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Re: orion-list Philo
In response to George Brooke's inquiries.
> 1) Russ has not explained why Philo would "invent" the part
> about women participants within the Therapeutic community.
Philo mentions women who were victimized in the Alexandrian riots. I have no
doubt some sought refuge with the "Therapeutae". Philo describes the women
among the "Therapeutae" as for the most part aged and celibate. I would
interpret this to mean they were widows, probably lacking relatives to
provide for them, and thus (alongside orphans) the first recipients to Jewish
charity according to Biblical injunctions.
> 2) Russ has not explained away the equally possible scenario
> that Chaeremon was copying Philo.
Egyptologists are agreed that Chaeremon reflects authentic Egyptian customs
as confirmed by other (often older) sources. See the book on Chaeremon
mentioned in my earlier post and literature cited there.
> 3) Russ does not make it clear whether he believes the
> Therapeutae are Essene or DSS related or not. From earlier
> explanations, it appeared to me that Russ questioned the
> very existence of the Therapeutae. Now, it seems, he admits
> that there were refugees, but he does not explain whether or
> not they were Essenes or part of the DSS community in some
> way. I look forward to an explanation of these ideas.
I think you may not have correctly followed my earlier posts. I find no
compelling evidence that the group Philo calls the "Therapeutae" were
anything other than ordinary Jews taking refuge from the Alexandrian riots of
38 CE. Most of the standard arguments linking the "Therapeutae" with the
Essenes do not appear to me valid. On the other hand, _Every Good Man is
Free_ 89-91 implies that there were Essenes in Alexandria that faced certain
accusations from Flaccus and his cronies, so I hesitate to exclude this as a
possibility at this stage in my research. Philo appears to claim the
"Therapeutae" observed Pentecost but this by itself fails to prove an
identification with either the Essenes or the DSS community.
> 4) The tone of Philo's work suggests a community that has
> been in existence for ages. It seems hardly likely that this would
> be connected with a time frame of 38 CE (which is within
> Philo's own lifetime as I recall). If the Therapeut's were
> "Iketon, a term meaning fugitive, suppliant, one seeking
> protection," it would seem more likely that they fled Palestine
> decades earlier. Candidate time periods: A) the Maccabeean
> conflict, following in the footsteps of the last surviving Onias,
> never to return to Palestine where their "brethren" became
> the more militaristic, rank-oriented, punishment oriented
> community that we call the DSS community; B) refugees
> from the conflict between the two Hasmonean brother
> princes in the 80's BCE; C) refugees from the hostilities
> against Herod when he wiped out large sectors of the
> Zealot leadership resisting his rule. Any of these times,
> and perhaps others?, are better candidates than the
> 38 CE time period.
The above seems to reflect assumptions and/or possibilities brought to the
text rather than insights derived from the text itself. Sometimes you have
to let a text simply speak to you. That the "Therapeutae" came from
Alexandria rather than Palestine is indicated by the following textual clues:
(1) The "Therapeutae" were located by Philo on a low hill in the beach area
promimate to Alexandria (Cont. 21-23). (2) In Philo's _Flaccus_ and _Embassy
to Gaius_ refugees are said to have fled the Alexandrian riots of 38 to the
same beach area and for the same stated reason, namely the "healthful air"
(which was thought to be a cure for the epidemic currently raging in the
city). (3) The "Therapeutae" were said to have sought out this relative
solitude, "fleeing without a backward glance" in order to avoid the "turmoil
and disturbances innumerable" of even the "best-governed cities" (Cont.
18-19), an allusion to the Alexandrian riots. (4) Another major stated
purpose of the escape from the cities was to avoid contact with those who
worshipped astral gods [like the Egyptians], demigods [i.e., Gaius], and
worst of all the animal gods of the [Graeco-]Egyptians (Cont. 3-9). (In
_Embassy_ 163-164 Philo argues that worship of Gaius was an easy step for the
[Graeco-] Egyptians who already worshipped snakes, ibises and savage
animals.) This escape from contact with pagan religions (including the
worship of Gaius Caligula as a god) is understandable in the historical
context of the religious strife in 38 CE. I could easily continue, but the
evidence points to a recent flight of the "Therapeutae" from Alexandria (not
Palestine) for reasons of which Philo was well informed and gave numerous
hints about - if one pays close attention to the text.
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