A Mind in Training: Philo of Alexandria on Jacob’s Spiritual Exercises

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

How does Philo of Alexandria depict the formation of a wise person? This article pays attention to the centrality of spiritual training in Graeco-Roman philosophy, and argues that Philo likewise regards the process of seeking wisdom as entailing mental practice. The analysis focuses on two passages of Quis rerum divinarum heres sit and Legum allegoriarum where Philo attributes lists of spiritual exercises to the figure of Jacob. As such, these accounts illustrate how Philo makes use of scriptural interpretation as he imagines the execution of a life dedicated to wisdom. The listed exercises are largely familiar from Graeco-Roman philosophical traditions, yet they coexist with and contribute to the performance of Philo's ancestral tradition. This mlange of cultural elements suggests that Philo discusses Jacob's inner cultivation in order to enable his audience to grasp (one prospect of) how to lead a Jewish philosophical life in the Roman Alexandria.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal for the study of the pseudepigrapha
Volume27
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)265–288
Number of pages24
ISSN0951-8207
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 614 Theology
  • Philo of Alexandria
  • philosophical training
  • spiritual exercises
  • the figure of Jacob
  • scriptural interpretation
  • Judaism as philosophy

Cite this

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title = "A Mind in Training: Philo of Alexandria on Jacob’s Spiritual Exercises",
abstract = "How does Philo of Alexandria depict the formation of a wise person? This article pays attention to the centrality of spiritual training in Graeco-Roman philosophy, and argues that Philo likewise regards the process of seeking wisdom as entailing mental practice. The analysis focuses on two passages of Quis rerum divinarum heres sit and Legum allegoriarum where Philo attributes lists of spiritual exercises to the figure of Jacob. As such, these accounts illustrate how Philo makes use of scriptural interpretation as he imagines the execution of a life dedicated to wisdom. The listed exercises are largely familiar from Graeco-Roman philosophical traditions, yet they coexist with and contribute to the performance of Philo's ancestral tradition. This mlange of cultural elements suggests that Philo discusses Jacob's inner cultivation in order to enable his audience to grasp (one prospect of) how to lead a Jewish philosophical life in the Roman Alexandria.",
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A Mind in Training : Philo of Alexandria on Jacob’s Spiritual Exercises. / Uusimäki, Elisa Katariina.

In: Journal for the study of the pseudepigrapha, Vol. 27, No. 4, 06.2018, p. 265–288.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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AB - How does Philo of Alexandria depict the formation of a wise person? This article pays attention to the centrality of spiritual training in Graeco-Roman philosophy, and argues that Philo likewise regards the process of seeking wisdom as entailing mental practice. The analysis focuses on two passages of Quis rerum divinarum heres sit and Legum allegoriarum where Philo attributes lists of spiritual exercises to the figure of Jacob. As such, these accounts illustrate how Philo makes use of scriptural interpretation as he imagines the execution of a life dedicated to wisdom. The listed exercises are largely familiar from Graeco-Roman philosophical traditions, yet they coexist with and contribute to the performance of Philo's ancestral tradition. This mlange of cultural elements suggests that Philo discusses Jacob's inner cultivation in order to enable his audience to grasp (one prospect of) how to lead a Jewish philosophical life in the Roman Alexandria.

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