Philo (Philo of Alexandria, Philo Judaeus)


Philo (fī´lō) or Philo Judaeus (jōōdē´əs) [Lat.,=Philo the Jew], c.20 BC–c.AD 50, Alexandrian Jewish philosopher. His writings have had an enormous influence on both Jewish and Christian thought, and particularly upon the Alexandrian theologians Clement and Origen. All that is known of his life is that he was sent to Rome c.AD 40 to represent the Jews of Alexandria in seeking the restoration of privileges lost because they had refused to obey an imperial edict to worship Caligula. Philo was the first important thinker to attempt to reconcile biblical religion with Greek philosophy. In so doing he developed an allegorical interpretation of Scripture that enabled him to find many of the doctrines of Greek philosophy in the Torah (the Pentateuch). An eclectic and a mystic, Philo emphasized the total transcendence and perfection of God, and in order to account for creation and the relation between the infinite God and the finite world, he used the concept of the Logos. Logos is the intermediary through which God's will acts and is thus the creative power that orders the world. Along with the Logos, Philo posited a whole realm of beings or potencies that bridge the gap between the Creator and his creation. Only fragments of Philo's works remain, but numerous quotations from his writings are found in early Christian literature.

See his works, tr. by F. H. Colson and G. H. Whitaker (10 vol., 1929–42, Loeb Classical Library); E. R. Goodenough, Introduction to Philo Judaeus (2d ed. 1963).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2015, The Columbia University Press.

Philo (Philo of Alexandria, Philo Judaeus): Selected full-text books and articles

An Introduction to Philo Judus By Erwin R. Goodenough Yale University Press; Oxford University Press, 1940
Jews in the Hellenistic and Roman Cities By John R. Bartlett Routledge, 2002
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 10 "Philo, Alexandria and Empire: The Politics of Allegorical Interpretation"
Voluntary Associations in the Graeco-Roman World By John S. Kloppenborg; Stephen G. Wilson Routledge, 1996
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 7 "Philo and the Clubs and Associations of Alexandria"
Ancient Alexandria between Egypt and Greece By W. V. Harris; Giovanni Ruffini Brill, 2004
Librarian’s tip: "Philo" begins on p. 147
Christianity in the Second Century: The Case of Tatian By Emily J. Hunt Routledge, 2003
Librarian’s tip: "Philo: Precursor of Christian Philosophy" begins on p. 110
Jew and Gentile in the Ancient World: Attitudes and Interactions from Alexander to Justinian By Louis H. Feldman Princeton University Press, 1993
Librarian’s tip: "Philo on the Wisdom of the Jews" begins on p. 209
Teachers and Texts in the Ancient World: Philosophers, Jews, and Christians By H. Gregory Snyder Routledge, 2000
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of Philo begins on p. 122
Belly and Body in the Pauline Epistles By Karl Olav Sandnesn; Richard Bauckham Cambridge University Press, 2002
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 7 "The Belly in Philo's Writings"
The Making of Fornication: Eros, Ethics, and Political Reform in Greek Philosophy and Early Christianity By Kathy L. Gaca University of California Press, 2003
Librarian’s tip: Part Two "Greek Biblical Sexual Rules and Their Reworking by Paul and Philo"
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