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Mystic? Philosopher? Exegete?

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Chapter Summary

Leisegang interpreted Philo on the basis of Greek mysticism and the mystery cults. Thus Philo was basically seen not as a Jew, but as a Greek mystic wearing Jewish robes. R.Goodenough also stressed the importance of the mystery cults. Philo was rather a witness to a wider tendency within Hellenistic Judaism to regard itself as a mystery. According to Wolfson, Philo was a great and unique philosopher: Philo ushered in the period of 'Mediaeval Philosophy' which was based on Scripture and revelation. Philo intended to interpret the Laws of Moses in a way acceptable to Hellenistic thinking, but within the limits imposed by the role of the exegete. Philo's endeavour to assign the highest Greek philosophical value to what he considered important in Judaism demonstrates the overwhelming degree to which he was both a product of, and a protagonist in, the Hellenistic culture of his day.

Keywords: Greek mysticism; Hellenistic Judaism; mystery cults; Philo

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