Get the CD Now!

Philo the Epic Poet

Third to Second Century B.C.

Discuss this text or ask a question on the official Early Writings forum. Anyone can post.

Online Text for Philo the Epic Poet

Online Resources for Philo the Epic Poet

Offline Resources for Philo the Epic Poet

Information on Philo the Epic Poet

Martin McNamara writes: "Philo the Elder is the author of a Greek epic entitled On Jerusalem. Of the original lengthy work only twenty-four lines survive, preserved in Eusebius' Praeparatio Evangelica (9,20; 24; 37). Philo, the author of this epic, is probably to be identified with Philo the Elder mentioned by Josephus and Clement of Alexandria between Demetrius and Eupolemus. The extant fragments are very obscure and hard to interpret. The subject of the first fragment is Abraham, and probably the sacrifice of Isaac. The second speaks of Joseph and the third praises the springs and the water pipes of Jerusalem. Since Philo is mentioned between Demetrius and Eupolemus by Josephus and Clement, his floruit was probably about 170 B.C." (Intertestamental Literature, pp. 226-227)

Emil Schürer writes: "The Philo mentioned by Clemens Alex. Strom. i. 21. 141, and by Josephus, contra Apion. i. 23 (= Euseb. Praep. evang. ix. 42), and whom Josephus distinguishes from the more recent philosopher by calling him Philo the elder (Φιλων ο πρεσβυτερος), is certainly identical with our epic writer. According to the notice of him in Clemens Alexandrinus, we might indeed suppose, that some prose writer, who treated Jewish hitsory in like manner as Demetrius and Eupolemus do, was spoken of (Strom. i. 21. 141: Φιλων δε και αυτος ανεγραψε τους βασιλεις τους Ιουδαιων διαφωνως τω Δημητριω). Josephus took him for a heathen, for he adduces him, together with Demetrius and Eupolemus, as a proof, that many heathen authors also hada tolerably accurate acquaintance with Jewish history. But the circumstance that both Clemens and Josephus, in the passages cited, place this Philo in the same series as Demetrius and Eupolemus (both have the order Demetrius, Philo, Eupolemus), proves, that both were drawing from the same source, and this can be no other than Alexander Polyhistor. Since then no other Philo than the epic writer occurs in the copious contributions from Alexander Polyhistor in Eusebius, there is no doubt that Clemens and Josephus eman the same. Consquently Philo, as the fragments in Eusebius give us reason to suppose, sang in such wise of the town of Jerusalem as to give at the same time a history of the Jewish kings." (The Literature of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus, pp. 223-224)

James Charlesworth writes: "Philo the Epic Poet was a Jew who wrote in the second century B.C., probably in the second quarter (cf. Y. Gutman, 'Philo the Epic Poet,' Scripta Hierosolymitana 1 [1954] 36-63; E. Lohse, no. 1183a; R. Laqueur in Pauly-Wissowa n.B. 20.1 [1941] cols. 51f.), and may have lived in Jerusalem (so also J. Freudenthal, Alexander Polyhistor. Breslau: Skutsch, 1875; p. 129; P. Dalbert, Missionsliteratur, p. 34; B. Z. Wacholder, no. 1184; and A.-M. Denis, no. 24, p. 271. M. Hengel surprisingly claims this assumption is 'pure speculation,' and opts for an Egyptian provenance [no. 104, ET, vol. 2, p. 71]. See, however, his discussion of 'Jewish literature in Greek in Palestine' [no. 104, ET, vol. 1, pp. 88-102].). He composed his verses in Greek, demonstrating ability with the hexameters of the Greek epics." (The Pseudepigrapha and Modern Research, p. 169)

Please buy the CD to support the site, view it without ads, and get bonus stuff!

Early Jewish Writings is copyright © 2001-2013 Peter Kirby <E-Mail>.

Get the CD Now!

Kirby, Peter. Early Jewish Writings. <>.