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Students of Philo are fortunate to have at their disposal some excellent bibliographical resources. The following three contributions are of essential importance: / Goodhart , H. L. , and E. R. Goodenough . ' A General Bibliography of Philo Judaeus ', in E. R. Goodenough , The Politics of Philo Judaeus (New Haven 1938 ), pp. 125 -321, 329-48. Radice , R. , and D. T. Runia . Philo of Alexandria: An Annotated Bibliography 1937- 1986 ( Leiden 1992 ). Runia , D. T. Philo of Alexandria: An Annotated Bibliography 1987-1996 ( Leiden 2000 ). / Yearly bibliographies of Philo are published in The Studia Philonica Annual, which has been published every year since 1989. These bibliographies represent a continuation of the bibliographies that had been published in Studia Philonica 1-6 (1972-1980). The following classified bibliography is based on the structure of the present volume, and on the works cited in the notes, although it is not all-inclusive of them. The aim is rather to list those works that have Philo as their primary focus, and to supplement them with additional works that have broad relevance to the topics covered in the volume. Each entry appears only once, however, even if it might have been cited under more than one rubric. Needless to say, the bibliography is selective, and an attempt has been made to include some older studies as well as more recent contributions. Additional readings may be found by means of the reference tools just cited, as well as in some of the books and articles cited below under the heading 'Introductory and General Works'.
Philo of Alexandria (ca. 15 BCE - 45 CE) stands at the crossroads of three great civilizations of antiquity: the Judaic, the Greek, and the Christian. Philo's primary heritage was that of biblical Judaism, but in the form it had taken on in the Diaspora of the Hellenistic world. His chief literary medium was biblical exegesis, but he sought to interpret the Scriptures by reference to the most advanced and sophisticated systems of thought of the times, which were those of Greek philosophy. In theology and what was called 'physics', the system of primary importance for Philo was that of Platonism, and in ethics that of Stoicism. However, Philo's attempt to assimilate biblical and Greek thought often finds closer parallels in the Christian world than in a Jewish or a pagan environment. Indeed, Philo came to be appreciated more by the later Christian Fathers than by the Rabbis or the Greek philosophers of the Roman imperial age. In view of his background and influence, the writings of Philo are of fundamental importance for the understanding of Judaism, for the history of Greek philosophy, and for the study of early Christianity. Within the context of the history of Greek literature as well, Philo appears to have lived across the span of the eras in more than simply a chronological sense. For in his writings he assumes many guises and, in a manner of speaking, emerges as a representative of different epochs. At times he is a man of science or a practitioner of the technical disciplines such as grammar and advanced literary study as they had developed in Hellenistic times. At other times, his moralizing diatribes and rhetorical displays have much in common with the popular philosophical literature of the early imperial age.
The works of Philo of Alexandria, a slightly older contemporary of Jesus and Paul, constitute an essential source for the study of Judaism and the rise of Christianity. They are also of extreme importance for understanding the Greek philosophy of the time and help to explain the onset of new forms of spirituality that would dominate the following centuries. This handbook presents an account of Philo's achievements. It contains a profile of his life and times, a systematic overview of his many writings, and survey chapters of the key features of his thought, as seen from the perspectives of Judaism and Greek philosophy. The volume concludes with a section devoted to Philo's influence and significance. Composed by an international team of experts, The Cambridge Companion to Philo gives readers a sense of the state of scholarship and provides depth of vision in key areas of Philonic studies.
As we have seen from the preceding chapter, the major part of Philo's works, about three-fourths of the surviving corpus, is devoted to the interpretation of Scripture. Both the individual treatises and the structure of the corpus as a whole reveal that Philo had a systematic approach to the biblical text, and that the primary aim of his endeavors as a writer was to present and perfect that approach. Indeed, it was as a biblical commentator that he made his greatest impact on the Greek (and Latin) literature of the following centuries. Eusebius sums up Philo's career in the Ecclesiastical History as follows: 'He reached a most sublime level in the study of the divine writings, and he produced a varied and sophisticated exposition of the holy texts' (2.18.1). Of course, Philo was also a philosopher and religious thinker of the utmost significance, but the medium through which he expressed his ideas is scriptural interpretation. Accordingly, it is necessary for anyone who would approach Philo directly, through his own writings, to gain some understanding of how he set about the exegetical task. It is the purpose of this chapter to facilitate this process, by surveying (I) his notions of text and canon and (II) some of the fundamental principles or characteristics of his biblical exegesis, specifically: (1) his conception of the Pentateuch as a literary document, (2) his rationale for the use of the allegorical method, and (3) the primary orientation of his allegorical interpretation. In general, however, one must keep in mind that Philo stands at the end of a long tradition of Judeo-Hellenistic exegesis. What we know of this tradition is largely derived from what Philo himself says about it. Therefore, after the discussion of the question of text and canon, it will be necessary to consider his position within the tradition, before coming to the principles of exegesis proper.