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Hellenistic judaism and the agon tradition

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Chapter Summary

The works of Philo of Alexandria team with the terminology of the games and with the picture of the Agon of virtue. The recurrence of the traditional features and themes of the Cynic-Stoic picture of the Agon of virtue are not difficult to find in Philo. The close relationship between the athletic and military imagery in Philo is seen at its clearest in the passages in which he mixes the two metaphors. The spirit of competition, the cult of the beautiful-including the beauty of the naked form -and the structure of hellenistic education in which the exercise of the body played a dominant role, are all without parallel in the life and language of the Old Testament people. The Fourth Book of Maccabees, like Philo, clearly shows a good knowledge of Stoic philosophy.

Keywords: Agon; athletic imagery; Cynic-Stoic picture; hellenistic education; Maccabees; military imagery; Old Testament



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