and happy nature." 

Philo's life-aim, as we have seen," 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."' 
Further, to Him all human activity and excellence are 
directly due. He fertilizes virtue by sending down 
the seed from Heaven," and He brings forth wisdom 

^ Quod Deus 23. 

'De Mundi Op. 5. 

'L. A. III. 24. 

*De Somn. II. 38. 

'L. A. III. 24. 

' See p. 77, above. 

'Z,. A. I. 3. 

'De Plant. 1, Quod Bet. 31. i 


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 prin- 
ciple 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 
imiversal working of Divine care rather than excep- 
tions 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. Knowl- 
edge and happiness, therefore, come not through God, 
but from God.^ "The Divine Word streams down 
from the fount of wisdom, and waters the plants of 
virtuous souls." ' " To God alone is it fitting to use 
the word 'my,'"° or, put in another way, man has 
only the usufruct and God the ownership of his 

'De Cherubim, 35. 

'L.A.n. 70. 

" Be Cherubim 32, De Somn. II, 56. 


po-wers. 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.' 
This was the attitude not only of the proud Stoic, 
but of certain kindred Jewish sects, which were sub- 
ject 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 any- 
body accuses you of impiety, you brazenly declare 
that you belong to the school of that noble guide and 
teacher Cain (t. e., insolent reason), who bade you 
pay honor to the secondary rather than the primary 

Philo has often been reproached with intellectual- 
ism, and excessive regard to aec[tiired wisdom, and it 

» De Post. C. 11. 


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, how- 
ever, before his God he retains the childlike simplicity 
of the most un-Hellenic rabbi, and the perfect humil- 
ity 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 po- 
etical utterance of the Bible prophets, the pious wis- 
dom 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 Be- 
ing 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 wicked- 
ness that flourisheth among men? These questions 
presented themselves to the Israelite after he had con- 
summated his marvellous religious intuition, and be- 
came 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 in- 
tuitive reason rises to some idea of the Godhead satis- 
fying to his emotion; next, by his discursive reason, 
he endeavors to justify that idea to his experience in 
analyzing God's operations. Eenan, disposing sweep- 
ingly 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. o. 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 be- 
yond 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 re- 
ligious monotheism, and led to the interposition of 
intermediate conceptions between the Inconceivable 
and man. "The whole angelology," says Deutsch,^ 
" so strikingly simple before the Captivity and so won- 
derfully complex after it, owes its quick development 
in Babylonian soil to some awe-stricken desire which 
grows with growing culture, removing the inconceiv- 
able 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 Wis- 

'■ Essay on the Talmud. 


dom and the Word were not unknown to the Pales- 
tinian Midrash, and the hierarchies of angels to the 
Alexandrian, for the suggestion of the different sub- 
ordinate powers had been evolved before the two tra- 
ditions 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 (nnn), 
which were different manifestations of His activity, 
to the human mind separable and distinguishable 
from each other, though absolutely they were insep- 
arable aspects of the Godhead. Chief among these 
were the attribute of mercy and the attribute of jus- 
tice, D'Dmn mn and jnn mn,* by which, according 
to a Midrash, Adam was driven from Eden. And 
these conceptions, though distrusted by the Syna- 
gogue, 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 Atone- 
ment, and many of the other Selihot prove the persist- 
ence 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' thought; but the distinctive Hellenis- 
tic theology is the hypostasis of the Wisdom and the 

' Bereshlt Rabba 21, and Yalkut 26. 
"Comp. De Plant. 30. 


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 ten- 
dency to develop the personification into a power in- 
creased, and may be traced through the first flower of 
Grseco-Jewish culture, the Wisdom literature. The 
Greek philosophers had conceived the First Cause as a 
ruling Mind, or universal Eeason, 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 Eccle- 
siasticus 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 be- 
tween Heaven and earth, the creation of the theolo- 
gian'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 f rom^ 
the Lord and is with Him forever. She cometh forth 
from the mouth of the Most High, and was created be- 


fore 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 palaqg 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 Aris- 
tobulus she appears as the assessor of God who ruleth 
over men. 

Parallel with Wisdom, the Word of God was de- 
veloped 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, 
Lord, which heals all things." Later, when he de- 
scribes the destruction of the first-born in Egypt, he 
rises in a psean 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 stem warrior into the midst of the doomed 
land, bearing as a sharp sword Thy Divine command- 
ment, 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, On- 
kelos, wherever activity upon earth was ascribed to 
God, wrote, in his translation (Targum) of Scrip- 
ture, " the word of the Lord," and for the material 
hand he substituted the more abstract might. The 
same development,^ under the names of Memra and 
(less frequently) of im, 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 re- 
markable anticipation of Greek philosophy. The Greek 
Logos, by which "the Word" was translated in the 
Septuagint, meant also thought and reason, and dur- 
ing the Hellenistic age was the regular term by which 

' Comp. Haglgah 14. 


the philosophical schools expressed the impersonal 
world-force which governed all things. The Logos 
idea among the Jews was a modification of intuitive 
and naive 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 physi- 
cal and moral universe had become a point of union 
in all philosophical schools — the common stamp of 
philosophical theology. Between the Semitic min- 
isterial word uttered by a personal Being and the 
Greek pantheistic governing reason, there was proba- 
bly an early connection, due to Eastern influences 
which operated upon the founders of Greek philos- 
ophy, 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 philo- 
sophical 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 in- 
fluence 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 speech. 



N'umbers were held to contain the essence of things, 
and the marvellous powers of four, seven, and ten re- 
ceived 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 mys- 
tical 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 con- 
stant Biblical phrases " and God said " or " and God 
spoke," according to notions in which philosophy and 
theology are mixed; and propounded a mystic ideal- 
ism and a mystic cosmology, in which God's thought 
or comprehensive Word becomes the archetype of the 
visible universe. His single words the substantive uni- 
verse and the laws of nature. A century before Philo, 
Aristobulus — assuming the genuineness of his Frag- 
ments — wrote : * " 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, 

• Quoted by Buseb., op. cit. XIII. 8. 


says, " God speaks not words but things," ' and, again, 
commenting on the first chapter of Genesis, " God, 
even as He spake, at the same moment created.'" 
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." ' 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.* 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 njoty, the Divine Presence itself, 
which exalted the multitude." Philo is here expand- 
ing 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 Sip-na, 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 per- 
forming 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 

• Be Decal. 11. 
'De Mundi Op. 24. 
'IMd. 20. 

• De Migr. 9. 

" De Decal. 11. 


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 philo- 
sophical metaphysics, sometimes in the spirit of the 
mystical poet. Of his last manner let us take a speci- 
men singled out by a Christian and a Jewish theolo- 
gian 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 quafted 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 ex- 
ultation, itself the pouring forth and the delight, itself 
the ambrosial philtre and potion of bliss." ^ 

Through the luxury of metaphor and imagination 
one may discern the underlying thought of the mystic 
writer, that the Logos is the eflBuence 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." 
That man can attain the Divine state by the help of 
God's efHuence 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 Xd^oi, words or thoughts — 
for he does not clearly distinguish between the two — 
and he resolves the realistic angels of the Bible 

^De Somn. II. 37. 
= De Somn. I. 23. 


into this spiritual conception.' Thus he says, " the 
place " where Jacob alighted and had the vision 
(Gen. xxvii. 11) is the symbol of the perfect contem- 
plation of God; the angels which he saw ascending 
and descending are the inferior light of Divine pre- 
cepts. 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; hut 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." " 

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." ' 

« 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 

^Comp. De Somn. II. 11. 
'De Somn. I. 22. 
'Comp. Hagigah 14". 


Judge in the soul, which is the true man dwelling 
within/ ruler and king, judge and arbiter, witness 
and accuser, correcting and restraining. Eising to 
bolder personification, Philo, who loves to present a 
spiritual thought in a concrete image, calls it the un- 
defiled high priest in us/ In this power he finds a 
sure refutation of skepticism; for in virtue of the Di- 
vine voice man may secure moral certitude: and he 
finds also a philosophical value for popular supersti- 
tion. It was a common notion of the pagans as well as 
the Jews of the time that an intermediate order of be- 
ings passed between heaven and earth and brought 
supernatural aid to men; and also that a familiar 
spirit, or Daemon, dwelt within the soul of each man. 
The finer spirit of Philo resolves the attendant Dae- 
mon and the messenger-dsemons or angels into the 
spiritual effluences of the one Deity; save for a few 
places where he makes a pose of agreement with pop- 
ular notions and speaks of winged denizens of 
Heaven ' who descend to earth, he habitually expounds 
angels as inward revelations of God. 

As the revelation of God to the individual is a Lo- 
gos, so, too, is his revelation to the whole of mankind. 
It was pointed out in the last chapter that Philo iden- 
tified 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 

* Quod Deus 26 and 32. 
'De Confus. 14. 
" De Gigant. 2. 


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, ■'So 
0'niyisi2j nty mnn.' They speak of it as the light, 
the pillar, and the bond of the universe, the model 
whereon the architect looked ; ' and Philo amplifies 
this simple poetical concept and develops it afresh 
in the light of Greek idealistic and cosmical notions," 
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 

• " Ethics of the Fathers " III. 

' Comp. Schechter, op. cit., " The Law as Personified In 
"Comp. L. A. III. 73, Be Somn. II. 33. 


and his habit of spiritualizing the material. It is 
related in Exodus (xvi. 15) that when the Israelites 
saw the heavenly food they exclaimed Kin p, " What 
is it?" and hence the food obtained its name of 
manna. Now the Greek Septnagint word for p is rt, 
which means not only "what" bnt "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 gen- 
eric of all things, and that by which man may be 
nourished." ^ 

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 uni- 
versal, 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 pre- 
ferred the Logos to the older Wisdom, probably be- 
cause 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 eosmieal 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 conception. 

If we have followed thus far the spirit of Philo 

>Z>e Cong. 31. 


aright, the Logos is only the immanent manifestation 
of the One God, who is both transcendental and im- 
manent, metaphorically, not metaphysically, separate. 
In other words, it is the complete aspect of God as 
He reveals Himself to the world. Above it and includ- 
ing 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 advo- 
cate.^ 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 God- 
head into separate powers. The heresy of " Minut," 
frequently mentioned in the Talmud, consisted origi- 
nally, in the opinion of modern scholars, of a Gnostic 
ditheism ;° and during the latter part of the first cen- 
tury 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 specula- 
tions carry them away from the cardinal principle of 

^De Confus. 14, Fragments I, L. A. III. 23, Quis Rer. 
Div. 42, De Oigant. 12. 
^Comp. Graetz, "Gnosticism and Judaism," pp. 15 ff. 


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 un- 
doubtedly manifested themselves at Alexandria in 
Philo's day. His treatises show traces of them,^ 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 sys- 
tem. It means that the champion of Jewish mono- 
theism wanders into a vague ditheism. And in view 
of this, the modem commentators of Philo, notably 
Professor Drummond," have examined his words more 
carefully and studied them in relation to their con- 
text ; and they have shown how. Judged in this critical 
fashion, the personality of the Logos is only figura- 
tive. It is, indeed, probable that certain extreme pas- 
sages, where the Logos is presented most explicitly as 

^ Comp. De Cherubim 14 and 17, De Oigant. 12. 
" Drummond, " Philo-Judsus and the Jewish Hellenis- 
tic School," vol. II. 


a separate Deity, are due to Christological interpola- 
tion. The Church Fathers found in the popular be- 
lief 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 Csesarea' — 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 evidence-making scribes, as where a passage about 
the new Jerusalem appears, agreeing almost word for 
word with the picture of Eevelations. Similarly, not 
a few passages about the Logos are probably spurious.' 
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 un- 
justifiable. 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 

^De Somn. I. 32, De Confus. 14, L. A. III. 25, De V. 
Mos. III. 14. 


habit of personifying all abstract ideas. The alle- 
gorical habit particularly conduces to this, for as per- 
sons 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 per- 
sonifications. The allegorizer requires an allegorist 
to interpret him aright. 

'Not 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 Be- 
ing. 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." ' And, agaiu, " The imperfect have 

»!,. A. III. 73. 


as their law the holy Logos." ^ And in this sense, it is 
"intermediate {ixsdopto':) between God and man."^ 
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 Eeal Being through com- 
prehension 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 under- 
standing, and speaks of God's justice, God's goodness, 

^ Be Saarif. 38. 

= Quis Rer. Div. 42. 


God's wisdom. These are, to use philosophical termi- 
nology, categories of the religious understanding, 
■which are finally resolved by the perfect sage in " the 
synthetic apperception of Unity." 

Philo follows what may have been a Hebrew tradi- 
tion in explaining the two names of God, " Blohim " 
and "Jehovah," as connoting His two chief attri- 
butes: (1) the creative or beneficent, (3) the ruling 
or judicial, or, as it is sometimes called, the law-giving 
power.' 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 earli- 
est 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." 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 flam- 
ing sword, which turned every way to keep the way of 
the tree of life" (Gen. iv. 34). 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 

' De Plant. 21. 
'L. A. III. 


mobile and the most ardent (i. e., the most inten- 
Bive) of things, and especially the thought and speech 
of the only Principle." ^ 

To correspond with the descending attributes of 
God -we have the ascending dispositions of man to- 
wards 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) .' 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 be- 
fore 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 philosophically. 

'De GheruHm 9. 
'De Abr. 24 and 25. 


" The words," he says, " are symbols of things appre- 
hended hy Intelligence alone — the soul receives a triple 
expression of one being, of which one Is the representa- 
tive of the actual existent, and the other two are shad- 
ows, 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, how- 
ever, that shadow is properly used in relation to God. 
It is only a popular use of words for the clearer under- 
standing 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 Scrip- 
ture 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 noth- 
ing to complete it; but of three whenever it has not yet 
been Initiated Into the great mysteries, and still cele- 
brates 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 par- 
takes of godlike opinion. But the former does not par- 
take 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 conceptaons 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 ot 
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 iwwer; 
the third through His regal power." 

In the second passage, which occurs in the treatise 
on flight from the world/ 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 ob- 
serves 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 uni- 
verse, ard the emotion which the rabbis called nxT 
D'D», 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, D'Dty nanx. 

• De Fuga 18. 


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 ex- 
pressed perhaps by Spinoza's phrase, " the intellectual 
love of God," amor intellectnalis Dei. The worship- 
per 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 Being. 

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 "be- 
yond the utmost bound of human thought," imagines 
one higher condition. The Logos is only the image 
or the shadow of the Godhead.' Above it is the one 
perfect reality, the transcendent Essence. Now, man 
cannot by any intellectual eilort attain knowledge of 
the Infinite as He truly is, for this is above thought. 
But to a few blessed mortals God of His grace vouch- 
safes 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 

> L. A. 11. 


activity, but through Himself in His own essence. The 
philosopher, when he receives this vision (indicTeia), 
is possessed by the Shekinah,^ and, losing conscious- 
ness 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 de- 
rived 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 inces- 
sant 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 ' (5uvo/tt? xokaaTuil) ; 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 whatso- 
ever. " ' 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.* More- 
over, the punitive activity of God, though it seems 

^L. A. I. 13, II. 15, Quia Rer. Div. 53. 

'Comp. De Decal., ad, fin. 

' L. A. I. 20, De Fuga 12. 

* De Mundi Op. 54, De Fuga 11. 


to cause suffering and misery, is in truth a good, sim- 
ulating 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 God. 

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 lim- 
ited 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 main- 
taining 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 lan- 
guage, which was vague and inexact, and adapted cer- 
tain 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-emi- 
nently opposed. The first chapter of the Fourth Gos- 
pel 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 begin- 
ning 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 philo- 
sophical, nor Philonic. Philo's work was made to 
serve as the guide of that Christian Gnosticism which, 
within the next hundred years, proclaimed that Juda- 
ism 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 teach- 
ing, Philo constructed a theology which, though af- 
fected 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 



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. Not 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,' "The He- 
brew 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 nar- 
rative which determines the sequence of his thoughts." 
Nevertheless, though he has not given us explicit 
treatises on cosmology, metaphysics, ethics, psychol- 
ogy, 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 

' " The Evolution of Theology in the Greek Philos- 
ophers" VIII. 


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-fonnded. 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 inter- 
pretation 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 rea- 
soning, but it utilizes the systems of other nations 
and endeavors to harmonize them with its religious 
convictions. Hence it is that nearly all Jewish phi- 
losophy 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 illumi- 
nate and clarify faith, to harmonize Judaism with the 


general culture of its environment, and to revivify be- 
lief 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 ana- 
lytic, believing in intuition and distrusting the dis- 
cursive 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 in- 
ductions 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 philo- 
sophical ideas are in complete harmony with his Juda- 
ism; 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 per- 
vades 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 de- 
gree, 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 pur- 


pose. He approached philosophy from a position 
opposed to that of the Greeks: they brought a ques- 
tioning and free mind to the problems of the uni- 
verse ; 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 pos- 
sess. 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 expo- 
sition 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 Pla- 
tonism. 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 arti- 
ficial production of the commentator, for in truth 
Plato was in sympathy with the religious conscience 
as a whole. The contrast between Hellenism and He- 
braism 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, iniiuenced perhaps by contact with Ori- 
ental peoples, possessed, in a remarkable degree, the 
Hebraic spirit, which is zealous for God and makes 
for righteousness. Plato was not only a great phi- 


losopher, but also a great theologian, a great religious 
reformer, and a great prophet, the most perfectly de- 
veloped 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 trans- 
lated 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 theo- 
cratic 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." ' 

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 borrow- 

> Plato, " Laws " 718. 


ing. Aristobulus had written of a translation of the 
Pentateuch older than the Septnagint, 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.* 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 Nietz- 
sche 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, 

'■ Comp. Bk. 12 of the Prwp. Evang. 


and had lacked a powerful moving spirit. This was 
provided by Philo when he introduced his overmas- 
tering conception of God. The popular saying, 
" Either Plato Philonizes or Philo Platonizes " ^ con- 
tains 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, nour- 
ished the philosophical seed in Judaism by his Plato- 
nism. 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. More- 
over his style, as well as his thought, has here affinity 
with Jewish modes of thought. As Zeller says, speak- 
ing of the myths : " From the first, in the act of pro- 
ducing 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 phi- 
losophy. In " The Timseus," particularly, Plato, 
throughout, is the poet-philosopher, writing imagina- 
tive myths, which present pictorially an idealistic 
scheme of the universe; and "The Timffius" is for 

» Quoted by Suidas, s. v. Philo. 


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 Timseus," which is a system of cos- 
mology 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 com- 
pletely 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." * There is an 
idea of stars, of grass, of man, of virtue, of music. 
And the Platonic conception receives a religious sanc- 
tion. The ideas are a necessary step between God and 
the material universe, and those who deny them throw 
all things into confusion.' " God would not touch mat- 
ter Himself, but He did not grudge a share of His na- 
ture to it through His powers, of which the true name 

•Z)e Mundi Op. 43. 

" De Tictimis II. 260-262. 


is ideas." We have already noticed^ 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.' In this way Philo asso- 
ciates his cosmology with his theology. The creative 
"Ideas" are equated collectively with the Supreme 
Logos,' individually with the Logoi which represent 
God's particular activities. Thus the Logos repre- 
sents 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, ex- 
panding a favorite image of the Haggadah, illus- 
trates God's creation by the simile of a king founding 
a city. "He gets to him an architect, who first de- 

' Comp. p. 81, above. 

' De Sacrif. 24, Quoa Bet. 24. " Be Mundi Op. 24 


signs in his mind the parts of the perfect city, and 
then, looking continually to his model, begins to con- 
struct 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 com- 
pleted the visible world." ^ 

The theory of religious idealism is the centre of 
Philo's philosophy, and provides the basis of his ex- 
planation of the material universe. Physics, indeed, 
he considered of small account, because he believed 
there could be no certainty in such speculations." His 
mind was utterly imscientific; 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 sub- 
stance of all things, including the pantheistic power 
itself : 

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

Philo impugns both these theories," the one because it 
denies the creative power of God, the other because 
it confuses the Creator with His creation. He looked 

"De Mundi Op. i. 

'De Bomn. I. 4. 

•Z)e Victimis II. 260. 


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 {ii-fj Sv^^ 
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 philosophi- 
cally. 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 Wis- 
dom 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.^ Time, he says, came into being 
after God had made the universe, and has no mean- 
ing for the Divine Euler, whose life is in. the eternal 

' Qv,oA Deus 6, De Post. G. 5. 


Summing up, we may say that Philo regards tlie 
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 devel- 
oped 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 
Timffius " 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 N"ous; (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 insep- 
arable 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.'' Following the Platonic conception, 
Philo occasionally speaks of the Divine soul as having 
a prenatal existence," 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." 

* Quod Det. 24, De Mundi Op. 45 and 51. 
' L. A. I. 32, De Confiis. 27. 


Here, too, he follows an older Jewish-Hellenistic tra- 
dition, which appears in the Wisdom of (Solomon 
(viii. 19 and 20), where it is written: " A good soul 
fell to my lot. Jfay 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 rela- 
tion which the infinite God bears to the macrocosm/ 
Indeed, it is the Logos descended from above, but 
yearning to return to its true abode. Thus Philo 
sings its Divine nature: 

" It is unseen, but sees all things: its essence is un- 
known, but it compreliends 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 aether 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." 
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 

'■ De Mon. II. 214, Be Mundi Op. I. 16. 

"De Mundi Op. 22 and 48, L. A. I. 13 and II. 12 f£. 


him into union with the God without, and to this end 
he must avoid the life of the senses/ 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. Im- 
mortality is man's most splendid hope. If the Di- 
vine 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 for- 
ward to the more lasting union with the Godhead 
after this terrestrial life is over.' True at once to 
the principles of Platonism and Judaism, Philo ad- 
mits 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,' but he does not speculate about the nature 
of the Divine reward. The pious are taken up to 
God, he says, and live forever,' communing alone with 
the Alone." The unrighteous souls, PhUo sometimes 
suggests, in accordance with current Pythagorean 
ideas, are reincarnated according to a system of trans- 
migration within the human species {KaXtYysveaia) .' 
Yet the sinner suffers his full doom on earth. The 
true Hades is the life of the wicked man who has not 

'Z)e Sacrif. 32. 

» Be Plant. 9. 

' Quaestiones in Oen. II. 59. 

' De Fuga 6. 

" Quaestiones in Oen. IV. 140. 

'De CheruUm 32. 


repented, exposed to vengeance, with uncleansed guilt, 
obnoxious to every curse/ And the Divine punish- 
ment is to live always dying, to endure death death- 
less and unending, the death of the soul.'' 

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 inspira- 
tion of God without for knowledge, virtue, and happi- 
ness." The Stoic dogma, that the wise man is per- 
fectly independent and self-contained {auvdpxyj-:) ap- 
pears 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."* All thought-functions, memory, rea- 
soning, intuition, are referred directly to Divine in- 
spiration, which is in Platonic terminology the illumi- 
nation 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 imma- 

^L.A. I. 15. 

'L. A. II. 25. 

' L. A. I. 11 ft., 11. 12-14. 

'De Cherubim 35. 


nence of the Logoi.' 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 percep- 
tions vary with each individual, and of conceptions 
we have no certain standard? The old Hebrew at- 
titude 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,' 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." " Plato similarly 
had despaired of knowledge of the physical world, 
and had turned to the heavenly ideas as the true ob- 
ject of thought. Moreover, in his early period, while 
his theory was still poetical and mystical, he had con- 
ceived that knowledge was made possible in the sub- 

'De Somn. I. 12. 
'De Somn. I. 4. 
• De Plant. 7. 


jeet, 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,^ and he regards the ideas of wis- 
dom, virtue, bravery, etc., which are theologically 
powers of God, as continually sending forth Logoi, 
forms or forces (the angels of popular belief), to in- 
form 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, wis- 
dom is seen, for wisdom sees itself." " Through God, 
God is known, for He is His own light." "^ 

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, how- 
ever, 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, 

^ Quod Det. 31. 

' De Migr. 8, De Spec. Leg. I. 9. 


lie 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."' 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 intellec- 
tual power, man had come to despair of the attain- 
ment 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 ISTous, 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." He comments on the verse, " And the sun 
went down and a deep sleep fell on Abraham " (Gen. 
XV. 18). "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.'" This is the Alexandrian interpretation of 
nroty and nxiaj, and though it is much affected by 
Greek mystical ideas, yet at the same time it is broadly 
true to thfe spirit of Jewish mysticism, as we see it 

>!/. A. I. 13. 

'L. A. III. 13, 14. 

' Quis Rer. Div. 53. 


presented in writers of all ages, and as the Psalmist 
expressed it, " to abide under the shadow of the Al- 

Philo's ethics, like the rest of his philosophy, ex- 
hibits the transfusion of Greek ideas with his Hebrew 
spirit. The Greek philosophers had evolved a rational 
plan of life, while the Jewish teachers were impreg- 
nated 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.' Above 
all he insists upon Faith (siVrtc), and he defines 
virtue as a condition of soul which fixes its hopes 
upon the truly Existent God. The Stoics also pro- 
fessed 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 con- 
verse 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.' 
Yet at the same time Philo remains loyal to the Jew- 

^ De Mundi Op. 54. 
'De Abr. 31. 


ish 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." ' 

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-re- 
nunciation; they must avoid the bodily passions and 
bodily lusts.' 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" (djtdffsia)' 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 joy- 
ousness. The symbol of this bliss is Isaac (pns'), 
the laughter of the soul. 

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 

' De Fuga 27. 

'L. A. I. 32, II. 25. 

'Coinp. i. A. III. 45. 


God than flight from all temptations. In his later 
writings, therefore, he exhibits a striking moderation. 
He reproaches the ascetics for their " savage enthusi- 
asm," ^ probably hinting at the extreme sects of the 
Bssenes and the Therapeutae. " 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 dis- 
crimination shun all concern with the life of the State, 
and say that they despise the acciuisltion 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."' 

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 

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 aU determined in their main 
lines by his Jewish outlook. His Hebraism is a seal 
which stamps all that enters his mind from Greek 

> Quod Bet. 7. 
» De Fuga 5 ft. 


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 childish- 
ness 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, primi- 
tive 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 mathe- 
matical 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 
(ffi^afffiot:). 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 Sab- 
bath to meditation and philosophy.' 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,' fifty so as to honor the 
Peast of Pentecost. So, too, the Pythagoreans' mathe- 
matical 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 em- 
phasizes 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 

•De Mundi Op. 15, L. A. I. 46. 
' De Decal 6-8. 


forces working upon the Greek matter and producing 
the new Platonism, which constitutes Philo's contri- 
bution to Greek philosophy. It may, indeed, be said 
that his Hebraism makes Philo anti-philosophical, be- 
cause 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 sup- 
port 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 de- 
stroyed 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. 
itTevertheless, 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 " ex- 
pression 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 inter- 
preter, 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 straight- 
way 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 be- 
tween Eastern and Western thought, which he himself 
so strikingly illustrates, continued to dominate phi- 
losophy for the next four hundred years; and Plato, 
who, with his deep religious spirit, had a broad afSn- 
ity 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 coun- 
tries and races mingled, even as their peoples mingled 
under the Eoman 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 be- 
tween 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 philosophi- 
cal 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 connec- 
tion 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 ques- 
tioned the correctness of the reference, but be this 
as it may, it is certain that ISTumenius 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."^ Origen tells us/ 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 ia 
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 ac- 
count 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 monothe- 
ism. The exalted Hebrew idea of God was still too 
sublime for the pagan nations, even for their philoso- 
phers. The world in truth was decaying morally and 
intellectually, a^id most of all in powers of imagina- 
tion; 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 

' Comp. Euseb., Praep. Evang. IX 411A. 
" C. Celsum IV. 51. 



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; (3) the Demiurge 
or active governor of the universe, who again is sub- 
divided 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 every- 
thing 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 heav- 
enly Trinity of so-called reason: the Ineffable One, 
the Demiurgic Mind, and the World Soul; and be- 
tween this Trinity and man they placed intermediate 
hierarchies of gods, angels, and demons — in fact, the 
whole fugitive army of Greek polytheism thinly dis- 
guised. 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 I 


From Plotinus down to Proelus, neo-Platonism 
became more lanintellectual, more insane, more pagan, 
and, finally, with its vapid dreams, it brought the his- 
tory 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 maVn inj by Ibn Gabirol is a splendid 
example of the Hebraizing of neo-Platonie 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 philo- 
sophical development, but his more lasting influence 
was exercised over the religious philosophy of Chris- 
tianity. 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 conti- 
nuity of civilization." Had Philo really been plough- 
ing the sand, and was an agreement between faith 
and reason, between religion and philosophy, impossi- 
ble ? 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 succes- 
sors. 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 Jew- 
ish thought, and Philo's works are not mentioned by 
any Jewish writer. Strangers possessed his inheri- 


tance, and his name alone, " Philo-Juda;us," bore wit- 
ness to his nationality. It is an interesting specula- 
tion to consider how different might have been the his- 
tory, not only of the Jews, but of the world, if the Hel- 
lenistic Judaism of Philo had prevailed in the Roman- 
Greek world instead of "the impurer Hellenism of 
Christianity." When, in the tenth century, the lead- 
ers of Jewish thought broke the bonds of seclusion, 
and brought anew to the interpretation of their re- 
ligion 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, Mai- 
monides, 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 Ju- 
daism 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 suc- 
cessor, 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 characteris- 
tic of and peculiar to PhUo 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 inter- 
pretation of the Bible corresponds with Palestinian 
Jewish tradition; and we must now consider more in 
detail the relations of the two schools of Jewish learn- 
ing. Until the last century it was commonly supposed 
that no close relation existed, and that the Alexan- 
drian and Palestiaian schools were independent and 
opposed; Scaliger, the greatest scholar of the seven- 
teenth century, wrote ^ that " Philo was more ignorant 
of Hebraic and Aramaic lore than any Gaul or Scy- 
thian," and this was the opinion generally held. The 
researches of Preudenthal and Siegfried ' 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 ° 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,' and he com- 
mences 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 

'De Seotis Judaicis XVIII. 

'Comp. Freudenthal, Hellenistische Studien, and Sieg- 
fried, Philo als Ausleger der heiUgen Schrift. 
' Comp. Quis Ber. Div. XLIII, and Chapter II above. 
'■DeMon. II. 212. 


writings and " from certain elders of his race." In 
support of his statement we have the remark of 
Eusebins, the Christian historian, and our chief an- 
cient authority for Philo's work/ 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 corre- 
spondence between Philo's interpretations and those of 
the Talmud and later Midrash would compel us to 
admit a connection between Alexandria and Jeru- 

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 Hel- 
lenized colony in Egypt." Hence the Palestinian Jews, 
on the one hand, received the firstfruits of this ming- 
ling of cultures, and the Alexandrian Jews, on the 
other, must have inherited the early tradition of the 
rabbinical interpreters embodied in ancient Hala- 
kah and Haggadah. By this common heritage, rather 
than by any direct borrowing, it seems more reason- 
able 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 Jew- 
ish tradition was a floating and developing body of 

^ Hist. Ecclesiast. II. Iv. 2. 

^Comp. Graetz, "History" II. xviil. 


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, indefi- 
nitely 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 Bast and West. Doubtless the development 
was more national and at the same time more legal 
in Judaea, in Alexandria more Hellenistic and philo- 
sophical, but there is a common spiritual bond be- 
tween 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 Mid- 
rashim. 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 Jew- 
ish 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 be- 
tween Philo and the rabbis is to be found in the Hag- 
gadic portions of Talmudic teaching, for the Hagga- 
dah 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 dis- 
courses given in the synagogue on the Sabbaths. Yet 
the relation of Philo to the other domain of the Tal- 
mud, the code of life, or the Halakah, is of great 
interest; for, as we have seen,' the Alexandrian com- 
munity 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 illum- 
inating as much by their difference from, as by their 
agreement with, the practices of Palestine. The gen- 
eral 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" — unknown to the rabbis — for 

' Comp. Chapter I, p. 17, above. 
''De Spec. Leg. II. 260. 


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 Eoman Law. That part 
of it which was applied throughout the Empire, the 
jim geniium, was regarded as "written reason." It 
is probable that contact with Eoman jurisprudence 
had affected the practical interpretations which the 
Alexandrian Sanhedrin put upon the Biblical legis- 
lation, and was the cause of some of their differ- 
ences from the Palestinian Halakah. In treating 
the ethical law, Philo's object was to show its agree- 
ment with the loftiest conceptions of Greek philos- 
ophers, and, indeed, its profounder truth; in treat- 
ing 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 Eoman 
Law. Thus he has not the horror of capital punish- 
ment which the Jerusalem Sanhedrin exhibited; he 
would condemn to death the man who commits wilful 
homicide, whether by his own hand or by poison;* 

^ De Bvec. Leg. III. 17. 


whereas the other Halakah allows it only in the 
former case. He who commits perjury also is to 
suffer capital punishment.'' He adds a law which 
finds no place in the Palestinian tradition, making the 
exposure of children a capital crime." Again, follow- 
ing 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 de- 
mands a trial before a court to make the death sen- 
tence legal. He approves of the lex ialionis, " an eye 
for an eye, a tooth for a tooth," agreeing here, indeed, 
with the opinion of earlier rabbis like E. Eliezer 
(see Baba Kama 84,1^00 yy nnn )'j?, "the law of 
eye for eye is to be taken literally"), and disagree- 
ing with the later Halakie 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 adop- 
tion of the older tradition, established probably under 
the Sadducsean predominance, which was modified in 
the rabbinical schools of the first and the second cen- 
tury. Paradoxically, in his exposition of the law, 
Philo follows the letter more closely as the expres- 
sion 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. 

iJ6id. II. 6. 

'De Parentibus Colendis 56. 


Eliezer, interprets Dansj O'lm/ i. e., literally. " If," 
he Bays, "the owner catches the thief before sun- 
rise, he may kill him, but after the sun has risen 
he must bring him before the court."' This also 
was the Eoman 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 jus- 
tify 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.' 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.' Maimonides, in his exposition of the law, ap- 
proves the milder practice," 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 

' Comp. Sifre Debarim 237. 

•Z)e Spec. Leg. IV. 

'De Spec. Leg. III. 36. 

* De Spec. Leg. III. 33 and 34. 

^Moreh Nebukim III, ch. 39. 


be regarded."' 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 redemp- 
tion 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 validity. 

Coming to the more specifically religious laws we 
find that Philo, missionary as he is, prohibits alto- 
gether marriage with Gentiles,' and that though, in the 
opinion of certain rabbinic teachers, the Biblical pro- 
hibition extended only to marriage with the Canaan- 
ite tribes, and unions with other Gentiles were per- 
mitted.' 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 in- 
fluence 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."' 
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 ef- 

^ Fragmenta ex Antonio II. 672. 
'De Spec. Leg. III. 5, II. 304, 305. 
" Deut. vii. 3, and Abodah Zarah 36b. 
*De Spec. Leg. III. 5, II. 304. 


fected 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 festi- 
vals Philo mentions only those consecrated by the Bib- 
lical law or ancient tradition, which probably were the 
only ones settled in his day. He lays down the prohi- 
bition to kindle fire,^ 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 Shof ar at New Year, and of the 
Sukkah, but not of the Lulab at Tabernacles. It 
should be remembered that the Halakah was not con- 
solidated till the second or third century, and in 
Philo's time it was in the process of formation by dif- 
ferent schools of rabbis. But the passage quoted in an 
earlier chapter, about adding to the law, proves his 
reverence for the oral law." 

Though his statement of the civil and religious law 
is of great interest to the student of Halakie de- 
velopment, Philo's work presents greater correspond- 
ence, 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 Hel- 

^ De Septen. 5 ff. ' See Chapter IV, p. 125, above. 


lenistic school. To take a few typical examples: An 
early interpretation explains the story of the Brazen 
Serpent, as Philo does/ 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 com- 
mand 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 
Philb's stories about the patriarchs.* 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 com- 
mentaries. Thus the Midrash° tells that the four 
rivers of Eden symbolize the four great nations of 
the old world ; to Philo, they represent the four cardi- 
nal virtues established by Greek philosophers. The 
Palestinian commentators were prone to see an his- 
torical 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 cer- 
tain answer, and for which dates or records have no 

'Mishnah Rosh Hashanah III. 8, and Philo, De Somn. 
II. 11. 

'Comp. Agadah tei Philo, by Treltel, Monatsschtift, 

' Comp. BereBhlt Rabba 16, 4. 


meaning. For the Haggadah was not committed to 
writing till many generations had known its influ- 
ences, and it was not finally compiled till many gen-« 
erations more had handed it down with continuous 
accretions. The Haggadah in fact is part of the per- 
manent 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 cap- 
tivated the hearers, and was handed down the gen- 
erations 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 Eoman 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,^ and thus it would seem to 

' Comp. Taylor's edition. 


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 devel- 
opment of the Hebrew mind. The " Sayings of the 
Fathers" are typical of the finest and most concen- 
trated 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 re- 
flection or a philosophical utterance. With Philo it 
is otherwise. Compared with the Greeks he is un- 
systematic, inaccurate, wanting in logic, exuberant 
in imagination. Compared with the- rabbis he is a 
formal and accurate philosopher, an exact and schol- 


arly theologian. The floating poetical ideas of the 
Haggadah are -woven by him into the fabric of a Jew- 
ish philosophy and a Jewish theology, and knit to- 
gether with the rational conceptions of Aristotle's 
"Metaphysics" and Plato's "Timseus." 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 Tibe- 
rias, 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 he 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 worlc to do good, and the 
creature's work to give Him thanks." ^ 

Now this legend and moral appear in another form 
in the collection of Midrash, the Pirke Eabbi Eliezer, 
which apparently had ancient sources that have disap- 
peared. There it is told: "When the Holy One, 
blessed be He, consulted the Torah as to the com- 
pleteness 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." ' 

The Haggadah is rich also in allegorical specula- 
tion, 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, ion, and Jacob of 
Truth, riDN (vii. 30). And when the ideas of the peo- 
ple expanded philosophically in Palestine and in Alex- 
andria, the profounder conceptions were attached to 
Scripture by the device of allegorical interpretation, 

'De Plant. 30. 

' It is impossible for me to make an adequate acknowl- 
edgment 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 Rab- 
binic Theology." 


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/ held that the book was the most profound 
in the Bible, and Eabbi Judah similarly regarded the 
book of Job/ 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.' 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 alle- 
gory 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 

'Mishnah Yodayim III. 5. 

= Bereshlt Rabba 26. 7. 

'Comp. Schechter, op. cit.. Introduction. 


commentators -was actually known as niDitfi "Win* 
or interpreters of signs, and their method was by ex- 
amination 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. 36), by which he sweetened the waters at Marah, 
symbolized, by a play on the word imvi,^ that God 
taught Moses the Torah, of which it is said, " She is 
a tree of life" (Prov. iii. 18). Another happy ex- 
ample of this method occurs in the sixth section of 
the Pirke Abot, where the names in the itinerary, 
niD3 Ss'SnjDi M'hm n:nDD (Kumb. 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 heri- 
tage of God, and by that heritage he reaches Heaven." 
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 fre- 
quent 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 ideal- 
ism of the Philonic Word. It is expressed, no doubt, 
naively and fancifully, even playfully, without at- 
tempt 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 

' Berakot 24". 

' Mekllta nStyn I. 1. 


mythical personification, not in deliberate meta- 
physics. The Torah to the rabbis was the embodiment 
of the Wisdom which the writer of Proverbs had glori- 
fied, and it takes its prerogatives. God gazes upon the 
Torah before He creates the world.^ 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," 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 

Shall Truth, with constant Interchange, alight 
And soar again, an everlasting link 
Between the world and Sky." 

(Translation of Emma Lazarus.)' 

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," * 
where he says that the rabbis explained the designa- 
tion of God,ni3ty3 a^nS [rendered in the authorized 
version, " He who rideth on the heavens " (Ps. Ixviii. 
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 Eighteousness are the base 

• Bereshit Rabba I. 2. 
' Pirke R. Ellezer III. 
' Comp. Poems, II, p. 25. 
*Moreh II, eh. 70. 


of Thy throne" (Ps. Ixxxix. 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," n'lyKin nty;?D 
and n^DiD nty;?D, 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 in- 
troducing the student to philosophy until his knowl- 
edge 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 de- 
velopment led away from Judaism increased the dis- 
trust of the later rabbis for such speculation, and 
made them regard esoteric as a milder term for heret- 


ical; but the warning is already given in Ben Sira: 
" It is not needful for thee to see the secret things." ^ 
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 ; " 
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." ' 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 wis- 
dom.' 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 Rom- 
ans, proposed to ban all the D'jiX'n D'ISD," 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 yyo nao/ under which 
title Greek Gnostic books are probably implied. 

'Eccles. III. 15. 

' Hagigah 14 ff., Sanhedrln 37". 

'Bereshlt Rabba 4. 

* Menahot 99. 

"Mishnah Sanhedrin II. 1. 

"Hagigah 15". 


At the time when this spirit shows itself, the ap- 
pearance of heretical offshoots from Judaism was al- 
ready pronounced. Heresy was the aftermath of the 
combination of Judaism and Hellenism, and if fur- 
ther disintegration was to be avoided, the seductive 
Greek influence had to be discouraged. There is al- 
ways 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 Bast and 
West. More especially in the cosmopolitan towns, 
Alexandria, Antioch, and Eome, 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 ming- 
ling 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 vio- 
lating its monotheism and abrogating its law ; and in 
that era of disintegration, denationalization, and de- 
composition they determined to keep their heritage 
pure and inviolate. Judaism by their efforts was the 
only national culture which survived, and some sacri- 
fice had to be made to secure this end. The literary 
monuments of the Alexandrian community from the 
Septuagint translation to the philosophy of the Chris- 
tian scholarchs were cut out of Jewish tradition, and 
the Babylonian school was ignorant altogether of the 
ri'JV riDDn (Greek wisdom). When Ben Zoma desired 
to study the D'JiS'n Dnao, 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, 
nS-''7l DDV 13 nuni (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,' but by 

» Bereshit Rabba 3G. 8 


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 (Eome). 

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 Alex- 
andria 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 Eoman-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, j'p, as selfish possession. In the priestly gar- 
ments 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 legis- 
lator was a Divine man, and that we are unjustly re- 
proached 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 or- 
dered 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 inti- 
mated the seven divisions of the planets The 

vestments of the high priest, being made of linen, signi- 
fied 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." '■ 

Let us 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 (^otaxol, i. e., flowing fruit) be- 
cause of their juice, and the bells are the symbols of 
the harmony of all the elements." ^ 

It is true that the symbolism of the 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, 

^Ant. III. 2. 'De V. Mos. II. 12. 


there was a common source of Jewish apologetic lit- 
erature, 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 dis- 
tinguished philosopher, the brother of the alabarch, 
and the leader of the embassy to Gaius/ He knows 
also of the anti-Semitic diatribes of Philo's great en- 
emy Apion, and two of his extant books are a 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. Pla- 
giarism was held to be no crime, and citation of au- 
thorities in notes or elsewhere was almost unknown in 
literature — save in the Talmud,' where to tell some- 
thing in the name of somebody else is a virtue. But 
one can hardly doubt that the man who devoted him- 
self 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 legislation. 

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 men- 
tioned by any Jewish writer between Josephus in the 

> Comp. Ant. XVIII. 8. 1. 

" Comp. " Ethics of the Fathers " VI. 6. 


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 doc- 
trines, but they do not mention his works or his ex- 
istence. The Midrash Tadshe,^ a tenth century com- 
pilation of allegorical exegesis, contains definite paral- 
lels to Philonic passages, especially in its quotations 
from an Essene Tannaite, Pinhas ben Jair; 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, perse- 
cution, 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 spread- 
ing of Judaism over the world. The rabbis recog- 
nized that this consummation was far away, and that 
Judaism must remain particularist for centuries in 
the hope of a final universalism. Meantime it must 

> See Epstein, PMlon et le Midrasch TadschS, Revue 
des Etudes Juives, XXI, p. 80. 


hold fast to the law and, in default of a national home, 
strengthen the national religions life in each Jewish 
household. They regarded Greek as not only a 
strange but a hostile tongue, and the allegorical exe- 
gesis of the Bible, which had led to the whittling away 
of the law, as a godless wisdom. The Septuagint trans- 
lation, which had offered a starting point for philo- 
sophical speculation, was replaced by a new Greek ver- 
sion of the Old Testament made by Aquila, a prose- 
lyte, in the first century. It gave a baldly literal 
translation of the Hebrew text, sacrificing form and 
even lucidity to a faithful transcript. With uncon- 
scious 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 " ' 
(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-Hel- 
lenistic 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 
periqd lost sight of Greek culture. It is another irony 
of history that our manuscripts of Philo go back to 

'Yer. Meg. I. 71c. 


an archetype in the library of Caesarea 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 cul- 
tured, they could not, in their original form, have 
influenced later Jewish philosophers. But the Chris- 
tians, in their proselytizing activity, had translated 
them into Latin and Armenian before the fifth cen- 
tury, and through one of these means they may possi- 
bly 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 re- 
vealed 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.'' 
Benjamin relates that the doctrine was held by a 
Jewish sect known as the Maghariya, which prob- 
ably 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 

' Comp. an article by Dr. Poznanski in the Revue des 
Etudes Juives, 1905, Philo dans Vancienne literature 
judSo-arabe, pp. 10 ffi. 


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 explana- 
tions of the Decalogue, which occur, and occur only, 
in Philo's treatise on the " Ten Commandments." 

This connection between Philo and an obscure Jew- 
ish sect, or an obscurer Persian-Jewish writer, may ap- 
pear far-fetched and not worth the making. In itself 
doubtless it is unimportant, but it serves to keep Philo, 
however barely, within Jewish tradition. Por 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 col- 
lection, 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 (892-943 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 "■ — also unearthed from the 

'Comp. Poznanski, op. cit., p. 27. 


Cairo Genizah — ^goes some way to support the sugges- 
tion. 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 Judseus by the Church, 
would have been re-named by his own people, trans- 
lating from the Church writers, mirr. One would 
the more willingly catch on to this floating straw, be- 
cause Saadia was at once a compatriot of Philo, bom 
in the Fayyum of Egypt, and the first Jew who strove 
to carry on his work. He aimed at showing the phi- 
losophy of the Torah, and its harmony with Greek 
wisdom in particular. Aristotle, who had been trans- 
lated into Arabic, had meantime supplanted Plato as 
the master of philosophy for theologians, and Saadia's 
magnum opus, ni;rni nuiDK, is colored throughout by 
Aristotelian ideas. But the difference of masters 
does not obscure the likeness of aim, and, albeit un- 
consciously, 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 king- 
dom. The general cultural conditions of Alexandria 
in the first century b. C. b. were reproduced in Spaia 
in the tenth century. Once again the Jews found 
themselves politically emancipated amid a sympa- 
thetic 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 syste- 
matic theology, and a religious philosophy. 

While the study of the old Talmudic lore was main- 
tained, the greatest teachers developed tradition 
afresh by a philosophical restatement designed to 
make it appeal to the mental attitude of the enlight- 
ened. 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 pe- 
riod 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 Alexan- 
drian school. This was, indeed, to be expected, see- 
ing that in both cases there was a mingling of He- 
braism 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 


sho'w that the teachings of Aristotle are implicit 
in the written and the oral law, but the interpreta- 
tion is hardly convincing even in " The Guide of the 
Perplexed," of Maimonides, the monumental work 
which marks the culmination of mediaeval Jewish 

If there is one figure in Jewish tradition with 
whom Philo challenges at once comparison and con- 
trast, it is Maimonides, the brightest star of the Ara- 
bic, 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 philo- 
sophical work are the same, the relation which they 
hold to exist between faith and philosophy well- 
nigh identical. The metaphysics of the Bible, ac- 
cording 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 simili- 
tudes " (xii. 11). The duty of the Jewish philosopher 
is to expound these metaphors and similes; and Mai- 
monides, endeavoring to knit Greek metaphysics 
closely with Jewish tradition, propoimds 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 philoso- 
phies 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 exacti- 
tude and logical sequence — according to the logic of 
the schoolmen — and everything is formalized accord- 
ing 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 ap- 
plies 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.^ 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 monar- 
chy of the Divine government, but places between 
God and man intermediate beings with subordinate 
creative powers — the separate iatelligences of the 
stars, which are identified with the angels of the 
Bible.* But he maintains inviolate the sole causality 
of God and His immanence in the human soul. Mai- 
monides, like Philo, gives in addition to a metaphysi- 
cal 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,' whose ordinances are D'p'nx, i. e., perfectly 
equitable, attaining "the mean" — ^the Aristotelian 
conception of excellence — and identical with the eter- 
nal laws of nature.* 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 work- 
ings 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 

' Moreh II, ch. 1 ff. 
= /6i(J. 31. 
'/6td. 31. 
* Moreh III. 43 ff. 


impossible to say. But at least the philosophy of Mai- 
monides confirms the inner Jewishness of the philoso- 
phy of Philo, and its essential loyalty to Jewish 

Not less striking than his correspondence with later 
Jewish religious philosophy, though not less indefi- 
nite, is the relation of Philo to the later Jewish mys- 
tical and theosophical literature, purporting also to 
be a development of hoary tradition, and indeed 
calling itself simply the tradition, n'73p. 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 emana- 
tions, 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 in- 
spired 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 connec- 
tion with the world. It probably embraced the nt!';?D 
ri'tyxia and the n23iD n&ya, though we know not what 
these exactly contained.* But it was not till the Mid- 
dle 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 

'Comp. Glnzberg, art. "Cabbalah," Jewish Encyclo- 


fancies and foreign theosopMes. The later compila- 
tions of this character form what is more regularly 
known as the Cabbalah; but, apart from the profes- 
sions of the later writers, a continuous train of tra- 
dition 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 Cab- 
balah 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 ' 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 Baby- 
lonian interaction with Hebraism. 

Philo had large sympathies with the Essenic devel- 
opment 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, 

1 Comp. Taylor's " Ethics of the Fathers," ch. 5, notes. 


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 knowl- 
edge, namely, of the First Cause and of virtue, and 
moreover of what they generate." ' These mysteries, 
it is not unlikely, represent according to some scholars 
the niD of the Talmudical rabbis, which was elaborately 
developed in the Zohar and kindred writings. Be this 
as it may, Philo's religious intensityexpresses 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 en- 
closed by anything, contains the root of their concep- 
tion of the En Sof (^jiD yti)' his Logos-idealism, 
with its Divine effluences, which are the true causes of 
all changes, physical and mental, is companion to 
their system of D'oSi;; and niTSD, emanations and 
spheres. His fancies about sex and the struggle be- 
tween a male and female principle in all things ' are a 
constant theme of their teachers, and form a special 
section of their wisdom. Jinn niD , the mystery of gen- 
eration. His conception of the Logos as the heavenly 


' De Cherubim 12 and 14. Comp. De Bomn. I. 8. 

' Comp. De Somn. I. 12. 

» Comp. De Fuga 9. 


archetype of the human race, the " Man-himself /' 
is the Platonic counterpart of their }imp ms, or 
" primal man/' who is known in the ancient allegor- 
izing 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 (nunon). 

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 supersti- 
tious 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 mys- 
tic philosophy that knew how to blend the wisdom and 


folly of the ages." ' 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 
Eenaissance 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 Aza- 
riah dei Eossi, who lived in the sixteenth century. 
His " Meor Einayim " dealt largely with the Hellenis- 
tic 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." ' He pointed out many 
instances of agreement, and some of disagreement, but 
he objected in general to the allegorizing of the his- 
torical 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 

• Comp. Hort, Introduction to Clement's XTpu/iaTtic 
"Ed. Cassel, pp. 4 and 15*. 


Philo's work. That was not to come for two hundred 
years more. To Dei Eossi we owe the Jewish transla- 
tion of Philo's name, mjDjbx H'TT .' To the outer 
world Philo was " the Jew " ; to his own people, " the 

As soon as Greek was reintroduced into the schol- 
arly world, Philo hegan to reassert an important in- 
fluence on theology. One remarkable school of Eng- 
lish mystics and religious philosophers, the Cambridge 
Platonists, who wrote during the seventeenth century, 
founded upon him their method and also their gen- 
eral attitude to philosophy.' 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 imita- 
tion of Philo's allegorism serves to mark the impor- 
tant place that he occupied in the learned world dur- 
ing 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 Hol- 
land 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; 

' Comp. Imre Binah. Meor Einayim, ch. 30. 

' Comp. J. A. Stewart, " Myths of Plato," ad fin. 


and curiously enough, his name, " Philo-Judseus," 
is applied by Eembrandt 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. Spi- 
noza does actually refer in one place, in his "The- 
ologico-Political Tractate" (ch. x), to the opinion 
of Philo-Judaeus upon the date of Psalm Ixxxviii, and 
there are other places in the same book, where he al- 
most 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 He- 
brew 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 re- 
jected, indeed, with scorn the notion that all philos- 
ophy 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 obedi- 
ence, philosophy perfect knowledge.' 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 ap- 
proached 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 imiverse 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 incom- 
plete representations that man makes of His true na- 
ture; 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 pro- 
gress 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 mediseval, 
through Spinoza in the modern world. In the Eenais- 
sance of Jewish learning during the nineteenth cen- 

" Comp. " Theologico-Politlcal Tractate " XV. 


tuTj, Philo was at last studied and interpreted by 
scholars of his own people. The first modem writer 
to reveal the philosophy of Jewish history was Nach- 
man Krochmal (1785-1840), and his posthiimous 
Hebrew book, "The Guide of the Perplexed of the 
Time," edited by Zunz, contained the first critical ap- 
preciation of the Hellenistic Jewish culture by a rab- 
binic 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 criti- 
cism 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 philo- 
sophical ideas. Yet we must be grateful to him be- 
cause many of his interpretations are beautiful orna- 
ments 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- 

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 litera- 


ture, Zacharias Prankel (1801-1875), who has been 
followed by a band of Jewish scholars. Yea,rly our 
understanding of the Alexandrian eultuTe 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 




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.' 
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 re- 
ligious centre of the world. In Philo's day a uni- 
versal Judaism seemed possible, a Judaism true to 
the Torah as well as to the Unity of God,' 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 (Snity), 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 preach- 
ing of God's word, and an active propagation of God's 
law to the Gentile. He must welcome the stranger 

* Comp. De Humanitate II. 395. 
' De V. Mos. II. 1-5. 


that came within the gates.^ Philo struggled against 
the separative and exclusive tendency which charac- 
terized 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 in- 
credible 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*; for 
he may be alienated from his kindred when he is con- 
verted to the honor of the one true God, and aban- 
dons idolatrous, polytheistic worship, but God is all 
the more his advocate and helper." And speaking to 
the Jews he says : ' " 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;* 
and, again, that the Torah was given to Israel for the 
benefit of all peoples ; ° or ° that the purpose of Israel's 
dispersion was that they might make proselytes. 
Philo's short treatise on "Nobility" is an eloquent 

' Comp. De Mon. II. 6. 
' De Just. 6. 

' Comp. De NoUlitate 6. 
*Bamidbar Rabba 8. 
' Tanhuma to Debarim. 
'Comp. Pesahim 87'. 


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. Ke- 
markable is the closing note of the book : 

" We should, therefore, blame those who spuriously ap- 
propriate 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 excel- 
lence of conduct, simply because they have not com- 
mendable 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 

And, again, he writes : " God Judges by the fruit 
of the tree, not by the root; and in the Divine judg- 


ment the proselyte vill be raised on high, and he will 
have a double distinction, because on earth he ' de- 
serted ' to God, and later he receives as his reward a 
place in Heaven."* 

Unfortunately, the development of missionizing 
activity, which followed Philo's epoch, threatening, aa 
it did, the fundamental principles of Judaism, neces- 
sitated 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 Juda- 
ism, as an attack upon it. In some of its principles, 

'De Exsecr. 6. II. 433. 


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 aa 
morality under the national law. To this ideal Philo 
throughout was true, and the Christian teachers were 
essentially opposed, and however much they approxi- 
mated to his method and utilized his thought, they 
were always strangers to his spirit. Philo's philos- 
ophy 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 Hel- 
lenized peoples and the sophisticated communities 
that dwelt round the Mediterranean found it neces- 
sary 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 (STpwixaTsU ) 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 mis- 
sionaries 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 theolo- 
gian says,^ " 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 devel- 
opment. Paul himself was little of a philosopher, and 
those to whom he preached were not usually philo- 
sophical communities such as Philo addressed at 
Alexandria, but congregations of half converted, su- 
perstitious pagans. The philosophical exposition of 

* Comp. Monteflore, Jewish Quarterly Review, VI, p. 


the law was too difficult for them, while the ob- 
servance 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 com- 
plete. The fanatical zest of the missionary dominated 
him, and he proclaimed distinctly where the new He- 
braism which was offered to the Gentile should de- 
part from the historic religion of the Jews : " For 
Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to 
everyone that believeth,"' he says to the Eomans; 
and to the Galatians : " As many as are of the works 
of the law are under the curse." ' " Christ hath re- 
deemed us from the curse of the law .... But be- 
fore faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up 
with the faith which should afterwai'ds 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 re- 
jection 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 the- 
ology, and represented also the missionary spirit 

' Epistle to the Romans V. 
'Epistle to the Galatians III. 10. 


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 Eomans, 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 Ahrahami (ch. 16^), 
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 bond- 
age, 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 

»Coinp. Chapter IV, above, p. 126, 


philosophical outlook, he said: "The rejection of 
the Nofiuz 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 earn- 
estly than the Apostle for the reliance upon grace 
and the saving virtue of faith, but he did not there- 
fore absolve men from the law which made for right- 
eousness.' 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. Seheehter has 
adduced from the early Midrash on the rabbinic con- 
ception.' " 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 
ni'ty, {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' — and the 
passage reminds us still more strongly of both Philo 
and Christian Gospel — " Our Father Abraham came 

' Be Air. 46. 

^Coinp. Seheehter, op. cit., Introduction. 

^ Comp. Mekilta 33', ed. Prledmann. 


into the possession of this ■world and the world .here- 
after 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, inevi- 
tably became ecclesiastical: for as the national regu- 
lation of life was rejected, in order to ensure some 
kind of uniformity, it had to bind its members to- 
gether by definite articles of belief imposed by a cen- 
tral 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 con- 
duct 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 concep- 
tion 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/ 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, ex- 
alts Jesus Christ, the incarnate Word, above Mel- 
chizedek 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 ; ' the Christian creed-makers enun- 
ciated the irrational dogma of the immaculate con- 
ception 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 de- 
parture 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 

' Comp. h. Al III. 26, and Chapter V, above, p. 154. 
'De Cherulim 12. 


became again, as He had been to the Greek theolo- 
gians, an inscrutable imperaonal power, who was 
unknown to man and ruled over the universe by His 
begotten son, the Logos. The sublimity of the He- 
brew 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 com- 
bated, the guide of those who were opposed to hia 
life's ideal. 

The experience of the Church showed how right 
was Philo's judgment when he declared that the re- 
jection of the Torah would produce chaos. The 
fourth and fifth centuries exhibit an era of unparal- 
leled disorder and confusion in the religious world,' 
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 Eoman 
sword ! And out of this struggling mass of beliefs and 
fancies, theologies and superstitions, sects and polit- 
ical 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 

•Comp. Gibbon, "Decline of the Roman Empire," ch. 


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 alle- 
gorizing 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 for- 
eign culture. But in truth the Hellenistic interpre- 
tation of the Bible, so long as it was genuinely philo- 
sophical, 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 bas- 
tard offspring of the Hebraic God-idea and Greek 
culture. Nor should it be forgotten that the Chris- 
tian 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 ex- 
pressions; 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 Septua- 
gint or the allegorists or Philo that the Alexandrian 
development of Judaism led on to Eoman Chris- 
tianity. It is to be ascribed rather to the infirmity 
of human nature, which requires the ideas of its in- 
spired 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 de- 
gree, lived in a narrow world of philosophical ideal- 
ism, and he did not calculate the forces which op- 
posed 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 
]oy. 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, there- 
fore, a great step in the religions work of Israel ; yet 
by the schools of rabbis who felt the hard hand of 
its offspring npon 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 cleayage 
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 iind 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 en- 
forced 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 ap- 
praise 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 per- 
verted it. Other critics, again, say that Philo is weari- 
some 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 destruc- 
tion of the temple. They had behind them a national 
culture and a centre of Jewish life, religious and so- 
cial, 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. Prom the negative side Philo stands 
for the struggle against Epicureanism, which in other 
words is the devotion to material pleasures and sen- 
sual enjoyments. In adversity, as he notes, the race 
is truest to its ideals, but as soon as the breeze of pros- 
perity has caught its sails, then it throws overboard 
all that ennobles life. The hedonist whom he attacks, 
like the Epicures (onip'ss) 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 per- 
secution, 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 lib- 
erty, 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 spir- 
itual significance of the religion. Judaism, which 


lays stress upon the law, the ceremonial, and the cus- 
toms 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 nur- 
ture. Eeligion 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 stand- 
point 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 spir- 
itual 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 mys- 
ticism is the philosophical form of faith. Just as the 
Torah to Philo has an outward and an inward mean- 
ing, 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 itsfelf 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 re- 
former 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 de- 
mands 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 cere- 
mony superstitious. But the Jew does not merely 
borrow ideas or accept his philosophy ready-made 
from his environment; he interprets it afresh accord- 
ing to his peculiar God-idea and his conception of 
God's relation to man, and thereby makes it a gen- 
uine 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 To rah: 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," 

min ]'» nnon ]•» ds ;nD3n fs min j's dk, 
" 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,^ " This nation is only a na- 
tion 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 ren- 
der it more easily assimilated. He emphasizes its 
spiritual import, he shows its harmony, as the age 
demanded, with the philosophical and ethical con- 
ceptions 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-oif Divine event, but something near, which 
every good Jew could bring nearer. He was op- 
pressed by no craven fear of Jewish distinctiveness; 
and the Biblical saying that Israel was a chosen peo- 

»ni;rni nuiDN ni. 


pie 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 understand- 
ing 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 stat- 
utes 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 Phllo: 

The standard edition of Philo is still that of Thomas 
Mangey, PMlonis Judai opera quw reperiri potuerunt 
omnia." 1742. Londinl. 

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 Wend- 
land. 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 

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 
be said of the German translation of Jost, but an ad- 
mirable 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: 

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

Siegfried, PMlo von Alexandrien als Ausleger der 
heiligen Schrift. 

Zeller, OescJiichte der PJiilosopTiie der Oriechen, vol. 
Ill, sec. 2. 

Drummond, " Phllo-Judaeus and the Jewish Alexandrian 
School." 2 vols. (London.) 

Herrlot, Philon le Juif. 

Vacherot, EcoTe d'Alexandrie, vol. I. 

Eusebius, Prwparatio Evangelica, ed. Gifford. 

Freudenthal, J., Hellenistische Studien. 


Hamack, " History of Dogma," vol. I. 
Josephus, "Wars of the Jews"; "Antiquities of the 
Mommsen, Th., " The Roman Provinces." 
Works bearing on the special subjects of the different 
chapters : 

I. The Jewish Community at Alexandria 

Graetz, "History of the Jews" (Eng. trans.), 
vol. II. 

Swete, " Introduction to the Septuagint." 
Hirsch, S. A., " The Temple of Onlas," in the 
Jews' College Jubilee Volume. 

Friedlander, M. (Vienna), Geschichte der jU- 
dischen Apologetik and Religiose Bewegungen 
der Juden im Zeitalter von Jesus. 
II. The Lite and Times of Phido 

Conybeare, edition of De Vita Contemplativa. 

Hils, Les juifs en Rome. Revue des Etudes 
Juives, vols. 8 and 11. 

Relnach, Thfiodor, Textes d'auteurs grecs et ro- 
mains relatifs au Judaisme. 

Brfihier et Massebieau, Essai sur la clironologie 
de Philon. Revue de I'Histoire des Religions, 

III. Philo's Wohks and Method 

Hart, J. H. A., " Philo of Alexandria," Jewish 
Quarterly Review, vols. XVII and XVIII. 

Massebieau, Du classement des oeuvres de 

Cohn, Leopold, Einteilung und Chronologie der 
SeJiriften Philos. 

IV. Philo and the Toeah 

Treitel, L., Der Nomos in Philon. Monatsschrift 
filr Oeschichte und Wissenschaft des Judenthums, 


v. Philo's Theology 

Montefiore, C, Florilegium PMlonis, Jewish 
Quarterly Review, vol. VIII. 

Caird, Ed., "Evolution of Theology in the 
Greek Philosophers." 

Heinze, Die Lehre vom Logos. 

Bucher, Philonische Studien. 

Von Arnim, Philonische Studien. 
VI. Philo as a Philosopher 

Freudenthal, Max, Die Erkenntnisstheorie von 

Bigg, " The Christian neo-Platonists of Alex- 

Bussell, " The School of Plato." 

Stewart, J. A., " The Myths of Plato." 

Guyot, H., Les reminiscences de Philon chez 
Plotin. 1906. 

Neumark, Geschichte der judischen Philosophic 
des Mittelalters. 
VII. Philo and JirwisH Teadition 

Schechter, " Aspects of Rabbinic Theology." 

Taylor, " Ethics of the Fathers." 

Ritter, Bernhard, Philo und die Halacha. Bres- 
lau, 1879. 

Dei Rossi, " Meor Einayim," ed. Cassel. 

Krochmal, " Moreh Nebuchei Hazeman," ed. 

Frankel, Z., Veier den Einfluss der palastinen- 
sischen Exegese auf die alexandrinische Herme- 

Epstein, Le livre des JuMUs, Philon et le Mid- 
rasch TadschS, Revue des Etudes Juives, XXI. 

Ginzberg, L., " Allegorical Interpretation," in 
Jewish Encyclopedia. 

Joel, M., Blicke in die Religionsgeschichte. 

Treitel, L., Agadah tei Philo. Monatsschrift 
filr Geschichte und Wissenschaft des Judenthums, 



The references to Philo's works are made according to 
the chapters in Cohn 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's 
edition; but I have frequently mentioned the name of 
the treatise in which the passage occurs, as well as the 

I have employed the following abbreviations In the 
references : 

L. A. I-III Legum Allegoriae. 

De Mundl Op De Mundl Opificlo. 

De Sacrif De Sacrificils Abelis. 

Quod Det Quod Deterius Potiori Insidiatur. 

De Post. C De Posteritate Calnl. 

De Gigant De Gigantibus. 

Quod Deus Quod Deus Sit Immutabllis. 

De Agrlc De Agricultura. 

De Plant De Plantatione. 

De Ebr De Ebrietate. 

De Confus De Conf usione Linguarum. 

De Mlgr De Migratione Abraham!. 

Quis Rer. Div Quis Rerum Divinarum Heres. 

De Cong De Congressu Eruditorum Causa. 

De Fuga De Fuga et Inventione. 

De Mut. Nom De Mutatione Nomlnum. 

De Somn De Somniis. 

De Abr De Vita Abrahaml. 

De Jos De Vita Josephl. 

De V. Mos De Vita Mosis. 


De Mon De Monarchla. 

De Spec. Leg De Specialibus Leglbus. 

De Sao De Sacerdotum Honoribus et de 


De Leg De Legatione ad Gaium. 

In Flacc In Placcum. 

De Decal De Decalogo. 

De Septen De Septenarlo. 

De Cohcuplsc De Concuplscentla. 

De Just De Justitia. 

De Exsecr De Bxsecratlonibus. 

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: Praeparatlo Evangellca. 

Photius, Cod Photius: Codex. 


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

Agrippa (King), Philo*s life covera 
reign of, 45; Philo in Jerusa- 
lem dm-ing reign of, 50; ar- 
rives at Alexandria, 65; ad- 
vanced 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 im- 
prisonment, 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 tradi- 
tion 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; philo- 
sophical schools at, 63, 90, 92, 
94, 140; development of Juda- 
ism in, 77, 255; Egyptian 
caste-system adopted at, 16; 
Jews of, popularize teachings 
of Bible, 34; Jews of, refer- 
red to, in Talmud. 42; Philo 
forced into Sanhedrin of, 61, 
202, 203 f . ; Philo member 
of, 61 ; disintesration of 
community at, 71: Zealots 
flee to. on fall of Jerusalem, 
71; replaced by Babvlon as 
centre of Jewish intellect, 73; 
Samaritans in, 106; antino- 
mian movement in, 130; pro- ' 

totypes of Christian belief at, 
155; Pjiihagorean influence at, 
188; national life and culture 
undermined at (see National), 

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

Allegories of the Laws, an al- 
legorical commentary, 74, 
87 f. ; attacks Stoic doctrines, 
94; the Epistles j lineal de- 
scendants of, 247. 

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

Antiochua 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; rab- 
bis' views of, 224. 

Aristeas, spirit of, glorified in 
Philo, 77. 

Aristobulua, first allegorist of 
Alexandria, 38; his spirit in- 
herited by Philo, 77; on wis- 
dom, 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, 

Bible, the. Philo's interpretation 



and views on, 49» 102, 108 flf.; 
Philo reveals spiritual mes- 
sa«'e of, 83; authority of, 
challenged at Alexandria, 92; 
■wisdom personified in, 141, 

Cabbalah, the, Essenes practi- 
tioners in, 2S3; Philo as the 
Hellenizer of, 235. 

Caligula. See Gaius. 

Chaldean, thought, Philo*9 ac- 
quaintance with, 48. 

Christian, monastic communities, 
73 ; heresy, a severance from 
main community, 72; theolo- 
gians, fail to realize spirit of 
Philo, 124; reformers, and the 
yoke of the law, 130; teachers 
preserve Philo's works, 166, 
248; writers quote Philo, 223; 
apologists imitate allegorical 
method, 245. 

Christianity, the movement to- 
wards, 28; rise of, 42; conflict 
with Judaism at Alexandria, 
72; Philo's writings regarded 
as testimony to, 156; Philo's 
influence over religious phil- 
osophy of, 199. 

Conversion to Judaism, in Egypt 
and Rome, 32. 

OouraoCt tractate appended to 
Life of Mo/teSf 75. 

Creation of the World, descrip- 
tion 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, 

Dubnow, on Alexandrian Judaism, 


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 wide- 
spread in (see Rome) , 32 ; 
FlaccuB, governor of, 65; 
Jews of, nnder same rule as 
Palestine Jews, 15. 

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

Epistles, the Pauline, lineal de- 
scendants of Allegories of the 
Laws, 247; doctrines of the 
Logos in, 260. 

Essenes, rise of, 34, G4; account 
of, in Philo's works, 78; type 
of the philosophical life, 79; 
practitioners in the Cabbalah, 

Flaccus, won over by Anti-Sem- 
ites, 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. 

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

Greek philosophers, Philo's rela- 
tion 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; neglpcted 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 Je^^ 
determine, 105; observance of 
oral law standardized in, 126; 
relation of Philo to, 202 f. ; 
differences between Alexan- 
drian Sanhedrin and Pales- 
tinian, 203 f.; codification of, 

Hebrew, language, evidence of 
Philo's knowledge of, 49; in- 
cluded in barbarian languages, 
97 ; Philo's derivations from, 
50, 101; race, the three foun- 
ders of, 110 f. ; tradition, 
Philo follows, 169; mind, Pro- 
fessor Caird on, 167. 

Hellenism, of Palestine, 24, 25; 
of Alexandria (see Greek 
culture), 25; influence of, in 
Palestine, 61; and the inter- 
pretation of the Bible, 264; 



New Testament, a combina- 
tion of Hebraism and, 247; 
Christian theology a descent 
to a commoner, 254. 

Eillel, Philo contemporary with, 
45; shows expansion of He- 
brew Riind, 45; on chief les- 
son of Torah, 117, 118; spirit 
of, shared by Philo, 249. 

Humanity, tractate appended to 
a Life of Moaea, 75. 

Incarnation, notion of, not Jew- 
ish, 166. 

Indian, thought, Philo's acquaint- 
ance with, 4S. 

Isaac. See Lives of Isaac and 
Jacob, 83. 

Israel, Philo's derivation of the 
name, 50, 13ij; God's special 
providence for, 77; the mis- 
sion of, 206, 242. 

Italy, Philo visits, 66. 

Jacob. See Lives of Isaac and 
Jacol), 83. 

Jeremiah, prophesies in Egypt, 
14; Iveard by Plato, 16. 

Jerusalem, Alexander's visit to, 
14; Philo, on national cen- 
tre at, 20, 41, 86; spiritual 
headship of, 41; special syna- 
gogues for Alexandrians in, 
41; derivation of name of, 50; 
Philo's sojourn at, 50; down- 
fall 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 
isee Alexandria), 13 ff., 72; 
temple at Elephantine, 15; 
kingdom reaches its height, 
45; mind, religous conception 
of, 49, 137, 186; law and cere- 
mony, elucidation of, 49; 
race, symbol of the unity of, 
51; aspiration toward ** free- 
dom under the law," 124; in- 
fluences, dominant in Philo, 
133, 189; philosophy, eclectic, 
168; philosophy, new school 
of in Middle Ages, 225 f. 

Joseph (see Lives of Abraliam 
and Joseph), 8S; 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 spread- 
ing of Judaism, 115; indicates 
communication between 
schools of Alexandria and 
Palestine, 220; relation to 
Philo and his works, 222. 

Jowett, on sermons, 90. 

Judaism, genius of, 46, 196; Phi- 
lo's exposition of, 52, 74, 78, 
81, 84, 105; Philo protests 
against desecration of, 258; 
mysticism in, 58; philosophi- 
cal, 72, 230; Alexandrian de- 
velopment of, 77, 92; moral 
teachings of, 85; religion of 
the Igw, 106, 116, 260; Jose- 
phus on the spreading of, 115; 
a religion of universal validity, 
121, 169; at Jerusalem and 
Alexandria, 129; catholic con- 
science of, 130, 131; Darme- 
steter on, 132; Logos doctrine 
and, 165; danger of union with 
Gentiles to, 206; a national 
cultiu-e, 219; influences of 
Jesus and Paul on, 247; Hel- 
lenistic interpretation of the 
Bible and, 254. 

Judas Haccabsus, struggles 
against Hellenizing party, 18. 

Erochmal, Nachman, criticism of 
Philo, 240. 

Life of Moses, contents of, 75, 
79 f . ; an attempt to set mono- 
theism before the world, 80; 
tractates appended to, 75. 

Lives of Airaham and Joseph, 
description of, 83. 

Lives of Isaac and Jacoi, con- 
tents of, 83. 

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



Malmonides. object of hia Moreh, 

91; principles of, 99, 229; 

comparison of Philo with, 

229 f. 
Mark Antony, Alexander Lysima- 

chua in the confidence of, 46. 
Monastic communities, supposed 

record of Christian, in Fhilo, 

Moaes, Philo a follower of, 60, 

113 f.; Philo'a 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 transla- 
tion of, 25-30; Aquila's new 
Greek version of, 224. 

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

Oral law, observance of, standard- 
ized in the Halakah, 126. 

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

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

Palestinian Jews, under same 
rule aa Egyptian Jewa, 15; 
rabbis, oral tradition, 34; 
development of Jewish cul- 
ture, 42 f., 200; Midrash, 
Philo*s acquaintance with, 52; 
Bchools, relation existing be- 
tween Alexandrian and, 199 f., 
S03f., 213. 

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, aa a form of interpreta- 
tion, 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 testi- 
mony to Christianity, 73, 156; 
influence of, over Christian 
religious philosophy, 195, 
242 ff. ; relation of, to Greek 
philosophers, 48, 52; acquaint- 
ance of, with Chaldean and 
Indian thought, 48; his in- 
terpretation and views of the 
Bible, 49, 102, 108 ff ; evidence 
of his knowledge of Hebrew 
language, 49; follows Hebrew 
tradition, 159, 199 ff.; com- 
pared with Spinoza, 73, 134, 
163; on persecutions of Seja- 
nua and Flacoua, 62, 78; re- 
plies to attacks of atoics, 64, 
95; stoics' view of God com- 
pared 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 be- 
tween Saadia and, 226 f . ; the 
Hellenizer of the Cabbalah, 
235; opposed to missionary at- 
titude of Paul, 249. 

Plato, hears Jeremiah, 15; Philo's 
style reminiscent of, 48; con- 
ception 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, in- 
creases number of Jewish in- 
habitants in Alexandria, 16; 
rv, gives Heliopolia to Oniaa, 
16; admirers of Scripturei, 23. 



Queationa and Anatoera to 
Geneaia and Ewodua, now 
incomplete, 75, 81 f. ; a pre- 
liminary study to more elab- 
orate works, 81; Hebraic in 
form, 82. 

Repentance, tractate appended 
to Life of Moaes, 75. 

Rome, Alexandria second to, 14; 
conversion widespread in (see 
Egypt), 32; Agrippa an exile 
from, 61; power of Jews at, 
62; Jewish struggle with, 220; 
Philo'B apocryphal meeting 
with Peter at, 73; national 
life and culture undermined 
at (aee National), 218. 

Saadia, founds new school of Jew- 
ish philosophy, 225 f . ; con- 
nection between Philo and, 
226 f. 

Samaritan, doctrines with refer- 
ence 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 in- 
fluence of, 62; Antonia oppo- 
nent ot, 62; Philo's book on 

persecution ot, S2, 78; dis- 
grace and death of, 65. 

Septuagint, Hellenistic develop- 
ment marked by, 26; Philo's 
version of origin of, 26; cele- 
brations in honor of, 27; in- 
fusion of Greek philosophic 
ideas into, 2S; Christianizing 
influence of, 29; value of, to 
the cultured Gentile, 33; re- 
placed by new Greek version 
of Old Testament, 224. 

Solomon, Wisdom of, written at 
Alexandria, 31. 

Specific Laws, The, description 
of, 83; socialism of Bible em- 
phasized in, 86. 

Spinoza, his ideal of life, 53; com- 
pared with Philo's, 73, 134, 
163, 239; on Jewish thought, 
137; influenced by Philo, 237 f; 
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 com- 
pared with that of Philo, 185. 

Synagogues, at Alexandria, 16, 37. 

Tiberius Alexander, nephew of 

Philo, 71. 
Tradition, Jewish, at Alexandria, 

27; Philo and Jewish, 199 ft. 

Zealots, flight of, to Alexandria, 

^S« Bori (§aXivMoxt (press 

Baltiuoke, ud., v. a. a.