Friday, October 16, 2009

School of Alexandria

When Alexander built the city of Alexandria in EgyPT, with the intention of making it the seat of his empire, he invited thither learned men from all nations, who brought with them their peculiar notions. The Alexandria school of philosophy which was thus established, by the commingling of Orientalists, Jews, Egyptians, and Greeks became eclectic in character, and exhibited a heterogeneous mixture of the opinions of the Egyptian priests, of the Jewish Rabbis, of the Arabic teachers, and the disciples of Plato and Pythagoras. From this school we derive Gnosticism and the Kabbala, and, above all, the system of symbolism and allegory which lay at the foundation of the Masonic philosophy. To no ancient sect, indeed, except perhaps the Pythagoreans, have the Masonic teachers been so much indebted for the substance of their doctrines, as well as the esoteric method of communicating them, as to that of the school of Alexandria. Both Aristobulus and Philo, the two most celebrated chiefs of this school, taught, although a century intervened between their births, the same theory, that the sacred writings of the Hebrews were, by their system of allegories, the true source of all religious and philosophic doctrine, the literal meanings of which alone was for the common people, the esoteric or hidden meaning being kept for the initiated. Freemasonry still carries into practice the same theory.