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Philo, who is stiled Judæus, that he may be distinguished from Philo 'the Car-' pathian, who lived in the fourth century, was born before the appearance of Christ, some writers contend even twenty or thirty years before that era, and he must have survived the period of the crucifixion a considerable time *. He is generally regarded as a Jew of Alexandria; he states himself, however, to have been born at Jerusalem f, and he appears occasionally to have repaired to that city to perform sacrifices in the temple. He was a man of distinguished family I., and of great authority s at Alexandria, being brother to Alexander Lysimachus *, who was Alibarch t, or chief of the Fiscal Scribes. He enjoyed great opu. lence in that city, exercising an office which is supposed to have had the direction of the territorial revenue, or of the prohts derired from the cattle, and which was probably a situation of considerable rank, as his son married Berenice the daughter of Agrippa.
* Mangey Præf. ad Phil. Opera. + De Virtut. vol. ii. p. 587. I Euseb. H. E. lib. ii. c. 4. § Hieron. de Vir. Illust.
Philo appears to have been of sacerdotal family ., to have been brought up a Pharisee, and to have attained extensive and various information ; and great knowledge of the Scriptures of the Old Testament, which he read probably in the Septuagint version, not having, it is supposed, been acquainted with the Hebrew S, being an Hellenist, and writing himself in the Greek language.
He was a man of very eminent qualities, and highly revered ; and a remark of his wife, which is recorded, bears testimony to bis worth, since, on being enquired of, wherefore she did not wear ornaments, she answered, that the virtue of an husband was a sufficient ornament for a wife. Mangev, * Acts iv. 6.
+ Joseph. lib. xviii. c. 7. lib. xix. c. 5. Cicero Epist. ad. Atticum, L. 2. 17. Valesius ad Euseb H. E. lib. ij. c ..
Euseb. Eccles. Histor. lib. ii. C. 4. Phot. Cod. 165.
the learned editor of Philo's works, agreeably to the opinion of Basnage, supposes Philo to have been born A. U. 723, thirty years before Christ *. He was deputed by the Jews of Alexandria upon an embassy to Rome, in the fourth year of Caligula, A. U. C. 793, A. D. 41 or 42. The object was to counteract the calumnies of Apion, and to make a complaint to Caligula on the subject of a persecution excited by Flaccus the Roman president, and others, against these Jews, for having refused divine honours to the statues of the Emperors, while the rest of the world was submitting with servile flattery to the adoration of a weak and depraved mortal as a God.
Philo, who appears to have been animated with a generous love of freedom and hatred of tyranny, describes his reception by the Emperor at a villa, which had belonged to Mecænas, near to Rome. He was treated with a contemptuous levity, equally unbecoming the imperial dignity, and the venerable character of Philo. He however ma. nifested his firmness, and upon the failure of his petition, turned to the Jews, who accompanied him, and encouraged them by say• Mangey Præf. and Basnage, lib. iv. c. 21. + Philo Legat, ad Caium, c. 9. 18. P. 1043.
ing, “ that indeed Caius was in words, en“ raged against them, but in reality he only “ made God his enemy *.”
Eusebius and Jerom state, that, during Philo's stay at Rome, he conversed with St. Peter † ; and some have affirmed that he was converted to Christianity, either by that Apostle, or by reading the Gospel of St. Mark at Alexandria, and that he afterwards renounced the Christian faith.
These accounts have been disputed by the learned editor of the works of Philo, and it has been maintained that it is not probable that St. Peter was at Rome so early as Philo's time, if at all; since the Apostle remained at Jerusalem till the death of Herod Agrippa, and afterwards staid some time at Antioch: and that St. Mark's Gospel was not published till A. D. 45, or as some assert till A. D. 64 1
Bryant however contends, that Philo's age is placed too far back, when it is assigned to the time of Julius Cæsar; that he was a contemporary of the Apostles, and lived so late as the reign of Nero; and that as St. * Antiq. lib. xviii. c. 9, 10. p. 821. Edit. Hudson.
+ Euseb. Hist. Eccles. lib. ii. c. 17. vol. i. p. 65. Hieron. de Script. Eccles. vol. p. 106.
Irenex Hær. lib. iii. c. 1. $ 2.
Mark came to Alexandria in 48 or 49, Philo had an opportunity of conversing with the Apostle, and possibly of seeing his Gospel, if we suppose it to have been published in 45.
In the works of Philo, we discover a great devotion to the Old Testament, and he throws much light on the Mosaic writings, though he often follows a vague strain of allegory, particularly in interpreting the history of the creation and of the temptation in Paradise. He does not seem to have considered the serpent as representing or acting under the iafuence of Satan*. He expected that all nations should be converted to the law of Moses, and that it should be perpetual, conceiving that the promises relating to Christ referred only to a temporal Messiah t; and describing him as “a man,” who, as the oracle foretold, should “ go forth commanding armies “ and warring, and who should subdue great “ and populous nations I,” and whose kingdom, by a daily increase, should be raised on high.
It is remarkable, that though Philo appears to have believed in one God, the Fa
* Allegor. I. 3. p. 110. &c. Circumcis. p. 211. + De Vit. Mos.
De Præmiis et Pænis p. 423. de Mundi Opificio. Alle gor. lib. ii. Numb. xxiv. 7.