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  • Cited by 1
  • Print publication year: 2009
  • Online publication date: November 2009

8 - Philo and the Early Christian Fathers

from Part 3 - Philo’s Influence and Significance


Philo was a child of the Jewish nation, born (we assume) at Alexandria in the Diaspora, but bound to the Jewish heartland in Jerusalem with strong familial and affective ties. He tells us that he journeyed to Jerusalem to pray and offer sacrifices in the temple ( Prov. 2.107). Thus, it is possible that he was present in the city during those momentous events of the Passover in 29 CE, which laid the foundation for a new world religion, but he most likely would have given them little attention. Reports that he met with the apostle Peter in Rome and that he had contact with the first Christian community in Alexandria are clearly legendary. Yet it was the adoption of his legacy by the Christian Church that ensured the survival of his writings. If this had not happened, the present Companion to his writings and thought could not have been written. We are thus presented with a paradox. Philo was neglected by his own people, to whose cause he had shown such strong devotion, and he was rescued from oblivion through the attentions of a group of people of whom he had most likely never heard, and who would later actively oppose his own Jewish religion. The paradox that I have just outlined will be slightly lessened if we make an adjustment in our perception of the relationship between Judaism and Christianity. It is generally assumed that Christianity as a religion developed from Judaism in a kind of mother-daughter relationship.

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