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Theophrastus of Eresos°

THEOPHRASTUS OF ERESOS° (372/369–288/285 B.C.E.), a pupil of *Aristotle and his successor. The Jews, he said, are "philosophers by race," a comment reminiscent of remarks ascribed to Aristotle and *Megasthenes. Quotations from him are found in various authors; two of these deal with Jewish sacrificial practices (Jos., Apion, 1:167, and Eusebius, Praeparatio Evangelica, 9:21). The main purpose of these descriptions is to demonstrate the incongruous nature of the customs of different peoples, a point made by ethical and legal relativists since Herodotus, if not earlier. Little importance is to be attached to the details he gives with regard to Jewish sacrifices which are in conflict with the injunctions of the Bible, e.g., that the Jews offered sacrifices at night and that honey was used for libations (cf. Lev. 2:11). Such details were subordinate to his main purpose.


J. Bernays, Theophrastos' Schrift ueber Froemmigkeit (1866); Reinach, Textes, 7–9; J. Gutmann, Ha-Sifrut ha-Yehudit ha-Helenistit, 1 (1958), 74–88; W. Poetscher, Theophrastos peri Eusebeias (Gr. and Ger., 1964), 122f. and passim.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2007 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.