March 15, 2018

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By Erwin Ramsdell Goodenough

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J u s t as c l e a r l y c a n I r e c o g n i z e the personalities o f H e i n e m a n n , V o l k e r , W o l f s o n , o r N o c k w h e n t h e y e x p o u n d P h i l o . I t is this w h i c h m a k e s it finally impossible t h a t a n y o n e w r i t e a n o b ­ jective study of Philo. A l l w r i t i n g o f history has r e c e n t l y b e e n u n d e r fire. M o r e a n d m o r e h a v e philosophers insisted t h a t w e c a n w r i t e o n l y c h r o n ­ o l o g y or c h r o n i c l e ; t h a t is, t h a t w e c a n identify events as facts i n a frame o f t i m e , b u t t h a t all a t t e m p t to reconstruct c o n n e c t i o n o r r e l a t i o n b e t w e e n events, s u c h m a t t e r s as c a u s e a n d effect, or, i n m a n , m o t i v a t i o n , c a n b e d o n e o n l y b y the projection o f o u r o w n tastes a n d personalities i n t o the past, so t h a t w e select a n d a r r a n g e historical d a t a i n a n o r d e r w h i c h is u l t i m a t e l y a c r e a ­ tion o f o u r o w n .

M o s e s is c h a r a c t e r ­ i z e d b a s i c a l l y i n terms o f the c o n t e m p o r a r y i d e a l o f the k i n g , w h o w a s to b e a ' d i v i n e m a n ' a n d so link the p e o p l e w i t h the spiritual order. T h i s w a s a p e r s o n a l i t y o f w h o m the p a g a n w o r l d h a d l o n g b e e n d r e a m i n g . H e w o u l d b e the i d e a l S a g e o f the Stoics, the ' d i v i n e m a n ' o f the P y t h a g o r e a n s , the ' s a v i o u r ' o f the M y s t e r i e s , a n d his life w o u l d b e o f v a l u e not o n l y for h i m ­ self b u t as a p o w e r f u l o r d e r i n g a n d s a v i n g a g e n t i n society a n d in the lives o f i n d i v i d u a l s w h o l o o k e d to h i m for g u i d a n c e .

M o s e s is c h a r a c t e r ­ i z e d b a s i c a l l y i n terms o f the c o n t e m p o r a r y i d e a l o f the k i n g , w h o w a s to b e a ' d i v i n e m a n ' a n d so link the p e o p l e w i t h the spiritual order. T h i s w a s a p e r s o n a l i t y o f w h o m the p a g a n w o r l d h a d l o n g b e e n d r e a m i n g . H e w o u l d b e the i d e a l S a g e o f the Stoics, the ' d i v i n e m a n ' o f the P y t h a g o r e a n s , the ' s a v i o u r ' o f the M y s t e r i e s , a n d his life w o u l d b e o f v a l u e not o n l y for h i m ­ self b u t as a p o w e r f u l o r d e r i n g a n d s a v i n g a g e n t i n society a n d in the lives o f i n d i v i d u a l s w h o l o o k e d to h i m for g u i d a n c e .

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An Introduction to Philo Judaeus, 2nd ed. by Erwin Ramsdell Goodenough


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