In the writings of the philosophers of hellenistic judaism

Proto-archimandrite Fr. Shahe Ananyan,

Albeit the advanced studies in the history of Jewish thought, the Hellenistic Judaism is a relatively new phenomenon per se, and in this regard the discussions and theories on that issue continue to be in constant need of revision. The article discusses some basic issues and problems of the Antique and Hellenistic philosophies in the light of their interpretation and reception by the philosophers of Hellenistic Judaism. For this aim, the short introduction of the historical and cultural signification of Hellenistic Judaism is presented, taking into consideration the results of the recent historical, philological and archaeological studies in this field, as well.

The author discusses firstly the place and the importance of the Hellenistic culture both in Palestine and the Jewish Diaspora as a necessary framework and fertile soil for the development of the Jewish-Hellenistic thought in 4-1 cc. B. C. Secondly, in order to precise the limits of the interchanges between the Judaism and the Hellenistic philosophy, some aspects of the terms- and meaning-making processes are clarified on the basis of several examples of the Jewish Bible’s Greek translation (Septuaginta). In this sense the author deemed also important to point out the main ideas and qualifications with which the Antique and Hellenistic Greek authors used to perceive the image of Jews as a nation of philosophers, par excellence. This kind of attitude, regardless of the continuing persecutions of the Jews in the Seleucid and Roman empires, and the anti-Hellenistic dispositions among many Jewish communities and political groups, incited on its turn a new
wave of interconnections between the Jewish monotheism and the Hellenistic religious philosophy. One could even assume the evident influence of some Hellenistic philosophical movements, namely Stoicism on the Jewish biblical books, composed from 4 c. B. C. to 1 c. A. C.

However, within the large context of the Hellenistic oikoumené the Jews presented a remarkable exception. Confronted with Greek ideas, some attempted to combine Greek intellectual values with Hebrew ones; such efforts were especially successful in Egypt and in other parts of Jewish Diaspora, meanwhile being firmly ancred in the tradition of the Jewish monotheistic religion. The figures of great Jewish-Hellenistic thinkers such as Aristoboulos, Pseudo-Aristaeus and Philo of Alexandria were the result of that successful enculturation. Their ideas on the theory and methods of that synthesis which are analyzed in the article, are of primary importance for studying the Jewish-Hellenistic thought.