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A Jewish philosopher of the school of Alexandria, who was born about thirty years before Christ. Philo adopted to their full extent the mystical doctrines of his school, and taught that the Hebrew Scriptures contained, in a system of allegories, the real source of all religious and philosophical knowledge, the true meaning of which was to be excluded from the vulgar, to whom the literal signification alone was to be made known. Whoever, says he, has meditated on philosophy, has purified himself by virtue, and elevated himself by a contemplative life to God and the intellectual world, receiving their inspiration, thus pierces the gross envelop of the letter, and is initiated into mysteries of which the literal instruction is but a faint image. A fact, a figure, a word, a rite or custom, veils the profoundest truths, to be interpreted only by him who has the true key of science. Such symbolic views were eagerly seized by the early inventors of the advanced, philosophical Degrees of Freemasonry, who have made frequent use of the esoteric philosophy of Philo in the construction of their Masonic system.
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