Emil Schürer comments: "Περι προνοιας. De providentia.—The title in Euseb. H. E. ii. 18. 6; Praep. evang. vii. 20 fin., viii. 13 fin. The work is only preserved in Armenian, and has been published by Aucher with a Latin translation. Two Greek fragments, a smaller and a very large one in Euseb. Praep. evang. vii. 21 and viii. 14. The Armenian text comprises two books. Of these however, the first, though on the whole genuine, has at all events been preserved in only an abbreviated and in some parts a touched up form. Eusebius seems to have been acquainted with only the second, at least both fragments belong to this book, and are introduced by Eusebius with the formula εν τω (Sing.) περι προνοιας. In the Ecclesiastical History the reading fluctuates between το περι προνοιας and τα περι προνοιας. There are quotations also in Johannes Damascenus and Johannes Monachus ineditus." (The Literature of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus, pp. 354-355)

F. H. Colson writes (Philo, vol. 9, pp. 447-450):

As stated in the Preface the fragments from the De Providentia recorded by Eusebius stand on a different footing from the extracts from the Hypothetica, in that not only they but the whole treatise of which they are a part exist in an Armenian version. It consists of two books, both cast at any rate originally in the form of a dialogue between Philo who maintains the belief that the world is governed by Providence and one Alexander who puts forth his doubts and difficulties. This Alexander may be taken with fair certainty to be Philo's nephew Alexander Tiberius, who afterwards apostatized from Judaism.

As Eusebius's extracts are all drawn from the second book we need not trouble with the much shorter first book. It will be enough to record Wendland's verdict without necessarily accepting it entirely. It amounts to this. It has been worked over by a clumsy hand which has destroyed the interlocutory setting, and torn the thoughts away from their essential order; it includes two large Christian interpolations, but otherwise is genuinely Philonic. The second book, which is twice the length, has no such difficulties. The dialogue is clearly maintained throughout. There is nothing which suggests interpolation and the parallelism both of thought and language, at any rate in the part of which the original is preserved by Eusebius, gives overwhelming evidence of its genuineness. This is particularly true of the first part of the second fragment. It is very remarkable therefore that it is more devoid of traces of Judaism than even the Quod Omn. Prob. and the De Aet. There are no allusions to the O.T., and no mention of Moses; the one and only fact which suggests that the writer is a Jew is the personal allusion to his visit to Jerusalem via Ascalon (§ 64). This has naturally raised doubts in the minds of critics who have not made themselves thoroughly familiar with Philo's thoughts and diction, but Wendland's a searching analysis and collection of the parallels can hardly fail to carry conviction to the most sceptical, and even without this any fairly careful reader of Philo will constantly feel, as he goes through the Greek of the De Providentia, that he has seen something like this before though he cannot exactly say where it is to be found.

Eusebius has recorded something like two-thirds of Philo's answers to Alexander's argument but of the argument itself only the first section of this text, and even this he represents as if it were a statement by Philo himself of the objections which opponents might adduce—there are occasional uses of a second person singular but otherwise there is hardly anything to suggest a dialogue.

The omission of the opponent's case is not seriously felt either in the short extract given here as Fragment (1), or in the long answer to the argument that Providence, if it exists, treats the good too badly and the bad too well. For this is a difficulty felt in every age and probably found in every literature from Job and Asaph onwards. Philo was able to manipulate, even if he did not entirely invent, the part which Alexander plays, and he does not seem to have treated his opponent fairly in making him quote as examples of the good fortune of the wicked Polycrates, who was finally impaled, and Dionysius, whose life of perpetual anxiety was proverbial. In the second part of this extract things are rather different and the suppression of Alexander's difficulties makes the discourse seem disjointed. The references for instance to the country of the Cyclopes, to the habits of swallows, snakes and crocodiles seem a chaotic ramble until we turn to the argumentation to which they are an answer.

For the full understanding of this part of the extract the earlier part of the Armenian version is invaluable. What is its value in the part where the Greek and Armenian stand side by side? As a translation, not much, nor would it be very much, even if Aucher's Latin was always intelligible, or if we were sure that he had always rendered the Armenian accurately. But in deciding the text it has a value which seems to have been ignored by the editors of the Praeparatio. Where the Latin corresponds closely to the Greek there is often some word or phrase which clearly points to a variant from the text of all or most of the MSS. of Eusebius and constitutes an important independent authority. Several examples of this will be found in the notes.

What was said in the introduction to Quod Omn. Prob., that it may probably be ascribed to an earlier stage in Philo's spiritual life when his mind was more occupied with Greek philosophy and he had not yet settled down to his great task of interpreting the Pentateuch in the light of that philosophy, may be said of this treatise and also of the De Aet. if that is his work.


From Eusebius P. E. 7.21.336b-337a

But that you may not think that I am here arguing in a sophistical manner, I will produce a man who is a Hebrew as the interpreter for you of the meaning of the scripture; a man who inherited from his father a most accurate knowledge of his national customs and laws, and who had learnt the doctrines contained in them from learned teachers; for such a man was Philo. Listen then, to him, and hear how he interprets the words of God.

Why, then, does he use the expression, "In the image of God I made Man,"{1}{#ge 1:27.A.} as if he were speaking of that of some other God, and not of having made him in the likeness of himself? This expression is used with great beauty and wisdom. For it was impossible that anything mortal should be made in the likeness of the most high God the Father of the universe; but it could only be made in the likeness of the second God, who is the Word of the other; for it was fitting that the rational type in the soul of man should receive the impression of the Word of God, since the God below the Word is superior to all and every rational nature; and it is not lawful for any created thing to be made like the God who is above reason, and who is endowed with a most excellent and special form appropriated to himself alone.

This is what I wish to quote from the first book of the questions and answers of Philo.

And the Hebrew Philo, in his treatise on Providence, speaks in this way concerning matter.

But concerning the quantity of the essence, if indeed it really has any existence, we must also speak. God took care at the creation of the world that there should be an ample and most sufficient supply of matter, so exact that nothing might be wanting and nothing superfluous. For it would have been absurd in the case of particular artisans, for them, when they are occupied in making anything, and especially anything of much value, to calculate the exact quantity of materials which they require; but for that being who is the original inventor of numbers and measures, and the qualities which exist and are found in them, to omit to take care to have just what was proper. I will speak now with all freedom, and say that the world had need for its fabrication of some precise quantity of materials, neither more nor less; since otherwise it would not have been perfect, nor complete in all its parts, being thoroughly well made, nor would it have been made perfect of a perfect essence.

For it is an indispensable part of a workman who is thoroughly well skilled in his art, before he begins making any thing, to see that his materials are exactly sufficient; therefore a man, even if he were most eminently skilled in the knowledge of other things, still if he were not able altogether to avoid error, which is so natural to mortals, would be very likely to be deceived in respect of the quantity of materials which he required when he was about to proceed to the exercise of art; sometimes adding to it as too little, and sometimes taking away from it as too much. But that Being who is, as it were, a kind of fountain of all knowledge, was not likely to supply anything in deficient or in superfluous quantities, inasmuch as he employs measures elaborated in a most wonderful manner, so as to display perfect accuracy, and all of the most praiseworthy character. But he who is inclined to talk nonsense, at random, will easily do it, looking upon the different works of all artisans as causes, and as having been made in a more excellent manner, either by the addition or by the subtraction of some material or other. But it is the peculiar occupation of sophistry to quibble and cavil; while it is the task of wisdom to investigate accurately everything that exists in nature.

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