Friday, August 19, 2005

Philo Judaeus and Divine Innominability

Besides being anonymous, Philo thinks that God (YHWH) is the Creator and Father of all, a phrase manifestly culled from Plato’s Timaeus 28C.[1] As Father, God profoundly cares for that which he has made.[2] Philo accordingly links the paternitas dei with God’s construction and governing of the world in De Mutatione Nominum 29-30. There, we read that God “is in truth the father, and creator, and governor of all things in heaven and in the whole world.” William Lane Craig thinks that the deity mentioned in the Philonic corpus possibly engenders intelligible abstracta before he creates the sensible realm of appearances. It seems certain that Philo thinks the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob engenders the Logos: “His Father is God, who is likewise Father of all, and his mother is Wisdom, through whom the universe came into existence” (De Fuga et Inventione 109).[3] In any event, his portrayal of God as Father clearly illustrates the tropic nature of God’s paternity.[4] Moreover, the writings of Philo Judaeus serve as evidence that the notion of a supreme paternal being of whom one cannot predicate literal attributes or speak univocally was an essential part of the established cultural milieu in first century Alexandria. Early Christian writings demonstrate that the notion of God the anonymous was by no means restricted to a first century Hellenistic-Judaic intellectual, however.[5]

[1] On the Creation of the World 2.7.

[2] Ibid, 2.7-12.

[3] See Gregory J. Riley, The River of God, 57.

[4] De Opificio Mundi 16, 20.

[5] Pedagogus 1.8 (Clement of Alexandria): “God is One and beyond the One, and superior to the monad itself.” See Lossky, Image and Likeness 20; Emil Brunner on Clement of Alexandria in Dogmatics 1 and Michael Brown, Lord’s Prayer.

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