Christian Platonism

Rediscovering Ancient Wisdom

On Philo’s Allegorical Exigesis of Genesis

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On Philo’s Allegorical Exigesis of Genesis

While this shorter explanation in a catechetical form [Questions and Answers on Genesis] was intended for more extensive circles, Philo’s special and chief scientific work is his large allegorical commentary on Genesis [Allegorical Interpretation I-III]…

These two works frequently approximate each other as to their contents. For in the Quaestiones et solutiones also, the deeper allegorical significance is given as well as the literal meaning. In the great allegorical commentary on the contrary, the allegorical interpretation exclusively prevails…

Especially is it a fundamental thought, from which the exposition is everywhere deduced, that the history of mankind as related in Genesis is in reality nothing else than a system of psychology and ethic. The different individuals, who here make their appearance, denote the different states of soul (tropoi tes psuches) which occur among men. To analyse these in their variety and their relations both to each other and to the Deity and the world of sense, and thence to deduce moral doctrines, is the special aim of this great allegorical commentary.

Emil Schürer, The Literature of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus, 1886, pp. 329-331.

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Written by John Uebersax

January 3, 2009 at 7:58 pm

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