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Philo of Alexandria

December 9, 2017

The prolific Jewish writer of the early first century CE, Philo of Alexandria has come up in recent discussion.  His substantial body of works ranges over a number of matters, and exhibit different approaches:  sometimes apologetical, sometimes allegorizing, and sometimes philosophical.  His writings were preserved by ancient Christians, and he was rejected by ancient Jews in the centuries after his death (and the latter may well have been connected to the former).  He’s most often cited in studies of early Christianity for his middle-Platonist views, especially his rather flexible use of the “Logos” term and category.    Here are just a few helpful publications.  One might start with Sandmel, or with the more recent multi-author introduction edited by Seland:  Reading Philo:  A Handbook to Philo of Alexandria  (Eerdmans, 2014), publisher’s catalogue entry here.


Ronald Cox, By This Same Word: Creation and Salvation in Hellenistic Judaism and Early Christianity, BZNW, no. 145 (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2007).

D. T. Runia, “God and Man in Philo of Alexandria,” Journal of Theological Studies 39 (1988): 48-75.

Samuel Sandmel, Philo of Alexandria (New York: Oxford University Press, 1979)

And for those who can read German as well as English, this multi-author collection:

Philo und das Neue Testament, ed. Roland Deines & Karl-Wilhelm Niebuhr (WUNT 172.  Tuebingen:  Mohr Siebeck, 2004).


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  1. Donald Jacobs permalink

    Which of these books has the best discussion of the celestial Jesus as an archangel in Philo? Since that’s how we got interested in the subject.

    • Donald: There is no “celestial Jesus as an archangel”in Philo. So there’s nothing to discuss.

  2. Duncan permalink

    The data I have been looking at recently leads me to think that logos in John has more to do with hermeticism (poimandres) than Philo.

  3. bryantiii permalink

    Logos Bible Software through NOET Software has the following:

    The Works of Philo: Complete and Unabridged, New Updated Edition, Translated by C. D. Yonge, Peabody: Hendriksen Publishers, 1993.

    Amazon, Hardcover, $17.95

    Barnes & Noble, $17.97

  4. Matthew Hass permalink

    Maren Niehoff (an excellent scholar of Philo out of the Hebrew University) recently finished “Philo of Alexandria: An Intellectual Biography” (Anchor Yale Bible Reference Library, 2018) I have heard her speak about it at Harvard Divinity School and I was quite impressed. Maybe not an introductory work in the same way, but I thought I would mention it for your readers. Here is a link:

  5. The most recent introduction to Philo of Alexandria -as far as I know- is this one:
    Torrey Seland (ed.), Reading Philo. A Handbook to Philo of Alexandria (Grand Rpids, Eerdmans, 2014).

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