Reading Philo

Other Greek writings of the New Testament era, including papyri and inscriptions
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Reading Philo

Postby refe » August 30th, 2011, 5:39 pm

This is probably far too vague a request, but I'm about to jump into a portion of Philo's 'Sacrifices' and I'd like to get some advice before getting started. I have some good experience in the New Testament and the Apostolic Fathers - is there anything I should know or resources I should read to prepare me for reading Philo painlessly, or should it be a pretty easy transition? I have limited time to work through it anything that I don't have to learn the hard way (ie while reading) would be appreciated!
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Re: Reading Philo

Postby cwconrad » August 30th, 2011, 6:16 pm

refe wrote:This is probably far too vague a request, but I'm about to jump into a portion of Philo's 'Sacrifices' and I'd like to get some advice before getting started. I have some good experience in the New Testament and the Apostolic Fathers - is there anything I should know or resources I should read to prepare me for reading Philo painlessly, or should it be a pretty easy transition? I have limited time to work through it anything that I don't have to learn the hard way (ie while reading) would be appreciated!


How to facilitate a transition from reading GNT and Apostolic Fathers to reading Philo painlessly? -- have I got the question right?

I'd recommend reading some Plato first. If you haven't read any Plato before, start with the Apology of Socrates and the Euthyphro, then a couple of the longer middle-period dialogues (Phaedo, Symposium, Phaedrus -- or else the whole Republic). Philo writes in a style that will be easier for you if you've read enough Plato. You will find, however, that there's a lot of work involved in consulting lexica for vocabulary that's altogether new to you.

For my part, I wouldn't recommend going straight from GNT and Apostolic Fathers to reading Philo. But Philo is well worth reading, and for that reason, the effort expended on preparation is worth taking. It should hardly be added that reading Plato is worth while for its own sake.
Carl W. Conrad
Department of Classics, Washington University (Retired)
… ἐπειδὴ καὶ τὸν οἶνον ἠξίους
πίνειν, συνεκποτέ’ ἐστί σοι καὶ τὴν τρύγα Aristophanes, Plutus 1085
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Re: Reading Philo

Postby refe » August 30th, 2011, 8:20 pm

Thanks, that's what I'll do then. Philo is high on my list of extra-Biblical authors, but I am not very well read in pre-Koine literature. I'm working to change that over the next few months, and I suppose I'll start with Plato and move on from there. Probably good advice regardless of what I'm planning to read.
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