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Philo's least ten times. Once or twice Philo, like St Paul, comments on the comments second clause of the verse, the imputation of righteousness to Abraham, but on Gen.
for the most part the coincidence is confined to the remarks on Abraham's XV, 6.
faith. Sometimes indeed faith is deposed from its sovereign throne by being co-ordinated with piety, or by being regarded as the rewards rather than the source of a godly life. But far more generally it reigns supreme in his theology. It is 'the most perfect of virtues“,''the queen of virtues 6.' It is the only sure and infallible good, the solace of life, the fulfilment of worthy hopes, barren of evil and fertile in good, the repudiation of the powers of evil, the confession of piety, the inheritance of happiness, the entire amelioration of the soul, which leans for support on Him who is the cause of all things, who is able to do all things, and willeth to do those which are most excellent.' They that preserve it sacred and inviolate' have 'dedicated to God their soul, their senses, their reason?.' Such was the faith of Abraham, a'most stedfast and unwavering faith,' in the pos
session of which he was 'thrice blessed indeed 8' The story But in order to appreciate the points of divergence from, as well as of of Abra- coincidence with, the Apostolic teaching in Philo's language and thoughts, bam an allegory.
it is necessary to remember the general bearing of the history of Abraham in his system. To him it was not a history, but an allegory; or, if a history as well, it was as such of infinitely little importance. The three patriarchs represent the human soul: united to God by three different means, Abraham by instruction, Isaac by nature, Jacob by ascetic discipline'. Abraham therefore is the type of 8ðao kaluan åpetý, he is the man
who arrives at the knowledge of the true God by teaching (xii. 6)10. And His mi. this is the meaning of his successive migrations, from Chaldæa to Charran, grations. from Charran to the promised landu. For Chaldæa, the abode of astrology,
represents his uninstructed state, when he worships the stars of heaven and sets the material universe in the place of the great First Cause. By the divine monition he departs thence to Charran. What then is Charran?
1 Leg. Alleg. 1. p. 133, Quod Deus Imm. I. p. 273, de Migr. Abr. I. P. 443, Quis Rer. Div. Her. I. pp. 485, 486, de Mut. Nom. I. pp. 603, 606, 611, de Abr. II. p. 39, de Praem. et Poen. II. p. 413, de Nob. II. p. 442.
3 de Migr. Abr. 1. p. 456 tis oŮv in kolla (i.e. which unites him to God); τίς; ευσέβεια δήπου και πίστις.
3 de Praem. et Poen. II. P. 412 èK TÚφου μεθορμισάμενος προς αλήθειαν, διδακτική χρησάμενος αρετή προς τελείωσιν άθλον αιρείται την προς τον θεόν πίστιν. .
* Quis Rer. Div. Her. I. p. 485 Thn τελειοτάτην αρετών πίστιν. .
5 de Abr. ΙΙ. p. 39 την βασιλίδα των αρετών. .
6 de Abr. 1.c. I am not sure that I have caught the meaning of the words, κακοδαιμονίας απόγνωσις, ευσεβείας γνώ
σις, ευδαιμονίας κλήρος, nor is it easy to find an adequate English rendering for them.
? Quis Rer. Div. Her. 1. p. 487.
8 de Praem. et Poen. II. p. 413 akis. νούς και βεβαιοτάτης πίστεως κ.τ.λ., , comp. de Nob. II. p. 442.
° Διδασκαλία, φύσις, άσκησις, de Mut. Nom. I. p. 580, de Abr. I. p. 9, de Praem. et Poen, 1. p. 412.
10 The change of name from Abram to Abraham betokens this progress, de Cherub. I. p. 139, de Mut. Nom. I. p. 588, de Abr. II. p. 13, Quaest. in Gen. p. 213 (Aucher).
1 On the meaning of Chaldæa and Charran see de Migr. Abr. I. p. 463 sq, de Somn. I. p. 626 sq, de Abr. 11. P. II 8q, de Nob. II. p. 441, Quaest, in Gen. p. 167 (Aucher).
The name itself, signifying 'a cave,' supplies the answer : the senses are denoted thereby? He must submit to be instructed by these, and thus to learn by observation the true relations and bearings of the material world. This however is only a half-way house on his journey towards his destined goal. From Charran he must go forward to the land of promise ; from the observation on the senses he must advance to the knowledge of the one true invisible God. And the rest of the story must be similarly explained. For what is meant by his leaving home and kindred ? Surely nothing else but his detaching himself from the influence of the senses, from the domipation of external things? What again by the inheritance and the seed promised to him? The great nation, the numerous progeny, are the count- His race less virtues which this frame of mind engenders3: the inheritance is the and inhe
ritance. rich possession of wisdom, the lordship of the spirit over the domain of the senses". And are not its very boundaries significant ? The region comprises all that lies between the river of Egypt on the one hand, the symbol of material, and the river Euphrates on the other, the symbol of spiritual blessings
If as full a record bad been preserved of the Rabbinical Schools of (ii) RabPalestine and Babylonia during the Apostolic age, we should probably
Judaism. have found that an equally prominent place was assigned to the faith of Abraham in their teaching also. The interpretation put upon the passage, and the lessons deduced from it, would indeed be widely different; but the importance of the text itself must have been felt even more strongly where the national feeling was more intense. The promise to Abraham, the charter of their existence as a people, was all important to them, and its conditions would be minutely and carefully scanned.
In the fourth Book of Esdras, one of the very few Jewish writings which 4 Esdras. can be attributed with any confidence to the Apostolic age, great stress is laid on faith. In the last days, it is said, “the land of faith shall be barren' (or 'the land shall be barren of faith,' iii. 2). The seal of eternal life is set on those who 'have treasured up faith' (iv. 13). The wicked are described as 'not having had faith in God's statutes and having neglected His works' (v. 24). Immunity from punishment is promised to the man who can escape by his works and by his faith whereby he has believed' (ix. 8). God watches over those who have good works and faith in the Most High' (xiii. 31).
There is however other evidence besides. For though the extant works of Rabbinical Judaism are, as written documents and in their present form, for the most part the productions of a later age, there can be little doubt that they embody more ancient traditions, and therefore reflect fairly, though with some exceptions, the Jewish teaching at the Christian era. Thus the importance then attached to faith, and the significance assigned
i de Migr. Abr. 1.c. p. 465 tpuyan TÒ Tîs aloońoews xwplov, comp. de Somn.
2 de Migr. Abr. 1. p. 437.
3 ib. p. 444, comp. Quuest. in Gen. pp. 211, 229 (Aucher).
* Quis Rer. Div. Her. 1. p.487, Quaest. in Gen. p. 216 (Aucher).
5 Quaest. in Gen. p. 188 (Aucher).
& The references are taken from the text as printed in Gfrörer's Prophet. Vet. Pseudepigr.
to Abraham's example, may be inferred from the following passage in the Mechilta. Mechilta on Exodus xiv. 31': 'Great is faith, whereby Israel believed on
Him that spake and the world was. For as a reward for Israel's having believed in the Lord, the Holy Spirit dwelt on them... In like manner thou findest that Abraham our father inherited this world and the world to come solely by the merit of faith whereby he believed in the Lord; for it is said, and he believed in the Lord, and He counted it to him for righteousness... Rabbi Nehemiah says : He that taketh unto himself one precept in firm faith, on him the Holy Spirit dwelleth ; for so we find in the case of our fathers, that, as a reward for their believing on the Lord, they were deemed worthy that the Holy Spirit should dwell on them...So Abraham solely for the merit of faith, whereby he believed in the Lord, inherited this world and the other...Only as a reward for their faith were the Israelites redeemed out of Egypt, for it is said, And the people believed... What is the cause of David's joy (in Ps. xci. 1)? It is the reward of faith, whereby our fathers believed...So Jeremiah (v. 3), O Lord, thine eyes look upon faith, and Habakkuk (ii. 4), The righteous liveth of his faith... Great is
faith’; with more to the same effect. This passage should be taken in Siphri. connexion with the comment in Siphri on Deut. xi. 13? “The sacred
text means to show that practice depends on doctrine and not doctrine on practice. And so we find too that (God) punishes more sererely for doctrine than for practice, as it is said (in Hosea iv. 1), Hear the word of the Lord etc.' Gfrörer, to whom I am indebted for these passages, illustrates their bearing by reference to the opinions of later Jewish doctors who maintain that 'as soon as a man has mastered the thirteen heads of the faith, firmly believing therein, he is to be loved and forgiven and treated in all respects as a brother, and though he may have sinned in every possible way, he is indeed an erring Israelite, and is punished accord
ingly, but still he inherits eternal life!! Coinci. It were unwise to overlook the coincidences of language and thought dences
which the contemporaneous teaching of the Jews occasionally presents to and di. vergences.
the Apostolic writings. The glory of the scriptural revelation does not pale because we find in the best thoughts of men 'broken lights of its own fuller splendour. Yet on the other hand the resemblance must not be exaggerated. It is possible to repeat the same words and yet to attach to them an entirely different meaning: it is possible even to maintain the same precept, and yet by placing it in another connexion to lead it to an opposite practical issue. In the case before us the divergences are quite as striking as the coincidences.
i Ugolin. Thes. xiv. P. 202.
In marked contrast to these earlier comments is the treatment of the text, Gen. xv. 6, by some later Jewish writers. Anxious, it would appear, to cut the ground from under St Paul's infer. ence of righteousness by faith,' they interpreted the latter clause, •And Abraham counted on God's righteous. ness,' i.e. on His strict fulfilment of
His promise. See the references in Beer's Leben Abrahams p. 147 ; comp. p. 33. Such a rendering is as harsh in itself, as it is devoid of traditional support.
2 Ugolin. Thes. XV. p. 554.
8 Abarbanel Rosh Amanah p. 5 a, Maimonides on Mishna Sanhedr. p. 121 a, referred to in Gfrörer Jahrh. des Heils 11. p. 162.
If we look only to the individual man, faith with Philo is substantially St Paul the same as faith with St Paul. The lessons drawn from the history of and Philo. Abraham by the Alexandrian Jew and the Christian Apostle differ very slightly. Faith is the postponement of all present aims and desires, the sacrifice of all material interests, to the Infinite and Unseen. But the philosopher of Alexandria saw no historical bearing in the career of Abraham. As he was severed from the heart of the nation, so the pulses of the national life had ceased to beat in him. The idea of a chosen people retained scarcely the faintest hold on his thoughts. Hence the only lesson which he drew from the patriarch’s life had reference to himself. Abraham was but a type, a symbol of the individual man. The promises made to him, the rich inheritance, the numerous progeny, had no fulfilment except in the growth of his own character. The Alexandrian Jew, like the heathen philosopher, was exclusive, isolated, selfish. With him the theocracy of the Old Testament was emptied of all its meaning: the covenant was a matter between God and his own spirit. The idea of a Church did not enter into his reckoning. He appreciated the significance of Abraham's faith, but Abraham's seed was almost meaningless to him.
On the other hand Judaism proper was strong where Alexandrian St Paul Judaism was weak, and weak where it was strong. The oppressive rule of and Ju.
daism Syrians and Romans had served only to develope and strengthen the
proper. national feeling. We are Abraham's sons, we have Abraham to our father': such was their religious war-cry, full of meaning to every true Israelite. It was a protest against selfish isolation. It spoke of a corporate life, of national hopes and interests, of an outward community, a common brotherhood, ruled by the same laws and animated by the same feelings. In other words, it kept alive the idea of a Church. This was the point of contact between St Paul's teaching and Rabbinical Judaism. But their agreement does not go much beyond this. With them indeed he upheld the faith of Abraham as an example to Abraham's descendants. But, while they interpreted it as a rigorous observance of outward ordi. nances, he understood by it a spiritual state, a steadfast reliance on the unseen God. With them too he clung to the fulfilment of the promise, he cherished fondly the privileges of a son of Abraham. But to him the link of brotherhood was no longer the same blood, but the same spirit: they only were Abraham's sons who inherited Abraham's faith.
Thus the coincidences and contrasts of St Paul's doctrine of faith and of Summary. his application of Abraham's history with the teaching of the Jewish doctors are equally instructive. With the Alexandrian school it looked to the growth of the individual man, with the Rabbinical it recognised the claims of the society : with the one it was spiritual, with the other it was historical. On the other hand, it was a protest alike against the selfish, esoteric, individualising spirit of the one, and the narrow, slavish formalism of the other.
This sketch is very far from doing justice to St Paul's doctrine of faith. Other ele In order fully to understand its force, or indeed to appreciate its leading ments in
St Paul's conception, it would be necessary to take into account the atoning death
teaching. and resurrection of Christ as the central object on which that faith is fixed. This however lies apart from the present question, for it has no direct bearing on the lesson drawn from Abraham's example. In a cer
tain sense indeed the Messiah may be said to have been the object of Abraham's faith ; for He, as the fulfilment of the promise, must have been dimly discerned by Abraham, as by one 'looking through a glass darkly.' And to this vague presentiment of a future Triumph or Redemption we may perhaps refer our Lord's words (John viii. 56), ‘Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day: and he saw it and was glad.' But however this may be, St Paul makes no such application of Abraham's example. He does not once allude to the Christ, as the object of the patriarch's faith.
To return once again to the passages from Jewish writers already cited : they are important in their bearing on the interpretation of the Apostolic
writings in yet another point of view. The example of Abraham is quoted Compari. both by St Paul and St James ; while the deductions which the two Apostles son of St draw from it are at first sight diametrically opposed in terms. We conPaul and clude that a man is justified by faith apart from (xwpís) works of law,' says St James,
St Paul (Rom. ii. 28). 'A man is justified of works and not of faith only, are the words of St James (ii. 24). Now, so long as our range of view is confined to the Apostolic writings, it seems scarcely possible to resist the impression that St James is attacking the teaching, if not of St Paul himself, at least of those who exaggerated and perverted it. But when we
realise the fact that the passage in Genesis was a common thesis in the illustrated schools of the day, that the meaning of faith was variously explained by by the
the disputants, that diverse lessons were drawn from it—then the case is facts col. altered. The Gentile Apostle and the Pharisaic Rabbi might both maintain lected.
the supremacy of faith as the means of salvation : but faith with St Paul was a very different thing from faith with Maimonides for instance. With the one its prominent idea is a spiritual life, with the other an orthodox creed : with the one the guiding principle is the individual conscience, with the other an external rule of ordinances : with the one faith is allied to liberty, with the other to bondage. Thus it becomes a question, whether St James's protest against reliance on faith alone has any reference, direct or indirect, to St Paul's language and teaching; whether in fact it is not aimed against an entirely different type of religious feeling, against the Pharisaic spirit which rested satisfied with a barren orthodoxy fruitless in works of charity. Whether this is the true bearing of the Epistle of St James or not, must be determined by a close examination of its contents. But inasmuch as the circles of labour of the two Apostles were not likely to intersect, we have at least a prima facie reason for seeking the objects of St James's rebuke elsewhere than in the disciples of St Paul, and the facts collected above destroy the force of any argument founded on the mere coincidence of the examples chosen?
i This view of the Epistle of St James is taken by Michaelis (VI. P. 302, Marsh's 2nd ed.). It is also adopted by Neander: see especially his Pflanzung P. 567 (4to auf.). He there refers, in illustration of this Jewish mode of thinking against which he supposes the epistle to be directed, to Justin Dial. c. Tryph. p. 370 D oux ws upeis
απατατε εαυτούς και άλλοι τινές υμίν öuoco. (i.e. Judaizing Christians) katá τούτο, οι λέγουσιν ότι, κάν αμαρτωλοί ώσι θεον δε γινώσκουσιν, ου μή λογίσηται αυτοίς Κύριος αμαρτίαν: and to the Clem. Hom. iii. 6. Several later writers have maintained the same view. For more on this subject see the Disser. tation on St Paul and the Three.'