Many critics of Philo assumed his allegorical perspective would lend credibility to the notion of legend over historicity.
29 Facts About Philo
Philo often advocated a literal understanding of the Torah and the historicity of such described events, while at other times favoring allegorical readings.
Jerome wrote that Philo came de genere sacerdotum.
Philo had one brother called Alexander Lysimachus who was the general tax administrator of customs in Alexandria.
Philo accumulated an immense amount of wealth, becoming not only the richest man in that city but in the entire Hellenistic world.
Philo visited the Second Temple in Jerusalem at least once in his lifetime.
In, Philo describes his diplomatic mission to Gaius Caligula, one of the few events in his life which is known specifically.
Philo relates that he was carrying a petition describing the sufferings of the Alexandrian Jews and asking the emperor to secure their rights.
Philo gives a description of their sufferings, more detailed than Josephus's, to characterize the Alexandrian Greeks as the aggressors in the civil strife that had left many Jews and Greeks dead.
Philo lived in an era of increasing ethnic tension in Alexandria, exacerbated by the new strictures of imperial rule.
Philo says he was regarded by his people as having unusual prudence, due to his age, education, and knowledge.
Philo says that Philo agreed to represent the Alexandrian Jews in regard to civil disorder that had developed between the Jews and the Greeks.
Josephus says Philo believed that God actively supported this refusal.
Some of Philo's works have been preserved in Greek, while others have survived through Armenian translations, and a smaller number survive in a Latin translation.
Specifically, Philo interprets the characters of the Bible as aspects of the human being, and the stories of the Bible as episodes from universal human experience.
Philo affirms a transcendent God without physical features or emotional qualities resembling those of human beings.
In Philo, God exists beyond time and space and does not make special interventions into the world because he already encompasses the entire cosmos.
Philo's notion is even more abstract than that of the monad of Pythagoras or the Good of Plato.
Philo seems to look at man as trichotomous, nous, psyche, soma, common to the Hellenistic view of mind-soul-body.
Philo wrote that God created and governed the world through mediators.
Philo is neither uncreated as God is, nor created as men are, but occupies a middle position.
Philo frequently engages in Pythagorean-inspired numerology, explaining at length the importance of religious numbers such as six, seven, and ten.
Commentators can infer from his mission to Caligula that Philo was involved in politics.
Philo did suggest in his writings that a prudent man should withhold his true opinion about tyrants:.
Philo was more fluent in Greek than in Hebrew and read the Jewish Scriptures chiefly from the Septuagint, a Koine Greek translation of Hebraic texts later compiled as the Hebrew Bible and the deuterocanonical books.
Philo identified the angel of the Lord with the Logos.
Peter Schafer argues that Philo's Logos was derived from his understanding of the "postbiblical Wisdom literature, in particular the Wisdom of Solomon".
Azariah dei Rossi's Me'or Enayim: Imre Binah, one of the first Jewish commentaries on Philo, describes four "serious defects" of Philo: reading the Torah in Greek, not Hebrew; belief in primordial matter rather than ; unbelief in the Lord as evidenced by excessively allegorical interpretation of scripture; and neglect of the Jewish oral tradition.
Dei Rossi later gives a possible defense of Philo and writes that he can neither absolve nor convict him.