Aristobulus of Paneas

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Aristobulus of Paneas (Greek: Ἀριστόβουλος; c. 160 BC) was a Hellenistic Jewish philosopher of the Peripatetic school, though he also used Platonic and Pythagorean concepts. Like his successor, Philo, he attempted to fuse ideas in the Hebrew Scriptures with those in Greek thought.

He lived in the third or 2nd century BC. The period of his life is doubtful, Anatolius of Laodicea (270) placing him in the time of Ptolemy Philadelphus (3rd century BC), Alfred Gercke in the time of Philometor II Lathyrus (latter part of 2nd century BC); while more reliable testimony indicates that he was a contemporary of Ptolemy Philometor (middle of 2nd century BC). He is the author of a book the exact title of which is not certain, although there is sufficient evidence to prove that it was an exposition of the Law.

He was among the earliest of the Jewish Alexandrian philosophers whose aim was to reconcile and identify Greek philosophical conceptions with the Jewish religion. Only a few fragments of his work, apparently entitled Commentaries on the Writings of Moses, are quoted by Clement, Eusebius and other theological writers, but they suffice to show its object. Eusebius[1] has preserved two fair-sized fragments of it, in which are found all the quotations from Aristobulus made by Clement. In addition, there is extant a small passage concerning the time of the Passover festival, quoted by Anatolius.[2]

He endeavoured to prove that early Greek philosophers had from Linus, Orpheus, Musaeus and others, passages which strongly resemble the Mosaic writings. It is suggested that the name Aristoilus was taken from 2 Macc. i. 10. The hypothesis[3] that it was from Aristobulus that the philosophy of the Wisdom of Sirach was derived is not generally accepted.

Aristobulus was among many philosophers of his day who argued that the essentials of Greek philosophy and metaphysics were derived from Jewish sources. Philosopher Numenius of Apamea echoes this position in his well known statement "What is Plato but Moses speaking Attic Greek?" (1.150.4) Aristobulus maintained, 150 years earlier than Philo, that not only the oldest Grecian poets, Homer, Hesod, Orpheus, etc., but also the most celebrated Greek thinkers, especially Plato, had acquired most of their wisdom from Jewish sages and ancient Hebrew texts (Gfrorer i. p. 308, also ii. 111-118) (Eusebius citing Aristobulus and Numenius Ev ix. 6, xi. 10).



  1. ^ Praeparatio Evangelica viii. 10, xiii. 12.
  2. ^ Eusebius, Historia Ecclesiastica, vii. 32, 17.
  3. ^ Schlatter, Das Neugefundene Hebräische Stück des Sirach, 1897.