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Philo's Portrayal of Moses in the Context of Ancient Judaism

Louis H. Feldman (author)

ISBN: 9780268159511

Publication Date: Jan 2008

Format: Paperback

Presents the most comprehensive study of Philo's De Vita Mosis that exists in any language. Feldman, known for his work on Josephus and ancient Judaism, here paves new ground using rabbinic material with philological precision to illuminate important parallels and differences between Philo's writing on Moses and rabbinic literature.
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Philo's Portrayal of Moses in the Context of Ancient Judaism presents the most comprehensive study of Philo's De Vita Mosis that exists in any language. Feldman, well known for his work on Josephus and ancient Judaism, here paves new ground using rabbinic material with philological precision to illuminate important parallels and differences between Philo's writing on Moses and rabbinic literature. One way in which Hellenistic culture marginalized Judaism was by exposing the apparent defects in Moses' life and character. Philo's De Vita Mosis is a counterattack to these charges and is a vital piece of his attempt to reconcile Judaism and Hellenism. Feldman rigorously examines the text and shows how Philo presents a narrative of Moses's life similar to that of a mythical divine and heroic figure, glorifying his birth, education, and virtues. Feldman demonstrates that Philo is careful to explain in a scientific way those portions of the Bible, particularly miracles, that appear incredible to his skeptical Hellenistic readers. Through Feldman's careful analysis, Moses emerges as unique among ancient lawgivers.

Philo's Portrayal of Moses in the Context of Ancient Judaism mirrors the organization of Philo's biography of Moses, which is in two books, the first, in the style of Plutarch, proceeding chronologically, and the second, in the style of Suetonius, arranged topically. Following an introductory chapter, Feldman's study discusses the life of Moses chronologically in the second chapter and examines his virtues topically in the third. Feldman compares the particular features of Philo's portrait of Moses with the way in which Moses is viewed both by Jewish sources in antiquity (including Pseudo-Philo; Josephus; Graeco-Jewish historians, poets, and philosophers; and in the Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha, Samaritan tradition, Dead Sea Scrolls, and rabbinic tradition) and by non-Jewish sources, notably the Greek and Roman writers who mention him.

Reviews

This book is a study of Philo's De Vita Mosis, Feldman, well known for his work on Josephus and ancient Judaism, here uses rabbinic material to illuminate important parallels and differences between Philo's writing on Moses and rabbinic literature. . . . Feldman shows how Philo glorifies the birth, education, and virtues of Moses and demonstrates that Philo is careful to explain in a scientific way those portions of the Bible, particularly miracles, that appear incredible to his skeptical Hellenistic readers." - Shofar
Pages 564
Dimensions 229 x 152
Date Published 30 Jan 2008
Publisher University of Notre Dame Press
Series Christianity and Judaism in Antiquity
Subject/s Judaism   Biblical studies & exegesis  
Louis H. Feldman is the Abraham Wouk Family Professor of Classics and Literature, Yeshiva University. He is the author and editor of over sixteen books, including Josephus's Interpretation of the Bible and most recently Judaism and Hellenism Reconsidered.

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