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Philo on the Nile

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Chapter Summary

Philo of Alexandria, first-century Jewish scholar and philosopher, introduces the birthplace of the hero of his great work, On the Life of Moses. This most idealising account of Moses demands a readership sympathetic to Judaism, perhaps including non-Jews as well as Jews, to whom the dominant image of Moses as philosopher king, endowed with all the virtues most honoured by the philosophers, might appeal. The Life of Moses reveals Philo's familiarity with elements of the positive discourse about the Nile which circulated so widely in antiquity. Philo supplements the description of the Nile with summaries of the philosophers' explanations of the summer flood, without, however, expressing any decisive view. Philo's treatment of atheism, which deserves a study in its own right, is largely confined to the symbolic interpretation of Scripture, which presents many different figures of atheism. Egypt and Egyptians are prominent in this category.

Keywords: atheism; Life of Moses; Nile; Philo of Alexandria



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