Philo as Origen’s Declared Model: Allegorical and Historical Exegesis of Scripture

Ilaria L. E. Ramelli


After on overview of Origen’s relations to Rabbinic exegesis, I turn to the relations between Origen and Hellenistic Judaism. I investigate how Philo and Origen use the instrument of allegory to read the Bible in the light of philosophy, but both of them react against a sheer allegorization of Scripture, which existed both in the Jewish allegorizers who preceded Philo and in ‘Gnostic’ Christian allegorizers. Even Philo and Origen, however, thought (unlike subsequent Rabbinic and Christian exegetes) that the Genesis account of creation had a special status and required to be interpreted not literally, but only allegorically. I argue for a Platonic influence on this conception and point out how Origen emphasized the Jewish antecedents to his own philosophical allegoresis of Scripture. For Origen, Philo the Jew was a much better exegete and theologian than the Christian “heretics” were.


Jewish-Christian relations; Philo; Hellenistic Judaism; Rabbis; Origen; allegoresis; Platonism; Gnosticism; myth; logos.

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