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Old August 25th, 2013, 02:48 PM   #11

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Old August 25th, 2013, 03:08 PM   #12

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The name Therapeutae is very similar to Theravada, one of the earliest forms of Buddhism.

As this time period saw a huge surge of trade between the Mediterranean Sea and southern India and Sri Lanka via the Red Sea and Alexandria I find myself wondering if the author of De Vita Contemplativa wasn't in fact describing Theravāda Buddhists monks.

I find it interesting that the author refers to them as the therapeutic race. The term race seems an odd choice of phraseology to describe a group of Jewish, Egyptian, or Greek persons.

Yes I do agree with this possibility. Namely that Philo wrote "VC" and in it is describing Theravāda Buddhists monks or even pagan therapeutae (such as those of Asclepius).

For example, the staffing of the many temples may have been on a roster and/or rotation basis, with time on and time off. The gathering of such people as described in "Vita Contemplativa" may be a description of all those "temple staff" (i.e. "therapeuate) who were on a rostered year off (for example).

I am open to other possibilities than a 4th century forgery, even if this has been proposed by a number of people in the 19th century. What is instrumental in understanding here is that Eusebius uses this text of "VC" to infer that these so-described therapeutae were the "Earliest Christians".

This view was held almost universally until the 17th/18th century and in fact is still held by some people today. It has since been rejected by the consensus of scholarship but in its place is the assertion that these people described in "VC" are Jewish.

Where did the pagan worshippers of the [pagan] gods go?

Into oblivion via 4th century Christian propaganda?



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Old August 26th, 2013, 12:44 AM   #13

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Originally Posted by Kookaburra Jack View Post
Yes I do agree with this possibility. Namely that Philo wrote "VC" and in it is describing Theravāda Buddhists monks or even pagan therapeutae (such as those of Asclepius).

For example, the staffing of the many temples may have been on a roster and/or rotation basis, with time on and time off. The gathering of such people as described in "Vita Contemplativa" may be a description of all those "temple staff" (i.e. "therapeuate) who were on a rostered year off (for example).

I am open to other possibilities than a 4th century forgery, even if this has been proposed by a number of people in the 19th century. What is instrumental in understanding here is that Eusebius uses this text of "VC" to infer that these so-described therapeutae were the "Earliest Christians".

This view was held almost universally until the 17th/18th century and in fact is still held by some people today. It has since been rejected by the consensus of scholarship but in its place is the assertion that these people described in "VC" are Jewish.

Where did the pagan worshippers of the [pagan] gods go?

Into oblivion via 4th century Christian propaganda?



KJ
I'm not among who give such a credit to Eusebius about this [and I didn't mention him commenting about the therapeutae].

In particular, considering the Egyptian context, it's known that pagan cults survived to the beginning of Christianity for centuries. It was only when Christianity got enough social [and political] power that the pagan begun to disappear.

And I cannot understand how would it be possible to sustain otherwise.

Hypatia [Ὑπατία] had massacred by a group of Christian fundamentalist believers in early V century CE, 415 CE for accuracy. For who ignores this figure, the woman was Pagan philosopher versed in math and science and she is considered martyr of paganism and freedom.

Still in 485 CE pagan philosophers went to Alexandria finding still alive the recall of Hypatia. Damascius sustained that the investigation after the murder was driven to an end by the Imperial court.
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Old August 26th, 2013, 10:35 AM   #14

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I'm not sure who the therapeutae of Philo were.

I don't think they were Christians. Philo says they were found all over Greece and the barbarian countries, but were very common in Egypt, particularly Alexandria. This doesn't sound like the traditional geographical locality given to the followers of Christ at this time (c.50 AD). He also implies that they were a sect that had been around for a while - they have old poems and ancient writings from their founders. Again, this seems too old for the followers of Jesus.

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).

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, Therapeutae

As to the Theravada - the link provided suggests that the name dates from well after the time of Philo, and in Sri Lanka. From that source it would seem impossible for 1st Century Greek 'therapeutae' to be a derivation from it.

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Old August 26th, 2013, 11:24 AM   #15

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Seems to me that they were simply diaspora Jews who dealt with spiritual and herbal medicine, probably some astrology and alchemy, maybe even some occultist stuff like magic and exorcism. Not very different from the Jewish practices of Kabbalah as they are known today.
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Old August 26th, 2013, 04:59 PM   #16

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"As to the Theravada - the link provided suggests that the name dates from well after the time of Philo, and in Sri Lanka. From that source it would seem impossible for 1st Century Greek 'therapeutae' to be a derivation from it."


Actually the name Theravada dates from the second Buddhist council which took place around 383 BCE in Vaishali in Bihar, India.

Vaishali Vaishali

The Greeks would probably have first been exposed to Buddhism from the Maurya Empire under Chandragupta Maurya and without doubt under his grandson Ashoka the Great 269 BCE to 232 BCE.

Ashoka_the_Great Ashoka_the_Great
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Old August 27th, 2013, 09:46 AM   #17

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Actually the name Theravada dates from the second Buddhist council which took place around 383 BCE in Vaishali in Bihar, India.

Vaishali - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Greeks would probably have first been exposed to Buddhism from the Maurya Empire under Chandragupta Maurya and without doubt under his grandson Ashoka the Great 269 BCE to 232 BCE.

Ashoka - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Thanks for the extra information, but your links are telling me when the Buddhist school (from which the present school called Theraveda descends) was formed, but does that mean the word Theraveda was used at that time?

According to how I understand it, a distinct Buddhist school called themselves the Sthaviravada formed after the Second Buddhist Council, but were also called Vibhajjavāda at the Third Buddhist Council. The Vibhajjavāda then split into different schools, including the Tāmraparnīya (the Sri Lankan lineage dating from the time of Ashoka), which only much later records began to refer to as the Theraveda (as the Pali equivalent to the word Sthavirava). The word Theraveda only appears in writing from the 4th Century AD.

Early_Buddhist_schools Early_Buddhist_schools


http://en.wikipedia.o
rg/wiki/Sthavirav%C4%81da


Vibhajyav?da - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

But this is only according to Wiki. I've not read anything else.
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Old August 27th, 2013, 09:56 AM   #18

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Thanks Moros, I will look into this.

Cheers.
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Old August 27th, 2013, 05:14 PM   #19

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Moros View Post
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.

See

Asclepius: Collection and Interpretation of the Testimonies: Emma J. Edelstein, Ludwig Edelstein, Gary B. Ferngren: 9780801857690: Amazon.com: Books
Asclepius: Collection and Interpretation of the Testimonies: Emma J. Edelstein, Ludwig Edelstein, Gary B. Ferngren: 9780801857690: Amazon.com: Books

Emma J. Edelstein, Ludwig Edelstein, Gary B. Ferngren

Book Description

Quote:
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."


Quote:
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

Last edited by Kookaburra Jack; August 27th, 2013 at 05:26 PM.
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Old August 29th, 2013, 04:46 PM   #20

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I wouldn't use the word paradox for your points. It implies a greater sense of confusion and contradiction than is actually present. Most of you points are just straight questions. My thoughts are;

Paradox 1 - Unsure what your point is here. How is the peculiar linguistic use of a word meant to leave archaeological evidence? Or do you mean that there is a lack of archaeological evidence for the Jewish community in question?

Paradox 2 - Not a problem if you accept the account itself as evidence. But do you mean that the lack of evidence for monastic communities in the 2nd-3rd Centuries rules out the existence of them in the 1st? This is assuming that the community written about was Christian and therefore that there should be a continuity between it and the monasticism of the 4th Century. But as I'm happy not to accept that they were Christians, but to see them as Jewish, this lack of continuity is not remarkable as we're talking about different religions/communities.

Paradox 3 - the same source says that the linguistic similarities between Philo's other works and VC are conclusive that it is by the same author PHILO JUDĂUS - JewishEncyclopedia.com However, having listed comments on how the concepts in VC seem to differ from those of Philo's other works (which really seems to boil down to just a single point; Philo praised Plato whilst CV is dismissive of certain parts of Plato's writings; surely not completely incompatible?), the Encyclopedia concludes with the theory that VC was written by one of Philo's pupils. Whilst it reject the idea that the community was Christian, it maintains the belief that the 'therepeutae' (in the account) were Jewish, and not pagan, and holds that they existed not long after Philo died.

Paradox 4 & 5 - Philo calling the therapeutae 'them' and 'they' is no more peculiar than a Methodist calling a Baptist congregation 'them' or 'they'. Both are Christian, but folllow different interpretations of Christianity. Just so with Philo and the group he describes. They are both Jewish, but follow different interpretations. Philo refers to the therapeutae as studying the law, the scriptures and the prophets. Notice it is not their law, their scripture or their prophets. It is the same law, scripture and prophets of Philo's Jewish belief, but it is the interpretation and practice that makes these therapeutae 'the other'.

Paradox 6 is just a combination of points 1 & 7. The answer does not help to disclose whether Philo was writing about Christians, Jews or pagans. It is never denied that pagans still existed at this time, and for centuries after, nor that some of them were called therapeutae.

Paradox 7 - Philo refers to the group as being called therapeutae. Of course the word that Philo used also means the worshippers of the pagan gods. He would have been aware of the pagan therapeutae and this normal use of the word - but Philo is describing how this Alexandrian group too is called therapeutae. His surmise on the origin of the community's title - because they healed the soul - is directly contrasted to the more normal description - that therapeutae healed only the body. In effect Philo is saying these (Jewish) therapeutae were superior to the common (pagan/Asclepius) therapeutae because their focus was on the soul and not the body. He is also clear that the women, at least, are not like Greek priestesses. 'Not like Greek priestesses' seems to suggest that they can't have been pagan therapeutae.

Paradox 8 & 9 - they have no real relevance to the question of whether Philo's therapeutae refer to Christians, Jews or pagans. The Essenes can relate to all these groups equally well, and if Philo was a Platonist how would that make the therapeutae pagan? He was still Jewish - referring to Jewish law and scripture.

The main conclusion I feel is that you see;
1. a lack of archaeological evidence for the community that Philo writes about,
2. its plausible that the whole thing is a Christian forgery,
3. the therapeutae in the account are referencing the worshippers of a pagan god

No.1, if there has been a thorough archaeological investigation in the area that Philo talks about, would be an issue, regardless of whether the community was Jewish or pagan.

No.2 & 3 are contradictory - Christians wouldn't create a pagan community and then pretend they were early Christians - they would have forged an early Christian community. And, if it is a forgery about an early Christian community, then the therapeutae in it are meant to be Christians. But if all references to therapeutae means pagan, then Christians wouldn't be using the term to refer to their own belief. But if they are using it to mean Christian, then it can not be true that all references to therapeutae is pagan, because this forgery is one evidence for the word being synonymous with Christian.

Philo could still be seen as a forgery - but not a Christian one. Yet the arguments for it being a forgery only seem to grow out of a desire to reject Eusebius' use of it as a Christian community, or to reject the idea that the therapeutae in the account were Jewish. But my points above would make a Christian forgery pretty silly, and a Jewish forgery would still leave the therapeutae community as being Jewish.

Last edited by Moros; August 29th, 2013 at 04:51 PM.
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