The Origins of Human Wisdom

Daniel S. Richter

in Cosmopolis

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199772681
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199895083 | DOI:
The Origins of Human Wisdom

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This chapter looks closely at a series of Hellenistic and early imperial texts from both Greek and Jewish traditions that re-evaluate the meaning of Egypt and shows that each of these texts is in self-conscious dialogue with various aspects of the Greek-Egypt tradition. It focuses on those texts which most clearly reflect and respond to the challenges that inherited memories of Egypt created for Hellenistic and early imperial intellectuals. In examining these texts, this chapter makes two related claims: first, that the pan-Mediterranean context of the early Roman Empire altered the ways in which certain Greeks remembered Egypt; second, that the widening horizons of the Hellenistic world similarly determined Jewish memories of the Egyptian past. This chapter explores a peculiarly imperial problem: how the need to define philosophy as “Greek” drives much post-classical writing on the historical relationships between Greece, India, Egypt, and Judaism, the four most important loci of ancient learning in the Roman Mediterranean.

Keywords: origins; cultural transmission; diffusionism; Egypt; Moses; Josephus; Apollonius of Tyana

Chapter.  15661 words. 

Subjects: Classical Philosophy

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