PHILO (The Elder ), author of a Greek epic entitled On Jerusalem. He is sometimes identified with the Philo the Elder mentioned by Josephus (Contra Apionem 1:218) and Clemens of Alexandria (Stromata, 1:141, 3). If so, his presumed date can be conjectured from the fact that these list him after *Demetrius (fl. 221–204 b.c.e.) and before *Eupolemus (fl. 161–157). It is, however, by no means certain that the two are identical, since Philo was a common name. Of Philo's lengthy epic of 14 (or four) books, only three fragments consisting of a total of only 24 lines survive. About half of the lines are unintelligible, either because of faulty transmission of the text or because of the author's own obscurity. The view that the obscurity was intentional must be rejected.
Mras explains the first fragment as dealing with Abraham's circumcision and the binding of Isaac. Because the patriarch was the first to perform circumcision according to statute, God made a covenant with him. Gutmann rejects this interpretation, as based on a too heavily emended text. But Gutmann's own interpretation of the first four lines as a statement of the Torah's antedating the creation of the world has been questioned. The remaining six lines of Fragment i, however, appear clearly to deal with the binding of Isaac, the appearance of the angel, and the slaughtering of the ram, though the details are not quite clear. Fragment ii depicts the remarkable fountains that watered Jerusalem. Similar accounts, contrasting the dry parched surroundings of the city with the wealth of water in the city itself are found in the Letter of *Aristeas (88–91) and in a fragment from Timochares, the author of a Life of Antiochus (iv?). Philo's poem can also be compared with that of Theodotus, a Samaritan epicist, describing the marvelous streams that watered the valleys of the holy city of Shechem. Philo's poem, however, does not restrict itself to Jerusalem, but ranges widely through biblical lore. Fragment iii records Joseph's rule in Egypt. If the author of the poem On Jerusalem is identical with the historian mentioned by Clemens, it is reasonable to assume that Philo dealt with chronology in a manner similar to Eupolemus, and that perhaps again, like Eupolemus, wrote in Jerusalem.
K. Mras (ed.), Eusebius, Praeparatio Evangelica (1954), 9:20; 24; 37; J. Gutmann, Ha-Safrut ha-Yehudit ha-Hellenistit, 1 (1958), 221–44.
[Ben Zion Wacholder]
Philo (fī´lō) or Philo Judaeus (jōōdē´əs) [Lat.,=Philo the Jew], c.20 BC–c.AD 50, Alexandrian Jewish philosopher. His writings have had an enormous influence on both Jewish and Christian thought, and particularly upon the Alexandrian theologians Clement and Origen. All that is known of his life is that he was sent to Rome c.AD 40 to represent the Jews of Alexandria in seeking the restoration of privileges lost because they had refused to obey an imperial edict to worship Caligula. Philo was the first important thinker to attempt to reconcile biblical religion with Greek philosophy. In so doing he developed an allegorical interpretation of Scripture that enabled him to find many of the doctrines of Greek philosophy in the Torah (the Pentateuch). An eclectic and a mystic, Philo emphasized the total transcendence and perfection of God, and in order to account for creation and the relation between the infinite God and the finite world, he used the concept of the Logos. Logos is the intermediary through which God's will acts and is thus the creative power that orders the world. Along with the Logos, Philo posited a whole realm of beings or potencies that bridge the gap between the Creator and his creation. Only fragments of Philo's works remain, but numerous quotations from his writings are found in early Christian literature.
See his works, tr. by F. H. Colson and G. H. Whitaker (10 vol., 1929–42, Loeb Classical Library); E. R. Goodenough, Introduction to Philo Judaeus (2d ed. 1963).