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Exegetical Building Blocks

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Chapter Summary

One of the more fascinating and ingenious tropes in Philo's grand exegetical corpus is the interpretation of the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as symbols of the acquisition of virtue through learning, nature, and practice, respectively. Whether the interpretations are original with Philo, however, or whether they belong to an exegetical tradition that evolved over time, they clearly rely on several discrete elements that join together impressively in different configurations. In this chapter, the author suggests what some of these elements or exegetical building blocks may be and tries to illuminate the origins of and/or influences behind these elements. The chapter tempts to explore further the various fascinating threads associated with Isaac and perhaps to compare them with Christian traditions about Jesus. Philo's understanding of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as symbols of three paths to the acquisition of virtue relies on a number of discrete elements, or exegetical building blocks.

Keywords: Abraham; exegetical building blocks; Isaac; Jacob; Philo's interpretation; self-learnt



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