Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
As part of a larger exposition on the Ten Commandments, Philo offers in Spec.4.78b-131 a detailed exposition of both the Tenth Commandment, which he reads simply as "You shall not desire," and the Mosaic dietary laws, which he identifies as a distinct set of subsidiary laws designed to promote observance of the Tenth Commandment. Setting his exposition in the context of Middle-Platonic moral psychology, this dissertation answers two fundamental questions: First, what, in Philo's view, does the Tenth Commandment prohibit? (All desire? A certain type? What type?) Second, how, in Philo's view, is the Tenth Commandment observed? (What are the mechanics of its observance? What role do the dietary laws play in its observance?)
After an introduction to Philo's exposition of the Tenth Commandment and a review of previous research (chapter one), chapter two explains Philo's concept of desire, including its source, nature, function, and problematic malfunction. Chapter three explains Philo's concept of self-control, including his understanding of how the moral agent acquires self-control through practice, especially the practice of Mosaic precepts. Chapter four offers a new translation, with commentary, of Philo's exposition of the Tenth Commandment, explaining how Philo uses the conceptual nexus of desire, self-control, and practice as an overarching expository agenda for his work. Chapter five summarizes the results and suggests lines of further research.
Svebakken, Hans, "Philo of Alexandria's Exposition of the Tenth Commandment" (2009). Dissertations. 244.
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Copyright © 2009 Hans Svebakken