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Philo Judaeus

PHILO JUDAEUS (fī'lō jū-dē'ŭs). Jewish scholar and philosopher, born in Alexandria about 20 b.c. Alexandria had an old tradition of Jewish scholarship, and Philo sprang from a rich and priestly family. Few details are known of his life, save that in a.d. 39 he took part in an embassy to Rome to plead the case of the Jews whose religious privileges, previously wisely recognized by Rome, were menaced by the mad Caligula. Philo lived until 50 and was a prolific author. His writings include philosophical works, commentaries on the Pentateuch, and historical and apologetic works in the cosmopolitan tradition of Alexandrian Jewry, which had long sought to commend its literature to the Gentile world. Hence Philo’s development of an allegorical interpretation of the OT. His aim was to show that much of the philosophy of the Greeks had been anticipated by the Jews. He was also, like Paul of Tarsus, a citizen of two worlds and sought to synthesize his own Hellenistic and Hebraic traditions. His