Originally Posted by Moros
I'm not sure who the therapeutae of Philo were.
...But I don't see how they link to the worshipers of Asclepius - there is no mention of medicine, nor of any customary or hereditary knowledge (as medicine surely had), and Philo says they don't worship demi-gods (i.e. men born from mortal women and immortal gods - as Asclepius [and later Jesus] was claimed to be), and expressly says that their females are not like the Greek priestesses. He also surmises that their name came from their healing of the soul, which he classes as superior to those healers who tend the body (which is what the temple therapeute of Asclepius did).
The author of "VC" claims that the therapeutae were essentially ubiquitous in the Roman Empire, and this correlates well with the archaeological evidence for the temple networks for Asclepius.
Emma J. Edelstein, Ludwig Edelstein, Gary B. Ferngren
Throughout nearly all of antiquity, the legendary Greek physician, |
Asclepius, son of Apollo and Coronis, was not only the primary
representative of divine healing, but also so influential in the
religious life of later centuries that, as Emma J. Edelstein and
Ludwig Edelstein point out, "in the final stages of paganism,
of all genuinely Greek gods, [he] was judged the foremost
antagonist of Christ."
It would be more likely that they were a Jewish sect of philosophers - Philo makes it clear that they don't worship a visible god, and he makes direct references to them reading the law, the holy scriptures and the holy prophets, and to a custom that is directly based upon the Israelite Exodus. Philo also concludes that their devotion to the contemplation of nature and their virtue means that they earned the love of the Father and Creator of the universe. From Philo's point of view that would have been the Jewish God.
Philo has been, and is also viewed as a Platonist. As such these comments above may refer to a Platonic conception of god.
I will list below a number of paradoxes that I have run across in trying to answer this question (i.e. "Who were the therapeutae") in past discussions. Should anyone have any ideas, insights or comments about any of these listed "paradoxes" please feel free to post them here.
PARADOX 1: Dominance of Literary and archaeological evidence citations
A mass of literary evidence is cited for pagan therapeutae (See TLG etc) .
This mass of literary evidence is corroborated by the archaeological evidence.
One item of literary evidence "Vita De Contemplativa" is cited to establish
a Utopian sect of Jewish therapeutae. This single item of literary evidence
remains uncorroborated by the archaeological evidence.
PARADOX 2: Monastic communities are evidence from the 4th century.
The author of "VC" described a monastic community in the 1st century.
The author states this group (monastic community) was all over the empire.
That makes them the first monastic community in the empire.
The Egyptian monastic community movement belongs to the 4th not the 1st century.
How could the author of "VC" have portrayed a monastic community in Egypt
(or indeed all over the empire) from the 1st century?
PARADOX 3: Was "VC" authored by Philo or someone else?
The author of "VC is virulently anti-Hellenic, Philo is not.
Philo is allied to Greek culture and philosophy, the author of "VC" is not.
Philo praises Pythagoras, Plato, etc while the author of "VC" repudiates them.
Philo has great respect for the symposium, while the author of "VC" presents a detestable, common drinking-bout.
Philo respects the Platonic Eros, the author of "VC" does not.
Source: The Jewish Encyclopedia: by Isidore Singer and Cyrus Adler.
PARADOX 4: Nowhere does "VC" explicitly state the group is Jewish.
That the group of "VC" are Jewish is an assumption drawn from the
authors recounting the story of Moses Dead Sea Surfing Comp. This
mention by the author of "VC" presents as an allusion not a reality.
PARADOX 5: Philo identifies the therapeutae consistently as "them" not "us".
Why would he do that if he viewed them as Jewish?
Philo describes these Theraputae as though 'they' and 'their' religious practices are -alien- to him and his religious practices.
Why would he do that consistently throughout this entire text if he viewed them simply as being fellow Jews practicing the very same Jewish religion as himself?
PARADOX 6: Who were the "worshipers" [of the god(s)] in antiquity
Church scholars have answered this question for us in the past.
For 1400 years the church scholars had us all believing they were Christian.
One hundred years ago a Professor of Theology wrote they were Jewish.
Conybear was the calf who made a new trail which the herd followed to new pastures.
Why are we avoiding the consideration of pagan worshipers?
Because the worshipers as described in "VC" are Jewish?
Why are the biblical academics so dismissive of the ubiquitous pagan worshipers?
Who were the therapeutae of the medical profession and Asclepius for example?
They were the dominant worshipers. They had the largest sector of the temple market.
PARADOX 7: The modern and ancient use of the term "therapeutic".
See therapeutic therapeutic - definition of therapeutic by the Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus and Encyclopedia.
The term therapeutic is obviously related to the therapeutae (worshipers) of the healing god asclepius.
Asclepius was the healing god from deep BCE until Nicaea.
His worshipers include Hippocrates and especially Galen.
These people are regarded as the fathers of modern medicine.
The word therapeutic appears to belong to the therapeutae of asclepius.
PARADOX 8: How are the essenes related to the therapeutae?
Are they both fictional Utopian dream groups?
It has recently been argued that VC was only a Philonic utopia:
see Troels Engberg-Pedersen, "Philo's DVC as a Philosopher's Dream
PARADOX 9: Why Does Clement of Alexandria Call Philo "The Pythagorean"?
This supports the notion that Philo was more of a Greek [Platonist?] than a Jewish theologian.
See David T. Runia http://www.jstor.org/stable/1584152