Best passages to read from Philo

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Best passages to read from Philo

Postby Louis L Sorenson » May 30th, 2012, 9:40 pm

I'm looking to read some of Philo. His Greek is much more difficult than most authors. Are there some passages which are considered 'classic Philo' and relevant to the NT?
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Re: Best passages to read from Philo

Postby Alex Hopkins » May 31st, 2012, 7:33 am

Louis L Sorenson wrote:I'm looking to read some of Philo. His Greek is much more difficult than most authors. Are there some passages which are considered 'classic Philo' and relevant to the NT?


Hi Louis,

What follows may well be already known to you. Just a couple of weeks ago I was asking myself the very question that you put to the list, prompted by an interest to check out the Logos material. What follows are some web resources that I noted as being worth checking out further as time permits.

http://www.documentacatholicaomnia.eu/50_10_10-_De_Philosophia.html - Various texts including some Philo texts in Greek.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philo

http://www.earlyjewishwritings.com/philo.html Translations, some information, and links.

http://www.torreys.org/bible/philopag.html - Texts, translations, links.

http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/yonge/ - Yonge’s translations of Philo; These translations are old and not for serious study. (They are reviewed in an article to which a link is provided under the previous heading.)

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12023a.htm - Catholic Encyclopedia with a short bio, notes on writings and doctrine.

http://www.iep.utm.edu/philo/ - The Internet Encycloipedia of Philosophy. From this resource:

l. “God”
In three passages Philo describes the Logos even as God:
a.) Commenting on Genesis 22:16 Philo explains that God could only swear by himself (LA 3.207).
b.) When the scripture uses the Greek term for God ho theos, it refers to the true God, but when it uses the term theos, without the article ho, it refers not to the God, but to his most ancient Logos (Somn. 1.229-230).
c.) Commenting on Genesis 9:6 Philo states the reference to creation of man after the image of God is to the second deity, the Divine Logos of the Supreme being and to the father himself, because it is only fitting that the rational soul of man cannot be in relation to the preeminent and transcendent Divinity (QG 2.62).
Philo himself, however, explains that to call the Logos “God” is not a correct appellation (Somn.1.230). Also, through this Logos, which men share with God, men know God and are able to perceive Him (LA 1.37-38).


http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/456612/Philo-Judaeus - Britannica online. This has notes on the writings which give some guidance on which are regarded as the more important texts. From this http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/456612/Philo-Judaeus/5687/Works,

1. Scriptural essays and homilies based on specific verses or topics of the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible), especially Genesis. The most important of the 25 extant treatises in this group are Allegories of the Laws, a commentary on Genesis, and On the Special Laws, an exposition of the laws in the Pentateuch.


The same resource says,

Philo’s works are rambling, having little sense of form; repetitious; artificially rhetorical; and almost devoid of a sense of humour. His style is generally involved, allusive, strongly tinged with mysticism, and often obscure; this may be a result of a deliberate attempt on his part to discourage all but the initiated few.


As indicated above, I do not know from any reading of my own the answer to Louis' question, and I too would be interested in any guidance that might be given in response to it.

Alex Hopkins
Melbourne, Australia
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Re: Best passages to read from Philo

Postby cwconrad » May 31st, 2012, 8:27 am

Louis L Sorenson wrote:I'm looking to read some of Philo. His Greek is much more difficult than most authors. Are there some passages which are considered 'classic Philo' and relevant to the NT?


I've seen Alex's response; I only have time for a very quick response, which may not be very helpful. I think that most readers of NT Koine who have never read Plato are likely to have trouble with Philo, no matter where they start. Two factors especially, I think, account for the difficulty: the vocabulary employed by Philo will include lots of words never before encountered, some of which may be guessed at intelligently by the root elements within them, but more often than not requiring consultation of a good lexicon (not just a glossary); the other factor is the periodic structure of his sentences -- they are long and commonly involve nesting of complex subordinate clauses. I personally found working through his treatise on the creation narratives, Genesis 1-3, De Opificio Mundi, difficult but very rewarding. It reveals so much of the rather strange, fascinating world-view of Alexandrian Platonizing Judaism.
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: Best passages to read from Philo

Postby DianneMac » July 7th, 2012, 3:29 am

I think reading these quotes and understanding will surely improve my vocabulary of Greek words and their meanings.
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