PHILO JUDIETS, the Philosopher (there being another ,Jewish Greek writer of this name). was horn at Alexandria, about the time of the birth of Christ. Belonging to one of the most wealthy and aristocratic families—his brother was the Alaharch Alexander —he received the most liberal education ; and, impelled by a rare zeal for learning, he, at a very early age, had passed the ordinary course of Greek studies which were deemed necessary for one of his station. Although every one of the different free sciences and arts included in the Encyclika, he says, attracted him like so many beautiful slaves, he yet aimed•higher, to embrace the mistress of all—philosophy. Metaphysical investiga tion was the only thing which, according to his own confession, could give him anything like satisfaction or pleasure. The extraordimuy brilliancy of his style, which, by his contemporaries, was likened to that of Plato—Ins rare power of thought and imagination, and an erudition which displayed the most astonishing familiarity with all the works of the classical Greek poets and plidosophers,,while at the same time it made him an adept in the fields of history, geography, mathematics, astronomy, physiology, natural history, music, etc.—could not but he of vast influence both upon ins co-religionists and those beyond the pale of his ancestral creed. He hind completely mastered the literature of his nation; bat, strange to say, lie chiefly knew it, as far as it was Hebrew, from transla tions. Thus, the Bible was only familiar to him through the Septuagint version, with all its shortcomings. When about 40 years of age, lie went to Rome as the advocate of his Alexandrian brethren, who had refused to worship Caligula in obedience Co the imperial edict. He has left an account of this embassy, into the result of which we need not enter here. Of his life we know little except what is recorded above, and that he once went to Jeruselem. IIis second mission to Rome, to the emperor Claudius, on which occasion he is said to have made the acquaintance of the Apostle Peter, as reported by Eusebius, is doubtful.
The religious and philosophical system of Philo Judams, however, which is really the thing of most consequence, is most minutely.kno•n, and is deserving of the pro founde.A study, ou account of the vast influence which it has exercised both on the Jewish and Christian world. To understand his system aright, it will be necessary to remember the strange mental atmosphere of his days, which we have endeavored briefly 10 sketch in our introduction to Gnostics (q.v.). The Alexandrines had endeavored to make Judaism palatable to the refined Greeks by proving it to be identical with tho grandest conceptions of their philosophers and poets, and bad quite allegorized away its distinctive characteristics. Philo Judreus was the first man who, although himself to a great extent imbued with allegorizing tendencies, made.a bold and successful stand against a like eraporization of the revealed religion of his fathers; which, indeed, in many cases bad led people to throw off its yoke also outwardl,Y. A most zealous champion of Judaism, his bitterness in rebuking those co-religionists who tried to defend their secret or overt apostasy by scoffing at the law itself, who were " impatient of their religious institutions, ever on the look-out for matter of censure and complaint against the laws of religion, who, in excuse of their ungodliness, thoughtlessly, argue all manner of objection "—knows no bounds. He cannot understand how Jews," destined by divine authority to b3 the priests and prophets for all mankind," could be found so utterly blind to the fact, that- that which is the position only of a few disciples of a truly genuine philosophy—viz., the knowledge of the Highest, had by law and custom become the inheritance of every individual of their own people; whose real callin;*, in fact, it was to invoke the blessing of God on mankind, and who, when they offered up sacrifices • fur the people." offered them up in reality for all men.