Re: [John_Lit] Philo
----- Original Message -----
From: "RHS" <diadem@...>
Sent: Tuesday, December 11, 2001 7:06 PM
Subject: [John_Lit] Philo
> My question about Philo is this.
> What firm evidence do we have that Philo's writings were widely
> disseminated and read in Jerusalem and/or wherever the author/s of the
> FG were writing from?
> There are more than five pages of references to logos in Hatch and
> Redpath's Concordance to the LXX. Why do we have to link the FG's usage
> to Philo when the LXX was already so familiar?
> I am interested in the extent to which first and second century authors'
> works were distributed and read. I have a feeling we tend to assume a
> too ready availability of their works, which is why I am asking for firm
> eveidence rather than speculation.
> Ross Saunders from DownUnder.
Dear Ross Saunders:
What follows is a repeat of my posting of June 30, in which I outline
evidence that the author of John at least had a copy of Philo's work Fuga
(On Flight and Finding):
I have uncovered evidence of a literary dependency of the author
of John on Philo's work Fuga. If this is correct, then the author of John
did consciously identify Jesus as being Philo's Logos, God's Son.
Lev. 21:10 thusly opens in the Septuagint, "And the priest that is chief
among his brethren, the oil having been poured upon the head of the
Christou,..". This means, Philo declares in Fuga 108-109, "The High Priest
is not a man but a divine Logos....his Father being God." Further, in 110,
he states, "His head has been kechristai with oil and by this I mean that
his ruling facility is illumined with a brilliant light.". Thus, for Philo,
the Logos is Son of God. Further, he is the Christ i.e., Annointed One--a
fact Philo acknowledges by saying that he has been kechristai, i.e.,
As we shall now see, the "oil" by which the Logos, the Son of God, has been
"oil" that illumines his mind with brilliant light) is the Spirit as Sophia.
I say this because, first of all, in Philonic thought, the
Spirit is also Sophia (See Gig 23, "God called up Bezaleel, he
says, and 'filled him with the Divine Spirit, with Sophia, Understanding,
and Knowledge, and knowledge to devise in every work.' In these words we
have suggested to us a definition of what the Spirit of God is." Also see
On Genesis (Book I, 90), "For the Divine Spirit is not a movement of
air but Intelligence and Sophia." Finally, see Deus. 2-3, "That
something is his words about the Divine Spirit, that nothing is harder than
that it should abide for ever in the soul with its manifold forms and
divisions--the soul which has fastened on it the grievous burden of the
fleshly coil. It is after that Spirit (has gone) that the angels or
messengers (of falsehood) go into 'the daughters of men'. For while the
soul is illumined by the bright and pure rays of Sophia , through which the
sage sees God and His potencies, none of the messengers of falsehood has
access to the reason (i.e., mind), but are barred from passing the bounds
which the lustral water has consecrated."). I also say this because, second
of all, as Sophia, the Spirit is a spiritual oil that lightens-up the
mind. So, in The Worse Attacks the Better (117), Philo declares, "The
fountain of the divine Sophia" can come "as material for lighting up the
soul, even as oil does a lamp."
Next, in Fuga 111, Philo states that "he (i.e., the Logos) shall never
remove the mitre from his head; he shall not, that is to say, lay aside his
kingly diadem, the symbol not of absolute sovereignty, but of an admirable
Finally, in Fuga 114, Philo declares that "to him (i.e., the Logos) is
betrothed a virgin of the hallowed people, pure and undefiled and of ever
So, in Philo's work, Fuga, we have this sequence regarding the Logos:
109 His father is God (and, so, he is Son of God)
110 He is anointed by God with the Spirit-Sophia
111 He is King of the Cosmos in the sense of being God's Vice-roy
114 He is betrothed to "a virgin of the hallowed people"
In Chapter three of John, we have this sequence regarding what the Baptizer
says about Jesus:
29. He is the Bridegroom of the bride
31. He is the King of the Cosmos ("is above all")
34. He is anointed by God with the Spirit ("for not by measure gives God
35a. His father is God ("The Father loves the Son")
Note that the sequence in Fuga is in reverse order to that in John:
109 = 35a
110 = 34
111 = 31
114 = 29
This is because, I suggest, the author of John was glancing at Fuga in
reverse order of the narrative flow while writing this section of his
There is a way to test this hypothesis. That is, if it is true, than
John 3:35b should directly relate to a passage in Fuga not long before 109.
Indeed. this is the case! In particular, John 3:35b directly relates to
In John 3:35b, John declares, the Father "has given all things into his
(i.e., the Son's) hand." How can the Son govern the Cosmos through his
hand? The answer is found in Fuga 101, where Philo declares that, "while
the Logos is the charioteer of the Powers, He Who talks is seated in the
chariot, giving directions to the charioteer for the right-wielding of the
reins of the universe." In his right-wielding of the reins of the universe,
of course, the Logos uses his hand. Therefore, in Fuga 101 we have a scene
in which God has given the rulership of all things into the hand of the
Logos--thereby making it an amazing parallel to John 3:35b: where the Father
has given the rulership of all things into the hand of the Son...
That this hypothesis passes this test of its validity in a decisive
fashion means that it likely is true. Therefore, it is likely that the
author of John was glancing at Fuga 101-14 in reverse order of its
narrative flow while writing John 3:29-35.
I think that this literary relationship can be expanded beyond 3:35 to 4:24:
with 4:10-15 relating to 97, 4:16-18 relating to 94, 4:22 relating to 82
and 4:23-24 relating to 77-81. In this
case, from 3:29 to 4:24, we have allusions to Fuga made in reverse order,
i.e., first an allusion to 111, then to 110, then to 109, then to 101, then
to 97, then to 94, then to 82 and then to 77-81. Certainly, John 3:29-4:24
is a deliberately contrived literary unit, for it is immediately preceded,
in 3:28, by the Baptizer's cry that he is not the Christ and it is
immediately followed, in 4:25-26, with Jesus' proclation that he is the
In 4:10-15, Jesus engages in a discussion with a Samaritan woman over
water: with Jesus referring to a living water that he has and that can
become a fountain of water springing up into eternal life within oneself..
There is an allusion here, I believe, to Fuga 97: where Philo exhorts one to
"pass forward to the supreme Divine Logos, who is the fountain of (the
Spirit as) Sophia, in order that he may draw from the stream and, released
from death, gain life eternal as his prize." Hence, in 4:10-15, Jesus
identifies himself as being the Logos.
In 4:16-18, we have a curious exchange between the Samaritan woman and
Jesus in which Jesus tells her that she has had five husbands and that the
one she is with is not her husband. There is an allusion here, I believe,
to Fuga. 94: where Philo states that the are six cities of refuge, with the
chief and best city being the Logos. Therefore, in 4:16-18, the five
"husbands" the woman has had are the five inferior cities of refuge (the
royal power, the creative power, the gracious power, the legislative power,
and the prohibitions on what we should do). With each of these five cities
of refuge, she has spent some time in the past "honoring and obeying" . The
city of refuge she is
currently with (i.e., Jesus: the Logos who is the chief and best city of
refuge), is not her husband because she has not (at least up till this point
in time) ever "honored and obeyed" him.
In 4:22, Jesus tells the Samaritan woman, " You worship who you know
not, we worship what we know--for salvation is of the Jews." I believe that
this relates to Fuga 82: where, Philo states, "For to know Him is true
wisdom and virtue, and ignorance of Him is manifest stupidity and
wickedness." Therefore, here, Jesus is very critical of the Samaritans.
The Jews know God. Hence, as they know what is wisdom and virtue, salvation
is of them. In contrast, the Samaritans do not know God and, so, know only
what is stupid and wicked. They need help and it is from the Jews that they
should seek it.
In 4:23-24, Jesus tells the Samaritan woman, "But is coming (and now is!)
an hour when the true worshippers will worship the Father within Spirit and
Truth (rather than at Mt. Gerizim or the Jerusalem temple). God is a Spirit
and they that worship Him must worship within Spirit and Truth." I believe
that this relates to Fuga. 77-81: which Philo thusly begins by citing Exodus
21:14a, "'If a man set upon his neighbor to slay him by guile and flee for
refuge' to God, even to Him Who has been symbolically called a place."
Here, Philo goes beyond the six cities of refuge to the ultimate refuge,
i.e., God. Next, commenting on Exodus 21:14b, "You shall take him from My
altar and put him to death.", Philo speaks of "the refuge which is a place
and safety for suppliants only, namely, the altar. Is not this meet and
right? For the place of sacrifice is wholly occupied by victims free from
blemish, that is by innocent and purified souls". This altar, where one
finds refuge with God Himself, then, is not to be found on Mt Gerizim or in
Jerusalem: for it is a spiritual altar open only to unblemished souls.
Where, then, is this spiritual altar (and God!) located? Philo gives a clue
by referring to the locacation as being "the hallowed precincts". This
tells us that the location is the heavenly temple or tabernacle, i.e., the
Spirit-Sophia, which is the true house of God. (e.g., see Cong. 116, "And
further on he will speak of God's dwelling-place, the tabernacle, as being
'ten curtains', for to the structure which includes the whole of (the Spirit
as) Sophia, the perfect number ten belongs, and (the Spirit as) Sophia is
the court and palace of the All-ruler, the sole Monarch, the Sovereign
Lord."). Those who find refuge in God, then do so within the Spirit-Sophia,
the heavenly temple or tabernacle: which, rather than any earthly temple
(even the one at Jerusalem!), is the true house of God.. In worshipping God,
then, they worship him within the Spirit-Sophia. Or, to use Johannine
language, since the author of John took to Spirit to also be Truth (e.g.,
see 14:17, 15:26 and 16:13), they worship God within Spirit and Truth.
Passage from Fuga Relates to Passage from John
Suggested reason: the author of John was glancing at Fuga in reverse of the
narrative flow while writing John 3:29-4:24. If so, then Jesus is
identified as Philo's Logos, God's Son, in this part of John. And, if he is
identifed as Philo's Logos, God's Son, in this part of John, the reasonable
expectation is that he is identified as Philo's Logos, God's Son, in other
parts of John as well--particularly the Prologue.
Maplewood, MN USA