The silence of Philo (or any historian) is a weak argument. For one thing, it's not like the complete works of Philo (or any historian of antiquity) has survived until now. Philo, or some other unknown historian, could
have written about him, but those documents didn't survive. Very, very little from the ancient world has. Just imagine how much more we would have to work with if the Library of Alexandria had survived intact.
Philo leaves us in fact a sizeable body of work, Blood - different sources claim 850 000 words and thirty manuscripts.
For a list see: http://www.earlyjewishwritings.com/philo.html
Not only that but: “His works were preserved by the Christian church, primarily because some early Christians perceived him as a Christian. Eusebius speculated that the Therapeutae, the Jewish group of ascetic hermits in the Egyptian desert that Philo describes in De vita contemplativa (‘Contemplative Life’) was in fact a Christian group.”http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Philo_Judaeus
And the early religious leaders, including Eusebius, made of course ample use of Philo’s thoughts.
By itself it’s hardly conclusive, but I don’t think Philo’s silence on Jesus is a weak argument at all. (Besides, it’s the sheer preponderance of these inexplicable absences that gives the AFS its weight.)
And I certainly don’t subscribe in the slightest to O’Neill’s convenient notion that Philo didn’t mention Jesus because he allegedly “didn't appear to be interested in such claimants.” Not only was Philo a staunch defender of the Jewish faith and its traditions but, as further underscored by a number of family connections to the priesthood and Herod, he was strongly committed to the existing status quo.
Wikipedia: “Philo made his philosophy the means of defending and justifying Jewish religious truths. These truths he regarded as fixed and determinate; and philosophy was used as an aid to truth, and as a means of arriving at it. With this end in view Philo chose from the philosophical tenets of the Greeks, refusing those that did not harmonize with the Jewish religion, as, e.g., the Aristotelian doctrine of the eternity and indestructibility of the world.”
Humphrey’s Site admirably explains the early Church’s expedient use of Philo’s works:-
Much as Josephus would, a half century later, Philo wrote extensive apologetics on the Jewish religion and commentaries on contemporary politics. About thirty manuscripts and at least 850,000 words are extant. Philo offers commentary on all the major characters of the Pentateuch and, as we might expect, mentions Moses more than a thousand times.
Philo described the course of events in his work named for the anti-Jewish governor of Egypt, Flaccus. His work was familiar to the early Christians when decades after his death they composed the gospels. One passage of Flaccus contains a curious pre-figuring of several famous verses found in the Gospels.
When the works of Philo were studied by early Christian theorists (the Alexandrian school of Clement, Origen, etc.) not just the construct of the Logos but the "allegorical method" proved a godsend: the Old Testament presaged not merely Greek wisdom but the Christian godman himself! Thus the scripture of the Jews could be scoured for subtle clues supposedly prophesying a saviour in human form.
Philo knew nothing of Jesus but when, a century after Philo's death, the Christians were historicizing their godman from preconceived notions of what the Saviour should be, they borrowed freely from Philo's work. Thus the Christian apologist Justin Martyr multiplexed "divine reason" into the myriad forms that populate the landscape of Christian theology:
"I shall give you another testimony, my friends," said I, "from the Scriptures, that God begat before all creatures a Beginning, a certain rational power from Himself, who is called by the Holy Spirit, now the Glory of the Lord, now the Son, again Wisdom, again an Angel, then God, and then Lord and Logos."
– Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, LXI – ("Wisdom is begotten of the father, as fire from fire.")
In the 4th century so impressed was Church propagandist Eusebius by Philo's descriptions of the Therapeutae (Hellenized Jewish Buddhists of Alexandria) that the church historian decided the Therapeutae were in fact early Christian monks. As for Philo himself, Eusebius cheerfully disregarded chronology and credibility and had the grand old Jewish philosopher reading the (as yet, unwritten) gospels and epistles – and conversing with Peter in Rome!
"It seems likely [Philo] wrote this after listening to their expositions of the Holy Scriptures, and it is very probable that what he calls short works by their early writers were the gospels, the apostolic writings, and in all probability passages interpreting the old prophets, such as one contained in the Epistle to the Hebrews and several others of Paul's epistles.
It is also recorded that under Claudius, Philo came to Rome to have conversations with Peter, then preaching to the people there ... It is plain enough that he not only knew but welcomed with whole-hearted approval the apostolic men of his day, who it seems were of Hebrew stock and therefore, in the Jewish manner, still retained most of their ancient customs." (Eusebius, The History of the Church, p50, 52.)http://www.jesusneverexisted.com/philo.html
It certainly is a “shambolic fiasco”, nunnington - a natural consequence of the way Christianity developed out of numerous competing factions?
Does it really matter for our purposes though? Arriving at a historical Jesus from the available evidence?
Doherty examines the religious material itself (not to ignore his equally solid Argument from Silence etc of course, and what else), concluding that there was no real underlying person to begin with, only a metaphysical or allegorical being. On the other hand, I doubt if any two biblical scholars would ever agree on the same exact version of Jesus (where would this industry be!). Then, as GakuseiDon highlighted, there’s the public version, the flesh-and-blood one subscribed to by the average believer.
To be honest, I think it’s only the latter that has any real relevance to this topic (apart from which, as far as I’m aware, none of us are biblical scholars, whereas it’s fanciful to suppose that our scholars will ever concur on one universal ‘harmonised’ version), so that all we ever really needed to do here is to compare the basic outline of this Jesus tale (one we all know), stripped of its supernatural elements, with whatever plausible historical information is available to us. If none exists, there’s no historical inference to be made, with Jesus relegated to the realm of belief or mere supposition.