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Lecture Twenty-first: The Philosophy and Theology of Philo

IN the last lecture I said that Philo occupies a peculiar position in the history of theology, because he, more than any other writer, exhibits to us the process by which the two great streams of thought, from Greece and from Judaea, came to unite in one. Just at the time when Christ was teaching in Galilee, Philo in Alexandria was using the lessons of Greek philosophy to guide him in his interpretation of the Old Testament. And in one sense he was quite justified in doing so; for the development of Jewish religion had brought it to a point of view closely analogous to that which had been reached by the independent movement of Greek thought; and in the later books of the Old Testament we can discern the elements of that spiritual and universal conception of religion, which is found in Philo. Philo, therefore, it might be said, was only reading backwards into the earliest expressions of the religious ideas of Israel what was implicitly contained or involved therein. He was only looking for the oak in the acorn, for the man in the child, when in the books of the Law and the Prophets he sought for the source of his own conceptions of God and of his relations to the world.

But, even allowing that there is a measure of truth in this view of the case, we have to observe that what Philo tries to prove is not that his own doctrine is contained potentially, or in germ, in the Hebrew Scriptures. He has no conception of a historical process of evolution, nor does he make any distinction between what is implicitly contained in the Old Testament and what is explicitly expressed there. To him the Old Testament as it stands, especially the teaching of the books of the Law, is the absolute revelation of divine truth, the verbally inspired word of God, which contains once for all the declaration of God's nature and will. And as there is much in Philo's view of that nature which is not found in the letter of the Scriptures, nay even much that seems to contradict it, he is forced to maintain that that letter was intended to convey a higher truth than its immediate and obvious meaning, and that the facts narrated and the expressions used are to be understood as an allegory. So far does Philo carry this view that he contends that some things, which in their direct sense are irrational and even immoral, have been put into the text to warn the reader to look deeper for the real meaning. By a process which is sometimes called ‘spiritualizing,’—a process similar to that which St. Paul applies to the story of Hagar and Ishmael,—Philo gets out of the Old Testament all the conclusions to which he is led by the philosophical and religious consciousness of his own time; and he never seems to be aware that he brings with him the greater part of what he seems to find. We cannot discover in his writings any attempt to gather up the general meaning of the books of the Old Testament, or to view the parts in relation to the whole, or the earlier in relation to the later revelation of divine truth. He simply takes each chapter, verse by verse, and interprets it by certain arbitrary rules of symbolism—taking, for instance, the earth in the narrative of the creation to mean sensibility and the heavens to mean intelligence, and arguing that, when it is said that the heavens were created before the earth, it means that intelligence is prior to sense. On such a method it is not difficult for him to find, even in the first chapters of Genesis, all the main principles of his own theology.

Now this method of allegorical interpretation, which was afterwards extensively used by the Christian Fathers, and which is not altogether disused in the present day, had one recommendation. It enabled those who employed it to find a basis for their religious life in the sacred books, without being limited by the immediate meaning of those parts of the Bible which expressed the moral and religious ideas of an earlier time. It served, in fact, the same purpose, which in more modern times has been served by the theory of evolution, enabling men to connect the present with the past without allowing that connexion to become a hindrance to progress. We may realise how great a service this was, if we remember how in modern times, as among our own Puritans and Covenanters, the acceptance of the Old Testament as equally inspired with the New produced a reactionary tendency to confuse Christianity with Judaism. Such misconceptions were to a great degree precluded by the allegorical method of interpretation. Still we must acknowledge that it was, after all, an arbitrary and unscientific method, and that it altogether precluded a true view of the religious history of man, which must neither deny the fundamental identity of man with himself in all ages, nor the difference of the phases through which he has had to pass in his development.

In considering Philo's theology we have to remember the characteristics of the two terms between which he is seeking to mediate. His task is to translate Hebrew conceptions into their Greek equivalents, and to bring Greek conceptions into a form suited to the Hebrew mind. But, in every formal respect, the Greek and the Hebrew ways of thinking are antagonistic, even where the matter or content of their thought is most similar. The Hebrew mind is intuitive, imaginative, almost incapable of analysis or of systematic connexion of ideas. It does not hold its object clearly and steadily before it, or endeavour exactly to measure it; rather it may be said to give itself up to the influence of that which it contemplates, to identify itself with it and to become possessed by it. Its perceptions of truth come to it in a series of vivid flashes of insight, which it is unable to co-ordinate. For the most part it expresses its thought symbolically, and it constantly confuses the symbol with the thing signified, or only corrects the deficiencies of one symbol by setting up another. In his native language, the Hebrew has only the scantiest means of expressing the dependence of one thought upon another or of building up a connected argument. If a complex object be portrayed by him, it is only in large and indefinite outlines and never as an ordered system of related parts. Hence he is almost incapable either of grasping prosaic fact in its bare simplicity, or of rising to a scientific consciousness of general laws; he lives rather in a consciousness of the unanalysed whole, which presents itself now in one aspect and now in another, as when one stands before a scene which is illuminated from moment to moment by gleams of lightning.

The Greek mind, on the other hand, is essentially discursive, analytical, and systematic, governing itself even in its highest flights by the ideas of measure and symmetry, of logical sequence and connexion. Even in poetry it seeks for definite pictures, in which the object represented stands out clearly from other objects and displays distinctly all the relations of its parts. Its epics and dramas have order and organisation, so that their plots work forward logically from the first presentment of the situation to the final catastrophe; and even its lyrics have plan and sequence in the evolution of the idea that inspires them. The Muse of Greece, to use an expression of Goethe, is the companion of the poet and not his guide. The same mental characteristics are shown in the political life of the Greeks, in their historical literature, and above all in their philosophy. They are never satisfied to leave anything obscure or undefined, or to let any element stand by itself without being carefully distinguished from and related to the rest. The Homeric hero who cried for light, even if it were but light to die in, was a genuine representative of the Greek spirit. Hence, in spite of their great aesthetic capacity, their love of the beautiful and their power of creating it, there never was a nation that was less disposed to rest in the contemplation of a beautiful symbol, without trying to analyse it into its elements and discover its exact meaning. The Greek, again, was essentially reflective; he was never content to wield the weapons of thought without examining them; rather he sought to realise the precise value of every category or general term which he found himself using. And it was this that made him the creator of most of the abstract language of thought which philosophy has ever since been employing.

Now in Philo, as I have said, we find the first comprehensive attempt at a synthesis of these two modes of thought; and we need not be surprised that, in spite of the common tendencies to which I have referred in the last lecture, the amalgamation is somewhat external and incomplete. Thus, for instance, in his treatise on the creation of the world, we find him reading almost all the leading ideas of the Timaeus into the simple narrative of Genesis. The double account of the creation in the first and second chapters, and the phrase “every herb of the field before it grew,” are supposed to express the idea that God first by the pure action of his intelligence created an ideal or intelligible world, and then, using this as his pattern, constructed the visible world out of chaotic matter. Again, the phrase: “Let us make man in our image” is interpreted as meaning that God, as in the Timaeus, has to call in the aid of angels or subordinate powers, in order to create a being who is not altogether good.1 Philo, indeed, thinks that in so using Plato's conceptions, he is simply restoring them to their original owner: for, in his view, Plato and the other Greek philosophers had stolen all their good ideas from Moses. But this only means that Philo had become unable to read Moses except in the light of Plato. No doubt, in this process Plato also is forced to make considerable concessions. In accommodation to Jewish notions, God must be supposed to create the matter in which his ideas are realised; and the “created gods” of the Timaeus have to be conceived either as angels or as powers like angels, which issue from the divine nature, but which have a certain relative independence bestowed upon them. The result, therefore, is neither distinctively Greek nor distinctively Jewish; nor can we even say that it is any tertium quid in which the peculiar characteristics of Greece and Judaea are united. What we have in Philo is rather the imperfect product of a process of fermentation which has not yet been completed, and in which the elements combined still retain a great deal of their original form.

Passing from these general considerations, it will be sufficient for our purpose to examine how Philo deals, first, with the idea of God: secondly, with the mediation whereby God is connected with the world: and, finally, with man's relation to God.

I have already shown how the later development of Jewish religion tended to universalise the idea of God, and to remove those special characteristics which had been at first attributed to him as the national God of the Hebrews. Also I have shown how this process found a parallel in the movement of Greek thought, by which the Stoic conception of immanent reason was set aside and the Neo-Platonic idea of a transcendent unity took its place. Both these movements have great influence on the mind of Philo. He is continually anxious to explain away the anthropomorphic traits with which in the Old Testament God is invested. When the Bible speaks of God's hands or his feet, his eyes or his face, no one supposes that it is speaking literally. As little, argues Philo, can we take it as prosaic truth, when it speaks of God as ‘angry’ or being ‘appeased,’ as being ‘jealous of other gods,’ or ‘repenting that he had made man.’ All such expressions, we are to regard as used in condescension to the needs of those who could not understand or would not be rightly impressed by any other language. The two most important statements of the law, says Philo,2 are, first that “God is not as a man” (Numb. xxiii. 19) and second, that “he is as a man” (Deut. i. 31): but the second is introduced for the instruction of the mass of mankind, and not because God is such in his real nature. In other words, when the Scripture speaks of God as if he were a man, and attributes to him the acts and motives of men, it is by way of accommodation to the wants of those who are intellectually and morally at a low stage of culture; but for those who have got beyond this stage, whose intelligence is not limited by their imagination, and whose will is not governed by selfish fears and hopes, there is another lesson. They can rise to the consciousness of God as the absolute Being, to whom none of the attributes of finite things or beings can belong, not even those of humanity. Of this being we know only that He is and not what He is; and this is what is meant when God is spoken of by the name “I am that I am,” which is equivalent to saying that God's true nature is not expressible by any name. We know him only negatively, and not positively: for all the predicates we can possibly attach to Him are predicates which express the contrast of his pure being with the limited and determined nature of finite creatures. Thus He is represented as one in opposition to their division, as simple in opposition to their complexity, as immutable in opposition to their variableness, as eternal and immeasurable in opposition to their conditioned existence in time and space. But these attributes are all to be taken as simply repelling from him every qualification by which He might be reduced to the level of his creatures, and not as expressing the infinite fulness and completeness of his own Being, which is incomprehensible to the mind of man. To determine what He is in his essential being would be impossible; for to define is to relate, and He is above relation. Even the words, “I am thy God,” are, Philo declares, employed in an inexact and figurative way, and not in their primary sense; for the self-existent Being, regarded simply as self-existent, does not come under the category of relation. “He is full of himself, and sufficient to himself, equally before and after the creation of the universe; for He is unchangeable, requiring nothing else at all, so that all things belong to him, but He, strictly speaking, belongs to nothing.”3 These last words show the true movement of Philo's thought, which carries everything back to the absolute Being, but will not allow us to invert the process, or to see in the nature of that Being any necessity for the existence of any being other than himself; seeing that this would make him dependent on his creatures or responsible for their imperfections. In other words, they are regarded as related and essentially related to him, but not He to them.

Now this is just the logic of mysticism or pantheism, which carries back everything finite to the infinite but cannot think of the infinite as manifested in the finite. But it was impossible for a pious Jew like Philo to be a mystic or a pantheist, and so to reduce the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to an absolute substance, in whom all the reality of the world is merged. Philo might be ready to treat as allegorical all the expressions that seem to attach any physical character or any of the limitations of fallible, finite beings to God; but he could not part with God's personality or sacrifice God's, moral to his metaphysical attributes. The phrase ‘strictly speaking’ in the passage just quoted partly hides and partly betrays Philo's consciousness of the necessity of finding some way in which the expression ‘my God’ might be justified, and God might be conceived as going out of himself and relating himself to his creatures. Or, if God in his pure essence were regarded as above such a relation, some power emanating from the divine must be found to mediate the transition. The first naïve solution of this difficulty—a solution which lay very close to the Hebrew mind—was to attribute to God's will what could not be referred to his nature; and to say that God had chosen “out of his mere good pleasure” to create a world and to promise certain blessings, first, to the race of Israel, and then through them to mankind, on condition of their obedience to his revealed will. And when objections arose, they could always be silenced, as they were by St. Paul, with the question: “Who art thou, O man, that repliest against God?” But to take this course was to cut the knot instead of untying it; and Philo was too much imbued with the spirit of Greece to rest in the bare idea of will without reason.

The sacred books, however, when interpreted in the light of the conception of the Logos supplied him with a better solution of the difficulty. Originally, indeed, the expression ‘Word of God’ had not carried with it any notion of mediation, or of a mediating being. On the contrary, in such passages as: “By the word of God were the heavens made and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth,” what the writer sought to convey was rather the idea of a direct divine action which needed no mediation or instrument whatever. But gradually, as the idea of God became universalised, the same feeling which caused the name of ‘Jahveh’ or ‘Jehovah’ to be avoided, and the word ‘Lord’ substituted for it, gave rise to an inclination to attribute divine acts not to God but to some personification of one of his attributes, generally of his wisdom. This tendency is shown in Ecclesiastes and also in a still more decided form in one of the apocryphal books, The Wisdom of Solomon. And for Philo, who wrote in Greek and under the influence of Greek philosophical ideas, the Stoic use of the word Logos to express the rational principle which is immanent in man and in the universe, seemed to throw a new light on those numerous passages in the Old Testament in which the phrase ‘Word of God’ is used in a half-personal way. We may thus explain how Philo arrives at the notion of the Word, as a second divine principle, which connects the absolute divine power with the world—a God who reveals, as contrasted with the God who hides himself: a principle through which God creates and governs the universe, through which he binds all the parts of the finite world to each other and unites it as a whole to himself. In fact, we find concentrated in the idea of the Logos all that Philo has to say of God's revelation in the world as opposed to his absolute essence; and he is very fertile in forms of expression to convey the relation of this principle of revelation to God and to man respectively. In the former aspect, the Word is declared to be the Son of God, the first-born, the highest archangel, the oldest of the angels: in the latter aspect, he is said to be the man who is the immediate image of God, the ideal or prototype in whose image all other men are created.

If, however, we ask whether the Word is to be taken as an aspect of the divine nature or as a separate individual being, we find that the language of Philo is very ambiguous and uncertain. He seems to fluctuate between modes of expression which point to something like Platonic ideas, and modes which suggest the conception of the angels of the Old Testament. The separation and relative independence of the Logos is specially emphasised when Philo is speaking of the creation of man. “Why is it,” he asks, “that God declares that He made man ‘after the image of God,’ and not after his own image, as if there were another God in question? This oracle of God is of the highest value, and what it expresses is literally true; for no mortal being could have been formed in the similitude of the Supreme Father of the universe, but only after the pattern of the second Deity, who is the Word. It was necessary that the rational part of the soul should exhibit the type of the divine Word. But while God's Word is higher than the highest rational nature, the God who is higher than the Word holds a place of singular pre-eminence and glory, and no creature can be brought into comparison with him.”4

This passage seems certainly to suggest personal agency; yet in other places Philo seems rather to speak as if the Word were only a general name for all the attributes of God. I think, however, that two things may be made out clearly: first, that the idea of the Logos gains importance for Philo just because his primary conception of God is such as to make it impossible to connect Him directly with the finite: and secondly, that the Logos is viewed as the principle of all the activities that are involved in that connexion. In particular, Philo speaks of two attributes or active powers which find their manifestation in the world, the power by which He creates and sustains the world, and the power by which He rules it: powers which roughly correspond to his goodness and his sovereignty; and he thinks that the two terms ‘God’ and ‘Lord,’ Elohim and Adonai, are used in the Bible to designate and distinguish these two powers. Thus he tells us that, while meditating on the two Cherubim who were stationed with flaming swords at the gates of Paradise, he was suddenly carried away by a divine inspiration which made him speak like a prophet concerning things he did not know. And the revelation then made to him was that in the one God there are two powers, goodness and sovereignty, and that it is by goodness that God made the world and by sovereignty that He rules it; but that there is a third Being uniting the other two, namely, the Logos, “since it is by the Word or reason of God that He is both sovereign and good… For reason, and especially the causal reason, is a thing swift and impetuous, which anticipates and overpowers everything, being thought before all things, and manifesting itself in all things.”5

In some passages it seems as if this duality of powers, and even the Logos in whom they are united, were regarded merely as an appearance which is due to the imperfect apprehension of truth by the finite mind: as where it is declared that “God appears in his unity when the soul, being perfectly purified and having transcended all multiplicity, not only the multiplicity of numbers but even the dyad which is nearest to unity, passes on to the idea which is unmingled, simple and complete in itself.”6 But if this way of thinking were followed out to its utmost consequences, the world itself must disappear in the highest Being, who is above all relation. Hence it was a logical necessity for one who would not reduce the world to an illusive appearance to regard the primal unity as going out of itself and producing a manifestation which was relatively independent of it. And from this point of view the idea of the Word, through whom this manifestation takes place, could not be treated as merely an accommodation to an imperfect mode of human thought.

The truth is that Philo brings the dualism, which, as we have seen, was latent both in Hebrew and in Greek thought, to a more definite expression than it had hitherto reached. He holds, on the one hand, to the idea of an absolute God, pure, simple and self-subsistent; yet, on the other hand, he cannot avoid conceiving God as a principle of being and well-being in the universe, who binds all things to each other in binding them to himself. And he puts these two aspects together as ‘two Gods,’ who yet must in some way be reduced to unity.7 But it was impossible for Philo to explain, the nature of this unity without either giving up the conception of what God is in himself, or reducing the relative independence of the principle that manifests itself in the universe to an illusion. Sometimes, as in the passage just quoted, he approaches the former solution of the difficulty: sometimes, as when he is speaking of the goodness of God as the cause of the existence and preservation of his creatures, he approaches the latter solution of it. But he never definitely brings the two conceptions together, nor does he realise fully the consequences of either alternative.

We are, therefore, left with the idea of an absolute substance which, strictly taken, would exclude all difference and relation, even the difference and relation of subject and object in self-consciousness; and, on the other hand, with the idea of a self-revealing Word, who manifests himself in and to his creatures. And Philo employs all the resources of symbolism, allegorical interpretation, and logical distinction, to conceal from others, and even from himself, the fact that he is following out two separate lines of thought which cannot be reconciled. All that he can say is that one of these Gods is subordinate to the other. The Logos, he declares, is neither uncreated like God, nor created like us; but he is at equal distance between the extremes, serving as a keeper of the boundaries and as a means of communication between the two.8 The Logos, then, appears as a second divine principle, whose office is to reveal the first God, but who can never reveal him as He is, seeing that by his very nature He is incapable of revelation: for to reveal him would be to bring into relation a Being who, ex hypothesi, is beyond and out of all relation. In strict logic, therefore, the revelation of God—that is, the whole universe and the divine Word who creates and sustains it,—must not only be subordinated to the Supreme Being, but must be merged and lost in him. Or, if we follow the other line of thought and dwell upon the reality of the Logos, we must inevitably give up the idea of his subordination: we must treat God as essentially self-revealing, and as ‘beyond relativity’ only in the sense that He is the source of all the existences to which He relates himself. But it was impossible for Philo to adopt either of these alternatives without surrendering what for him were the essential principles and presuppositions of all his religious and philosophical consciousness. The value of his philosophy, therefore, lies in this, that it constitutes another step in the evolution of the dualistic tendencies that underlay Greek thought from the time of Anaxagoras, and which the Stoics vainly endeavoured to escape. And this step had a higher significance because it was partly the result of a similar movement in Jewish religion, and showed that the Eastern was involved in similar difficulties with the Western mind. For the first time in the history of the world, these two great streams of thought had run together, and a beginning was made in that process of fusion of which the whole development of Christian theology was the outcome.

The same tendencies receive further illustration when we turn to Philo's treatment of the nature of man and his relation to God. Take first the following passage in which the simple Mosaic narrative is strangely re-interpreted or rather transformed by the aid of the great myth of the Phaedrus: “After all the other creatures, man, as Moses says, was made in the image and likeness of God. And he says well; for nothing born on earth has more resemblance to God than man. Not, indeed, in the characteristics of his body, for God has no outward form, but in the intelligence which has supremacy in his soul. For the intelligence which exists in each individual, is made after the pattern of the intelligence of the universe as its archetype, being in some sort the God of the body, which carries it about like an image in a shrine. Thus the intelligence occupies the same place in man, as the great Governor occupies in the universe—being itself invisible while it sees everything, and having its own essence hidden while it penetrates to the essences of all other things. Also by its arts and sciences, it makes for itself open roads through all the earth and the seas, and searches out everything that is contained in them. And then again it rises on wings and looking down upon the air and all its commotions, it is borne upwards to the sky and the revolving heavens, and accompanies the choral dance of the planets and fixed stars according to the laws of music. And being led by love, the guide of wisdom, it proceeds still onwards, till it transcends all that is capable of being apprehended by the senses and rises to that which is perceptible only by the intellect. And there, seeing in their surpassing beauty the original ideas and archetypes of all the things which sense finds beautiful, it becomes possessed by a sober intoxication, like the Corybantian revellers, and is filled with a still stronger longing, which bears it up to the highest summit of the intelligible world till it seems to approach to the great King of the intelligible world himself. And, while it is eagerly seeking to behold him in all his glory, rays of divine light are poured forth upon it, which by their exceeding brilliance dazzle the eyes of the intelligence.”9

It is easy to see that there is more of Plato than of Moses here; and a further consideration of Philo's psychology shows that the main difference of it from that of Plato is just that in the former the dualistic tendency is more fully developed. Plato's idea of the body as the tomb or prison of the soul, his idea of the moral life as an effort to dissociate the soul from the passions which it acquires by its commerce with the body, his idea that practical life involves a disturbance of the soul's peace and a darkening of its inner light, and that its only pure exercise is to he found in the contemplation of absolute, ideal reality—all these Platonic conceptions are literally accepted by Philo. He even gives some countenance to the extremely un-Hebraic conception that the very entrance of the soul into mortal life involves a certain tainting of its purity. Man, for Philo, is distinctly a “compound of dross and deity”; and the proper object of his life-effort is declared to be the liberation of his intelligence from its baser companion, the attainment of that apathy, or freedom from the passions, in which alone the spirit can energize freely according to the inmost tendency of its own being.

Philo, however, could not rest satisfied with this view; he could not, like a Stoic, fall back on the inner life, and seek to emancipate it as far as possible from entanglement with the world; for he had learnt that man can as little find his good within himself as he can find it without him. Hence he argues that the great source of evil lies not directly in our sensuous nature itself, but rather in the fact that it leads us to rest in ourselves and not in God. Thus, speaking of the passage in Genesis that tells how Adam sought to hide himself from God among the trees of the garden, Philo tells us that the garden means the mind of man as an individual; and that “he who is escaping from God flees to himself.” For there are only two principles which can exercise power over our life, the mind of the universe which is God, and the separate mind of the individual. He, therefore, “who escapes from his own mind flies to the mind of the universe, confessing that all the things of the human mind are vain and unreal, and attributing everything to God; while he who seeks to escape from God declares by so doing that God is not the cause of anything, and looks upon himself as the cause of all that exists.”10 Hence the soul that would attain to the heritage of God must not only despise the flesh and regard all the objects of outward sense as things which have no real existence, it must not only free itself from all the illusions of speech and opinion, but it must also flee from itself and empty itself of all self-love and all trust in anything which is its own.11 If, therefore, self-knowledge be the beginning of wisdom, it is because it involves self-despair; and he only who has despaired of himself can know Him who eternally is.12

“Only he who dies to himself can live to God.” There is a sense in which this is the highest of all truths, the truth which constitutes the essence of Christianity. But, as it appears in Philo, in connexion with a dualistic view of human nature, it seems to mean, not that we find God in so far as our individual nature becomes the organ of a higher spirit, but only that we find God in so far as all individual life is expelled from us or reduced to inactivity. And this appears to be the ultimate thought of Philo, which is expressed in his doctrine of ecstasy. For, according to this doctrine, the highest perfection of man is not the realisation of his nature as man, not the development of all his powers of mind and will, but an absorption of them in the divine vision, which annihilates all consciousness of himself and of the world. Philo is too much of a Jew to accept the ultimate consequences of this view; but it is obviously the conclusion to which his philosophy points, and it is only imperfectly warded off by his doctrine of the Logos. For, if God is not in his own essential nature a self-manifesting being, but is withdrawn from all relation to his creatures, it is clear that man can become united to God only as he rises above his own existence as a creature.

Here also, therefore, in relation to human nature, we find Philo's ideas as to the transcendence and the immanence of God warring with each other; and, as the former is that to which he gives the precedence, the perfection of man for Philo is that he should rise not only above sense but also above intelligence, till his whole being is lost in the absolute One. Yet, on the other hand, we have to remember that, though subordinated, the ideas of God as self-revealing, and of the universe and especially man as his revelation, are never entirely lost sight of; and that the contradiction between these two views never leads Philo to abandon either aspect of his doctrine, or to seek for a narrow logical consistency at the expense of its comprehensiveness. Hence, if he has not solved the great problem of his time, we may fairly say that he first stated it in all its fullness. Or, to put it more directly, he first gave utterance to both of the two great requirements of the religious consciousness, the need for rising from the finite and relative to the Absolute, and the need of seeing the Absolute as manifested in the finite and relative; although he could find no other reconciliation of these two needs except externally to subordinate the latter to the former. It was this problem with which the Neo-Platonic school from its foundation to its close continued persistently to wrestle. But we have hardly a right to say that its efforts were unsuccessful, until we have considered how it was dealt with by a man of far greater philosophical power than Philo, by the greatest of all mystics, Plotinus.

  • 1. De Confusione Ling., § 33.
  • 2. Philo, Quod Deus Immut., § 11; De Somniis, 1., § 40.
  • 3. “De Mutatione Nom.,” § 4: quoted by Dr. Drummond, Philo Judaeus, II, 48.
  • 4. Quaest. et Solut. in Genesin II., § 62.
  • 5. De Cherub, § 9.
  • 6. De Abrahamo, § 24.
  • 7. Cf. Vol. I, p. 252.
  • 8. Quis rerum, § 47: cf. Herriot, Philon le Juif, p. 259.
  • 9. De Mundi Op., § 23.
  • 10. Leg. Alleg., III, § 9.
  • 11. Quis rerum, § 14–16.
  • 12. Drummond, II, p. 288.