Exegesis and Philosophy: Studies on Philo of Alexandria by David T. Runia

By David T. Runia

Philo of Alexandria, the good 2nd-century advert Jewish thinker and theologian, is a key determine within the historical past of notion. With him the Judaeo-Christian and the Greek traditions converge and meet for the 1st time, and he additionally stands before everything of the revival of Platonic proposal often called center Platonism. In those articles David Runia has aimed, first, to supply a consultant for study and a context for figuring out the big mass of writings Philo has left. He has then sought to enquire additional Philo's position within the heritage of Platonic inspiration and to track facets of his impression at the later improvement of Christian theology. His basic situation, notwithstanding, is to ascertain the connection among scriptural exegesis and philosophy in Philo's paintings. He argues that one can't pursue Philo's concept with no totally considering its exegetical context, and hence that an figuring out of the way he undertakes to provide this exegesis is of paramount value.

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AXe^dvSpeia. T h e figure o f A l e x ­ a n d e r the G r e a t , as is h a r d l y s u r p r i s i n g , o c c u p i e s the c e n t r e s t a g e in t h e s e a c c o u n t s . I n all b u t two ( A r r i a n , D i o d o r u s ) , h o w e v e r , s o m e m e n t i o n is m a d e o f a r c h i t e c t s w h o assisted t h e k i n g in his e n t e r p r i s e . P s . C a l l i s t h e n e s is the o n l y s o u r c e w h o a c t u a l l y gives n a m e s . A m o n g t h e five m e n t i o n e d in t h a t text is D i n o c r a t e s o f R h o d e s , w h o in a n u m b e r o f o t h e r t e x t s is d e s c r i b e d as the a r c h i t e c t o f A l e x a n d r i a : V i t r u v i u s I I pref.

By acting on the Dyad the One generates, not the ideal world in its totality, but the ideas of oneness, twoness, and so on up to ten. These are called the idea-numbers. It would seem that Plato envisaged two levels of ideas, at the primary level the ideas of the primal numbers one to ten, at the secondary level the other ideas produced by combinations dependent on the 20 idea-numbers . The career of this rather obscure late Platonic doctrine is a subject of much interest of historians of ancient philosophy, and it is only natural that they turn to Philo to see if he can shed any light on it.

If we look at the exegetical context, however, a different picture emerges. This passage is part of a disproportionately long encomium of the hebdomad in Opif. 20 21 For a brief account of this doctrine see J. Dillon, The Middle Platonists, London 1977,3-5. Cf. H. J . Kramer, Der Ursprung des Geistmetaphysik, Amsterdam 1964,271-273; Dillon, Middle Platonists 159; H. : the philosophy of the Fourth Academy, Cam­ bridge 1985, 169. II 196 89-128, which is clearly either taken from a source or based on Philo's own collection of arithmological material .

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