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PHILO (30 B.C.E.-40 C.E.).

Hellenistic philosopher and Biblical interpreter. Philo was a descendant of a distinguished Jewish family in Alexandria, Egypt. His brother was head of the Jewish community in Egypt. Philo dedicated his life to scholarship and acquired an extensive knowledge of literature, philosophy, and the sciences. He made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, where he offered prayers and sacrifices in the Temple. Philo also led a delegation of Jews to the Roman emperor Caius Caligula to appeal against the anti-Jewish decrees of the Roman high commissioner, Flaccus of Egypt.

Philo’s works include allegorical, or symbolic, commentaries on the Bible and The Lives of Moses and the Patriarchs. The latter work interprets Jewish teachings in philosophical terms in an attempt to reconcile the basic ideas of the Bible with Greek thought. Philo had great influence on Hellenized Jews who were steeped in Greek philosophy and knew little about Judaism. His idea of the Logos, or the Word, through which God influences the world, greatly influenced the Fathers of the Christian Church and indirectly Jewish mystical thought.

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