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Between motherland and fatherland: Diaspora, pilgrimage and the spiritualization of sacrifice in Philo of Alexandria

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Chapter Summary

This chapter explains that Philo of Alexandria consistently attaches a positive valence to the Jewish dispersion, and in this respect develops a theology of diaspora that actually legitimates Jewish settlement in diverse locations. This is accomplished on the one hand by the use of Greek colonial language to refer to the Jewish dispersion, and on the other hand by his reading the religious acts of pilgrimage and sacrifice as rituals that are performed on a higher level in foreign lands. In addition to Jewish migration from Jerusalem, Philo was also interested in Jewish movement toward Jerusalem in the practice of ritual pilgrimage. The complexity of Philo's diasporic consciousness is further expressed in his ambivalent attitude toward this rite. Philo's writing reveals a great deal of ambivalence about sacrifice; the majority of his references to the subject involve an extreme "spiritualization" of the rite.

Keywords: diaspora; Jerusalem; Philo of Alexandria; ritual pilgrimage; sacrifice; spiritualization



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