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ARISTOBULUS, ar´´is-to-biū´lus: 1. The name of several notable persons in the last period of Jewish history, belonging to the Hasmonean and Herodian families. See Hasmoneans; Herod and His Family.

2. A Jewish Alexandrian writer of the time of Ptolemy VI. Philometor, according to Clement of Alexandria (Stromata, II. xv. 72; xxii. 50; V. xiv. 97; VI. iii. 32), Origen (Contra Celsum, iv. 17), Anatolius (in Eusebius, Hist. eccl., vii. 32), and Eusebius (Præp. evan., vii. 14; viii. 10; xiii. 12; Chron., ed. Schoene, ii. 124-125). In II Macc. i. 10 an Aristobulus is mentioned as teacher of one of the Ptolemies and the most influential member of the Jewish Alexandrian diaspora, and a letter is addressed to him written under Philometor. Clement and Eusebius identify the author quoted by them with the one mentioned here. Accordingly Aristobulus flourished about 170-150 B.C. Clement (V. xiv. 97) states that he wrote “abundant books to show that the peripatetic philosophy was derived from the law of Moses and from the other prophets,” and Eusebius (Chron.) that he wrote expositions of the writings of Moses, which he dedicated to Philometor. Fragments are found in Eusebius (Præp., viii. 10 and xiii.12; cf. Hist. eccl., VII. xxxii.16-19). They express two of the fundamental thoughts of the Alexandrian Jewish apologists,—that the heathen writers derived their wisdom from the writings of Moses, and that the anthropomorphism of the Old Testament must not be taken literally. It is questionable, however, whether this Aristobulus is a historical person. Hody, Willrich, and others have brought forward weighty reasons for thinking him a Jewish fiction. Whether the instructor of Philometor was first invented and afterward the apologist or vice versa must be left undecided.

(W. Bousset.)

Bibliography: H. Willrich, Juden und Griechen vor der makkabäischen Erhebung Göttingen, 1895; M. Joel. Blicke in die Religionsgeschichte zu Anfang des zweiten Jahrhunderts, 79-100, Breslau, 1880; Elter, De Aristobulo Judæo, Bonn, 1894-95 (of value); Schürer, Geschichte, iii. 384-392, 1898, Eng. transl., II. iii. 237-243 (very full in its list of books, for which the article in KL is also worth consulting).

« Aristo of Pella Aristobulus Aristotle »
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