Philo as a ‘hermeneut.’

Georgi Shavulev, “The Place of Philo of Alexandria in the History of Philosophy,” in Center for Open Access in Science ▪ Belgrade – SERBIA
7th International e-Conference on Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences
ISBN (Online) 978-86-81294-08-6 ▪ 2021: pp. 205-214. Published online 28 June 2021.

Abstract: “Philo of Alexandria (ca. 20 B.C.E. -50 C.E.), or Philo Judaeus as he is also called, was a Jewish scholar, philosopher, politician, and author who lived in Alexandria and who has had a tremendous influence through his works (mostly on the Christian exegesis and theology). Today hardly any scholar of Second Temple Judaism, early Christianity, or Hellenistic philosophy sees any great imperative in arguing for his relevance. After the research (contribution) of V. Nikiprowetzky in the field of philonic studies, it seems that the prevailing view is that Philo should be regarded above all as an “exegete “. Such an opinion in one way or another seems to neglect to some extent Philo’s
place in the History of philosophy. This article defends the position that Philo should be considered primarily as a “hermeneut”. Emphasizing that the concept of hermeneutics has a broader meaning (especially in the context of antiquity) than the narrower and more specialized concept of exegesis.”

Georgi Shavulev is a Ph.D. student at South-West University “Neofit Rilski”, Faculty of Philosophy, Blagoevgrad, BULGARIA Department of Philosophical and Political Sciences.

Fables in Philo of Alexandria

Sean A. Adams, ‘Fables in Philo of Alexandria: λόγος, μῦθος, and παραβολή,’ in Albertina Oegema, Jonathan Pater, and Martijn Stoutjesdijk (eds), Overcoming Dichotomies. Parables, Fables, and Similes in the Graeco-Roman World. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 1. 483: Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen, 2022, pp. 169-90.

Abstract: “Philo of Alexandria, although known best for his allegorical interpretation of Scripture, engaged with a wide range of Greek literature. This contribution begins with a discussion of terms associated with ancient parables and fables (λόγος, μῦθος, and παραβολή) with a specific investigation as to how these terms are used by Philo. I will follow this with an evaluation of Philo’s use of fables and fable language within his corpus, arguing that these literary devices provide insight into Philo’s interpretive approach and his educational background. In particular, Philo’s engagement with Greek fabula in Conf. 4–14 provides strong example of how Philo explicitly engaged with fabula and how Philo differentiated biblical stories from their Greek counterparts.”

La historia judía en Hypothetica de Filón

Pérez, L. “La historia judía en Hypothetica de Filón de Alejandría: una versión apologética del Éxodo y la Conquista de Canaán”. Circe de clásicos y modernos26.1 (2022) 37-61. DOI:

Abstract: “The purpose of this article is to analyze Philo’s presentation of the Exodus and the Conquest of Canaan in the historical section of the apologetic treatise Hypothetica (5. 11-7. 20), and the motivations that could have guided this representation. We will inquire other narratives of these same episodes to which Philo can be responding, and we will try to demonstrate that the oddness and novelty of the treatise among Philo’s works can be explained from its production in the changing and urgent context of the Jewish-Alexandrian
conflicts of the years 38-40, but they should not hide the lines of continuity between this text and other Philonic writings.”

Two Lofty Liturgies of Life

Romulus D. Stefanut, “Two Lofty Liturgies of Life: Philo’s Therapeutae and their Friendly Polemics with the Essenes.” Early Christianity 13.1 (2022) 58-83.

Abstract: “Die Studie untersucht das Verhältnis zwischen zwei faszinierenden jüdischen Sekten, den Essenern und den Therapeuten, aus dem Blickwinkel der Schriften Philos. Die beiden religiösen und philosophischen Gruppen stellen in Philos Sicht nicht nur die hervorragendsten Repräsentanten des Judentums im judäischen Heimatland bzw. in der alexandrinischen Diaspora dar, sondern auch die vorbildlichsten Vertreter einer aktiven und einer kontemplativen Lebensweise. Beide praktizieren sie einen radikalen Gottesdienst, sie leben ein gemeinschaftliches, aber genügsames Leben und vermeiden die Versuchungen des Stadtlebens um jeden Preis. Besonders bedeutsam ist, dass ihr Alltag in einer erhabenen Liturgie des Lebens von raum-zeitlichen Rhythmen und symbolischen geistlichen Übungen umgriffen wird.”

Philo’s Hellenistic-Jewish Approach

Carmen Palmer, “Philo’s Hellenistic-Jewish Approach in On the Decalogue and On the Contemplative Life: Blending Wisdom of Solomon’s Critique against Idols with a Hellenistic Notion of Moderation.” in Journal of Ancient Judaism (2022) 1-16. (Brill).

Online Publication Date: 06 Jun 2022.

Abstract: “Philo draws on the Wisdom of Solomon in his tripartite critique against idols found in On the Decalogue and On the Contemplative Life. As he fashions these critiques in the pursuit of upholding Mosaic law, Philo not only criticizes Greek and Egyptian forms of worship, he also integrates the notion of moderation evident in Hellenism and Hellenistic-Egyptian Isis worship. This essay demonstrates ways in which the pursuit of moderation and Isis as lawgiver are integrated into Philo’s concepts of Moses as lawgiver and pursuit of law in opposition to Roman forms of excess. The essay considers various texts, including excerpts from Greek philosophers and Hellenistic Egyptian hymns to Isis, in addition to considerations of contemporary Roman excesses vis-à-vis Philo’s Decalogue, Contempl. Life, and his uses of Wis. Philo’s Hellenistic Judaism emerges from a simultaneous criticism yet also integration of both Hellenistic and Hellenistic-Egyptian concepts and traditions.”

Enduring Divine Discipline

Scot D. Mackie, “Enduring Divine Discipline in Philo, De congressu 157–180 and the Epistle to the Hebrews 12:5–17,” in Ancient Texts, Papyri, and Manuscripts: Studies in Honor of James R. Royse (ed. D.T. Runia, A.T. Farnes, and S.D. Mackie; NTTSD 64; Leiden: Brill, 2022), 269–301

Abstract: “The relationship of the Epistle to the Hebrews to Philo of Alexandria has been long debated. Though most scholars are pessimistic about the possibility of establishing any substantive connection between the two authors, there is widespread admission that they stand in proximate streams of Alexandrian Judaism and share somewhat similar cosmologies and metaphysics. This essay seeks to expand the potential range of their affinities by examining the remarkably similar theodicies offered in Philo’s De congressu 157–180 and Hebrews 12:5–17. Both texts pursue the same rhetorical goal (to defend the necessity of trials and tests, and the benefits of enduring adversities), quote Prov 3:11–12, and contain an extraordinary cluster of themes, including the contrast between appearance and reality, the need to correctly interpret adverse circumstances, the nature and role of παιδεία, confessing “kinship” with God, “looking ahead” to a reward, and the life of faith as an agonistic/athletic contest. “

Logos as Mediator

Díaz Lisboa, Matias Alejandro. “El Logos Mediador en Filón de Alejandría.” Palabra y Razón. Revista de Teologia. Filosofia y Ciencias de la Religión 20 (2021): 33–53.

Abstract: “The objective of this work is to analyze and systematize one of the most important topics around the thought of Philo of Alexandria, his theory of the Logos. Primarily, the introduction will show how the theory of the Logos in Philo has been treated, a theory that has only paid attention to just some aspects of the Logos, for later (in the following chapters) to reconstruct a doctrine that is in all the forms in which Philo works on the concept of Logos, the notion of the Logos as a mediator, a notion assumed by all scholars, but not explained. Based on this concept of mediator Logos, the classical role that the conception of the Logos as an instrument has had will be examined in the structure of the investigation, to show the difficulties of this understanding, and, with it, to be able to access the radicality of the Philonian logos. The proposal that will be approached by examining some central features that reveal the specific characteristics of the Philonian theory of Logos, such as (1) the problem of mediation in the scheme of creation, (2) the Logos itself, (3) its independence and (4) its necessity in Philo’s thought.”

Philo on Joseph, the Patriarch

Díaz-Lisboa, Mat́ias. “Filón de Alejandría: Consideraciones Filosófo-Políticas en Torno a José (Patriarca) y la Ley de la Naturaleza.” Palabra y Razón. Revista de Teologia. Filosofia y Ciencias de la Religión 17 (2020): 26–43.

Abstract: Inherent in the Corpus Philonicum is its apparent contempt for political life, presented as a veil that skews our total perception of truth; a portrait of the above is the life of Joseph, who in the words of Philo is a simple addition of theLord, subjected to the mutability of the sensible, Egypt. This notion has been the standard interpretation about Joseph. However, in this work it will be shown, that this negative path has been only a slight error. That is why a thesis will be developed that does not frame Joseph under canonical categories, as a villain for the Jews, or an ideal legislator for the Romans, but, based on the concept of natural law and its intersections with his statesman, be considered good for both Jews and Romans.

New article by Paula Fredriksen

Fredriksen, P. (2022). “Philo, Herod, Paul, and the Many Gods of Ancient Jewish “Monotheism””. Harvard Theological Review, 115(1), 23-45. DOI:


“Many gods lived in the Roman Empire. All ancient peoples, including Jews and, eventually, Christians, knew this to be the case. Exploring the ways that members of these groups thought about and dealt with other gods while remaining loyal to their own god, this essay focuses particularly on the writings and activities of three late Second Temple Jews who highly identified as Jews: Philo of Alexandria, Herod the Great, and the apostle Paul. Their loyalty to Israel’s god notwithstanding, they also acknowledged the presence, the agency, and the power of foreign deities. Reliance on “monotheism” as a term of historical description inhibits our appreciation of the many different social relationships, human and divine, that all ancient Jews had to navigate. Worse, “monotheism” fundamentally misdescribes the religious sensibility of antiquity.”

‘Ex-Pagan Pagans’?

Denys N. McDonald, “Ex-Pagan Pagans? Paul, Philo, and Gentile Ethnic Reconfiguration.” Journal for the Study of the New Testament March 2022, 1-28.

Abstract: “In Paul: The Pagans’ Apostle (2017), Paula Fredriksen reminds us that gods and their cults were intertwined with ancient ethnic groups so much so that, when Gentiles committed themselves exclusively to Israel’s God, some Jews considered this ‘tantamount to changing ethnicity’. Fredriksen claims, however, that Paul’s Gentile addressees – whom she terms ‘ex-pagan pagans’ – remain separate ethnically from Jews despite forsaking their ancestral gods for Israel’s. Given that gods and ethnicity were intertwined, this article examines if it is reasonable to conclude that Paul thinks Gentile Christ-followers remain strictly Gentiles after they have abandoned their ethnic gods and entered into a relationship with Israel and its God. I argue that, similar to Philo’s proselyte inclusion strategy, Paul incorporates Gentiles-in-Christ into ethnic Israel. As Abraham’s ‘offspring’, Paul suggests that his addressees not only gain membership in Israel’s covenant on account of Israel’s messiah, but that they also acquire a new ethnic identity despite that their prior identities as ‘the Gentiles’ are not erased. This study, then, seeks to destabilize the binary that Fredriksen posits between ethnic Israel and Paul’s Gentiles-in-Christ as ethnic ‘other’. In the end, I demonstrate that Paul’s ethnic reconfiguration of Gentile identities resembles Philo’s proselyte discourse and is more disruptive ethnically than Fredriksen’s phrase ‘ex-pagan pagans’ would suggest.”