Philo of Alexandria: An Intellectual Biography

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Yale University Press, Jan 9, 2018 - Biography & Autobiography - 336 pages

Philo was a Hellenistic Jewish philosopher who left behind one of the richest bodies of work from antiquity, yet his personality and intellectual development have remained a riddle. Maren Niehoff presents the first biography of Philo, arguing that his trip to Rome in 38 CE was a turning point in his life. There he was exposed not only to new political circumstances but also to a new cultural and philosophical environment.

Following the pogrom in Alexandria, Philo became active as the head of the Jewish embassy to Emperor Gaius and as an intellectual in the capital of the empire, responding to the challenges of his time and creatively reconstructing his identity, though always maintaining pride in the Jewish tradition. Philo’s trajectory from Alexandria to Rome and his enthusiastic adoption of new modes of thought made him a key figure in the complex negotiation between East and West.


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philo as ambassador and author
Philos SelfFashioning in the Historical Writings
Power Exile and Religion in the Roman Empire
Roman Philosophy and the Jews
Creation Theology and Monotheism
Character and History in the Lives of the Biblical
Biblical Ladies in Roman Garb
Stoic Ethics in the Service of Jewish Law
Biblical Commentary
A Platonic Self
An Utterly Transcendent God and His Logos
Rejected Subverted and Advocated
Philo at the Crossroads of Judaism Hellenism
General Index

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About the author (2018)

Maren R. Niehoff, Max Cooper Professor of Jewish Thought at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, trained in Jerusalem, Berlin, and Oxford and at the Harvard Society of Fellows. She is the author of Jewish Exegesis and Homeric Scholarship in Alexandria, Philo on Jewish Identity and Culture, and The Figure of Joseph in Post-Biblical Jewish Literature. Niehoff received the Polonsky Prize for Creativity and Originality in the Humanistic Disciplines at the Hebrew University in 2011 and is widely regarded as one of the leading Philonists today.

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