I finished The Cambridge Companion to Philo. In this post, I'll talk some about the last two essays in the book.
A few posts ago, I mentioned that ancient Christians preserved Philo's
writings, whereas Jews did not. David Runia has an essay, "Philo and
the Early Christian Fathers", that goes more deeply into that. Why did
ancient Christians preserve Philo? There were a variety of
reasons----Philo discussed Jewish history, some Christians thought that
that he was describing Christians when he wrote about the Therapeutae,
and Philo believed in a logos that was a sort of intermediary for God,
and a number of Christians had a similar conception of God in which they
identified Jesus Christ as the logos. I said in that post that there
were ancient Christians who thought that Philo actually was a Christian,
but that wasn't true of all ancient Christians. When Philo allegorizes
Noah's ark as the human body and says that its openings represented the
lower body parts that were for waste, for example, Augustine does not
care for that particular interpretation, although he does have a high
regard for Philo. Augustine concludes that Philo made that poor
interpretation because he was a Jew who did not know about Christ and
thus was unaware that the Ark's openings represented the sacraments
flowing from the side of the church.
2. David Winston has an
essay, "Philo and Rabbinic Literature". Winston addresses the question
of whether or not there was a relationship between Philo and rabbinic
literature----if Philo influenced rabbinic literature, and if the
Palestinian traditions that later made their way into rabbinic
literature influenced Philo. My impression is that, overall, Winston is
skeptical. He refers to the possibility that Philo got traditions from
a common pool with that of the Palestinian Jews rather than being
influenced by them (the Palestinian Jews), and that Philo could have
arrived independently at the interpretations he held that were similar
to those in rabbinic literature. Winston (if I read his essay
correctly) appeared to be open to the possibility that Palestinian
Judaism influenced Philo to highlight repentance, a concept that really
was not in Stoicism and Greek philosophy. But Winston later says that
Neopythagoreanism believed in self-examination, and that could have
enabled Philo to incorporate repentance into his thought more smoothly.
Could Philo have gotten repentance from the Hebrew Bible rather than
Palestinian Judaism? I think so, even though, as Winston notes, the
rabbis (and I think Philo) tended to read repentance into certain Torah
passages when the concept was not there.
Another interesting topic
that Winston discussed was the views on inspiration that were held by
Philo and the rabbis. The rabbis held to a notion of divine
dictation----that God was telling Moses what to write,
word-for-word----though there were some rabbis who thought that, at
times, Moses added his own two cents to the Torah. Philo, however, saw a
larger role for the genius of Moses.
I'm actually glad I bought this book and that I own these essays, since they will be helpful to me in my studies.
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