A blog focused on ancient Jewish and early Christian mysticism, particularly the Epistle to the Hebrews and Philo of Alexandria
Sunday, July 30, 2023
“Enduring Divine Discipline in Philo, De congressu 157–180 and the Epistle to the Hebrews 12:5–17,” in Ancient Texts, Papyri, and Manuscripts: Studies in Honor of James R. Royse (NTTSD 64; Leiden: Brill, 2022), 269–301
Scholars often have speculated about Philo’s possible influence on the Epistle to the Hebrews. Though a connection between Hebrews and Philo may never be conclusively proven, in this essay I argue that Philo’s De congressu 157–180 and Hebrews 12:5–17 offer remarkably similar theodicies while pursuing the same rhetorical goal: to defend the necessity of trials and tests, and the benefits of enduring adversities. A number of linguistic and conceptual links joining the two texts also are identified, including the contrast between appearance and reality, the need to correctly interpret the significance of adverse circumstances, the nature and role of παιδεία (“education”/“discipline”), confessing “kinship” with God, “looking ahead” to a punishment or reward, turning away from God, life as an agonistic/athletic contest, and gymnastic training.