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Philo of Alexandria and the Construction of Jewishness in Early Christian Writings$
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Jennifer Otto

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198820727

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198820727.001.0001

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“Of the Hebrew Race”

“Of the Hebrew Race”

Eusebius’s Philo

(p.136) 4 “Of the Hebrew Race”
Philo of Alexandria and the Construction of Jewishness in Early Christian Writings

Jennifer Otto

Oxford University Press

Eusebius refers to Philo far more frequently than any previous early Christian writer. In most of these citations, he describes Philo as a Hebrew. The chapter begins with an analysis of the clear distinction Eusebius draws between Hebrews and Jews. By describing Philo as a Hebrew, Eusebius associates him with a philosophical way of life, or bios, practiced before the institution of the Mosaic law and perpetuated by the Essenes, the Therapeutae, and ultimately, Eusebius’s Christian contemporaries. Philo the Hebrew is invoked to support Eusebius’s claim that the Christians are the legitimate heirs to the Hebrew scriptures, scriptures better understood by the Christians than by the Jews. When Eusebius cites Philo as a witness to the suffering of the Jews in the aftermath of Jesus’ crucifixion, however, he does not refer to him as a Hebrew.

Keywords:   Eusebius, Philo of Alexandria, Hebrew, Essene, Therapeutae, early Christianity, early Judaism, bios, philosophical way of life

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