Philo of Alexandria

Philo of AlexandriaI recently wrote a blog post about why it is good for Christians to read the Jewish philosopher Philo. Having said that, I must also acknowledge that Philo is not the easiest person to read. Between his allegorical interpretations, Platonic and Stoic leanings and our own ignorance of hellenistic Judaism, we need to work hard to understand.

One of the resources that I have found helpful is Samuel Sandmel’s Philo of Alexandria. This was the text for my Philo class during my graduate studies.

Sandmel provides introductions and summaries of Philo’s writings, even arranging them by type. He also helps us to position Philo within philosophy and Judaism. Sandmel gives a good explanation of Philo’s concepts of God and ethics. The chapter on Philo and Christianity is very interesting, especially regarding John’s concept of the logos and the letter to the Hebrews.

What I really appreciate about this book is that Sandmel writes in a clear and understandable manner. Even though he writes on complex topics, the reader does not need to a PhD to comprehend.

If you read this book, you will definitely have a much better understanding of who Philo is and the world in which he wrote. Although Philo of Alexandria is out of print, it is worth picking up a used copy.

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