Philo’s Reproductive City of God

Kathy L. Gaca

in The Making of Fornication

Published by University of California Press

Published in print April 2003 | ISBN: 9780520235991
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520929463 | DOI:
Philo’s Reproductive City of God

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This chapter argues that Philo's religious sexual ethic is an innovative synthesis which combines the Pentateuchal laws and sexual poetics of spiritual fornication with the sexual-reform plans of the Pythagoreans and Plato. Despite the differences in the specific laws of Plato and Moses, Philo and the Christian Platonists such as Clement found it irresistible to regard Moses' Law and Plato's Laws as part one and part two of the same dispensation. Philo appropriates the Stoic terminology of the passions to recast the biblical danger of spiritual fornication in psychological terms. The chapter indicates that Philo develops a forceful new program against sexual desire through his synthesis of Hellenistic Jewish and Platonic ideas about wrongful desire. Philo's limited synthesis of his criteria of impermissible sexual activity is covered. Philo also lays the ground for a paradigm shift in biblical sexual norms, but he remains relatively conservative himself.

Keywords: Philo; religious sexual ethic; Laws; Plato; Moses; sexual desire; spiritual fornication; Pythagoreans; Pentateuchal laws

Chapter.  13659 words. 

Subjects: Classical Philosophy

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