Pagan Christs, by John M. Robertson, , at sacred-texts.com
It is significant of the difficulty of winning a hearing for an important new truth in hierology that, a hundred years after the elaborate development of the Logos doctrine in Philo Judæus was fully demonstrated, the fact is no part of ordinary knowledge even among scholars, if they be not theologians. 3 Bryant, who first among English writers made the complete demonstration, held that Philo derived his ideas from association with the Christians. That is obviously a delusion; 4 but there can be no question about the actuality of the parallel between the Philonic and the Johannine and other Christian forms of the doctrine; and it may be that a
list of Philo's dicta as drawn up by the unsuspecting Bryant 1 will be more acceptable than one of those compiled by later scholars.
Attributes of the Logos in the writings of Philo Judæus. 2
2. Second divinity. De Legum Allegoriarum, ii, 21; Frag. in Euseb. Præp. Evang. viii, 13.
3. First-begotten Son of God. De Agric. 12; De Somniis, i, 37; De Conf. ling. 14, 18; Quod Deus immutab. 6.
4. Image of God. De Mundi Opific. 8; De Somn. i, 41; De Conf. ling. 14, 18, 20, 28; De Profug. 19; De Monarchia, ii, 5.
5. Superior to angels. Frag. in Euseb. Præp. Evang. viii, 13; De Conf. ling. 28.
6. Superior to all things. De Leg. Alleg. iii, 31, 60, 61.
7. Instrument by whom the world was created. De Mundi Opif. vi; De Cherubim, 35; De Monarchia, ii, 5; De Profug. 18; De leg. alleg. iii, 31.
8. Vice-gerent of God, on whom all depends. De Agric. xii; De Somn. i, 41; De Profug. 20.
9. Light of the World. De Somn. i, 13, 15, 18.
10. Alone can see God. De Conf. ling. 20.
11. Resides in God. De Profug. 18, 19.
12. Most ancient of God's works. De Profug. 19; De leg. alleg. iii, 60, 61.
13. Esteemed the same as God. De Somn. i, 12, 23, 41; ii, 36.
14. Eternal. De Plantat. Noe, 5.
15. Beholds all things. De leg. allegor. iii, 59.
16. Maintains the world. De Mose, iii, 14; De Profug. 20; De Somn. i, 47.
17. Nearest to God, without any separation. De Prof. 19.
18. Free from all taint of Sin. De Profug. 20, 21; De Somn. i, 23.
19. Presides over the imperfect and the weak. De leg. allegor. iii, 61, 62.
20. Fountain of Wisdom. De Profug. 18, 25.
21. A messenger sent from God. De Agric. 12; Quis rerum divin. haeres, 42; De Abrahamo, 36; De Prof. 1.
22. Advocate (Paraclete) for Man. Quis rer. div. haeres, 42. De Mose, iii, 14.
23. Orderer and disposer of all things. Quis rer. div. haer. 46, 48.
24. Shepherd of God's flock. De Agric. 12.
25. Governor of the World. De Profug. 20.
27. The Seal of God. De Prof. 2; De Plant. Noe, 5.
28. Sure refuge of those who seek him. De Somniis, i, 15; De Profug. i, 18, 19, 21.
29. Gives heavenly food to all who seek it. De leg. allegor. iii, 56, 58-62; De Profug. 25; Quis rerum divin. haeres, 39.
30. On men's forsaking their sins gives spiritual freedom. De Somn. i, 15; De Congressu quærendæ erud. gratia, 19, 30.
31. Frees men from all corruption. De Congressu, 30; De Prof. 18, 21; Quis rer. div. haeres, 38. (Is the water of everlasting life. De Prof. 18.)
32. Not merely Son of God, but well-beloved child. [Ref. to De leg. alleg. iii, 64, where, however, αγαπητου τεκνου does not refer to the Logos.]
33. Means of man's spiritual happiness. Quis rerum divin. haeres, 42.
34. Admits to the assembly of the perfect. De Sacrificiis, 2, 3 (De Profug. 18).
35. Raises the just to the presence of the Creator. Ibid.
36. The true high priest. De Somniis, i, 37; De leg. allegor. iii, 26; De Profug. 20.
37. Word, High Priest, and Mediator. Quis rer. div. haeres, 42; De Somn. i, 37; De Mose, iii, 14.
Much discussion has taken place over the question whether Philo really conceived his Logos as a person 1a problem of which the futility may be realised after asking whether Christians to-day conceive of the Holy Ghost as a person. That Philo should be inconsistent; that he should successively make his Logos a deity, a spoken utterance, a creative power, an instrument, an aspect of the deity, a far-seeing spirit, a refuge, the first-born son of the deity, a high-priest and mediator, the covenant, 2 the co-ordinating law of the universe, an eternal entity, the first-created thing, an angel, 3 the sun, 4 the chief of the angels, 5 a body of doctrine, the Scriptures, Moses 6, an abstraction of wisdom, the soul of the world 7all this belonged to his mental habit and that of the students of his age. It was impossible for such minds to be consistent or even momentarily clear: all philosophic thought was for them a shapeless cloud of words and verbal images. But where the born verbalisers fluctuated through a hundred forms of phrase, simpler minds inevitably reduced abstractions to personalities sans phrase. 8
[paragraph continues] In the Book of Enoch the Messiah is identified, apparently long before Philo, with a First-Created power who has the characteristics of the Logos. 1 For most neologising Jews, in short, the Logos passed into personal status just as did Vohumano, "the Good Mind," for the Mazdeans, because the perpetual naming of an abstraction in religious lore or ritual sets up for the believer an idea of separate personality or nothing. The personalisers were but doing what their simpler ancestors had done before when they gave personality to natural objects, winds, rivers, diseases, thunder, and lightning. They did so because they could not help it; and Philo, with his superior verbal resources, psychologises helplessly all the while on the primitive plane.
It is thus quite misleading to say that in his writings "from first to last the Logos is the thought of God, dwelling subjectively in the infinite mind, planted out and made objective in the universe." 2 Supposing such a formula to have real significance for any one to-daysupposing it to be compatible with a theistic proposition of personalityit could have no meaning for Philo, who would not have written as he did if he could so have formulated; though the triplication of Thought and God and Infinite Mind may be said to be a good deal in his spirit. What we learn from such a verbal construction is that if a modern academic cannot propound a Logos-Idea without self-contradiction, much less could an Alexandrian Jew. And the historical conclusion remains clear, that the Christian doctrine of the Logos is simply a deposition in dogmatic form, round the nucleus of a sacramental cult, of the vaporous haze of thought set up in the Jewish world by Yahwistic speculation on Gentile notions. 3
It was the presence of the Jesuist nucleus that wrought the solidification. For Philo there was no bar to a multiplication of Logoi; and besides making Logoi of both Moses and Aaron 4 he has a multitude of lesser Logoi who figure endlessly as thoughts, words, angels, laws, forces, and reasons. 5 His Bible withheld him from
deifying the actual priest or emperor; Moses was for him definitely reduced to human status; and to the prophets he pays remarkably little attention, merely citing one occasionally as a "companion of Moses." 1 Finally, he appears in several treatises to be, like the writer of the fifty-first psalm, 2 ethically indifferent to sacrifice 3so much so that it would be difficult to believe that the same hand wholly wrote these and others in which he accepts a modified form of the principle of atonement, 4 were it not for the numerous proofs in every treatise that his philosophy is always in a state of flux. In one passage he adumbrates a combination of the ideas of the mediatorial Logos and the national Messiah; 5 but a mind so fixed as his on allegory and symbol and abstraction was unprepared to make a definite Logos out of a sacrificed demigod, even had he lived to see the new Jesuist movement. It is the merest truism, therefore, to say that in his lore the Logos-idea never comes to dogmatic birth. Jesuism precipitated it on the eucharistic sacrifice, thus excluding further vacillations; but the idea of the Sophia, which, following the book of the Wisdom of Jesus ben Sirach, he also manipulates, 6 and which was no less potentially adaptable, never came to dogmatic birth at all, save in Gnostic teachings which the Church was finally able to suppress.
On the other hand, Philo's doctrine of the Holy Spirit 7 (which
in his theosophy remains as indeterminate as his notion of the Logos, and is much less stressed than either that or the notion of the Sophia, with both of which it vaguely blends) did find dogmatic acceptance in the formula of the Christian Trinity. The Sophia would have been on many grounds more suitable, supplying as she would the normal demand for a Mother-Goddess; and the male Spirit, as a matter of fact, has always remained an extremely dim conception, availing very little for the Christian cult. But the formation of a Trinity was forced upon Christism by many of its theosophic precedents; 1 and the admission of a Goddess was vetoed by the ascetic principle which was in the ascendant when the doctrine was formulated: so many and various are the forces which determine the growth of a syncretic system in a religiously crowded environment.
Such are the chances of social selection. Had not the ascetic principle been thus temporarily active, and had not the craving for a secondary Teaching-God been for the time satisfied by identifying the Sacrificed God with the Logos, an identification of Mary with both Sophia and the Spirit (originally feminine) would have been an equally natural and an equally facile proceeding, the preparation having been sufficiently made on Judaic lines. As it was, the exaltation of Mary, when it came about afterwards as a result of the stressing of the metaphysical aspects of the Son, was undertaken too late for the grafting of a dogmatic Sophia on the new sacred books; and the still later attempt at a new gospel in the thirteenth century was crushed by the preponderating power of the Papacy. But it is none the less clear that the doctrine of the Logos is a product of the same process of primitive psychology as produces deities of any order.
223:3 See above, p. 147, note.
223:4 It may be freely granted that the writings of Philo are likely to have suffered like others from the ancient obsession of literary fraud. On this point, antiquity had hardly evolved any moral sense, much less a moral standard. But however Philo's writings may have been tampered with, and with whatever purpose, it was not by Christian hands. The Christian frauds in the way of Sibylline predictions, etc., betray themselves at a glance. No Philonic passages have that hall-mark.
224:1 The Sentiments of Philo Judæus concerning the ΛΟΓΟΣ, 1797, p. 106, sq.
224:2 I have added a number of references to those given by Bryant.
225:1 E.g., Principal Drummond's Philo Judæus, 1888, ii, 222-273; Caesar Morgan, Investig. of the Trinity of Plato and of Philo, 1795 (ed. 1853, p. 63 sq.).
225:2 De Somniis, i, 36.
225:3 Id. i, 41.
225:4 Id. i, 15; De Profug. i.
225:5 De conf. ling. 28.
225:6 De Congressu, 30.
225:7 De Profug. 20.
225:8 See below, Pt. III, § 5.
226:1 Enoch, xlviii, 2, 3, 4; xlix, 2, 3, 4; li, 3; lii, 4. Cp. Reichardt, Relation of the Jewish Christians to the Jews, p. 29, as to the same identification in the paraphrase of Jonathan.
226:2 Drummond, Philo Judæus, ii, 273.
226:3 For a thorough discussion of the close connections between Philo, Justin Martyr, and the New Testament books as regards the notion of the Logos, see Supernatural Religion, Rationalist Press ed. pp. 444, 450, 454 seq. Cp. Hausrath, History of the N. T. Times: Times of the Apostles, Eng. tr. 1895, i, 171-180; Nicolas, Des Doctrines religieuses des Juifs, 1860, p. 178 sq.; and Schürer, Jewish People in time of Christ, Eng. tr. Div. II, iii, 374-6.
226:4 De leg. alleg. iii, 15, 33.
226:5 De Somniis, i, 12, 13, 19, 23, 31, 34; De Sacrificiis, 13; De conf. ling., 17; De Posterit. Caini, 25-26. Principal Drummond decides that "the Logoi have nothing personal about them" (ii, 225)another unwarranted specification. There is nothing to show that Philo ever asked himself what he understood by personality. It is essential to an understanding of him to realise that his philosophy derives from a stage of speculation more akin to animism than to science.
227:1 De conf. ling. c. 14. Cp. De Inebrietate, c. 8. Philo's relation to the Scriptures is certainly not that of the traditional instructed Jew. His reading is in the main limited to the Pentateuch. Cp. Dr. H. E. Ryle, Philo and Holy Scripture, 1895, pp. xvii, xxxii.
227:2 Ps. li, 16-17. Vv. 18-19 are obviously from another hand.
227:3 E.g., De Plant. Noe, c. 39; De Mose, iii, 10; De Sacrificantibus, 3, 8; Quis haeres rer. div. 16; De Leg. ad Caium, 39. In the last-cited passage he makes Herod Agrippa wholly ignore the annual sacrifice of atonement, speaking only of the offering of incense; in the treatise De Humanitate regard is had mainly to the Deuteronomic code, where atonement is not mentioned; and in the De Sacrificantibus and Quis Haeres all sacrifice is as such made light of.
227:4 Thus, in the treatise De Victimis, the ordinary view of sacrifice is taken for the most part, the citations on that head being solely from Leviticus. Even there, indeed (c. 14), repentance is expressly set forth as the condition of salvation, and sacrifice as a mere symbol of repentance. So also in De congressu quaer. erud. gratia, c. 14, sacrifices are reduced to ideas; even supplication is declared unnecessary; good works and contrition are all. So also in the De leg. alleg. cc. 30, 57, 61. Cp. De Abrahamo, cc. 1, 3, 4, 5; De Migratione Abr. cc. 1, 5. Yet in the De Abrahamo (cc. 33-35) the act of child sacrifice is treated as not unnatural. Again in the De Confusion Linguarum (c. 20) the "ransom and Price for the salvation of the soul" is not sacrifice; and in De Sacrificiis (c. 36) and Quis haeres rer. divin. (c. 24) the function of the Levites as ransomed sacrifices is mystically interpreted.
227:5 De Execrationibus, c. 9.
227:6 E.g., "The mind......shall leave both its father, the God of the universe, and the Mother of all things, namely, the Virtue and Wisdom of God" (De leg. alleg. ii, 14). Again the Creator.......is also the Father of his Creation, and the Mother was the Knowledge of the Creator with whom God uniting......became the Father of Creation. And this Knowledge having received the seed of God......brought forth her only and well-beloved Son......this world" (De Inebrietate, c. 8. There follows a quotation from "some one of the beings of the divine company" which points to Prov. viii, 32-3, but differs from both the Septuagint and the Hebrew). Yet again "the abrupt rock [pierced by Moses] is the Wisdom of God" (De leg. alleg. ii, 21). And yet again Sophia the daughter of God "is both male and a Father" (De Profug. c. 9. Cp. 20).
227:7 De Gigantibus, cc. 5, 6, 7. Like the other personifications in the Judæo-Christian creed, this in all its aspectsas Wind, Fire, Dove, Generator, Inspirer, Uniteris common to older eastern mythologies. Cp. Gubernatis, Mitologia vedica, p. 142 sq.
228:1 It is partly developed in Philo, De leg. alleg. i, 13; De Sacrificiis, 14; Quis rer. div. 44, 45; De Congressu, 2; De Abrahamo, 24. Cp. Reichardt, as cited, pp. 54-57, concerning other Judaic precedents.