Philo's Works - On The Law

On The Law

Then the laws are discussed in detail: first the chief ten commandments (the Decalogue), and then the precepts in amplification of each law. The work is divided into the following treatises:

  1. "De Opificio Mundi" (comp. Siegfried in "Zeitschrift für Wissenschaftliche Theologie," 1874, pp. 562–565; L Cohn's important separate edition of this treatise, Breslau, 1889, preceded the edition of the same in "Philonis Alexandrini," etc., 1896, i.).
  2. "De Abrahamo,"on Abraham, the representative of the virtue acquired by learning. The lives of Isaac and Jacob have been lost. The three patriarchs were intended as types of the ideal cosmopolitan condition of the world.
  3. "De Josepho," the life of Joseph, intended to show how the wise man must act in the actually existing state.
  4. "De Vita Mosis," books i.-iii.; Schürer, l.c. p. 523, combines the three books into two; but, as Massebieau shows (l.c. pp. 42 et seq.), a passage, though hardly an entire book, is missing at the end of the present second book (Wendland, in "Hermes," xxxi. 440). Schürer (l.c. pp. 515, 524) excludes this work here, although he admits that from a literary point of view it fits into this group; but he considers it foreign to the work in general, since Moses, unlike the Patriarchs, can not be conceived as a universally valid type of moral action, and can not be described as such. The latter point may be admitted. but the question still remains whether it is necessary to regard the matter in this light. It seems most natural to preface the discussion of the law with the biography of the legislator, while the transition from Joseph to the legislation, from the statesman who has nothing to do with the divine laws to the discussion of these laws themselves, is forced and abrupt. Moses, as the perfect man, unites in himself, in a way, all the faculties of the patriarchal types. His is the "most pure mind" ("De Mutatione Nominum," 37 ), he is the "lover of virtue," who has been purified from all passions ("De Allegoriis Legum," iii. 45, 48 ). As the person awaiting the divine revelation, he is also specially fitted to announce it to others, after having received it in the form of the Commandments (ib. iii. 4 ).
  5. "De Decalogo," the introductory treatise to the chief ten commandments of the Law.
  6. "De Specialibus Legibus," in which treatise Philo attempts to systematize the several laws of the Torah, and to arrange them in conformity with the Ten Commandments. To the first and second commandments he adds the laws relating to priests and sacrifices; to the third (misuse of the name of God), the laws on oaths, vows, etc.; to the fourth (on the Sabbath), the laws on festivals; to the fifth (to honor father and mother),the laws on respect for parents, old age, etc.; to the sixth, the marriage laws; to the seventh, the civil and criminal laws; to the eighth, the laws on theft; to the ninth, the laws on truthful testifying; and to the tenth, the laws on lust.

The first book includes the following treatises of the current editions: "De Circumcisione"; "De Monarchia," books i. and ii.; "De Sacerdotum Honoribus"; "De Victimis." On the division of the book into these sections, the titles of the latter, and newly found sections of the text, see Schürer, l.c. p. 517; Wendland, l.c. pp. 136 et seq. The second book includes in the editions a section also entitled "De Specialibus Legibus" (ii. 270-277), to which is added the treatise "De Septenario," which is, however, incomplete in Thomas Mangey. The greater part of the missing portion was supplied, under the title "De Cophini Festo et de Colendis Parentibus," by Mai (1818), and was printed in Richter's edition, v. 48-50, Leipsic, 1828. The complete text of the second book was published by Tischendorf in his "Philonea" (pp. 1–83). The third book is included under the title "De Specialibus Legibus" in ed. Mangey, ii. 299-334. The fourth book also is entitled "De Specialibus Legibus"; to it the last sections are added under the titles "De Judice" and "De Concupiscentia" in the usual editions; and they include, also, as appendix, the sections "De Justitia" and "De Creatione Principum."

  1. The treatises "De Fortitudine," "De Caritate," and "De Pœnitentia" are a kind of appendix to "De Specialibus Legibus." Schürer (l.c. pp. 519, 520-522) combines them into a special book, which, he thinks, was composed by Philo.
  2. "De Præmiis et Pœnis" and "De Execratione." On the connection of both see Schürer, l.c. pp. 522 et seq. This is the conclusion of the exposition of the Mosaic law.

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