Philo of Alexandria was an Alexandrian Jewish philosopher who was born @ 25 BCE. Philo's works are often used as a reference for proof of Lunar Sabbath doctrines such as the timing of Pentecost.
Philo knew the Hebrew scriptures very well, but also was a proponent of Greek philosophies. His teachings attempted to marry the two together in order to accommodate the worldviews of both the Jews and the Greeks. According to the International Standard Bible Enclyclopedia (ISBE):
- He addressed himself to two tasks, difficult to weld into flawless unity. On one hand, he wrote for educated men in Greek-Roman society, attempting to explain, often to justify, his radical religion before them […]. On the other hand, he had to confront his orthodox coreligionists, with their separatist traditions and their contempt for paganism in all its works. He tried to persuade them that, after all, Greek thought was not inimical to their cherished doctrines, but, on the contrary, involved similar, almost identical, principles.
The ISBE further explains that Philo tried to blend the philosophy of Hellenism with the “historical and dogmatic deductions of the Jewish scriptures” (ISBE: Philo, Point 3). This resulted in some rather bizarre interpretations of both. The ISBE also states:
- He taught that the Scriptures contain two meanings: a “lower” meaning, obvious in the literal statements of the text; and a “higher”, or hidden meaning, perceptible to the “initiate” alone. In this way he found it possible to reconcile Greek intellectualism with Jewish belief. Greek thought exhibits the “hidden” meaning; it turns out to be the elucidation of the “allegory” which runs through the Old Testament like a vein of gold. (ISBE: Philo, Point 3)
Therefore the writings of Philo must be interpreted from the point of view of reconciling both Hebrew and Greek ideas, and not as a testimony of what mainstream Judaism was teaching and observing at the time.
Philo on the Sabbath
Philo's writings do contain one specific reference to the reckoning of the Sabbath day:
(56) But after this continued and uninterrupted festival which thus lasts through all time, there is another celebrated, namely, that of the sacred seventh day after each recurring interval of six days, which some have denominated the virgin, looking at its exceeding sanctity and purity… (Special Laws 2, 56)
This passage is often cited as proof that Philo did not observe Lunar Sabbaths, since it describes a "recurring interval" of six days followed by the Sabbath. However, it could be argued that this "recurring interval" is the six working days, and that this does not conflict with the idea of a New Moon Day or an Extended Worship Day occurring each month on the Lunar Sabbath Calendar.