New Testament: "I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine." (John 10:14).
"He exhorts the swift runner to hasten breathlessly to the most high divine Logos, which
is the fountain of wisdom, in order that drawing from the stream he may find as a prize
everlasting life instead of death." (Philo Judaeus, De Fuga, 97).
"But when the fountain of wisdom, God, imparts each form of knowledge to the mortal race,
He needs not time for the work." (The Sacrifices of Abel and Cain, XVII.).
"Therefore speech is compared to a river...'For a river goes out of Eden to water the Paradise, and
from thence it is divided into four branches' [Genesis 2:10]: and by the name Eden he means the
wisdom of the living God, and the interpretation of the name Eden is 'delight,' because I imagine
wisdom is the delight of God, and God is the delight of wisdom, as it is said also in the
Psalms, 'Delight thou in the Lord.' [Psalm 37:4]. And the divine Word, like a
river, flows forth from wisdom as from a spring, in order to irrigate and fertilize the
celestial and heavenly shoots and plants of such souls as love virtue, as if they were a
paradise...'The river of God was filled with water' [Psalm 65:9]; and it is absurd to give such
a title to any of the rivers which flow upon the earth. But as it seems the psalmist is here
speaking of the divine Word, which is full of streams and wisdom, and which has no part of itself
empty or desolate, or rather, as some one has said, which is diffused everywhere over the universe, and
is raised up on high, on account of the continued and incessant rapidity of that ever-flowing spring.
There is also another expression in the Psalms, such as this: 'The course of the river
makes glad the city of God.' [Psalm 46:4]. What city? For the holy city, which
exists at present, in which also the holy temple is established, is at a great distance from any sea or
river, so that it is clear, that the writer here means, figuratively, to speak of some other city
than the visible city of God. For, in good truth, the continual stream of the divine Word,
being borne on incessantly with rapidity and regularity, is diffused universally over
everything, giving joy to all...And who can pour over the happy soul which proffers its own reason
as the most sacred cup, the holy goblets of true joy, except the cup-bearer of God, the master of
the feast, the Word? not differing from the draught itself, but being itself in an unmixed state, the
pure delight and sweetness, and pouring forth, and joy, and ambrosial medicine of pleasure and
happiness; if we too may, for a moment, employ the language of the poets." (On Dreams, Book 2,
"For the flinty rock [Deut. viii. 15] is the wisdom of God, which He marked off highest and chiefest
from His powers, and from which He satisfies the thirsty souls that love God...But the primal existence is God,
and next to Him ['deuteros'] is the Word of God, but all other things subsist in word only, but in their
active effects they are in some cases as good as non-subsisting." (Allegorical Interpretation, Book II, XXI, 86).
"Therefore he exhorts him who is able to run swiftly to strain onwards, without stopping to take
breath, to the highest Word of God, which is the fountain of wisdom, in order that by
drinking of that stream he may find everlasting life instead of death." (On Flight and Finding, XVIII, 97).
"...for the intellect is the fountain of words, and speech is its mouth-piece, because all the
conceptions which are entertained in the mind are poured forth by means of speech, like stream of
water which flow out of the earth, and come into sight." (The Worse Attacks the Better, XII, 40).
"We must now speak also concerning that highest and most excellent of fountains which the Father of
the universe spake of by the mouths of the prophets; for he has said somewhere, 'They have
left me, the fountain of life, and they have digged for themselves cisterns already worn out, which
will not be able to hold water' [Jeremiah 2:13]; therefore, God is the most ancient of all
fountains. And is not this very natural? For it is He who has irrigated the whole of this world;
and I am amazed when I hear that this is the fountain of life, for God alone is the cause of
animation and of that life which is in union with prudence; for the matter is dead. But God is
something more than life; He is, as He himself has said, the everlasting fountain of living."
(On Flight and Finding, XXXV, 197-198).
New Testament: "He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow
rivers of living water." (John 7:38).
Philo identifies the bread in the wilderness with the Logos: ". . .for this bread which he has given us to eat is this word of his." (Philo
Judaeus, Allegorical Interpretation, Book III, Chapter LV.)
"And Moses shows this in other passages also, when he says, 'And in the morning the dew lay round
about the hosts; and when the dew that lay in the morning was gone up, behold! upon the face of the
wilderness there lay a small round thing, small as coriander seed, and white like the hoar-frost upon
the earth. And when they saw it, they said one to another, what is this? for they knew not
what it was, and Moses said to them, This is the bread which the Lord hath given you to eat, this is
the thing which the Lord hath commanded you.' [Exodus 16:13].
"You see now what kind of thing the food of the Lord is, it is the continued word of the
Lord, like dew, surrounding the whole soul in a circle, and allowing no portion of it to
be without its share of itself." (Allegorical Interpretation, III, LIX. (169).
"And in the same manner also the soul very often, when it is delighted, is yet unable to
explain what it is that has delighted it; but it is taught by the hierophant and prophet Moses, who
tells it, 'This is the bread, the food which God has given for the soul' [Exodus 16:15], explaining
that God has brought it, his own word and his own reason; for this bread which he has given us
to eat is this word of his." (Allegorical Interpretation, III, LX. (173)).
"Those also who have inquired what it is that nourishes the soul, for as Moses says, 'They knew
not what it was' [Exodus 16:15], learnt at least and found that it was the word of God and the
divine reason, from which flows all kinds of instinctive and everlasting wisdom. This is
the heavenly nourishment which the holy scripture indicates, saying, in the character of the cause of
all things, 'Behold I rain upon you bread from heaven' [Exodus 16:4]; for in real truth it is
God who showers down heavenly wisdom from above upon all the intellects which are properly disposed
for the reception of it, and which are fond of contemplation. But those who have seen and
tasted it, are exceedingly delighted with it, and understand indeed what they feel, but do not know
what the cause is which has affected them; and on this account they inquire, 'What is this which is
sweeter than honey and whiter than snow?' And they will be taught by the interpreter of the divine
will, that 'This is the bread which the Lord has given them to eat.' [Exodus 16:15]. What then
is this bread? Tell us. 'This,' says he, 'is the word which the Lord has appointed.'
[Exodus 16:16]. This divine appointment at the same time both illuminates and sweetens the
soul, which is endowed with sight, shining upon it with the beams of truth, and sweetening with the
sweet virtue of persuasion those who thirst and hunger after excellence." (On Flight and Finding,
"...for the one raises his eyes to the sky, beholding the manna, the divine Word, the
heavenly, incorruptible food of the soul, which is food of contemplation: but the others fix the eye
on garlic and onions..." (Who is the Heir of Divine Things, XV, 79).
"Now these energies are especially the food of the soul, which is competent to give suck, as the
lawgiver says, 'Honey out of the rock, and oil out of the solid rock' [Deuteronomy 32:13], meaning by
the solid rock which cannot be cut through, the wisdom of God...but the fountain of divine wisdom
is borne along, at one time a more gentle and moderate stream, and at another with greater
rapidity and a more exceeding violence and impetuosity...This rock, Moses, in another place,
using a synonymous expression, calls manna the most ancient word of God..." (The Worse Attacks
the Better, XXXI, 115-118). (Philo counts numerous 'words' of God; our 'Logos' is "the most
New Testament: "For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the
world.' Then they said to Him, 'Lord, give us this bread always.' And Jesus said to them,
'I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never
thirst.'" (John 6:33-35).
"Such also is the word of God, being profitable both in its entirety and also in every part, even
if it be ever so small. May it not be also likened to the pupil of the eye? For as that, being
the smallest portion of the eye, does nevertheless behold the entire orbs of existing things and the
boundless sea, and the vastness of the air, and the whole immeasurable space of heaven, which the sun,
whether rising in the east or setting in the west, can bound; so also is the word of God, very
sharp-sighted, so as to be capable of beholding every thing, and by which all things that are worth
seeing can be beheld, in reference of which fact it is white [i.e., manna]. For what can be more
brilliant or visible at a greater distance than the divine word, by participation in which all other
things can repel mists and darkness, being eager to share in the light of the soul?" (Allegorical
Interpretation, III, LIX. (170-171).
"God spake and it was done -- no interval between the two -- or it might suggest a truer view to say
that His word was deed. Now even amongst us mortals there is nothing swifter than word, for the
outrush of the parts of speech leaves behind the hearer's understanding of them. As the
perennial streams which pour through the outlets of their springs never cease their motion, and cannot
rest, for the oncoming flow ever impels them, so the current of words, when it begins to move, keeps
pace with that swiftest of things in us - swifter than the flight of birds - the understanding.
Thus as the Uncreated anticipates all created being, so the word of the Uncreated outruns the
word of the created, though that ride with all speed upon the clouds. Therefore it is that
He does not hesitate to say, 'now thou shalt see if my word shall overtake thee or not' (Numb. xi. 23),
implying that the divine word has outrun and overtaken all things." (The Sacrifices of Abel and
Cain, XVIII, 66).
"And I marvel also at that sacred word which runs on with zeal, in one continued course, without
taking breath, 'In order to stand in the midst between the dead and the living; and immediately,'
says Moses, 'the plague was stayed.' [Numbers 16:48]" (Who is the Heir of Divine Things, XLII, 201).
"For it is the divine Word which divided and distributed every thing in nature; and it is our
own mind which divides every thing and every body which it comprehends, by the extertion of its
intellect in an infinite manner, into an infinite number of parts, and which, in fact, never ceased
from dividing. And this happens by reason of its resemblance to the Creator and Father of the
universe; for the divine nature, being unmingled, uncombined with any thing else, and most completely
destitute of parts, has been to the whole world the cause of mixture, and combination, and of an
infinite variety of parts: so that, very naturally, the two things which thus resemble each other, both
the mind which is in us and that which is above us, being without parts and indivisible, will still be
able in a powerful manner to divide and distribute all existing things." (Who is the Heir of Divine
Things, XLVIII, 2325-236).
"And these things were also subjected to other necessary divisions, which made distinctions
between them; winged animals being distinguished from terrestrial, terrestrial from aquatic
creatures...Thus God, having sharpened His own Word, the divider of all things, divides the
essence of the universe which is destitute of form, and destitute of all distinctive qualities, and the
four elements of the world which were separated from this essence, and the plants and animals which
were consolidated by means of these elements." (Who is the Heir of Divine Things, XXVII, 139-140).
"After this the scripture proceeds to say, 'And he divided them in the middle,' not explaining who
did so, in order that you may understand that it was the untaught God who divided them, and that He
divided all the natures of bodies and of things one after another, which appeared to be closely fitted
together and united by His word, which cuts through everything; which being sharpened to the
finest possible edge, never ceases dividing all the objects of the outward senses, and when it has gone
through them all, and arrived at the things which are called atoms and indivisible, then again this
divider begins from them to divide those things which may be contemplated by the speculations of
reason into unspeakable and indescribable portions, and to 'beat the gold into thin plates' [Exodus
39:3], like hairs, and Moses says, making them into one length without breadth, like unsubstantial
lines." (Who is the Heir of Divine Things, XXVI, 130-131).
New Testament: "For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword,
piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the
thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all
things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account." (Hebrews 4:12-13).
"On this first occasions hers [Hagar's] was a voluntary flight, not a banishment, and when she
met the angel or divine reason [Logos], she returned to her master's house. (Gen. xvi. 6 ff.)."
(On the Cherubim, I.).
"But Hagar flees out of shame. And a proof of this is, that the angel, that is the word
of God, met her, with the intent to recommend her what she ought to do, and to guide her in her
return to her mistress's house." (On Flight and Finding, I, 5).
"Behold the armed angel, the reason [Logos] of God, standing in the way against you
(Number xxii. 31), the source through whom both good and ill come to fulfillment. See where he
stands...If you had learnt from the first that it is not your life-pursuits which bring your share in
good or ill, but the divine reason [Logos], the ruler and steersman of all, you would bear with
more patience what befalls you, and cease from slandering and ascribing to us what we have no
power to bring about." (On the Cherubim, XI, 35-36).
"But the dream [Jacob's ladder] also represented the archangel, namely the Lord Himself,
firmly planted on the ladder; for we must imagine that the living God stands above all things, like
the charioteer of a chariot, or the pilot of a ship; that is, above bodies, and above souls, and
above all creatures, and above the earth, and above the air, and above the heaven, and above all the
powers of the outward senses, and above the invisible natures, in short, above all things
whether visible or invisible; for having made the whole to depend upon himself, he governs it and all
the vastness of nature." (On Dreams, Book I, XXV, 157).
"...for until a man is made perfect he uses divine Reason as the guide of his path, for that is
the sacred oracle of scripture: 'Behold, I send my angel before thy face that he may keep thee
in the road...' [Exodus 23:20]" (On the Migration of Abraham, XXXI, 174).
Jesus as 'Angel of the covenant': "See, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me,
and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple. The messenger of the
covenant in whom you delight - indeed, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts.'" (Malachi 3:1).
Priest and Prophet
"...since no created being is capable of discerning the secret intention of an invisible
mind, but God alone; in reference to this Moses says that 'all secret things are known to the Lord
God, but only such as are manifest are known to the creature.' [Deuteronomy 29:29]. And therefore
it is enjoined to the priest and prophet, that is to say to Reason [Logos], 'to place the
soul in front of God, with the head uncovered,' [Numbers 5:18], that is to say the soul must be
laid bare as to its principal design, and the sentiments which it nourished must be revealed, in
order that being brought before the judgment seat of the most accurate vision of the incorruptible
God, it may be thoroughly examined as to all its concealed disguises..." (On the Cherubim, Part 1, V, 16).
"For we say that the high priest is not a man, but is the word of God, who has not only no
participation in intentional errors, but none even in those which are involuntary. For Moses
says that he cannot be defiled neither in respect of his father, that is, the mind, nor his mother,
that is, the eternal sense; because, I imagine, he has received imperishable and wholly pure parents,
God being his father, who is also the father of all things, and wisdom being his mother, by
means of whom the universe arrived at creation; and also because he is anointed with oil, by which I
mean that the principal part of him is illuminated with a light like the beams of the sun, so as to be
thought worthy to be clothed with garments." (On Flight and Findings, XX, 108-109).
"But if you examine the great high priest, that is to say Reason, you will find
him entertaining ideas in harmony with these, and having his sacred garments richly embroidered by
all the powers which are comprehensible either by the outward senses or by the intellect..." (On the
Migration of Abraham, XVIII, 102).
New Testament: "Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens,
Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession." (Hebrews 4:14).
While unillumined by the knowledge that the Word had come in the flesh, what Philo knew about the
Logos -- His titles, His attributes -- is already ten times more than the modern-day new religious
movements know. Can you believe it -- there are folks out there who imagine 'the Logos' means a
'thought', 'plan', or 'concept' in the mind of God that someday He would create a Savior! When
John identified Jesus as the 'Logos,' he was using a technical term of wide currency in contemporary
Jewish theology. That he fails to define the term suggests contentment with
the conventional meaning. If John really had meant something completely different from what his
contemporaries would have understood, it would have been helpful if he had called Jesus a
'thought' or a 'plan' in the mind of God rather than the 'Logos,' a word
which no reader of that time and place would have understood to mean
'thought' or 'plan.'
Philo knew that God the Father had created the world by His Word. As even the pagans had
noticed, things in this world are ordered rationally. A beautiful order and regularity
is visible in the created world: "Lift up your eyes on high, And see who has created these things, Who
brings out their host by number; He calls them all by name, By the greatness of His might And the
strength of His power; Not one is missing. (Isaiah 40:26). Philo connected this rational underpinning
of creation to the fact that God had created by His word: "By the word of the LORD the heavens were
made, And all the host of them by the breath of His mouth...For He spoke, and it was done; He
commanded, and it stood fast." (Psalm 33:6-9). (The same Greek word, 'Logos', means both 'word' and
"But through the 'Word' of the Supreme Cause he is translated, even through that
Word by which also the whole universe was formed." (The Sacrifices of Abel and Cain, 8).
"Let us leave these merely particular buildings, and contemplate that greatest of houses or cities,
this universe. We shall see that its cause is God, by whom it has come into being, its material
the four elements, from which it was compounded, its instrument the word of God, through
which it was framed, and the final cause of the building is the goodness of the architect." (On the
"As, then, the city which was fashioned beforehand within the mind of the architect held no
place in the outer world, but had been engraved in the soul of the artificier as by a seal; even so
the universe that consisted of ideas would have no other location than the Divine Reason ['Logos'],
which was the Author of this ordered frame." (On the Creation, V. 20).
"But now the mind begins to be improved, so as to be able to contemplate the governor of all the
powers; on which account he says himself, 'I am the Lord God' [Genesis 31:13], I whose image you
formerly beheld instead of me, and whose pillar you set up, engraving on it a most sacred inscription;
and the inscription indicated that I stood alone, and that I established the nature of things,
bringing disorder and irregularity into order and regularity, and supporting the universe firmly, so
that it might rest on a firm and solid foundation, my own ministering Word." (On Dreams, Book
I, XLI, 240-241).
"...for God gives to the soul a seal, a very beautiful gift, to show that he has invested with
shape the essence of all things which was previously devoid of shape, and has stamped with a
particular character that which previously had no character, and has endowed with form that which had
previously no distinctive form, and having perfected the entire world, He has impressed upon
it an image and appearance, namely, His own Word." (On Dreams, Book 2, VI, 45).
The New Testament also ascribes creation to the Word: "He was in the world, and the world came into
being through him; yet the world did not know him." (John 1:10). Where did Philo get the doctrine
of the creative Word? From pagan philosophers? That's not what he says
-- he says he got it direct from Moses!:
"And if any one were to desire to use more undisguised terms, he would not call the
world, which is perceptible only to the intellect, any thing else but the reason ['Logos'] of God,
already occupied in the creation of the world; for neither is a city, while only perceptible to the
intellect, any thing else but the reason of the architect, who is already designing to build one
perceptible to the external senses, on the model of that which is so only to the intellect - this is
the doctrine of Moses, not mine. Accordingly he, when recording the creation of man, in words
which follow, asserts expressly, that he was made in the image of God - and if the image be a part of
the image, then manifestly so is the entire form, namely, the whole of this world perceptible by the
external senses, which is a greater imitation of the divine image than the human form is. It
is manifest also, that the archetypal seal, which we call that world which is perceptible only to the
intellect, must itself be the archetypal model, the idea of ideas, the Reason ['Logos'] of God." (On
the Creation, VI. (24-25).
This "seal" impressed its form onto the hot wax of the created world: "For the world has been
created, and has by all means derived its existence from some extraneous cause. But the word
itself of the Creator is the seal by which each of existing things is invested with form.
In accordance with which fact perfect species also does from the very beginning follow things
when created, as being an impression and image of the perfect word...For the same quality remains in
it, as having been stamped upon it by the divine Word which abides permanently and never changes."
(On Flight and Finding, II, 12-13).
English readers of the Bible take Genesis 1:27 to mean that man, the creature, is himself the
direct image of God: "So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and
female He created them." (Genesis 1:27). The Greek Old Testament used by Philo reads a little
bit differently: "And God made man, according [kata, after] to the image of God he made
him, male and female he made them." (Brenton Septuagint). Taken literally, this does not
say, 'man was made the image of God,' but that he was made after the image, suggesting that man is
the image of an image, a 'second generation' image, the Xerox copy of a Xerox copy. So Philo
takes Moses to mean, by the 'first generation' Image, the Logos:
"...for the Creator, we know, employed for its making no pattern taken from among
created things, but solely, as I have said, his own Word (or Reason) ['Logos']. It is on this
account that he [Moses] says that man was made a likeness and imitation of the Word, when the Divine
Breath was breathed into his face...Now the copy of a perfectly beautiful pattern must needs be of
perfect beauty. But the Word of God ['Logos'] surpasses beauty itself, beauty, that is, as it
exists in Nature. He is not only adorned with beauty, but is Himself in very truth beauty's
fairest adornment." (On the Creation, XLVIII. 139).
So Philo says our being made 'in the image' of God refers to the Word, which is the Image of God:
"The images of the creative power and of the kingly power are the winged cherubim
which are placed upon it [the ark]. But the divine Word which is above these does not come into
any visible appearance, inasmuch as it is not like to any of the things that come under the external
senses, but is itself an image of God, the most ancient of all the objects of intellect in the
whole world, and that which is placed in the closest proximity to the only truly existing God,
without any partition or distance being interposed between them: for it is said, 'I will speak unto
thee from above the mercy-seat, in the midst, between the two cherubim.' [Exodus 25:22]. So
that the Word is, as it were, the charioteer of the powers, and he who utters it is the rider, who
directs the charioteer how to proceed with a view to the proper guidance of the universe." (On Flight
and Finding, XIX. (101).)
"We must say, then, that here too we have a form which God has stamped on the soul as on the tested
coin. What, then, the image impressed on it is we shall know if we first ascertain accurately
the meaning of the name. Bezalel means, then, 'in the shadow of God'; but God's shadow is His
Word, which he made use of like an instrument, and so made the world. But this shadow, and what
we may describe as the representation, is the archetype for further creations. For just as
God is the Pattern of the Image, to which the title of Shadow has just been given, even so the
Image becomes the pattern of other things, as the prophet made clear at the very outset of the
Law-giving by saying, 'And God made the man after the Image of God' [Gen. i. 27], implying that the
Image had been made such as representing God, but that the man was made after the Image when it had
acquired the force of a pattern." (Allegorical Interpretation, Book III, XXXI, 95-96).
"And Moses calls the one which is above us the image of God, and the one which abides among
us as the impression of the image, 'For,' says he, 'God made man,' not an image, but ' after that
image.' [Genesis 1:27]. So that the mind which is in each of us, which is in reality and
truth the man, is a third image proceeding from the Creator. But the intermediate one is a model
of the one and a copy of the other." (Who is the Heir of Divine Things, XLVIII, 231).
"For if it was necessary to examine the mortal body of the priest that it ought not be imperfect
through any misfortune, much more was it necessary to look into his immortal soul, which they say is
fashioned in the form of the living God. Now the image of God is the Word, by which all
the world was made." (The Special Laws, I, XVI, 81).
"...and if they feel shame throughout their whole soul, and change their ways, reproaching
themselves for their errors, and openly avowing and confessing all the sins that they have
committed...they will then meet with a favorable acceptance from their merciful Savior, God, who
bestows on the race of mankind His especial and exceedingly great gift, namely, relationship to His
own Word; after which, as its archetypal model, the human mind was formed." (On Rewards and
Punishments, XXVIII, 163).
"...but the great Moses has not named the species of the rational soul by a title resembling
that of any created being, but has pronounced it an image of the divine and invisible being, making it
a coin as it were of sterling metal, stamped and impressed with the seal of God, the impression of
which is the eternal Word....On which account it is said too, that 'Man was made after
the image of God' [Genesis 1:27], and not after the image of any created being." (Noah's Work as a
Planter, V, 18-19).
"What, then, is the surest freedom? The service of the only wise God, as the scriptures testify, in
which it is said, 'Send forth the people, that they may serve me.' [Exodus 8:1]...For it is very
suitable for those who have made an association for the purpose of learning to desire to see him; and,
if they are unable to do that, at least to see His Image, the most sacred Word..." (On the
Confusion of Tongues, XX, 97).
This is consistent with the New Testament doctrine:
"But even if our gospel is veiled,
it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not
believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should
shine on them." (2 Corinthians 4:3-4);
"He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation." (Colossians 1:15).
As much as Philo understood, from his study of
scripture, about the Word of God, he never realized, as did John, that God's Word had been
made flesh in the incarnation of Jesus Christ. He died in the mid-first century, quite
possibly without ever having heard the Christian gospel preached by a sympathetic witness.
Philo realized also that, in us, the image had
become tarnished and encrusted with dirt, and needed a good cleaning to be seen: "...perhaps God
would not disdain to give to souls completely purified and cleansed, so as to appear in His
image, a knowledge of heavenly things either by means of dreams, or of oracles, or of signs, or of
wonders. But since we have on us the marks of folly, and injustice, and of all the other vices
strongly stamped upon us and difficult to be effaced, we must be content even if we are only
able by them to discover some faint copy and imitation of the truth." (On the Eternity of the
World, I, 2).
"And it is easy otherwise by means of argument
to perceive this, since God is the first light, 'For the Lord is my light and my Savior'
[Psalm 27:1], is the language of the Psalms; and not only the light, but He is also the archetypal
pattern of every other light, or rather He is more ancient and more sublime than even the archetypal
model, though He is spoken of as the model; for the real model was his own most perfect Word, the
light, and he himself is like to no created thing." (On Dreams, Book I, XIII, 75).
"But according to the third signification, when he speaks of the sun, he means the divine
Word, the model of that sun which moves about through the heaven, as has been said before,
and with respect to which it is said, 'the sun went forth upon the earth, and Lot
entered into Segor, and the Lord rained upon Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire.' [Genesis
19:23-24]." (On Dreams, Book I, XV, 85).
New Testament: "As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world." (John 9:5).
"When therefore you hear that God has been seen by man, you must consider that this is said without
any reference to that light which is perceptible by the external senses, for it is natural that that
which is appreciable only by the intellect should be presented to the intellect alone; and the
fountain of the purest light is God; so that when God appears to the soul He pours forth His
beams without any shade, and beaming with the most radiant brilliancy." (On the Change of Names, I, 6).
"Do you think that you would be unable to look at the unmodified light of the sun? If you were to
try to do so, your sight would be extinguished by the brilliancy of his rays, and be wholly blinded
by a close approach to that luminary, before it could perceive anything, and yet the sun is only
one of the works of God, a portion of the heaven, a fragment of compressed aether, but you are
nevertheless able to gaze upon those uncreated powers which exist around Him, and emit the most
dazzling light, without any veil or modification?" (On the Unchangeableness of God, XVII, 78).
"...but to God, as dwelling in pure light, all things are visible; for He
penetrating into the very recesses of the soul, is able to see, with the most perfect certainty, what
is invisible to others..." (On the Unchangeableness of God, VI, 29).
Philo understood "light" or "sun" to be a symbol of God the Father as well as of the Logos, His
shining Image: "For he not only desires that the wicked deeds which are hidden shall be made
manifest, and therefore turns upon them the beams of the sun, but he also by this symbolical language
calls the Father of the universe the sun, that Being by whom all things are seen beforehand,
and even all those things which are invisibly concealed in the recesses of the mind; and when
they are made manifest, then he promises that He who is the only merciful being, will become
merciful to the people." (On Dreams, Book I, XV, 90).
"For as when the sun arises, the darkness disappears and all places are filled with light, so
in the same manner when God, that sun appreciable only by the intellect, arises and
illuminates the soul, the whole darkness of vices and passions is dissipated, and the pure and lovely
appearance of bright and radiant virtue is displayed to the world." (On the Virtues, XXX, 164).
"Take this sun, which is perceptible by our outward senses, do we see it by any other means
than by the aid of the sun? And do we see the stars by any other light than that of the stars? And, in
short, is not all light seen in consequence of light? And in the same manner God, being His own
light, is perceived by Himself alone, nothing and no other being co-operating with or
assisting Him, or being at all able to contribute to the pure comprehension of His existence;
therefore those persons are mere guessers who are anxious to contemplate the uncreated God through
the medium of the things which He created, acting like those persons who seek to ascertain the nature
of the unit through the number two, when they ought, on the other hand, to employ the
investigation of the unit itself to ascertain the nature of the number two; for the unit is the first
principle. But these men have arrived at the real truth, who form their ideas of God from God,
of light from light." (On Rewards and Punishments, VII, 45-46).