The Philo Library

The Works of Philo Judaeus, the contemporary of Josephus

Philophile, wander no more! You've found home.
Rembrandt van Rijn, Portrait of a Man

"To many, perhaps to most people, it comes as a great surprise to learn that there exists quite a vast Jewish literature that was written in Greek. It is even more suprising that in the first Christian century many, many more Jews lived in the Greek world than in Judea; indeed, there were more in the city of Alexandria, Egypt (the New York City of the time), than in the Holy Land." (Judaism and Christian Beginnings, Samuel Sandmel, p. 257).


On Monarchy

The Unchangeableness of God

The Law:

On Curses

The Decalogue

On the Special Laws

On Rewards and Punishments


On Abraham

On Joseph

The Life of Moses

Current Events:

On the Contemplative Life

Embassy to Gaius

Against Flaccus

Biblical Interpretation:

Allegorical Interpretation

On the Cherubim

On the Confusion of Languages

On Dreams

On Fugitives

On the Giants

Who is the Heir of Divine Things?

Meeting for the Sake of Seeking Instruction

On the Migration of Abraham

On the Change of Scripture Names

Noah's Work as a Planter

Posterity of Cain

Questions and Answers in Genesis

Sacrifices of Abel and Cain

Tilling the Earth

The Worse Attacks the Better

Moral Philosophy:

On Drunkenness

Every Good Man is Free

On Nobility

On Sobriety

On Three Virtues

Natural Philosophy:

On the Creation of the World

On the Incorruptibility of the World

"Philo belonged to the most distinguished Jewish family of Alexandria, and according to Jerome and Photius, the ancient authorities for his life, was of the priestly rank; his brother Alexander Lysimachus was not only the governor of the Jewish community, but also the alabarch, i.e., ruler of the whole Delta reigion, and enjoyed the confidence of Mark Antony, who appointed him guardian of his second daughter Antonia, the mother of Germanicus and the Roman emperor Claudius. Born in an atmosphere of power and affluence, Philo, who might have consorted with princes, devoted himself from the first with all his soul to a life of contemplation; like a Palestinian rabbi he regarded as man's highest duty the study of the law and the knowledge of God. This is the way in which he understood the philosopher's life: man's true function is to know God, and to make God known: he can know God only through His revelation, and he can comprehend that revelation only by continued study." (Philo-Judaeus of Alexandria, Norman Bentwich, p. 46).

"There are distinguished and innumerable works by this man: On the five books of Moses, one book Concerning the confusion of tongues, one book On nature and invention, one book On the things which our senses desire and we detest, one book On learning, one book On the heir of divine things, one book On the division of equals and contraries, one book On the three virtues, one book On why in Scripture the names of many persons are changed, two books On covenants, one book On the life of a wise man, one book Concerning giants, five books That dreams are sent by God, five books of Questions and answers on Exodus, four books On the tabernacle and the Decalogue, as well as books On victims and promises or curses, On Providence, On the Jews, On the manner of one’s life, On Alexander, and That dumb beasts have right reason, and That every fool should be a slave, and On the lives of the Christians, [Jerome misidentified Essenes as Christians] of which we spoke above, that is, lives of apostolic men, which also he entitled, On those who practice the divine life, because in truth they contemplate divine things and ever pray to God, also under other categories, two On agriculture, two On drunkenness. There are other monuments of his genius which have not come to our hands. Concerning him there is a proverb among the Greeks “Either Plato philonized, or Philo platonized,” that is, either Plato followed Philo, or Philo, Plato, so great is the similarity of ideas and language." (Jerome, Lives of Illustrious Men, 11.)


“For when God determined to establish this in us out of his own exceeding mercy and love for the human race, he would not find any temple upon earth more beautiful or more suited for its abode than reason: for the mind makes, as it were, an image of the good and consecrates it within itself, and if any persons disbelieve in it of those who have either never tasted wisdom at all, or else have done so only with the edges of their lips (for silver and gold, and honors, and offices, and vigor and beauty of body, resemble those men who are appointed to situations of authority and power, in order to serve virtue as if she were their queen), never having obtained a sight of the most brilliant of all lights.” (Philo Judaeus, On Nobility, I, Yonge translation).

But then on the plus side, it's out of copyright...

Lucius Annaeus Seneca

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Works by other authors

This modern author seeks to reclaim Philo for Judaism:

Norman Bentwich
Philo-Judaeus of Alexandria

Another ancient Jewish author who wrote in Greek:

Flavius Josephus
Against Apion

A Christian Philonist:

Clement of Alexandria
Exhortation to the Greeks

The Sibyl went to the trouble of confuting Wittgenstein's dictum that there are no private languages, for which mankind must be grateful: "But the gods sent winds against the tower and overthrew it, and gave to each man a peculiar language, and for this reason it came to pass that the city was called Babylon." (quoted in Eusebius of Caesarea, The Preparation for the Gospel, Book IX, Chapter XV Kindle location 6579). The Sibyl says, "no longer will anyone say that I am crazy." (Sibylline Oracles, Book 3, 817-818). Prove her wrong:

Sibylline Oracles

Plato Home

The Christian Counter