Philo Judaeus: Philospher Poet Or Preacher Essay, Research Paper
Philo Judaeus is regarded as one of the greatest Jewish-Hellenistic philosophers of his age. In a majority of his writing he quotes bible verses, speaks of a path to the Lord and does so with such image producing words. While reading Philo it is hard to discern his philosophical views, and surgically placed words, from those influenced of his religious background. He brings fourth an interesting combination of philosopher poet or preacher. Philo Judaeus was very religious and portrayed such in his writings. I believe and assume Philo had as well, that the truly aware man is made up of three parts: the philosopher, the poet and the preacher. Without the other two one cannot truly exist, therefore all of the greats such as Plato, Huxley, Conger and of course Philo must have a been truly aware. For their love of wisdom, endeavor for ultimate reality and their amazing talent for language is unmatched and greatly appreciated all who read their work. Several scholars have used the writings of Philo to explain theological conceptions found in the writings of the Christians, and also to better understand debates and conflicts witnessed in the New Testament.
Philo’s words paint a religious picture of heaven and faith. His eyes see a splendor one can only hope to view, and describes a soul every human spirit seeks. The word God has appeared liberally in every piece written by the great man. He uses it with such confidence yet makes sure to keep its use full of meaning, careful to not let it disappear with the other text. In one of Philo’s earlier pieces, “The Creation of the world” he describes the intricate thought process God went through in forming this beautiful world we now exist on. He valiantly wrote that, “We must form a similar opinion of God, who, having determined to found a mighty state, first of all conceived its form in his mind, according to which form he made a world perceptive only by the intellect and then completed one visible to the external senses using the first one as a model.” (Creation of God 3) He spoke of God not solely for reference but in attempt to persuade his readers to fallow the path of the Lord. In his writing “Confusion” he simply states his love for the church by this one quote, “And therefore, when they say: “We are all sons of one man, we are peaceful” (Genisis 42:11), I marvel at their harmonious band. And then I would say: “Why should you not hate war and love peace, noble friends? You have ascribes to one and the same Father, not a mortal, but an immortal man of God.” (Philosophy & Allegory, 305) Curiously, Philo indeed never mentions Jesus in his writings; he uses only God and Lord to describe the man upstairs. He does however talk greatly of many characters in the Holy Scriptures such as Abraham and Moses. He speaks of Moses a many times as an example to his teachings, using him as almost a pawn on his chessboard of knowledge.
For many, the path of Philo was very understandable. Many of the followers of his writings could relate well with the words he spoke and the sides he took. He viewed the world as a dualistic, which he separated into the world of matter and the world of God.
Philo’s birth into a very wealthy aristocratic Jewish family in Alexandria, Egypt made him almost seek out the contrary of the life he was given, and see how the rest of the world lived. After thoroughly studying the Old Testament, Greek Literature and Philosophy Philo looked for more truth in the world. He soon found a love for the works of Homer, and the Greek Tragedians, but his foremost studies were in Greek Philosophy, especially the teachings of the Pythagoreans, Plato and the Stoics. Even though he had soaked up the teachings of some of the wisest men who had ever lived Philo still believed whole-heartedly in the religion he was raised with.
While Philo was a very educated man he was also very well rounded. According to several of his writings he had taken part in various forms of the cultural activities of the city. He writes about competitions of wrestling, boxing, and horse races, as well as attending the theatre and concerts. He tells that he several times participated in cordial gatherings, and that if he had been alone, he would have fallen prey to the temptations of pleasure.
His words flowed across paper and enter the mind with knowledge as imperceptibly as air fills our lungs with the breath to live. Going undetected these words carry so much weight of underlying prophecies and life lessons. Regardless, Philo Judaeus has proven emphatically to be one of the greatest writers and thinkers ever of this exist on this earth. He was not just a philosopher who spoke of knowledge, a preacher who taught ties with god, nor a poet whose words drew colors in the mind, he was a combination of all. To not be able to decipher the three in his writings gives his words much more strength and beauty. For his love of wisdom, endeavor for ultimate reality and his amazing talent for language, he should be remembered as one of the greats, a man who had all the traits of a truly aware man.
Ancient History Sourcebook. Philo Judaeus: The Creation of the World. 25 Jan. 1999.13 Apr. 2000.
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Rutgers University. Philosophy & Allegory. The Perspective World of Jesus. May 1999.13 Apr. 2000.