Chapter 3 | Table
of Contents | Chapter 5
The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah
THE PREPARATION FOR THE
THE JEWISH WORLD IN THE DAYS OF CHRIST
PHILO OF ALEXANDRIA, THE
RABBIS, AND THE GOSPELS
THE FINAL DEVELOPMENT OF HELLENISM IN ITS
RELATION TO RABBINISM AND THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN.
It is strange how little we know of the personal history of the
greatest of uninspired Jewish writers of old, though he occupied so prominent a
position in his time.1
Philo was born in Alexandria, about the year 20 before Christ. He was a
descendant of Aaron, and belonged to one of the wealthiest and most influential
families among the Jewish merchant-princes of Egypt. His brother was the
political head of that community in Alexandria, and he himself on one occasion
represented his co-religionists, though unsuccessfully, at Rome,2
as the head of an embassy to entreat the Emperor Caligula for protection from
the persecutions consequent on the Jewish resistance to placing statues of the
Emperor in their Synagogues. But it is not with Philo, the wealthy aristocratic
Jew of Alexandria, but with the great writer and thinker who, so to speak,
completed Jewish Hellenism, that we have here to do. Let us see what was his
relation alike to heathen philosophy and to the Jewish faith, of both of which
he was the ardent advocate, and how in his system he combined the teaching of
(N.T. Zeitg. vol. ii. p. 222 &c.) has given a highly imaginative picture of
Philo- as, indeed, of many other persons and things.
2. 39 or 40 a.d.
To begin with, Philo united in rare measure Greek learning with
Jewish enthusiasm. In his writings he very frequently uses classical modes of
expression;3 he names
not fewer than sixty-four Greek writers;4
and he either alludes to, or quotes frequently from, such sources as Homer,
Hesiod, Pindar, Solon, the great Greek tragedians, Plato, and others. But to
him these men were scarcely 'heathen.' He had sat at their feet, and learned to
weave a system from Pythagoras, Plato, Aristotle, and the Stoics. The
gatherings of these philosophers were 'holy,' and Plato was 'the great.' But
holier than all was the gathering of the true Israel; and incomparably greater
than any, Moses. From him had all sages learned, and with him alone was all
truth to be found - not, indeed, in the letter, but under the
letter, of Holy Scripture. If in Numb. xxiii. 19 we read 'God is not a man,'
and in Deut. i. 31 that the Lord was 'as a man,' did it not imply, on the one
hand, the revelation of absolute truth by God, and, on the other, accommodation
to those who were weak? Here, then, was the principle of a twofold
interpretation of the Word of God - the literal and the allegorical. The letter
of the text must be held fast; and Biblical personages and histories were real.
But only narrow-minded slaves of the letter would stop here; the more so, as
sometimes the literal meaning alone would be tame, even absurd; while the
allegorical interpretation gave the true sense, even though it might occasionally
run counter to the letter. Thus, the patriarchs represented
states of the soul; and, whatever the letter might bear, Joseph represented one
given to the fleshly, whom his brothers rightly hated; Simeon the soul aiming
after the higher; the killing of the Egyptian by Moses, the subjugation of
passion, and so on. But this allegorical interpretation - by the side of the
literal (the Peshat of the Palestinians) - though only for the few, was
not arbitrary. It had its 'laws,' and 'canons' - some of which excluded the
literal interpretation, while others admitted it by the side of the higher meaning.5
has, with immense labor, collected a vast number of parallel expressions,
chiefly from Plato and Plutarch (pp. 39-47).
4. Comp. Grossmann, Quæ st. Phil. i. p. 5 &c.
5. In this sketch of the system of Philo I have largely availed myself of the careful analysis of Siegfried.
To begin with the former: the literal sense must be wholly set
aside, when it implied anything unworthy of the Deity, anything unmeaning,
impossible, or contrary to reason. Manifestly, this canon, if strictly applied,
would do away not only with all anthropomorphisms, but cut the knot wherever
difficulties seemed insuperable. Again, Philo would find an allegorical, along
with the literal, interpretation indicated in the reduplication of a word, and
in seemingly superfluous words, particles, or expressions.6
These could, of course, only bear such a meaning on Philo's assumption of the
actual inspiration of the LXX. version. Similarly, in exact accordance with a
any repetition of what had been already stated would point to something new.
These were comparatively sober rules of exegesis. Not so the licence which he
claimed of freely altering the punctuation8
of sentences, and his notion that, if one from among several synonymous words
was chosen in a passage, this pointed to some special meaning attaching to it.
Even more extravagant was the idea, that a word which occurred in the LXX.
might be interpreted according to every shade of meaning which it bore in the
Greek, and that even another meaning might be given it by slightly altering the
letters. However, like other of Philo's allegorical canons, these were also
adopted by the Rabbis, and Haggadic interpretations were frequently prefaced
by: 'Read not thus - but thus.' If such violence might be done to the text, we
need not wonder at interpretations based on a play upon words, or even upon
parts of a word. Of course, all seemingly strange or peculiar modes of
expression, or of designation, occurring in Scripture, must have their special
meaning, and so also every particle, adverb, or preposition. Again, the
position of a verse, its succession by another, the apparently unaccountable
presence or absence of a word, might furnish hints for some deeper meaning, and
so would an unexpected singular for a plural, or vice versâ, the use of
a tense, even the gender of a word. Most serious of all, an allegorical
interpretation might be again employed as the basis of another.9
6. It should be noted that these are also Talmudical canons, not indeed for allegorical
interpretation, but as pointing to some special meaning, since there was not a
word or particle in Scripture without a definite meaning and object.
7. Baba K 64 a.
8. To illustrate what use might be made of such alterations, the Midrash (Ber. R. 65)
would have us punctuate Gen. xxvii. 19, as follows: 'And Jacob said unto his
father, I (viz. am he who will receive the ten commandments) - (but) Esau (is)
thy firstborn.' In Yalkut there is the still more curious explanation that in
heaven the soul of Jacob was the firstborn!
9. Each of these positions is capable of ample proof from Philo's writings, as shown by
Siegfried. But only a bare statement of these canons was here possible.
We repeat, that these allegorical canons of Philo are
essentially the same as those of Jewish traditionalism in the Haggadah,10
only the latter were not rationalising, and far more brilliant in their
application.11 In another
respect also the Palestinian had the advantage of the Alexandrian exegesis.
Reverently and cautiously it indicated what might be omitted in public reading,
and why; what expressions of the original might be modified by the Meturgeman,
and how; so as to avoid alike one danger by giving a passage in its literality,
and another by adding to the sacred text, or conveying a wrong impression of
the Divine Being, or else giving occasion to the unlearned and unwary of
becoming entangled in dangerous speculations. Jewish tradition here lays down
some principles which would be of great practical use. Thus we are told,12
that Scripture uses the modes of expression common among men. This would, of
course, include all anthropomorphisms. Again, sometimes with considerable
ingenuity, a suggestion is taken from a word, such as that Moses knew the
Serpent was to be made of brass from the similarity of the two words (nachash,
a serpent, and nechosheth, brass.)13
Similarly, it is noted that Scripture uses euphemistic language, so as to
preserve the greatest delicacy.14
These instances might be multiplied, but the above will suffice.
10. Comp. our above outline with the 'XXV. theses de modis et formulis quibus pr. Hebr.
doctores SS. interpretari etc. soliti fuerunt,' in Surenhusius,BibloV katallaghV, pp. 57-88.
11. For a comparison between Philo and Rabbinic theology, see Appendix II.: 'Philo and
Rabbinic Theology.' Freudenthal (Hellen. Studien, pp. 67 &c.) aptly
designates this mixture of the two as 'Hellenistic Midrash,' it being difficult
sometimes to distinguish whether it originated in Palestine or in Egypt, or
else in both independently. Freudenthal gives a number of curious instances in
which Hellenism and Rabbinism agree in their interpretations. For other
interesting comparisons between Haggadic interpretations and those of Philo,
see Joel, Blick in d. Religionsgesch. i. p. 38 &c.
12. Ber. 31 b.
13. Ber. R. 31.
14. Ber. R. 70.
In his symbolical interpretations Philo only partially took the
same road as the Rabbis. The symbolism of numbers and, so far as the Sanctuary
was concerned, that of colours, and even materials, may, indeed, be said to
have its foundation in the Old Testament itself. The same remark applies
partially to that of names. The Rabbis certainly so interpreted them.15
But the application which Philo made of this symbolism was very different.
Everything became symbolical in his hands, if it suited his purpose: numbers
(in a very arbitrary manner), beasts, birds, fowls, creeping things, plants,
stones, elements, substances, conditions, even sex - and so a term or an
expression might even have several and contradictory meanings, from which the
interpreter was at liberty to choose.
15. Thus, to give only a few out of many examples, Ruth is derived from ravah, to
satiate to give to drink, because David, her descendant, satiated God with his
Psalms of praise (Ber. 7 b). Here the principle of the significance of
Bible names is deduced from Ps. xlvi. 8 (9 in the Hebrew): 'Come, behold the
works of the Lord, who hath made names on earth,' the word 'desolations,' shamoth, being altered to shemoth, 'names.' In general, that
section, from Ber. 3 b, to the end of 8 a, is full of Haggadic
Scripture interpretations. On fol. 4 a there is the curious symbolical
derivation of Mephibosheth, who is supposed to have set David right on
halakhic questions, as Mippi bosheth: 'from my mouth shaming,' 'because he put
to shame the face of David in the Halakhah.' Similarly in Siphré (Par.
Behaalothekha, ed. Friedmann, p. 20 a) we have very beautiful and
ingenious interpretations of the names Reuel, Hobab and Jethro.
From the consideration of the method by which Philo derived
from Scriptures his theological views, we turn to a brief analysis of these
16. It would be impossible here to give the references, which would occupy too much space.
1. Theology. - In reference to God, we find, side by
side, the apparently contradictory views of the Platonic and the Stoic schools.
Following the former, the sharpest distinction was drawn between God and the
world. God existed neither in space, nor in time; He had neither human
qualities nor affections; in fact, He was without any qualities (apoioV), and even without any name (arrhtoV) ; hence, wholly uncognisable
by man (akatalhptoV). Thus,
changing the punctuation and the accents, the LXX. of Gen. iii. 9 was made to
read: 'Adam, thou art somewhere;' but God had no somewhere, as Adam seemed to
think when he hid himself from Him. In the above sense, also, Ex. iii. 14, and
vi. 3, were explained, and the two names Elohim and Jehovah
belonged really to the two supreme Divine 'Potencies,' while the fact of God's
being uncognisable appeared from Ex. xx. 21.
But side by side with this we have, to save the Jewish, or
rather Old Testament, idea of creation and providence, the Stoic notion of God
as immanent in the world - in fact, as that alone which is real in it, as
always working: in short, to use his own Pantheistic expression, as 'Himself
one and the all' (eiV kai to pan).
Chief in His Being is His goodness, the forthgoing of which was the ground of
creation. Only the good comes from Him. With matter He can have nothing to do -
hence the plural number in the account of creation. God only created the soul,
and that only of the good. In the sense of being 'immanent,' God is everywhere
- nay, all things are really only in Him, or rather He is the real in all. But
chiefly is God the wellspring and the light of the soul - its 'Saviour' from
the 'Egypt' of passion. Two things follow. With Philo's ideas of the separation between God and matter, it was impossible always to account for miracles or
interpositions. Accordingly, these are sometimes allegorised, sometimes
rationalistically explained. Further, the God of Philo, whatever he might say
to the contrary, was not the God of that Israel which was His chosen people.
2. Intermediary Beings. - Potencies (dunameiV, logoi). If, in what has preceded, we have once
and again noticed a remarkable similarity between Philo and the Rabbis, there
is a still more curious analogy between his teaching and that of Jewish
Mysticism, as ultimately fully developed in the 'Kabbalah.' The very term Kabbalah
(from qibbel, to hand down) seems to point out not only its descent
by oral tradition, but also its ascent to ancient sources.17
Its existence is presupposed, and its leading ideas are sketched in the
Targums also bear at least one remarkable trace of it. May it not be, that as
Philo frequently refers to ancient tradition, so both Eastern and Western
Judaism may here have drawn from one and the same source - we will not venture
to suggest, how high up - while each made such use of it as suited their
distinctive tendencies? At any rate the Kabbalah also, likening Scripture to a
person, compares those who study merely the letter, to them who attend only to
the dress; those who consider the moral of a fact, to them who attend to the
body; while the initiated alone, who regard the hidden meaning, are those who
attend to the soul. Again, as Philo, so the oldest part of the Mishnah19
designates God as Maqom - 'the place' - the topoV, the all-comprehending, what the Kabbalists called
the EnSoph, 'the boundless,' that God, without any quality, Who becomes
cognisable only by His manifestations.20
17. For want of handier material I must take leave to refer to my brief sketch of the
Kabbalah in the 'History of the Jewish Nation,' pp. 434-446.
18. Chag. ii. 1.
19. Ab. v. 4.
20. In short, the logoV spermatikoV of
The manifestations of God! But neither Eastern mystical
Judaism, nor the philosophy of Philo, could admit of any direct contact between
God and creation. The Kabbalah solved the difficulty by their Sephiroth,21
or emanations from God, through which this contact was ultimately brought
about, and of which the EnSoph, or crown, was the spring: 'the source
from which the infinite light issued.' If Philo found greater difficulties, he
had also more ready help from the philosophical systems to hand. His Sephiroth
were 'Potencies' (dunameiV),
'Words' (logoi), intermediate
powers. 'Potencies,' as we imagine, when viewed Godwards; 'Words,' as viewed
creationwards. They were not emanations, but, according to Plato, 'archetypal
ideas,' on the model of which all that exists was formed; and also, according
to the Stoic idea, the cause of all, pervading all, forming all, and sustaining
all. Thus these 'Potencies' were wholly in God, and yet wholly out of God. If
we divest all this of its philosophical colouring, did not Eastern Judaism also
teach that there was a distinction between the Unapproachable God, and God
to mean either numerationes, or splendour. But why not derive the word
from syaira? The ten are: Crown,
Wisdom, Intelligence, Mercy, Judgment, Beauty, Triumph, Praise, Foundation, Kingdom.
22. For the teaching of Eastern Judaism in this respect, see Appendix II.: 'Philo and Rabbinic Theology.'
Another remark will show the parallelism between Philo and
Rabbinism.23 As the
latter speaks of the two qualities (Middoth) of Mercy and Judgment in
the Divine Being,24
and distinguishes between Elohim as the God of Justice, and Jehovah
as the God of Mercy and Grace, so Philo places next to the Divine Word (qeioV logoV), Goodness (agaqothV), as the Creative Potency (poihtikh dunamiV), and Power (ezousia), as the Ruling Potency (basilikh dunamiV), proving this by a
curious etymological derivation of the words for 'God' and 'Lord' (QeoV and kurioV) - apparently unconscious that the LXX., in direct
contradiction, translated Jehovah by Lord (kurioV),
and Elohim by God (QeoV)! These
two potencies of goodness and power, Philo sees in the two Cherubim, and in the
two 'Angels' which accompanied God (the Divine Word), when on his way to
destroy the cities of the plain. But there were more than these two Potencies.
In one place Philo enumerates six, according to the number of the cities of
refuge. The Potencies issued from God as the beams from the light, as the
waters from the spring, as the breath from a person; they were immanent in God,
and yet also without Him - motions on the part of God, and yet independent
beings. They were the ideal world, which in its impulse outwards, meeting
matter, produced this material world of ours. They were also the angels of God
- His messengers to man, the media through whom He reveled Himself.25
23. A very interesting question arises: how far Philo was acquainted with, and influenced by, the Jewish traditional law or the Halakhah. This has been treated by Dr. B. Ritter in an able tractate (Philo u. die Halach.), although he attributes more to Philo than the evidence seems to admit.
24. Jer. Ber. ix. 7.
the same time there is a remarkable difference here between Philo and
Rabbinism. Philo holds that the creation of the world was brought about by the Potencies,
but the Law was given directly through Moses, and not by the mediation
of angels. But this latter was certainly the view generally entertained in
Palestine as expressed in the LXX. rendering of Deut. xxxii. 2, in the Targumim
on that passage, and more fully still in Jos. Ant. xv. 5. 3, in the
Midrashim and in the Talmud, where we are told (Macc. 24 a) that only the
opening words, 'I am the Lord thy God, thou shalt have no other gods but Me,'
were spoken by God Himself. Comp. also Acts vii. 38, 53; Gal. iii. 19; Heb. ii. 2.
3. The Logos. - Viewed in its bearing on New Testament
teaching, this part of Philo's system raises the most interesting questions.
But it is just here that our difficulties are greatest. We can understand the
Platonic conception of the Logos as the 'archetypal idea,' and that of the
Stoics as the 'world-reason' pervading matter. Similarly, we can perceive, how
the Apocrypha - especially the Book of Wisdom - following up the Old Testament
typical truth concerning 'Wisdom' (as specially set forth in the Book of
Proverbs) almost arrived so far as to present 'Wisdom' as a special
'Subsistence' (hypostatising it). More than this, in Talmudical writings, we
find mention not only of the Shem, or 'Name,'26
but also of the 'Shekhinah,' God as manifest and present, which is sometimes
also presented as the Ruach ha Qodesh, of Holy Spirit.27
But in the Targumim we get yet another expression, which, strange to say, never
occurs in the Talmud.28
It is that of the Memra, Logos, or 'Word.' Not that the term is
exclusively applied to the Divine Logos.29
But it stands out as perhaps the most remarkable fact in this literature, that
God - not as in His permanent manifestation, or manifest Presence - but as
revealing Himself, is designated Memra. Altogether that term, as applied
to God, occurs in the Targum Onkelos 179 times, in the so-called Jerusalem
Targum 99 times, and in the Targum Pseudo-Jonathan 321 times. A critical
analysis shows that in 82 instances in Onkelos, in 71 instances in the
Jerusalem Targum, and in 213 instances in the Targum Pseudo-Jonathan, the
designation Memra is not only distinguished from God, but evidently
refers to God as revealing Himself.30
But what does this imply? The distinction between God and the Memra of
Jehovah is marked in many passages.31
Similarly, the Memra of Jehovah is distinguished from the Shekhinah.32
Nor is the term used instead of the sacred word Jehovah;33
nor for the well-known Old Testament expression 'the Angel of the Lord;'34
nor yet for the Metatron of the Targum Pseudo-Jonathan and of the
Talmud.35 Does it
then represent an older tradition underlying all these?36
Beyond this Rabbinic theology has not preserved to us the doctrine of Personal
distinctions in the Godhead. And yet, if words have any meaning, the Memra
is a hypostasis, though the distinction of permanent, personal Subsistence is
not marked. Nor yet, to complete this subject, is the Memra identified
with the Messiah. In the Targum Onkelos distinct mention is twice made of Him,37
while in the other Targumim no fewer than seventy-one Biblical passages are
rendered with explicit reference to Him.
'appropriatum;' hammephorash, 'expositum,' 'separatum,' the
'tetragrammaton,' or four-lettered name, hwhy. There was also a Shem
with 'twelve,' and one with 'forty-two' letters (Kidd. 71a).
27. Or Ruach ham Maqom, Ab. iii. 10, and frequently in the Talmud.
(Neuhebr. Wörterb. i. p. 374 a.) seems to imply that in the Midrash the term dibbur
occupies the same place and meaning. But with all deference I cannot agree with
this opinion, nor do the passages quoted bear it out.
'word,' as spoken, is distinguished from the 'Word' as speaking, or revealing
Himself. The former is generally designated by the term 'pithgama.' Thus
in Gen. XV. 1, 'After these words (things) came the "pithgama" of Jehovah to
Abram in prophecy, saying, Fear not, Abram, My "Memra" shall be thy strength,
and thy very great reward.' Still, the term Memra, as applied not only
to man, but also in reference to God, is not always the equivalent of 'the
various passages in the Targum of Onkelos, the Jerusalem, and the
Pseudo-Jonathan Targum on the Pentateuch will be found enumerated and
classified, as those in which it is a doubtful, a fair, or an unquestionable
inference, that the word Memra is intended for God revealing Himself, in
Appendix II.: 'Philo and Rabbinic Theology.'
31. As, for example, Gen. xxviii. 21, 'the Memra of Jehovah shall be my God.'
for example, Num. xxiii. 21, 'the Memra of Jehovah their God is their helper,
and the Shekhinah of their King is in the midst of them.'
33. That term is often used by Onkelos. Besides, the expression itself is 'the Memra of Jehovah.'
34. Onkelos only once (in Ex. iv. 24) paraphrases Jehovah by 'Malakha.'
either = meta qronon, or meta turannon. In the Talmud it is
applied to the Angel of Jehovah (Ex. xxiii. 20), 'the Prince of the World,'
'the Prince of the Face' or 'of the Presence,' as they call him; he who sits in
the innermost chamber before God, while the other angels only hear His commands
from behind the veil (Chag. 15 a; 16 a; Toseft. ad Chull. 60 a;
Jeb. 16 b). This Metatron of the Talmud and the Kabbalah is also
the Adam Qadmon, or archetypal man.
deep interest is Onkelos' rendering of Deut. xxxiii. 27, where, instead of
'underneath are the everlasting arms,' Onkelos has, 'and by His Memra was the
world created,' exactly as in St John i. 10. Now this divergence of Onkelos
from the Hebrew text seems unaccountable. Winer, whose inaugural
dissertation, 'De Onkeloso ejusque paraph. Chald.' Lips. 1820, most modern
writers have followed (with amplifications, chiefly from Luzzato's
Philoxenus), makes no reference to this passage, nor do his successors, so far
as I know. It is curious that, as our present Hebrew text of this verse
consists of three words, so does the rendering of Onkelos, and that both end
with the same word. Is the rendering of Onkelos then a paraphrase, or does it
represent another reading? Another interesting passage is Deut. viii. 3. Its
quotation by Christ in St. Matt. iv. 4 is deeply interesting, as read in the
light of the rendering of Onkelos, 'Not by bread alone is man sustained, but by
every forthcoming Memra from before Jehovah shall man live.' Yet another
rendering of Onkelos is significantly illustrative of 1 Cor. x. 1-4. He renders
Deut. xxxiii. 3 'with power He brought them out of Egypt; they were led under
thy cloud; they journeyed according to (by) thy Memra.' Does this represent a
difference in Hebrew from the admittedly difficult text in our present Bible?
Winer refers to it as an instance in which Onkelos 'suopte ingenio et copiose
admodum eloquitur vatum divinorum mentem,' adding, 'ita ut de his, quas
singulis vocibus inesse crediderit, significationibus non possit recte judicari;'
and Winer's successors say much the same. But this is to state, not to explain,
the difficulty. In general, we may here be allowed to say that the question of
the Targumim has scarcely received as yet sufficient treatment. Mr. Deutsch's
Article in Smith's 'Dictionary of the Bible' (since reprinted in his 'Remains')
is, though brilliantly written, unsatisfactory. Dr. Davidson (in Kitto's
Cyclop., vol. iii. pp. 948-966) is, as always, careful, laborious, and learned.
Dr. Volck's article (in Herzog's Real-Encykl., vol. xv. pp. 672-683) is
without much intrinsic value, though painstaking. We mention these articles,
besides the treatment of the subject in the Introduction to the Old Testament
(Keil, De Wette-Schrader, Bleek-kamphausen, Reuss), and the works of Zunz,
Geiger, Noldeke, and others, to whom partial reference has already been made. Frankel's
interesting and learned book (Zu dem Targum der Propheten) deals almost
exclusively with the Targum Jonathan, on which it was impossible to enter
within our limits. As modern brochures of interest the following three may be
mentioned: Maybaum, Anthropomorphien bei Onkelos; Grönemann, Die
Jonath. Pentat. Uebers. im Verhaltn. z. Halacha; and Singer, Onkelos im
Verhaltn. z. Halacha.
37. Gen. xlix. 10, 11; Num. xxiv. 17.
If we now turn to the views expressed by Philo about the Logos
we find that they are hesitating, and even contradictory. One thing, however,
is plain: the Logos of Philo is not the Memra of the Targumim. For, the
expression Memra ultimately rests on theological, that of Logos
on philosophical grounds. Again, the Logos of Philo approximates more closely
to the Metatron of the Talmud and Kabbalah. As they speak of him as the
'Prince of the Face,' who bore the name of his Lord, so Philo represents the
Logos as 'the eldest Angel,' 'the many-named Archangel,' in accordance with the
Jewish view that the name JeHoVaH unfolded its meaning in seventy names for the
Godhead.38 As they
speak of the 'Adam Qadmon,' so Philo of the Logos as the human reflection of
the eternal God. And in both these respects, it is worthy of notice that he
appeals to ancient teaching.39
38. See the enumeration of these 70 Names in the Baal-ha-Turim on Numb. xi. 16.
39. Comp. Siegfried, u. s., pp. 221-223.
What, then, is the Logos of Philo? Not a concrete personality,
and yet, from another point of view, not strictly impersonal, nor merely a
property of the Deity, but the shadow, as it were, which the light of God casts
- and if Himself light, only the manifested reflection of God, His spiritual,
even as the world is His material, habitation. Moreover, the Logos is 'the
image of God' (eikwn) upon which
man was made,40 or, to use
the platonic term, 'the archetypal idea.' As regards the relation between the
Logos and the two fundamental Potencies (from which all others issue), the
latter are variously represented - on the one hand, as proceeding from the
Logos; and on the other, as themselves constituting the Logos. As regards the
world, the Logos is its real being. He is also its archetype; moreover the
instrument (organon) through
Whom God created all things. If the Logos separates between God and the world,
it is rather as intermediary; He separates, but He also unites. But chiefly
does this hold true as regards the relation between God and man. The Logos
announces and interprets to man the will and mind of God (ermhneuV kai projhthV); He acts as
mediator; He is the real High-Priest, and as such by His purity takes away the
sins of man, and by His intercession procures for us the mercy of God. Hence
Philo designates Him not only as the High-Priest, but as the 'Paraclete.' He is
also the sun whose rays enlighten man, the medium of Divine revelation to the
soul; the Manna, or support of spiritual life; He Who dwells in the soul. And
so the Logos is, in the fullest sense, Melchisedek, the priest of the most high
God, the king of righteousness (basileuV
dikaioV), and the king of Salem (basileuV
eirhnhV), Who brings righteousness and peace to the soul.41
But the Logos 'does not come into any soul that is dead in sin.' That there is
close similarity of form between these Alexandrian views and much in the
argumentation of the Epistle to the Hebrews, must be evident to all - no less
than that there is the widest possible divergence in substance and spirit.42
The Logos of Philo is shadowy, unreal, not a Person;43
there is no need of an atonement; the High-Priest intercedes, but has no
sacrifice to offer as the basis of His intercession, least of all that of
Himself; the old Testament types are only typical ideas, not typical facts;
they point to a Prototypal Idea in the eternal past, not to an Antitypal Person
and Fact in history; there is no cleansing of the soul by blood, no sprinkling
of the Mercy Seat, no access for all through the rent veil into the immediate
Presence of God; nor yet a quickening of the soul from dead works to serve the
living God. If the argumentation of the Epistle to the Hebrews is Alexandrian,
it is an Alexandrianism which is overcome and past, which only furnishes the
form, not the substance, the vessel, not its contents. The closer therefore the
outward similarity, the greater is the contrast in substance.
40. Gen. i. 27.
41. De Leg. Alleg. iii. 25, 26.
a full discussion of this similarity of form and divergence of spirit, between
Philo - or, rather, between Alexandrianism - and the Epistle to the Hebrews,
the reader is referred to the masterly treatise by Riehm (Der
Lehrbegriff d. Hebräerbr. ed. 1867, especially pp. 247-268, 411-424, 658-670,
and 855-860). The author's general view on the subject is well and convincingly
formulated on p. 249. We must, however, add, in opposition to Riehm, that, by
his own showing the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews displays few traces of
a Palestinian training.
the subject of Philo's Logos generally the brochure of Harnoch
(Königsberg, 1879) deserves perusal, although it does not furnish much that is
new. In general, the student of Philo ought especially to study the sketch by Zeller
in his Philosophie der Gr. vol. iii. pt. ii. 3rd ed. pp. 338-418.
The vast difference between Alexandrianism and the New
Testament will appear still more clearly in the views of Philo on Cosmology
and Anthropology. In regard to the former, his results in some respects
run parallel to those of the students of mysticism in the Talmud, and of the
Kabbalists. Together with the Stoic view, which represented God as 'the active
cause' of this world, and matter as 'the passive,' Philo holds the Platonic
idea, that matter was something existent, and that is resisted God.44
Such speculations must have been current among the Jews long before, to judge
by certain warning given by the Son of Sirach.4546
And Stoic views of the origin of the world seem implied even in the Book of the
Wisdom of Solomon (i. 7; vii. 24; viii. 1; xii. 1).47
The mystics in the Talmud arrived at similar conclusions, not through Greek,
but through Persian teaching. Their speculations48
boldly entered on the dangerous ground,49
forbidden to the many, scarcely allowed to the few,50
where such deep questions as the origin of our world and its connection with
God were discussed. It was, perhaps, only a beautiful poetic figure that God
had taken of the dust under the throne of His glory, and cast it upon the
waters, which thus became earth.51
But so far did isolated teachers become intoxicated52
by the new wine of these strange speculations, that they whispered it to one
another that water was the original element of the world,53
which had successively been hardened into snow and then into earth.5455
Other and later teachers fixed upon the air or the fire as the original
element, arguing the pre-existence of matter from the use of the word 'made' in
Gen. i. 7. instead of 'created.' Some modified this view, and suggested that
God had originally created the three elements of water, air or spirit, and
fire, from which all else was developed.56
Traces also occur of the doctrine of the pre-existence of things, in a sense
similar to that of Plato.57
singular and characteristic inconsistency, Philo, however, ascribes also to God
the creation of matter (de Somn. i. 13).
45. As for example Ecclus. iii. 21-24.
46. So the Talmudists certainly understood it, Jer. Chag. ii. 1.
47. Comp. Grimm, Exeg. Handb. zu d. Apokr., Lief. vi. pp. 55, 56.
were arranged into those concerning the Maasey Bereshith (Creation), and
the Maasey Merkabbah, 'the chariot' of Ezekiel's vision (Providence in
the widest sense, or God's manifestation in the created world).
the four celebrities who entered the 'Pardes,' or enclosed Paradise of
theosophic speculation, one became an apostate, another died, a third went
wrong (Ben Soma), and only Akiba escaped unscathed, according to the Scripture
saying, 'Draw me, and we will run' (Chag. 14 b).
is not lawful to enter upon the Maasey Bereshith in presence of two, nor
upon the Merkabhah in presence of one, unless he be a "sage," and
understands of his own knowledge. Any one who ratiocinates on these four
things, it were better for him that he had not been born: What is above and
what is below; what was afore, and what shall be hereafter.' (Chag. ii. 1).
51. Shem. R. 13.
52. 'Ben Soma went astray (mentally): he shook the (Jewish) world.'
53. That criticism, which one would designate as impertinent, which would find this
view in 2 Peter iii. 5, is, alas! not confined to Jewish writers, but hazarded
even by De Wette.
54. Jer. Chag. 77 a.
55. Judah bar Pazi, in the second century. Ben Soma lived in the first century of our era.
to the Jerusalem Talmud (Ber. i. I) the firmament was at first soft, and only
gradually became hard. According to Ber. R. 10, God created the world from a
mixture of fire and snow, other Rabbis suggesting four original elements,
according to the quarters of the globe, or else six, adding to them that which
is above and that which is below. A very curious idea is that of R. Joshua ben
Levi, according to which all the works of creation were really finished on the
first day, and only, as it were, extended on the other days. This also
represents really a doubt of the Biblical account of creation. Strange though
it may sound, the doctrine of development was derived from the words (Gen. ii.
4). 'These are the generations of heaven and earth when they were created, in
the day when Jahveh Elohim made earth and heavens.' It was argued, that the
expression implied, they were developed from the day in which they had been
created. Others seem to have held, that the three principal things that were
created - earth, heaven, and water - remained, each for three days, at the end
of which they respectively developed what is connected with them (Ber. R. 12).
57. Ber. R. i.
Like Plato and the Stoics, Philo regarded matter as devoid of all
quality, and even form. Matter in itself was dead - more than that, it was evil.
This matter, which was already existing, God formed (not made), like an
architect who uses his materials according to a pre-existing plan - which in
this case was the archetypal world.
This was creation, or rather formation, brought about not by
God Himself, but by the Potencies, especially by the Logos, Who was the
connecting bond of all. As for God, His only direct work was the soul, and that
only of the good, not of the evil. Man's immaterial part had a twofold aspect:
earthwards, as Sensuousness (aisqhsiV);
and heavenwards, as Reason (nouV).
The sensuous part of the soul was connected with the body. It had no heavenly
past, and would have no future. But 'Reason' (nouV)
was that breath of true life which God had breathed into man (pneuma) whereby the earthy became the
higher, living spirit, with its various faculties. Before time began the soul
was without body, an archetype, the 'heavenly man,' pure spirit in Paradise (virtue),
yet even so longing after its ultimate archetype, God. Some of these pure
spirits descended into bodies and so lost their purity. Or else, the union was
brought about by God and by powers lower than God (dæmons, dhmiourgoi). To the latter is due our
earthly part. God breathed on the formation, and the 'earthly Reason' became
'intelligent' 'spiritual' soul (yuch
noera). Our earthly part alone is the seat of sin.58
58. For further notices on the Cosmology and Anthropology of Philo, see Appendix II.: 'Philo and Rabbinic Theology.'
This leads us to
the great question of Original Sin. Here the views of Philo are those of the
Eastern Rabbis. But both are entirely different from those on which the
argument in the Epistle to the Romans turns. It was neither at the feet of
Gamaliel, nor yet from Jewish Hellenism, that Saul of Tarsus learned the
doctrine of original sin. The statement that as in Adam all spiritually died,
so in Messiah all should be made alive,59
finds absolutely no parallel in Jewish writings.60
What may be called the starting point of Christian theology, the doctrine of
hereditary guilt and sin, through the fall of Adam, and of the consequent
entire and helpless corruption of our nature, is entirely unknown to
Rabbinical Judaism. The reign of physical death was indeed traced to the sin of
our first parents.61
But the Talmud expressly teaches,62
that God originally created man with two propensities,63
one to good and one to evil (Yetser tobh, and Yetser hara64).
The evil impulse began immediately after birth.6566
But it was within the power of man to vanquish sin, and to attain perfect
righteousness; in fact, this stage had actually been attained.67
cannot help quoting the beautiful Haggadic explanation of the name Adam,
according to its three letters, A, D, M - as including these three names, Adam,
Martini, in his 'Pugio Fidei' (orig. ed. p. 675; ed. Voisin et Carpzov,
pp. 866, 867), quotes from the book Siphré: 'Go and learn the merit of
Messiah the King, and the reward of the righteous from the first Adam, on whom
was laid only one commandment of a prohibitive character, and he transgressed
it. See how many deaths were appointed on him, and on his generations, and on
the generations of his generations to the end of all generations. (Wünsche,
Leiden d. Mess. p. 65, makes here an unwarrantable addition, in his
translation.) But which attribute (measuring?) is the greater - the attribute
of goodness or the attribute of punishment (retribution)? He answered, the
attribute of goodness is the greater, and the attribute of punishment the less.
And Messiah the King, who was chastened and suffered for the transgressors, as
it is said, "He was wounded for our transgressions," and so on, how much more
shall He justify (make righteous, by His merit) all generations; and this is
what is meant when it is written, "And Jehovah made to meet upon Him the sin of
us all."' We have rendered this passage as literally as possible, but we are
bound to add that it is not found in any now existing copy of Siphré.
is not considered an absolute evil. In short, all the various consequences
which Rabbinical writings ascribe to the sin of Adam may be designated either
as physical, or, if mental, as amounting only to detriment, loss, or
imperfectness. These results had been partially counteracted by Abraham, and
would be fully removed by the Messiah. Neither Enoch nor Elijah had sinned, and
accordingly they did not die. Comp. generally, Hamburger, Geist d.
Agada, pp. 81-84, and in regard to death as connected with Adam, p. 85.
62. Ber. 61 a.
are also hypostatised as Angels. Comp. Levy, Chald. Wörterb. p. 342 a;
Neuhebr. Wörterb. p. 259, a, b.
64. Or with 'two reins,' the one, advising to good, being at his right, the other,
counselling evil, at his left, according to Eccles. x. 2 (Ber. 61 a,
towards the end of the page).
65. Sanh. 91 b.
a sense its existence was necessary for the continuance of this world. The
conflict between these two impulses constituted the moral life of man.
solitary exception here is 4 Esdras, where the Christian doctrine of original
sin is most strongly expressed, being evidently derived from New Testament
teaching. Comp. especially 4 Esdras (our Apocryphal 2 Esdras) vii. 46-53, and
other passages. Wherein the hope of safety lay, appears in ch. ix.
Similarly, Philo regarded the soul of the child as 'naked'
(Adam and Eve), a sort of tabula rasa, as wax which God would fain form
and mould. But this state ceased when 'affection' presented itself to reason,
and thus sensuous lust arose, which was the spring of all sin. The grand task,
then, was to get rid of the sensuous, and to rise to the spiritual. In this,
the ethical part of his system, Philo was most under the influence of Stoic
philosophy. We might almost say, it is no longer the Hebrew who Hellenises, but
the Hellene who Hebraises. And yet it is here also that the most ingenious and
wide reaching allegorisms of Scripture are introduced. It is scarcely possible
to convey an idea of how brilliant this method becomes in the hands of Philo,
how universal its application, or how captivating it must have proved. Philo
describes man's state as, first one of sensuousness, but also of unrest, misery
and unsatisfied longing. If persisted in, it would end in complete spiritual insensibility.68
But from this state the soul must pass to one of devotion to reason.69
This change might be accomplished in one of three ways: first, by study - of
which physical was the lowest; next, that which embraced the ordinary circle of
knowledge; and lastly, the highest, that of Divine philosophy. The second
method was Askesis: discipline, or practice, when the soul turned from
the lower to the higher. But the best of all was the third way: the free
unfolding of that spiritual life which cometh neither from study nor
discipline, but from a natural good disposition. And in that state the soul had
true rest70 and joy.71
68. Symbolised by Lot's wife.
69. Symbolised by Ebher, Hebrew.
70. The Sabbath, Jerusalem.
71. For further details on these points see Appendix II.: 'Philo and Rabbinic Theology.'
Here we must for the present pause.72
Brief as this sketch of Hellenism has been, it must have brought the question
vividly before the mind, whether and how far certain parts of the New
Testament, especially the fourth Gospel,73
are connected with the direction of thought described in the preceding pages.
Without yielding to that school of critics, whose perverse ingenuity discerns
everywhere a sinister motive or tendency in the Evangelic writers,74
it is evident that each of them had a special object in view in constructing
his narrative of the One Life; and primarily addressed himself to a special
audience. If, without entering into elaborate discussion, we might, according
to St. Luke i. 2, regard the narrative of St. Mark as the grand representative
of that authentic 'narration' (dihghsiV),
though not by Apostles,75
which was in circulation, and the Gospel by St. Matthew as representing the
'tradition' handed down (the paradosiV),
by the Apostolic eye-witnesses and ministers of the Word,76
we should reach the following results. Our oldest Gospel-narrative is that by
St. Mark, which, addressing itself to no class in particular, sketches in rapid
outlines the picture of Jesus as the Messiah, alike for all men. Next in order
of time comes our present Gospel by St. Matthew. It goes a step further back
than that by St. Mark, and gives not only the genealogy, but the history of the
miraculous birth of Jesus. Even if we had not the consensus of tradition
every one must feel that this Gospel is Hebrew in its cast, in its citations
from the Old Testament, and in its whole bearing. Taking its key-note from the
Book of Daniel, that grand Messianic text-book of Eastern Judaism at the time,
and as re-echoed in the Book of Enoch - which expresses the popular
apprehension of Daniel's Messianic idea - it presents the Messiah chiefly as
'the Son of Man,' 'the Son of David,' 'the Son of God.' We have here the
fulfilment of Old Testament law and prophecy; the realisation of Old Testament
life, faith, and hope. Third in point of time is the Gospel by St. Luke, which,
passing back another step, gives us not only the history of the birth of Jesus,
but also that of John, 'the preparer of the way.' It is Pauline, and addresses
itself, or rather, we should say, presents the Person of the Messiah, it may be
'to the Jew first,' but certainly 'also to the Greek.' The term which St. Luke,
alone of all Gospel writers,77
applies to Jesus, is that of the paiV
or 'servant' of God, in the sense in which Isaiah has spoken of the Messiah as
the 'Ebhed Jehovah,' 'servant of the Lord.' St. Luke's is, so to speak, the
Isaiah-Gospel, presenting the Christ in His bearing on the history of God's
Kingdom and of the world - as God's Elect Servant in Whom He delighted. In the
Old Testament, to adopt a beautiful figure,78
the idea of the Servant of the Lord is set before us like a pyramid: at its
base it is all Israel, at its central section Israel after the Spirit (the circumcised
in heart), represented by David, the man after God's own heart; while at its
apex it is the 'Elect' Servant, the Messiah.79
And these three ideas, with their sequences, are presented in the third Gospel
as centring in Jesus the Messiah. By the side of this pyramid is the other: the
Son of Man, the Son of David, the Son of God. The Servant of the Lord of Isaiah
and of Luke is the Enlightener, the Consoler, the victorious Deliverer; the
Messiah or Anointed: the Prophet, the Priest, the King.
views of Philo on the Messiah will be presented in another connection.
is not the place to enter on the question of the composition, date, and
authorship of the four Gospels. But as regards the point on which negative
criticism has of late spoken strongest, and on which, indeed (as Weiss rightly
remarks) the very existence of 'the Tübingen School' depends - that of the
Johannine authorship of the fourth Gospel, I would refer to Weiss, Leben
Jesu (1882: vol. i. pp. 84-139), and to Dr. Salmon's Introd. to the New
Test. pp. 266-365.
one not acquainted with this literature can imagine the character of the
arguments sometimes used by a certain class of critics. To say that they
proceed on the most forced perversion of the natural and obvious meaning of
passages, is but little. But one cannot restrain moral indignation on finding
that to Evangelists and Apostles is imputed, on such grounds, not only
systematic falsehood, but falsehood with the most sinister motives.
75. I do not, of course, mean that the narration of St. Mark was not itself derived
chiefly from Apostolic preaching, especially that of St. Peter. In general, the
question of the authorship and source of the various Gospels must be reserved
for separate treatment in another place.
Mangold's ed. of Bleek, Einl. in d. N.T. (3te Aufl. 1875), p. 346.
the sole exception of St. Matt. xii. 18, where the expression is a quotation from the LXX. of Is. xlii. 1.
expressed by Delitzsch (Bibl. Comm. ü. d. Proph. Jes. p. 414), and then adopted by Oehler (Theol.
d. A. Test. vol. ii. pp. 270-272).
79. The two fundamental principles in the history of the Kingdom of God are selection
and development. It is surely remarkable, not strange, that these are
also the two fundamental truths in the history of that other Kingdom of God,
Nature, if modern science has read them correctly. These two substantives
would mark the facts as ascertained; the adjectives, which are
added to them by a certain class of students, mark only their inferences from
these facts. These facts may be true, even if as yet incomplete, although the inferences
may be false. Theology should not here rashly interfere. But whatever the
ultimate result, these two are certainly the fundamental facts in the history
of the Kingdom of God, and, marking them as such, the devout philosopher may
Yet another tendency - shall we say, want? - remained, so to
speak, unmet and unsatisfied. That large world of latest and most promising
Jewish thought, whose task it seemed to bridge over the chasm between
heathenism and Judaism - the Western Jewish world, must have the Christ
presented to them. For in every direction is He the Christ. And not only they,
but that larger Greek world, so far as Jewish Hellenism could bring it to the
threshold of the Church. This Hellenistic and Hellenic world now stood in
waiting to enter it, though as it were by its northern porch, and to be
baptized at its font. All this must have forced itself on the mind of St. John,
residing in the midst of them at Ephesus, even as St. Paul's Epistles contain
almost as many allusions to Hellenism as to Rabbinism.80
And so the fourth Gospel became, not the supplement, but the complement, of the
other three.81 There is
no other Gospel more Palestinian than this in its modes of expression,
allusions, and references. Yet we must all feel how thoroughly Hellenistic it
also is in its cast,82
in what it reports and what it omits - in short, in its whole aim; how adapted
to Hellenist wants its presentation of deep central truths; how suitably, in
the report of His Discourses - even so far as their form is concerned - the
promise was here fulfilled, of bringing all things to remembrance whatsoever He
had said.83 It is the
true Light which shineth, of which the full meridian-blaze lies on the
Hellenist and Hellenic world. There is Alexandrian form of thought not only in
the whole conception, but in the Logos,84
and in His presentation as the Light, the Life, the Wellspring of the world.85
But these forms are filled in the fourth Gospel with quite other substance. God
is not afar off, uncognisable by man, without properties, without name. He is
the Father. Instead of a nebulous reflection of the Deity we have the Person of
the Logos; not a Logos with the two potencies of goodness and power, but full
of grace and truth. The Gospel of St. John also begins with a 'Bereshith' - but
it is the theological, not the cosmic Bereshith, when the Logos was with God
and was God. Matter is not pre-existent; far less is it evil. St. John strikes
the pen through Alexandrianism when he lays it down as the fundamental fact of
New Testament history that 'the Logos was made flesh,' just as St. Paul does
when he proclaims the great mystery of 'God manifest in the flesh.' Best of
all, it is not by a long course of study, nor by wearing discipline, least of
all by an inborn good disposition, that the soul attains the new life, but by a
birth from above, by the Holy Ghost, and by simple faith which is brought
within reach of the fallen and the lost.86
Gnostics, to whom, in the opinion of many, so frequent references are made in
the writings of St. John and St. Paul, were only an offspring (rather, as the
Germans would term it, an Abart) of Alexandrianism on the one hand, and
on the other of Eastern notions, which are so largely embodied in the later
complement, not a supplement, as many critics put it (Ewald, Weizsäcker,
and even Hengstenberg) - least of all a rectification (Godet,
Evang. Joh. p. 633).
(Leben Jesu von Nazara, i. a, pp. 112-114) fully recognises this; but I
entirely differ from the conclusions of his analytical comparison of Philo with
the fourth Gospel.
83. St. John xiv. 26
student who has carefully considered the views expressed by Philo about the
Logos, and analysed, as in the Appendix, the passages in the Targumim in which
the word Memra occurs, cannot fail to perceive the immense difference in
the presentation of the Logos by St. John. Yet M. Renan, in an article
in the 'Contemporary Review' for September 1877, with utter disregard of the
historical evidence on the question, maintains not only the identity of these
three sets of ideas, but actually grounds on it his argument against the
authenticity of the fourth Gospel. Considering the importance of the subject,
it is not easy to speak with moderation of assertions so bold based on
statements so entirely inaccurate.
Bucher, whose book, Des Apostels Johannes Lehre vom Logos, deserves
careful perusal, tries to trace the reason of these peculiarities as indicated
in the Prologue of the fourth Gospel. Bucher differentiates at great length
between the Logos of Philo and of the fourth Gospel. He sums up his views by
stating that in the Prologue of St. John the Logos is presented as the fulness
of Divine Light and Life. This is, so to speak, the theme, while the Gospel
history is intended to present the Logos as the giver of this Divine
Light and Life. While the other Evangelists ascend from the manifestation to
the idea of the Son of God, St. John descends from the idea of the Logos, as
expressed in the Prologue, to its concrete realisation in His history. The
latest tractate (at the present writing, 1882) on the Gospel of St. John, by
Dr. Müller, Die Johann. Frage, gives a good summary of the argument on
both sides, and deserves the careful attention of students of the question.
cannot agree with Weiss (u. s., p. 122) that the great object of the
fourth Gospel was to oppose the rising Gnostic movement, This may have been
present to the Apostle's mind, as evidenced in his Epistle, but the object in
view could not have been mainly, nor even primarily, negative and
Philo had no successor. In him Hellenism had completed its
cycle. Its message and its mission were ended. Henceforth it needed, like
Apollos, its great representative in the Christian Church, two things: the
baptism of John to the knowledge of sin and need, and to have the way of God
more perfectly expounded.87
On the other hand, Eastern Judaism had entered with Hillel on a new stage. This
direction led farther and farther away from that which the New Testament had
taken in following up and unfolding the spiritual elements of the Old. That
development was incapable of transformation or renovation. It must go on to its
final completion, and be either true, or else be swept away and destroyed.
87. Acts xviii 24-28
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