Philo of Alexandria An Intellectual Biography Maren R. Niehoff

The Anchor Yale Bible Reference Library
Publication date:
09 Jan 2018
Yale University Press
336 pages: 235 x 156 x 27mm


This first biography of Philo of Alexandria, one of antiquity’s most prolific yet enigmatic authors, traces his intellectual development from Bible interpreter to diplomat in Rome

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 to not only new political circumstances but also  a new cultural and philosophical environment.
Following the po­grom in Alexandria, Philo became active 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 rendered him a keen figure in the complex negotiation between East and West.

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 lives in Jerusalem, Israel.

“Maren Niehoff’s lucid and original account of Philo’s philosophical biography will speak to students of Judaism, Stoicism, Platonism, and Christianity more widely as a compelling case-study of intellectual exchange in a world united by empire.”—George R. Boys-Stones, Durham University

"Niehoff offers a coherent interpretation of the development of Philo of Alexandria's thought that will be valuable for those interested not only in Diaspora Judaism but also in early Christianity and Greek and Roman philosophy."—Thomas Tobin, Loyola University Chicago

“It is hugely exciting at last to have an intellectual biography of Philo covering what we know of his life, the context of his work in the vibrant Jewish community of first century CE Alexandria, and his extensive corpus of writing. Maren Niehoff has done a splendid job — consistently interesting and eminently readable.”—Jas Elsner, University of Oxford

“This is a bold and pioneering attempt to arrange the numerous works of Philo in a chronological sequence and on that basis to write an intellectual biography. All future attempts will be based on this book. In her outstanding accomplishment, Maren Niehoff also restores Philo to his Roman context, which is usually ignored.”—Shaye J. D. Cohen, Harvard University