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Jewish commentaries Philo There was a story among the Jews in the Middle Ages to the effect that Aristotle accompanied Alexander the Great to Jerusalem, and, with characteristic Greek craftiness, obtained possession of the wisdom of Solomon, which he subsequently palmed off on his countrymen as his own.
This accounted for everything that was good in Aristotle ; the defects were the only thing peculiar to the philosopher.
That Greek literature, in general, got its inspiration from Moses was an uncritical idea that dated back as far as Philothe great Jewish writer of Alexandria. A visitor to Alexandria at the time when Christ was preaching in Galilee would find there and in its vicinity a million Jews using the Septuagint as their Bible, and could enter their magnificent Great Synagogue of which they were justly proud.
Whoever had not seen it was not supposed to have beheld the glory of Israel. The members of their Sanhedrinaccording to Sukkah, were seated on seventy-one golden thrones valued at tens of thousands of talents of gold; and the building was so vast that a flag had to be waved to show the people when to respond.
At the head of this assembly, on the highest throne, was seated the alabarch, the brother of Philo. Philo himself was a man of wealth and learning, who mingled with all classes of men and frequented the theatre and the great library.
Equally at home in the Septuagint and the Greek classics, he was struck and perplexed by the many beautiful and noble thoughts contained in the latter, which could bear comparison with many passages of the Bible.
As this difficulty must have frequently presented itself to the minds of his coreligionists, he endeavoured to meet it by saying that all that was great in SocratesPlatoetc. He set about reconciling Pagan philosophy with the Old Testamentand for this purpose he made extensive use of the allegorical method of interpretation.
Many passages of the Pentateuch were not intended to be taken literally. They were literally falsebut allegorically true. He did not hit upon the distinction, made later by St. Thomas Aquinas and other Catholic thinkers, between natural and revealed religion. The Bible contains not only revealed but also natural religion, free from error and with Divine sanction.
Pagan systems may have natural religion highly developed, but with much concomitant error. Though this distinction did not occur to Philo, his exegesis served to tide over the difficulty for the time amongst the Hellenistic Jewsand had great influence on Origen and other Alexandrian Christian writers.
The Targums In order to get on the main lines of Jewish interpretation it is necessary to turn to the Holy Land. Farrar, in his "Life of Christ", says that it has been suggested that when Christ visited the Temple, at twelve years of age, there may have been present among the doctors Jonathan ben Uzziel, once thought the author of the Yonathan Targum, and the venerable teachers Hillel and Shammaithe handers-on of the Mishna.
The Targums the most famous of which is that on the Pentateuch erroneously attributed to Onkelos, a misnomer for Aquila, according to Abrahams were the only approach to anything like a commentary on the Bible before the time of Christ. They were interpretative translations or paraphrases from Hebrew into Aramaic for the use of the synagogues when, after the Exile, the people had lost the knowledge of Hebrew.
It is doubtful whether any of them were committed to writing before the Christian Era. They are important as indicating the character of the Hebrew text used, and because they agree with the New Testament in interpreting certain passages Messianically which later Jews denied to have any Messianic bearing.
The Mishna and Talmuds Hillel and Shammai were the last "pair" of several generations of "pairs" of teachers. These pairs were the successors of the early scribes who lived after the Exile.
These teachers are said to have handed down and expanded the Oral Law, which, according to the uncritical view of many Jewsbegan with Moses. This Oral Law, whose origin is buried in obscurity, consists of legal and liturgical interpretations and applications of the Pentateuch.
As no part of it was written down, it was preserved by constant repetition Mishna. On the destruction of Jerusalem several rabbis, learned in this Law, settled at Jamnia, near the sea, twenty-eight miles west of Jerusalem.
Jamnia became the head-quarters of Jewish learning until Then schools were opened at Sepphoris and Tiberias to the west of the Sea of Galilee. The rabbis comforted their countrymen by teaching that the study of the Law Oral as well as Written took the place of the sacrifices.
They devoted their energies to arranging the Unwritten Torah, or Law. One of the most successful at this was Rabbi Akiba who took part in the revolt of Bar-Kokba, against the Romans, and lost his life The work of systematization was completed and probably committed to writing by the Jewish patriarch at TiberiasRabbi Jehudah ha-Nasi "The Prince" A comprehensive, coeducational Catholic High school Diocese of Wollongong - Albion Park Act Justly, love tenderly and walk humbly with your God Micah Learn about Purdue University's College of Liberal Arts, a college focused on strengthening the Undergraduate Experience, enhancing Graduate Education, and promoting Faculty Excellence.
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