"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Philo of Alexandria

One of the diverting pleasures of my life is getting new catalogues in the mail from publishers; I'm sufficiently old-fashioned enough to prefer these in print, having found several of the electronic versions highly irritating to navigate.

The newest catalogue to arrive is from Yale University Press and among its notices is that of a book just released this month: Maren Niehoff, Philo of Alexandria: an Intellectual Biography (Yale UP, 2018, 336pp.).

About this book the publisher tells us
Philo was a Hellenistic Jewish philosopher who left behind one of the richest bodies of work from antiquity, yet his personality and intellectual development have remained a riddle. Maren Niehoff presents the first biography of Philo, arguing that his trip to Rome in 38 CE was a turning point in his life. There he was exposed not only to new political circumstances but also to a new cultural and philosophical environment.
Following the pogrom in Alexandria, Philo became active as the head of the Jewish embassy to Emperor Gaius and as an intellectual in the capital of the empire, responding to the challenges of his time and creatively reconstructing his identity, though always maintaining pride in the Jewish tradition. Philo’s trajectory from Alexandria to Rome and his enthusiastic adoption of new modes of thought made him a key figure in the complex negotiation between East and West.

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