Philo (20BCE?-45CE?) is the most illustrious son of Alexandrian Jewry and the first major scholar to combine a deep Jewish learning with Greek philosophy. His unique allegorical exegesis of the Greek Bible was to have a profound influence on the early fathers of the Church. Philo was, above all, a philosopher, but he was also intensely practical in his defence of the Jewish faith and law in general, and that of Alexandria’s embattled Jewish community in particular. A famous example was his leadership of a perilous mission to plead the community’s cause to Emperor Caligula. This monograph provides a guide to Philo's life, his thought and his action, as well as his continuing influence on theological and philosophical thought.
Mireille Hadas-Lebel, Ph.D.1987,Professor emeritus at the Sorbonne. She has published several books and articles on Judaism in Antiquity and the history of the Hebrew language. Two of her books have been translated into English:
Flavius Josephus ( Simon and Schuster, paperback) and
Jerusalem against Rome ( Peeters 2006).
'This guide to Philo’s life, thought and political activity is an important addition to Philonic scholarship, which has been flourishing and reaching out to other disciplines. ....Hadas-Lebel singlehandedly offers a comprehensive study of Philo, lucidly outlining the different aspects of his personality without striving to provide an updated picture of Philonic research. She initially describes his historical context in Alexandria and then provides an analysis of his writings and thought, concluding with an overview of his influence among early Christians. Hadas-Lebel forcefully argues for a significant connection between Philo’s Diaspora setting and his thought: he cannot be subsumed within rabbinic Judaism, but is the main exponent of a form of Judaism that took Greek culture very seriously into account, while maintaining a strong and visible Jewish identity.
This is a highly readable and reliable guide to Philo, which will hopefully rouse the interest of readers outside the field of Philonic scholarship. As Philo has no natural home in any particular discipline, one wishes that this guide will help make him become a regular guest in departments of Classics, Religious Studies, Jewish Studies and History'.
Reviewed by Maren R. Niehoff, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Mt. Scopus
Primarily academic, but there would also be a market among lay readers who are interested in the history of the ancient world, the history of religion, the history of the early Church and the history of Judaism.