Our studies now bring us to the beginning of the Christian era, although our first subject was a man who probably had little knowledge of Christ or the Christian movement. Philo of Alexandria lived in the first half of the first century, laboring in the city which had become the center of Hellenistic learning and philosophy. He was Jewish by tradition, but Greek by outlook, and sought to find a basis upon which to marry the Jewish scriptures to the Platonic philosophy he so highly esteemed.
Philo produced a system of thought that came to be known as Jewish Gnosticism. While there were many in the Jewish world who were trying to find common ground between Jewish and Greek ideas, Philo was probably the best known and most influential. His peculiar approach to the scriptures involved a highly allegorical interpretation of the narratives of the Bible, by which he found the major themes of Greek philosophy hiding behind the people and events of sacred writings.
It has been commonly understand among New Testament scholars that certain parts of the New Testament were written with the thought and influence of Philo in mind. This is especially true of the books of Colossians and Hebrews, and may also apply to the prologue of John's Gospel. For this reason alone, it is useful to have some insight into this interesting character, and we now turn to him for the bulk of this lesson.
This wide ranging course starts with the pre-Socratic philosophers of the ancient world, and traces the history of philosophical speculation across the ages up to the present. Included along the way is special attention to the greatest Christian thinkers in history, including Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin and many others.