Taking Judaism to the Gentiles: Josephus, Philo and Paul


At the end of the Second Temple period, Judaism was well on its way to becoming the dominant religion of the Roman Empire as Jews, “half-Jews”, and “God-fearers” worshipped the God of Israel in various ways and to various degrees.  Thus, like Hellenism before it, Judaism was (mentally) conquering its (political) conquerors.  In this course we will read selections from the works of three Hellenized Jews who lived around the time of Jesus and who were instrumental in “taking Judaism to the Gentiles” — and thus paving the way for the later rise and triumph of Christianity: (1) Josephus, a priest-general turned historian-apologist who participated in the Jewish revolt against Rome; (2) Philo of Alexandria, a leading figure in one of the leading communities of the Jewish Diaspora who attempted to reconcile Jewish religion and Greek philosophy; and (3) Paul (also known as Saul) who — despite often being thought of as a “Christian” — arguably lived and died thinking of himself as a Jew engaged in propagating what he understood to be the full, final flowering of Judaism.

  • Hebrew Bible
  • New Testament
  • Josephus, The Works of Josephus
  • Philo, The Works of Philo