Fairly regularly, I hear skeptics mention Philo’s silence regarding Jesus as being devastating to claims about the historical Jesus. If Jesus really lived, then surely Philo would have mentioned him.
The truth is, aside from the New Testament, the main writings of any length that we have are those of Philo and Josephus. Of those two, Josephus does mention Jesus. But skeptics are quick to respond that the reference to Jesus in Josephus is a Christian addition. Josephus was copied and passed on by Christians and so they invented a testimony about Jesus and inserted it into Josephus.
Really? Did you know that it was Christians and not the Jews who copied and passed on Philo? Why did the Christians not add a little something about Jesus in Philo if they were so willing to do that with Josephus? A skeptic could respond and say that it was natural for the Christians to insert something in Josephus because he was writing history but an invented section on Jesus would not have fit with Philo’s philosophical purposes.
Do you see what happens here? A skeptic can say that Josephus’ mention of Jesus is fake and that there is no reason to have such a section in Philo. Or a skeptic can say that Josephus did have an original testimony of Jesus, later expanded by Christians, and that Philo should have said something about Jesus as well. But they cannot have it both ways.
A common sense interpretation of the textual evidence is that Philo said nothing about Jesus, because it did not fit with his philosophical agenda and that Josephus did say something about Jesus (although less than what the Christians expanded), because he was writing history. The fact that Philo does not mention Jesus does not hurt the evidence for the historical Jesus, it actually strengthens the argument that Josephus had an original mention of Jesus and that it was not a complete Christian invention.