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Philo and Jesus

Postby Hopeful » Thu Jul 19, 2018 1:51 pm

Why did philosophers such as Philo make no mention of Jesus Christ?

It seems to me odd that neither Philo or Pliny make no mention of Christ. Philo was born 20 BCE and died approx 50 CE. It seems odd to me that as he wrote extensively about Jews during the time that Christ is said to have existed on Earth, he makes absolutely no mention of Christ at all. He was there during the crucifixion and the resurrection. Surely an event such as this would have such an impact that Philo would have mentioned it?

I'm a Christian myself, but as I look further into the history of Christianity, I have to admit, my faith does get shaken.
I believe that as Christians, we should look at all viewpoints whether they support or are critical of Christianity.
I'm about to go down the rabbit hole of Celsus.
Hopeful
 

Re: Philo and Jesus

Postby jimwalton » Thu Jul 19, 2018 2:31 pm

As I'm sure you know, it's impossible to argue anything from silence. Any answer anyone gives here is pure speculation.

Before the days of mass and easy telecommunication, it's hard to know how easily the works and words of a messianic claimant from Galilee would reach the ears of a philosopher in Alexandria. It seems that he didn't have too much in common with Jewish rabbinic scholarship, but spent more of his time writing about Greek philosophers and reinterpreting Judaism in terms of Greek philosophy. Therefore one could guess that his interests and attentions were directed elsewhere. He is said to have gone to Rome in AD 40, which would confirm that his sights were on Rome and Greece rather than particularly on Jerusalem.

He allegedly had ties to various priestly families in Judea and to the Herods, but remember that all of those people were hostile to Jesus and considered him to be a problem to be eliminated rather than a teacher to be respected. It's possible there's no particular reason any of them would emphasize Jesus in their contacts with Philo, if there even were any contacts. (Again, an argument from silence; we have no particular records of such alleged contacts.)

In his writing "Providence," he mentions a "journey towards the temple of my native land for the purpose of offering up prayers and sacrifices therein," which is presumably Jerusalem, but we don't know when he took that trip, how long it lasted, or with whom he had contact. I guess it could just have easily been before Jesus started his ministry as afterward. There's no way to know.

The Church Fathers made use of Philo's writings, but there's no indication that Philo was in reception of anything coming from Jerusalem. He seemed to be aware of the Essenes, but again we know little about any contact.

We're left only to speculate and guess about all this stuff.

> he wrote extensively about Jews during the time that Christ is said to have existed on Earth

As far as I know, he wrote extensively about the Jewish situation in Alexandria, with no particular reference to Jerusalem or Judea (let alone Galilee).

> He was there during the crucifixion and the resurrection.

Not that I'm aware of. Do you have any evidence of this?
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Re: Philo and Jesus

Postby Hopeful » Sun Jul 22, 2018 1:40 pm

>He was there during the crucifixion and the resurrection.

I apologise. This was unfounded rumour. What I think I meant was that he was alive during this time and perhaps heard about it. On further consideration, it's possible that he thought this one crucifixion was one amongst many and he didn't deem it worth writing about.
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Re: Philo and Jesus

Postby jimwalton » Sat Aug 11, 2018 6:09 pm

Thanks. Yeah, he was alive at the time. As I mentioned, by his own testimony he visited Jerusalem at least once, but we don't know when. And of course you're right that the Romans crucified people by the thousands, so who knows if any of Philo's contacts in Jerusalem bothered to mention Jesus to him or, being in Alexandria, whether he had any knowledge of Jesus at all. We wish we knew.


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