Memorial Day Offer

Discover your mystery discount!


Biography of Philo: – Philo’s estimated birth and death dates are between 15-10 BCE and 45-50 CE. – He described himself as old during a […]

« Back to Glossary Index

Biography of Philo:
– Philo’s estimated birth and death dates are between 15-10 BCE and 45-50 CE.
– He described himself as old during a delegation to Gaius Caligula in 38 CE.
– Philo visited the Second Temple in Jerusalem at least once.
– Jewish history professor Daniel R. Schwartz provided insights on Philo’s timeline.
– Philo was part of a delegation to the Roman emperor Caligula in 40 CE.
– Philo came from a noble, honorable, and wealthy family.
– His family had ties to various dynasties in Judea and Rome.
– Philo’s brother, Alexander Lysimachus, was extremely wealthy and influential.
– Through Alexander, Philo had two nephews, Tiberius Julius Alexander and Marcus Julius Alexander.

Diplomatic Role of Philo:
– Philo was chosen as the principal representative of the Alexandrian Jews before Caligula.
– He refused to treat the emperor as a god or build altars in his honor.
– Philo’s stance on the emperor’s divinity led to tension with the Roman authorities.
– Josephus documented Philo’s role in representing the Jewish community.
– Philo’s defense of Jewish beliefs against Roman expectations is well-documented.

Education and Philosophy of Philo:
– Philo and his brothers received a comprehensive education in Hellenistic and Roman cultures.
– They were well-versed in Jewish traditional literature and Greek philosophy.
– Philo’s works show influences from Plato, Stoics, poets, and orators.
– He harmonized Jewish scripture with Greek philosophy through allegory.
– Philo identified the angel of the Lord with the Logos.
– His writings reflect a literal and allegorical understanding of the Torah.

Symbolism and Numerology in Philo’s Work:
– Philo bases doctrines on the Hebrew Bible.
– Bible pronouncements are ἱερὸς λόγος, θεῖος λόγος, and ὀρθὸς λόγος.
– Philo engages in Pythagorean-inspired numerology.
– Symbolism extends to numerals like 50, 70, 100, 12, and 120.
– Objects and proper names are symbolically interpreted.

Theological Influence and Legacy of Philo:
– Philo’s doctrines are heavily influenced by the Hebrew Bible.
– He sees Moses as a key figure in revelation.
– Philo’s allegorical interpretation helps explain morally disturbing events.
– Philo’s allegorical interpretations influenced by Aristobulus of Alexandria.
– He applies Stoic mode of allegoric interpretation to the Old Testament.

Philo (Wikipedia)

Philo of Alexandria (/ˈfl/; Ancient Greek: Φίλων, romanizedPhílōn; Hebrew: יְדִידְיָה, romanizedYəḏīḏyāh (Jedediah); c. 20 BCE – c.  50 CE), also called Philo Judaeus, was a Hellenistic Jewish philosopher who lived in Alexandria, in the Roman province of Egypt.

Imaginative illustration of Philo made in 1584 by the French portrait artist André Thevet
Bornc. 20 BCE
Diedc. 50 CE (age c. 75)
EraAncient philosophy
RegionAncient Roman philosophy
SchoolMiddle Platonism
Hellenistic Judaism
Main interests
Cosmology, philosophy of religion
Notable ideas
Allegorical interpretation of the Torah

The only event in Philo's life that can be decisively dated is his representation of the Alexandrian Jews in a delegation to the Roman emperor Caligula in 40 CE following civil strife between the Jewish and Greek communities of Alexandria.

Philo was a leading writer of the Hellenistic Jewish community in Alexandria, Egypt. He wrote expansively in Koine Greek on the intersection of philosophy, politics, and religion in his time; specifically, he explored the connections between Greek Platonic philosophy and late Second Temple Judaism. For example, he maintained that the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible and additional books) and Jewish law (which was still being developed by the rabbis in this period) are a blueprint for the pursuit of individual enlightenment.

Philo's deployment of allegory to harmonize Jewish scripture, mainly the Torah, with Greek philosophy was the first documented of its kind, and thereby often misunderstood. Many critics of Philo assumed his allegorical perspective would lend credibility to the notion of legend over historicity. Philo often advocated a literal understanding of the Torah and the historicity of such described events, while at other times favoring allegorical readings.

« Back to Glossary Index
This site uses cookies to offer you a better browsing experience. By browsing this website, you agree to our use of cookies.