Many Plato interpreters held that his writings contain passages with double meanings, called allegories that give the dialogues layers of figurative meaning in addition to their usual literal meaning.
These allegorical interpretations of Plato were dominant for more than 1500 years, from about the first century CE through the Renaissance and into the Eighteenth Century, and were advocated by major figures such as Plotinus, Proclus and Ficino.
Beginning with Philo of Alexandria (1st CE), these views influenced Jewish, Christian and Islamic interpretation of their holy scriptures. They spread widely in the Renaissance and contributed to the fashion for allegory among poets such as Dante, Spenser and Shakespeare.
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Year Written: (Assumed)347 BC
Philo of Alexandria was a Hellenistic Jewish philosopher who lived in Alexandria, in the Roman province of Egypt. Philo used philosophical allegory to attempt to fuse and harmonize Greek philosophy with Jewish philosophy. His method followed the practices of both Jewish exegesis and Stoic philosophy. His allegorical exegesis was important for several Christian Church Fathers, but he has barely any reception history within Rabbinic Judaism. He believed that literal interpretations of the Hebrew Bible would stifle humanity's view and perception of a God too complex and marvelous to be understood in literal human terms.
IMPORTANT: All Scripture text has context and background. Scripture should never be read literally or in isolation. Always seek clarification from religious scholars and teachers. In general, Scripture adheres to four principles: (1) Literal Meaning - What the Scripture says (2) Historical Setting - The story events; how the Scripture was understood in its time (3) Grammar - The surrounding sentence and paragraph; textual context (4) Synthesis - A comparison with similar Scripture to give a better contextual understanding