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Exegetical Traditions In Alexandria

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Chapter Summary

In a revised version of his Harvard dissertation, Thomas H. Tobin considers Philo's unique contribution to a long and complex history of interpreting the biblical account of man's creation within Alexandrian Judaism. Using an extensive source-critical analysis of Philo's writings, Tobin reconstructs a historical sequence of interpretations, each reflecting the efforts of a new generation of Jewish exegetes to understand Genesis 1-3 in light of prevailing trends in the philosophical milieu of their day. In conversation with the framework derived from Tobin's research, this chapter considers the list of prohibited birds in Lv 11:13-19 to see if Tobin's conclusions help to make sense of the way Philo uses a traditional interpretation from the Letter of Aristeas in his own exposition of the dietary laws. Eleazar explains Moses' prohibition of carnivores as an ingenious design to reduce the incidence of unjust behavior.

Keywords: Alexandrian Judaism; Eleazar; Letter of Aristeas 145-149; Philo; Thomas H. Tobin



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