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Re: orion-list Philo

    To clarify matters for George Brooks, I too think it is odd to use Philo 
to determine the identity of the Wicked Priest.  A major point of my last 
posting is how decidedly odd it is to find a reference to the Wicked Priest 
in Philo, given that the savage rulers in "Every Good Man is Free" are said 
to have extolled the Essenes.
    Let me point out for George that "Every Good Man is Free" does not 
discuss the Therapeutae.  They are the topic of "The Contemplative Life".  I 
don't believe the Jewish community described in "The Contemplative Life" was 
invented by Philo, but consisted of refugees after the riots of 38 CE.  (This 
is indeed indicated by the second lesser-known name that Philo gives this 
community, namely the Iketon, a term meaning fugitive, suppliant, one seeking 
    Philo does however spiritualize what he knew about the refugee community 
and invent some of their religious practices, as is clear by a comparison 
with Chaeremon's work on the Egyptian priests, preserved at Porphyry, _De 
Abstinentia_ 4.6-8.  Chaeremon described the Egyptian priests (of which he 
was one) as living a life of "contemplation," abstinence, fasting, 
purification, isolation, etc.  The verbal parallels are striking, especially 
in such minor details as both groups keeping their hands within their dress, 
eating only bread with hyssop, abstaining from meat or sexual intercourse, 
singing hymns, etc.  (See Peter Willem van der Horst, Chaeremon:  Egyptian 
Priest and Stoic Philosopher [Leiden, E.J. Brill 1984].)
    In terms of Philo's motivation, one may point out that Chaeremon is 
probably identical to the Chaeremon son of Leonidas in the list of 
Alexandrian delegates to Claudius in 41 CE on the matter of the Alexandrian 
riots.  Chaeremon was thus a leading opponent of Philo, who remained at Rome 
in 41 as part of the Jewish embassy on the same issue.  Chaeremon (like 
Apion, another delegate) wrote an essay against the Jews.  Much as Josephus 
later wrote an essay Contra Apion defending the Jews, so Philo countered 
Chaeremon's writings in his own small way.  It appears to me that "The 
Contemplative Life" describes a Jewish community whose practices mirrored 
(and were largely copied from) the practices of the Egyptian priests as 
described by Chaeremon.  It is conceivable that both essays circulated at 
Rome.  More likely the essays circulated in Alexandria where the debate of 
the relative merits of Judaism with Graeco-Egyptian practices doubtless 
figured into the propaganda surrounding the religious strife in that city.

    Russell Gmirkin
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