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On Humanity, Chapters 12-13

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Chapter Summary

The subject of proselytism is one that earns special consideration in Philo's Exposition, including De virtutibus. The readiness with which acceptance into the Mosaic politeia was extended to "unprivileged" Egyptians (Hum. 108) would have contrasted with such illiberality, drawing comparison instead with the enlightened policies of Greek reformers like Cleisthenes (Aristotle, Pol. 3.1.10) and Solon (Plutarch, Sol. 24.2), who encouraged foreign artisans to settle in Athens with promise of citizenship. The Romans also prided themselves on the philanthropia evidenced in their fair treatment of foreign residents and their openness to admitting new citizens. Philo mentions the laws dealing with proselyte-love on different occasions in De specialibus legibus. In 1.36-40, he raises the question of how a clear vision of God's true nature may be obtained. Such a vision has been achieved in fact by Moses and in turn by all those who follow him, either from birth or through conversion.

Keywords:Greek reformers; Moses; Philo's exposition; proselytism



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