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Ancient History and Religion with Peter Eyland

Philo's Pantheon of Powers

Friday 5th November 2004  

Peter Eyland

The Pantheon building in Rome is an ancient architectural marvel. [1] It was built with a number of incomplete arch sectors that were butted together and tensioned by a circumferential cable.  This created the appearance of a dome with an open central “eye”. In a Philonic allegory it represents a pantheon of divine powers being bound together in unity of purpose. The One, the unknowable God, is the central void.

This essay starts with Philo’s views on the eternal and self-existent Creator. The status of pre-existing matter is discussed in relation to the possibility of creation ex nihilo. Philo’s “pantheon” of divine powers is introduced, using the terminology of “God”, “Lord”, “Word”, and “Wisdom”. Their characteristics and inter-relations are discussed and then summarised by word and diagram.


The Unknowable Creator

Philo believed in a Creator (Allegories 3.99, Winston 1981:124) [2] who was “the truly Existent” i.e. uncreated (Posterity of Cain 168, Winston 1981:124-5). [3] He was “better than the Good, purer than the One, and more primal than the Monad” of any philosophical system (Contemplative Life 2, Winston 1981:42). He was incomprehensible (Posterity of Cain 168-169, Winston 1981:124-5) [4] so apart from his existence, Philo was apophatic [5] about any other distinctive quality or qualities that He might have had (Allegories 1.36, 1.51, 3.36, 3.206, Unchangeableness of God 55). [6] He was unable to be apprehended by any sensory organ or mind, so "not even a proper name can be given" (On the change of Names 7). [7] However, he took a name: "this is my everlasting name: I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob" [Exodus 3:15] using there the relative term instead of the absolute one; and this is very natural, for God stands in no need of a name. But though he does not stand in any such need, nevertheless he bestows his own title on the human race that they may have a refuge to which to betake themselves in supplications and prayers, and so may not be destitute of a good hope.” (On Abraham 51, Winston 1981:163, Yonge's translation). He is, for Philo, simply The One (ó ὤν, τὸ ὅν).


This remote and unknowable Entity created the world from “pre-elemental” or “limitless chaotic matter” (Special laws 1.327-9) [8] . This “passive and divisible matter” (Special Laws 3.180) [9] was moved, shaped and quickened by God to create the world (Creation of the World 7-9). [10]


Figure 1.



Pre-existing Matter

A question has traditionally arisen about the status of this pre-existing matter called hylê or ousia (ὕλη or οὐσία).  For Philo, did matter exist eternally and uncreated, or was it created ex nihilo? A correct answer is not forthcoming either way, because the question is flawed. The question’s restriction on possibilities eliminates Philo’s viewpoint.  Philo does not accept two eternal uncreated principles (The One and matter) because of his monotheism. Philo also does not accept a kind of “big bang” theory where the Existent One creates ex nihilo, because that would necessitate a change within the Existent One from passive to active.  Instead, Philo opts for a “continuous creation” model where The One is eternally active in creation and there is not a time when matter is not. This is seen from the following.  Philo, (Creation of the World 7) wrote:

“some men, admiring the world itself rather than the Creator of the world, have represented it as existing without any maker, and eternal; and as impiously as falsely have represented God as existing in a state of complete inactivity.” 

This indicates that the order in the world was not due to its possessing an eternal uncreated nature, and the Creator was never inactive.  Another passage (given Providence,1.6-9) [11] reads: “God is continuously ordering matter by his thought. His thinking was not anterior to his creating and there never was a time when he did not create, … ever thinking he creates, and furnishes to sensible things the principle of their existence.”   Moses' description of creation in six days was then logical and not to be taken temporally [12]

Explicitly, Philo wrote: “nothing comes from nothing, so neither can anything which exists be destroyed to become nothing (On the Eternity of the world 5-6). [13] This may seem to be contradicted by: “God … has even created what … did not exist” (On Dreams 1.76) and “God … created the whole universe out of things that had no previous existence” (Allegories 3.10). However this does not necessitate the creation of matter ex nihilo, but may refer to the creation of the logically prior “forms” that had the ability to imprint themselves on matter.  A more difficult passage might be Decalogue 58 where Philo argued that the world has been created and there was a time once when it had no existence (ἦν ποτε χρόνος, ὅτε οὐκ ἦν). However other passages that clearly state that the opposite are more representative of Philo’s position, [14] and Winston (1981:17) has argued convincingly that Decalogue 58 is used in a polemical context and the passage need not be taken “au pied de la lettre."

The conclusion from this is that matter (and the four elements that came from it) was not a part of Philo’s divine pantheon.  Even though it was eternal, it was derivative and lacked the uncreated divinity of The One.

Now The One created the world “without laying hold of it himself” (Spec 1.327-9). This implies that there is a “non-good” associated with matter that necessitated remote action. These days, it is recognised that the laws of Physics are purely desciptive [15] and the empowering reality that they describe is unknown. However in Philo’s mind, the material world was (like Plato) modelled from God's mental "architectural plans" that prescribed the "forms" of things (Philo, Creation of the World, 16). [16] These “forms” also carried within themselves an ability to imprint themselves on matter, so they could replicate themselves in the physical world. 

Also according to Philo, matter could not completely contain the total essence of the “forms” and the imprinted copies were thus imperfect and transitory. [17] As with Plato, this did not make matter morally evil, only bad (κακία) by virtue of inadequacy.  In a private communication, Dr Chris Forbes (Macquarie University) pointed out that the essential contrast in Plato is between "being" (εἶναι) and "appearance" (δοκεῖν). Matter may hinder and bind the immortal soul and prevent it from achieving its true nature, but this does not make it morally evil. Accordingly Philo, did not endorse extreme asceticism [18] Though Philo admired the monastic life of the Therapeutae he did not feel it necessary to become one of them.  The intrinsic nature of matter’s κακία did however necessitate some kind of intermediary (or intermediaries) to exist as a buffer between the unknowable perfection of the Creator and the known imperfections of material forms.


God and Lord

To bridge the gap, Philo described a revelation[19] in which he realized that there were two intermediaries called “God” and “Lord” (Cherubim, 27; Heir of Divine Things 165-6). [20] They were the senior abilities (δυνάμεις) of the Existent that interacted with creation.

The ability called “God” was good, bounteous and beneficent.  “God” was the one through whom The One created and brought the irrepressible extravagance of life to the world.  The ability called “Lord” brought justice and authority by impressing a moral order on nature and the world of humanity.  They were also described in relation to the Cherubim protecting Eden [21] and were said to be equal to each other, [22] though God seems to be the older and stronger (Bigg, 1886:13).

Philo in commenting on Genesis 1:27 Flight and Discovery 68 seems to have represented these two abilities as personal beings with whom The One could converse.   Philo wrote:

“ ‘God said, Let us make man in our Image.’  The expression, ‘let us make,’ indicat[es] a plurality of makers. (69) Here, therefore, the Father is conversing with his own assistants (ταῖς ἑαυτοῦ δυνάμεσιν).” 

However the “conversation” may be more a personification of natural abilities than the attribution of separate personalities, i.e. in parallel with Hesiod’s usage in the Theogony, Fränkel (1975:96) noted that Hesiod’s divinities included natural objects (Earth, Sky), natural forces (wind, currents), human abilities (thought, memory) and human motivations (love, blame).  From this he argued that the Theogony gave an explanation of how things came to be, along with the essence of the forces that people regularly faced in their daily lives. Philo’s revelation may then have been the recognition that the personification of creative and ordering forces was a Hellenistic way of presenting realities, and of course, Moses had done it first.

These divine "assistants" were invisible, incomprehensible and sensed only through the mind, but they impacted on the physical world like a seal impresses a wax image (Philo, Special Laws 1.46 – 49). [23]  Despite this ability to strongly influence the world, the nature of this assistance was tenuous in contrast with The One. This is illustrated by the story of Abraham’s three guests at Mamre.  The figure in the middle of the group represented the Father of the universe, and the others by his side were his divine abilities depicted as shadows in comparison (Philo, Abraham 119) [24] . Philo wrote of the event (Abraham 131) “But it is plain, that which is seen, is actually a threefold appearance of one subject, not only from the contemplation of the allegory, but also from that of the express words in which the allegory is couched (ὄτι δ' ἡ τριττὴ φαντασία δυνάμει ἑνός ἐστιν ὑποκειμένου, φανερὸν οὐ μόνον ἐκ τῆς ἐν ἀλληγορίᾴ θεωρίας, ἀλλὰ καὶ τῆς ῥητῆς γραφῆς τάδε περιεχούσς: ).”

The duplication of names seems to point to a merging of personal identity. When the Existent is called “God” as well as his creative ability, this seems to signify that the name given to the ability signifies the capability of The One to take on a particular role within creation, i.e. “God” is a kind of remote control mechanism by which The One can act in the other world without actually touching it. Both the names “God” and “Lord” are merged together to represent The One in Dreams 1.159, which has:.

“ ‘I am the Lord God (κύριος ὁ θεός) of Abraham your father, and the God (θεός) of Isaac ...’ This oracle … taught … that the Lord and God ( κύριος καὶ θεός ) of the universe is both these things … to his own race, being titled both the Lord and God ( κύριος καὶ θεός) of all men … being called by both names in order that the whole world … might have the same inheritance.”

This equates The One (as “Lord God” i.e. κύριος ὁ θεός ) with both the abilities “Lord” ( κύριος ) and “God” ( θεός ) thus submerging any personality and making the difference between the abilities that of activity. [25]

Introducing these two divine abilities produced a useful result, namely a solution to the problem of theodicy (the origin of evil). God “made use of the abilities which were subordinate to him … to assign the origin of evil to other workmen than himself” (Philo, Flight and Discovery, 70). [26]  Discussing the destruction of Sodom, Philo can then say that:

 “the true and living God, … thought it fitting that he … should bestow good … by his own power, but … the opposite … by the agency and service of his subordinate abilities, so that he might be looked upon as the cause of good only, and of no evil whatever” (Abraham, 143).

The interaction between the two abilities was given in Cherubim 20, [27] where they were seen to be protecting paradise, along with the flaming sword.  Philo has them being drawn to each other with a spiritual love.

God brought life and vibrancy to the world of nature and humanity. The Lord brought justice and peace through order.  Through their mutual relationship mercy can temper justice, and justice can act with goodness.

The Logos

For Philo, as well as “God” and “Lord”, there was another ability, the divine “Word” (λόγος). Answering a question on Genesis 9: 6 about the image of God, [28] Philo wrote that the reasoning soul of man was derived from the divine Word. This was because humanity could not be made in the likeness of the unknowable Father.  Thus the Word who conveyed a Godlike reasoning ability to humanity was a “second deity”.

Plato, according to Wolfson (1947:1.238), [29] did not refer to the Word as an “image” (εἰκών ) because, for Plato, only things in the physical world were images of the “real” world of ideas. Philo, on the other hand, though sharing Plato’s viewpoint, can describe the Word as “image.” For example in, The Creation of the World (31) Philo has: “the invisible divine reason (λόγος) , perceptible only by intellect, [Moses] calls the image (εἰκών) of God.” Philo can do this because he has a two step gradation (world – divine abilities – God) in his worldview, whereas Plato has only the one step (world – real world).

In Dreams (1.229-230), Philo distinguished the “true God” from his Word, by the use or absence of the definite article:

“ ‘I am the God who was seen by you in the place of God’ (ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ θεὸς ὁ ὀφθείς σοι ἐν τόπῳ θεοῦ ).... it is the true God that is meant by the use of the article, the expression being, 'I am the God’ (ὁ θεός) but when the word is used … without the article, … 'He who was seen by you in the place, …of God’ (θεοῦ) … what he here calls God is his most ancient Word (λόγος ).

Applying the word “God” to the Word is again a linking of personality with the Existent.

The Word was also represented as>an intermediary between The One and humanity, in fact the Word was called a high-priest (Philo, Dreams 1.215). [30]

 In Confusion of Language (XLII), [31] the Word was seen as an intermediary because he knew both the mind of God and the mind of humanity.  In this connection, Philo wrote that the Word was neither uncreated like God, or created as humanity. This puts the Word in a position rather like pre-existent matter, so that it could not be said of the Word, that “there was when he was not” (ῆν ποτε ὄτε οὐκ ῆν). [32]

As well as a role with regards to humanity, the Word had a greater cosmological significance.  Philo, in Fugitives (101) wrote:

 “The Word is, as it were, the charioteer of the abilities, and he who utters it is the rider who directs the charioteer how to proceed with a view to the proper guidance of the universe.”

This elevated the Word above the other two divine abilities (God and Lord) as their leader and controller. The passage then distinguishes three abilities that nominally use the word “God”. The One was really the first and only true God.  Then the Word was the “second God” in that he expressed the mind of God to creation. The good “God” was the dynamic force that created the exuberant abundance of nature.

In the blessing of Jacob by Isaac, Philo expressed how the Word related to the whole of creation.  The Migration of Abraham (102) has Philo saying: “if you examine the great high priest, that is to say reason (λόγος), you will find him entertaining ideas in harmony with these [blessings].”  As Bigg (1886:17-18) put it “the Word binds all together in life and harmony.”  This bond is like the Stoic concept of the immanence of God.


Philo introduced another divine ability by accepting the personification of Wisdom [33]   In Flight and Discovery (108-9), [34] the role of Israel’s mediating high priest was seen to be a function performed by the Word.  Then the Word’s origin was traced to the “Father” on one side, and Wisdom on the other as “mother”.   Now the formation of the Word through the agency of the Father and Wisdom was not to be thought of as any kind of sexual union because, as Philo described in Cherubim 49, God’s intangible nature produced the opposite effect to men.  Men turned virgins into women, but God made Wisdom who was a mother into a virgin.[35] That is to say God removed wrong desires.   In the Posterity of Cain 135 “[Leah’s] alienation … gives her a close connection with God, from whom she receives the seeds of wisdom, and conceives, and gives birth to virtuous ideas.”  On the other hand Philo mused (Cherubim 51): “a virgin soul may be polluted by intemperate passions and so become impure … since it is right for you to dwell as a virgin in the house of God, and to cleave to wisdom, [why] do you … embrace the outward sense which effeminates and pollutes you?”  A “virgin” soul is then one who by acquiring Wisdom has developed pure desires and can display the four cardinal virtues (which are for Philo, prudence, self-control, piety and righteousness) [36] .


The relation of Wisdom to the Word was discussed by Philo in the context of Hagar being addressed by the “angel of the Lord” and responding that she has seen God" (Philo, Questions and Answers 3.34). [37] Philo interpreted the text as saying that the Lord appeared to Wisdom as God, and the Word was the servant of Wisdom.  This gives a logical gradation from the Word through Wisdom to The One.


The Pantheon

The One had no direct contact with the world so the essence and qualities of The One remained incomprehensible. Philo’s pantheon had the specific divine abilities called God, Lord, Word and Wisdom. Along with a multitude more, in terms of angels and humans (who can also be termed “God” in context).  However the divine abilities had the character of shadows in contrast to The One, so The One was neither divided or diminished by their existence.

The specific divine abilities were also neither uncreated or created because they existed eternally like The One and were always in relationship with him. They were also unfathomable and invisible but could create sensory impressions as the personification of abstract qualities (hypostases).  Their qualities, as expressed in the physical world, could be modeled to something like a sphere moving through a plane.  The plane will have a circle that appears as a dot, grows and then diminishes to a dot before disappearing.  The plane cannot comprehend the sphere because it lacks the crucial dimensional aspect, but with time and memory, an imperfect sense of its quality might be grasped from within the planar view.

The One related primarily through his Wisdom to his Word.  The divine Word, as the leader and controller of the other divine abilities (God and Lord), resolved issues by reason and wisdom. The issues were then realised through the agencies of the beneficent God of creation and the fair-dealing Lord of order.  They in turn related with each other through spiritual love. 

The Word related to the whole of the physical world through a bond of harmony. The Word also related to the human world by mediating between the reason of humanity and the mind of The One. These relationships are depicted in the diagram of figure 1 below.

Figure 1 (repeated).








Returning to the allegory of the Pantheon in Rome. Examining the structure in X-ray detail will resolve the parts, but to the normal eye only the unity and harmony of the building is perceived.  It is the same with Philo, the specific divine powers of his pantheon can be resolved deductively, but they readily merge into a single personality, who retains the “wholly other” mystique of The One.



Primary Sources

Carman, A.S., (1905), “Philo’s Doctrine of the Divine Father and the Virgin Mother”, American Journal of Theology, 9:491-518

Glatzer, N.N., ed. 1971, The Essential Philo, Schocken, New York

Winston, D., trans. 1981, Philo of Alexandria The Contemplative Life, The Giants, and Selections, Paulist Press, Ramsey

Yonge, C.D., 1854-1890, The Works of Philo Judaeus, London, H. G. Bohn


Secondary Sources

Bigg, C., 1886, The Christian Platonists of Alexandria, Oxford, Clarendon

Fränkel, H., 1975, Early Greek Poetry and Philosophy, trans. Hadas, M. and Willis, J., Blackwell, Oxford

Parker, F.O. Jr., (2001), “‘Our Lord and God’ in Rev 4,11:  Evidence for the Late Date of Revelation?”, Biblica, 82:207-231

Winter, B.W., 2002, Philo and Paul among the Sophists, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids

Wolfson, H.A., 1947, Philo, 2 vols., Harvard University Press, Cambridge

[1] Built under Hadrian “to all the gods” c.118 - 126 CE. It was the largest dome ever built (diameter 43m), until Brunelleschi's Firenze Duomo of 1420-36 (diameter 54m).  The dome of Hagia Sophia has a diameter of 34m after being rebuilt in 557 CE.

[2] Philo, Allegories 3.99: “God both was and is the creator of this whole universe.”

[3] Philo, Posterity of Cain 168: “there is and actually exists the great cause of all things.”

[4] Philo, Posterity of Cain 168: “it is wholly impossible that God according to his essence should be perceived or beheld by any creature … it is sufficient … to learn that [he] … exists … and to attempt to proceed further … is an absolute piece of folly (169) … he himself alone is incomprehensible; and he is incomprehensible by any direct and immediate access.”

[5] Apophatic: The knowledge of God can only be found by negation.  For example, see Rowan Williams, 1994, Open to Judgment, London, p.97: “God is so unlike whatever can be thought or pictured, that, when you have got beyond the stage of self-indulgent religiosity there will be nothing you can securely know or feel. You face a blank.”

[6] Philo uses the word apoios (ἄποιος ) i.e qualityless (Winston 1981:23). Philo, Allegories 1.51: “he who conceives either that God has any distinctive quality … injures himself and not God … we must conceive that God is free from distinctive qualities.” Allegories 3.36: “he … has no distinctive qualities.”  Unchangeableness of God 55: “men … of the soul … do not compare the living God to any species of created beings; but, dissociating … any idea of distinctive qualities … are content with the bare conception of his existence.”

[7] Philo, On the change of Names 7: “Do not … think that the living God … is ever seen so as to be   comprehended … we have no power … by which we may be able to conceive any adequate notion of him; we have no external sense suited to that purpose (for he is not an object which can be discerned by the outward sense)”

[8] “(1.328) that want of proper form which existed before the elements were reduced into proper order… (1.329) … it is out of that essence that God created every thing … materials which were all misshapen and confused.”

[9] Philo, Special Laws 3.180: the divisible matter that is worked upon … there can be no greater impiety than to ascribe the power of the agent to that which is passive.”

[10] Philo, Creation of the World, 7-9: “among things existent, one cause is active, the other passive and … the active cause is the universal Mind … the passive cause is in itself lifeless and motionless, but when moved, shaped and quickened by Mind, it is transformed into … this world.”

[11] This passage is cited from Winston (1981:15) from Philo’s On Providence and the primary source is seemingly inaccessible.>It has been preserved in Armenian and there are Latin translations.

[12] So too this passage in Philo, Decalogue 58: “the world … has been created … there was a time once when it had no existence (ἦν ποτε χρόνος, ὅτε οὐκ ἦν).”

[13] Also in Philo, Special Laws 1.266: “it is not the nature of any thing to be destroyed so as to become non-existent.”

[14] Philo, Creation of the World 26: “Moses says also; "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth:" taking the beginning to be, not as some men think, that which is according to time; for before the world time had no existence.” Philo, Eternity of the World 53: “And it is the most absurd of all ideas to fancy that there ever was a time when the world did not exist, for its nature is without any beginning and without any end.”

[15] That is “paradigms” or models of reality.

[16] Philo, Creation of the World, 16: “God … judged in advance … that no sense object would be faultless that was not modeled after an … idea.  So when he willed to create this visible world, he first formed the world in his mind, so that he might employ a pattern … for the production of the physical world”

[17] Philo, Creation of the World, 23: “For the capacity of that which is created to receive benefits does not correspond to the natural power of God to confer them; since his powers are infinitely greater, and the thing created being not sufficiently powerful to receive all their greatness would have sunk under it, if he had not measured his bounty, allotting to each, in due proportion, that which was poured upon it.”

[18] Philo, Contemplative Life IV: “after taking due care of their soul, they tend their bodies also, giving them, … a complete rest … and they eat … plain bread and a seasoning of salt, which the more luxurious of them do  further season with hyssop; and their drink is water from the spring … they eat only so far as not to be hungry, and they drink just enough to escape from thirst.”

[19] This was a definite claim to originality in thought.  Philo, Cherubim, 27: “I have also on one occasion heard a more ingenious train of reasoning from my own soul, which was accustomed frequently to be seized with a certain divine inspiration (θεοληπτεῖσθαι), even concerning matters which it could not explain to itself; which now, if I am able to remember it accurately, I will relate.”

[20] Philo, Cherubim, 27: “in the one living and true God there were two supreme and primary powers goodness and authority; and that by his goodness he had created everything, and by his authority he governed all that he had created”.  Philo, Heir of Divine Things 165: “the two primary powers of the living God. (166) The one his Bounteous power, through which he made the world, and is called God; the other his Punitive power, by which he rules and commands what is created, and is called Lord.”  Philo, Abraham 145: “of the two powers of God, one is a beneficent power and the other a chastising one.” See also, Abraham 131, Those Offering Sacrifice 59, Moses 2.99, Questions and Answers 1.55, 1.57, 2.89.

[21] Philo, The Cherubim 27: “in the one living and true God there [are] two supreme and primary powers - goodness and authority; and that by his goodness he had created every thing, and by his authority he governed all that he had created; (28) … of this ruling authority and of this goodness, being two distinct powers, the cherubim were the symbols.”

[22] Philo, Heir of Divine Things 165: “the two primary powers of the living God. (166) God … [and] Lord, and these … most ancient powers of the living God are equal.”

[23] Philo, Special Laws 1.46 – 49: “God replied [to Moses], ‘The powers … are altogether invisible, and appreciable only by the intellect; since I myself am invisible and only appreciable by … only the very purest intellect. And though they are … incomprehensible … still they show a kind of impression or copy of their energy … as seals … make an innumerable quantity of figures [in wax] … remaining unaltered … so also you must conceive that the powers which are around me invest those things which have no distinctive qualities with such qualities, … Do not … ever expect to be able to comprehend … any one of my powers’.”

[24] Philo, Abraham119: “A vision at one time of one being, at another of three. A threefold image of one subject, one image of the living God, and others of the other two as if they were shadows irradiated from it.”

[25] Discussed by Parker, (2001:221) in relation to the date of the Apocalypse of John.

[26] Philo, Abraham, XXVIII. “God the cause of good only and not of evil.”

[27] Philo, Cherubim 20: “But God very appropriately assigns to the cherubim and to the flaming sword a city or abode in front of Paradise, not as to enemies about to oppose and to fight him, but rather as to near connections and friends, in order that in consequence of a continued sight and contemplation of one another, the two powers might conceive an affection for one another, the all-bounteous God inspiring them with a winged and heavenly love.”

[28] Philo, Questions and Answers 2.62. "Why is it that he speaks of some other god, saying that he made man after the image of God, and not after the image of himself? Answer: No mortal thing could have been formed on the similitude of the supreme Father of the universe, but only after the pattern of the second deity, who is the Word of The One."

[29] “His conception of the Logos, … as created by God has led Philo to revise the meaning of … image (εἰκών). In Plato the term image is used exclusively with reference to things in the visible world; ideas are not images they are patterns (παράδειγματα). In Philo … the term image is still applied to things in the visible world, and ideas as well as the Logos are still described by the term pattern as well as by the term archetype (ἀρχέτυπος), but, unlike Plato, Philo describes the ideas as well as the Logos also by the term image.”

[30] Philo, Dreams1.215: " there are, … two temples belonging to God; one being this world, in which the high‑priest is the divine Word, his own first‑born son. The other is the rational soul, the priest of which is the real true man."

[31] Cited from Carman, 1905:505 Philo, Confusion of LanguageXLII: “the Father who created the universe has given to his … Word a pre‑eminent gift, to stand on the confines of both, and separate that which had been created from the Creator. And this same Word is continually a suppliant to the immortal God on behalf of the mortal race … and is also the ambassador sent by the Ruler of all to the subject race. And the Word rejoices in the gift … saying, 'And I stood in the midst, between the Lord and you; ‘neither being uncreate as God nor yet created as you, but being in the midst between these two extremities, like a hostage, as it were, to both parties: a hostage to the Creator, as a pledge and security that the whole race would never fly off and revolt entirely … and to the creature … that the merciful God would not overlook his own work.”

[32] This may have some relevance to Arius in the fourth century Christological controversies.

[33] As in Proverbs 1:20, 7:4, 8:1, 9:1 etc

[34] Philo, Flight and Discovery 108-9: "The high‑priest is not a man but is the Word of God ... he has no errors ... cannot be defiled, because ... he has received imperishable and wholly pure parents, God being his Father, who is also the Father of all things, and Wisdom being his mother, by means of whom the universe arrived at creation."

[35] Philo, Cherubim 49-50: Jeremiah, “uttered an oracle in the character of God, … ‘Have you not called me as your house, and your father, and the husband of your virginity?’ showing that God is a house, the incorporeal abode of incorporeal ideas, and the Father of all things … and the husband of Wisdom, sowing for the race of mankind the seed of happiness … Men with a view to the procreation of children make[] virgins women. But when God begins to associate with the soul, he makes that which was previously woman now again virgin … banishing and destroying all the degenerate appetites unbecoming a human beings.

[36] ϕρόνησις , σωϕροσφνη, εὐσέβεια, δικαιοσύνη, cited from Winter (2002:84)

[37] Philo, Questions and Answers 3.34: “Hagar called on the name of the Lord, … saying, ‘You God … have had regard unto me’, because he said, ‘… I have seen you appearing before me.’ … the angel, after the manner of the handmaiden of wisdom, was a minister to her on the part of God. But still why is he here called Lord or God who ought only to have been styled his angel? … it was right that the Lord and chief of all the universe should appear to wisdom as God, and that his word should appear as a minister to the handmaid, and servant of wisdom.”

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