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5 Philo and the Problem of God’s Emotions

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Chapter Summary

Philo being the Platonist he is, it is to be expected that the biblical notion of a God who has strong emotions would constitute a great problem to him. As is well-known, the two cultural traditions that merge in his religious philosophy, the Biblical and Jewish tradition on the one hand and the Greek philosophical on the other, speak a widely different language as far as the emotions of God or the gods is concerned. Philo's ingenuity is indeed great enough to find a solution of sorts to this problem, but it is a far from unproblematic enterprise. This chapter presents a sketch of the two diametrically opposed positions in the two traditions. It then shows how Philo tries to create a synthesis between these antithetical positions, a task for which he was well equipped as a 'Bindeglied' kat' exochên between the Jewish and the Greek traditions.

Keywords: Biblical tradition; God's emotions; Greek philosophical tradition; Jewish tradition; Philo



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