- Thank you, Frank McCoy, for reposting your piece on Philo.
Actually, it was your original post that set me thinking again about the
rate and extent to which literature was circulated in the first century
I have a problem about literary dependence when it involves contemporary
or near contemporary authors. Which way does the dependence run?
I guess you would date the FG well after the death of Philo, whose death
is generally thought to occur about AD50. Some of us are more happy with
a much earlier date for the FG. JAT Robinson likes AD40-66, as do a
number of other scholars.
Because we can not date definitely any of Philo's writings nor the FG,
nor even the time of Philo's death, we cannot rule out the possibility
that Philo did see a copy of the FG. One article I read on Philo says
quite definitely that he did not know about Jesus and could not have
been influenced by any Christian writings.
Eusebius thought otherwise. 'It is likely that Philo wrote this (a
description of a meeting of a Therapeutai sect) after listening to their
exposition of the Holy Scriptures, and it is very probable that what he
calls short works by their early writers were the gospels, the apostolic
writings, and in probability passages interpreting the old prophets,
such as are contained in the Epistle to the Hebrews and several others
of Paul's epistles.' (p.91 Penguin Edition. Exact paragraph details not
given in this edition.) If Eusebius is right, then Philo could just as
easily have glanced at the FG as the FG author glanced at Philo!
To me, literary dependence can show causality only when there is a
significant time gap between the authors, and when there is a clear
indication of the availability of manuscripts.
Your interpretation of the meeting between Jesus and the Samaritan woman
may well be right. To me, I find it unproven. So much of what happens in
the narrative is so Mediterranean and so much in accord with the
dissidence between the Judeans and the Samaritans, that I find myself
believing that this did take place. Of course the FG does present it to
make certain points. Don't we all!
In the translation of Fuga I have in front of me (C.D.Yonge updated 1993
Hendrickson) 101 says, 'So that the word is, as it were, the charioteer
of the powers, and he who utters it is the rider, who directs the
charioteer how to proceed with a view to the proper guidance of the
universe.' I cannot see that the utterer of the word has given a free
reign to the charioteer. The charioteer must obey the utterer of the
word. I cannot see any real parallel with the FG here. However, I guess
I am just not as certain as you are of the parallels.
For me the big difference is when Philo says at the beginning of 101,
'But the divine word which is above these (images of creative and kingly
powers) does not come into any visible appearance, inasmuch as it is not
like to any of the things that come under the external senses, but is
itself an image of God, the most ancient of all the objects of intellect
in the whole world, and that which is placed in the closest proximity to
the only truly existing God, without any partition or distance being
interposed between them...'
Struggle as I can, I cannot see much in common with the opening of the
FG where the word is a person.
Sorry, Frank, but I need much stronger evidence than you have postulated
to establish that the writings of Philo were in circulation among
Christian communities outside Alexandria.
Ross Saunders from DownUnder