Chapter

Interpreting Scripture: Philo and Paul

Henry Chadwick

in The Church in Ancient Society

Published in print December 2001 | ISBN: 9780199246953
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191600463 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/0199246955.003.0006

Series: Oxford History of the Christian Church

 Interpreting Scripture: Philo and Paul

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The literal and symbolic interpretations of Scripture by the observant Jew, Philo of Alexandria, anticipate in some respects the language of Paul's letters, and Philo's idea of a spiritual meaning behind the literal sense allowed Paul to see the Christian meaning as the divinely intended sense. Although Paul's desire not to offend observant Jews could lead him to appear ‘all things to all men’, he was nevertheless the decisive figure in justifying the separation of the Church from its Jewish matrix. Paul's ethical theory of ‘justification by faith’ freed the Church from the Jewish Law, and his programme for the Gentile mission covering one end of the Mediterranean to the other implied an ultimate breach between Church and Synagogue. He laid particular importance on Rome as the capital of the Gentiles and therefore the Christian capital to succeed Jerusalem. Jewish Christian communities were doubtful about Paul's more radical positions.

Keywords: Paul; Pauline missions; Philo of Alexandria; Rome; Scripture

Chapter.  5340 words. 

Subjects: History of Christianity

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