The Works of Philo: Greek Text with Morphology
Logos Bible Software 2005
Imagine being able to ask questions of a first-century Hellenistic Jewish philosopher, a contemporary of Jesus and Paul who worked to understand Mosaic thought in light of Greek ideals. What kinds of questions would you ask to better understand the theology, interpretive strategies, and historical context of the biblical writers, who often wrestled with the same task?
The writings of Philo Judaeus, who lived in Alexandria, Egypt, between approximately 20 B.C. and A.D. 40, provide a fascinating glimpse into the world of Jesus and the Apostles. In fact, Philo’s works are a goldmine of information on Jewish exegetical methods, the worldview of the apostles, and theological matters of great importance for Christianity.
We are pleased to bring you the first electronic edition of the complete works of Philo in Greek, morphologically tagged. This resource is built upon the database compiled by the Norwegian "Philo Concordance Project," which published the first complete, printed concordance of Philo in 2000. The Logos Bible Software resource includes the complete works of Philo, in Greek, drawn from the same four text editions used to compile the concordance (Cohn & Wendland, Colson, Petit, and Paramelle). The lemmatization and morphology are also supplied by the Philo Concordance Project scholars.
The Value of Philo's Works for Biblical Studies
A noteworthy example of this is Philo’s discussion of the Logos as a “second god” (δευτερος θεος), a figure who was interchanged with the God of Israel in Philo’s understanding of the Hebrew Bible, but who was distinct from the God of Israel. Philo’s works are fundamental for demonstrating, in part, how first-century Jews could embrace the idea of a divine Son or godhead.
This is one of the most well-known examples of how Philo can inform our understanding of the NT, but careful study will show that instances abound. In 1 Timothy 1:19, Paul says, "By rejecting this [Paul's charge], some have made shipwreck of their faith..." Shipwreck is a vivid metaphor that conveys a powerful sense of disastrous results, and calls to mind the fact that Paul himself experienced shipwreck three times (2 Cor 11:25). In exploring the metaphor further, we might want to locate other instances of the Greek lemma ναυαγ?ω in other writings. A quick search of The Works of Philo: Greek Text with Morphology for this word brings up Philo's On the Change of Names where he writes,
…if we have fallen in with ever so slight a breeze which bears us towards the good fortune, immediately set all sail and became greatly elated, and being full of great and high spirits, hurry forward with all our speed to the indulgence of our passions, and never will check our unbridled and immoderately excited desires until we run ashore and are wrecked as to the whole vessel of our souls.
Philo uses the same verb (ναυαγ?ω) employed by Paul, in a similar context. (Notice that the English translation doesn't use the word "shipwreck" which is all the more reason to own the lemmatized Greek text.) Like Paul, Philo conveys the image of a ship run aground on a leeward shore. The subject's soul or faith is utterly destroyed as a result of heedless and reckless adherence to the wrong course.
These are just a couple of examples of how valuable it is to have an electronic edition of Philo in Greek, making it easy to find words, phrases, even complex constructions that occur both in Philo and the New Testament.
Looking beyond the New Testament, Philo's works are cited dozens of times by the Apostolic Fathers and other early Christian writers (a complete list of these references has been compiled here), which is another indication of how important they are for contextualizing Christianity. In fact, some early Christian writers attempted to claim him as a Christian. For example, the church historian Eusebius believed Philo and Peter knew each other. In addition to Philo’s teachings about the Logos, his writings on concepts such as the Holy Spirit, grace, faith, and the “spiritual (ideal) Israel” seem quite Christian.
Anchor Bible Dictionary summarizes the value of Philo's works as follows:
In modern historical research, Philo is studied as a source for Greek philosophy, as a representative of Second Temple Judaism and as a forerunner of early Christian thought. As for the latter, Philo has especially been studied to throw light on the concept of Logos in the Gospel of John, on Platonisms in the Epistle to the Hebrews, and on exegetical techniques and forms used in the New Testament. Philo’s writings reflect a variety of movements within Judaism in the time of the beginnings of Christianity, and this observation has thrown light on some of its conflicts and debates, particularly in relation to Judaism and the Hellenistic world.
Gregory E. Sterling has written a couple of articles pointing to the value of Philo for New Testament studies. Writing in Perspectives in Religious Studies, he asserts:
Are the works of Philo important for our understanding of the New Testament and Christian origins? I suggest that they are. In fact, I think that the Philonic corpus is the single most important body of material from Second Temple Judaism for our understanding of the development of Christianity in the first and second centuries. Perhaps this will strike you as an extravagant claim in light of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Josephan corpus. I would not deny the importance of either of those corpuses for the study of the New Testament and Christian origins. I am convinced, however, that the Philonic corpus helps us to understand the dynamics of early Christianity more adequately than any other corpus.
A great deal of excellent information about Philo and the value of his writings for modern scholarship can be found on the Resource Pages for Philo of Alexandria and the Philo of Alexandria Blog (both of which are maintained by Dr. Torrey Seland, professor in biblical studies at Volda University College in Norway).
About the Philo Concordance Project
Contributors to the project are:
- Peder Borgen (University of Trondheim)
- Roald Skarsten (University of Bergen)
- Kåre Fuglseth (University of Trondheim)
The Philo Concordance Project website introduces the project as follows:
The Philo Concordance Project is a Norwegian project aiming at producing a complete Philo electronic concordance. The word indices printed this far are printouts of a database containing all the Greek words in the writings of Philo of Alexandria, main fragments included.
The database consists of about 437 400 tokens (textforms) and more than 14 000 different lemmas (the chosen entry form). A complete KWIC version would fill more than 10 000 pages on paper. Such a large volume of material is better suited for a publication in electronic form rather than in book form.
Additional details about the history and status of the project are provided on the website, as well.
- On the Creation (De opificio mundi)
- Allegorical Interpretation (Legum allegoriae I, II & III)
- On Cherubim (De Cherubim)
- On the Sacrifices of Abel and Cain (De sacrificiis Abelis et Caini)
- The Worse attacks the Better (Quod deterius Potiori insidiari soleat)
- On the Posterity and Exile of Cain (De posteritate Caini)
- On the Giants (De gigantibus)
- On the Unchangeableness of God (Quod Deus sit immutabilis)
- On Husbandry (De agricultura)
- On Noah’s Work as a Planter (De plantatione)
- On Drunkenness (De ebrietate)
- On Sobriety (De Sobrietate)
- On the Confusion of Tongues (De confusione linguarum)
- On the Migration of Abraham (De migratione Abrahami)
- Who is Heir of Divine Things (Quis rerum divinarum heres sit)
- On the Preliminary Studies (De congressu eruditionis gratia)
- On Flight and Finding (De fuga et inventione)
- On the Change of Names (De mutatione nominum)
- On Dreams (De somniis I & II)
- On Abraham (De Abrahamo)
- On Joseph (De Iosepho)
- On Moses (De vita Moysis I & II)
- Decalogue (De Decalogo)
- On the Special Laws (De specialibus legibus I-IV)
- On the Virtues (De virtutibus)
- On Rewards and Punishments (De praemiis et poenis, De exsecrationibus)
- Every Good Man is Free (Quod omnis probus liber sit)
- On the Contemplative Life (De vita contemplativa)
- On the Eternity of the World (De aeternitate mundi)
- Flaccus (In Flaccum)
- Embassy to Gaius (Legatio ad Gaium)
- Hypothetica (Apologia pro Iudaeis)
- On Providence (De Providentia I & II)
- Title: The Works of Philo: Greek Text with Morphology
- Editors: Peder Borgen, Kåre Fuglseth, and Roald Skarsten
- Publisher: Logos Reserach Systems, Inc.
- Publication Date: 2005