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Re: orion-list Philo's "Suppliants"
I found Prof. Kraft's analysis of Philo's use of the term:
[ <gk>I(KETW=N</> "Suppliants"/"Refugees" ]
to be quite appropriate to addressing the extremes Russell
sometimes goes to "prove" an unimportant point.
To restate Kraft's email, while Philo is known to use this
term frequently, he chooses not to do so while discussing
his Therapeutae. The implications are obvious that Philo is
does not see any real connection between refugee Essenes or
refugee Jews and the Therapeut community.
I found Russell's almost ecstatic surmisings-turned-to-deductions
(that Philo reinterpreted "abandoned" elderly and or widowed women
into the female Therapeutae) as inexplicable. Such a controversial
move (if not based on reality) would only bring howls of protest
down on Philo's head.
Philo is obviously describing a "commune" style community, not
just a refugee camp. And there is simply no getting around the fact
that in this commune women are enjoying spiritual access or participation
that would not be found in a monastic community until the rise of
spiritual "widows" in the early Christian church. (Interesting to wonder
where the early Christian church developed the inspiration for this?)
Russell's claim that there is no real connection to the Essenes is
certainly a "high risk/low benefit" assertion. Those who **do**
find a connection can point to a de-emphasis of sexual activity and
a "common property" basis of lifestyle (where people have to surrender
their personal assets before joining), as well as a generally monastic
style of life with a high-born devotion to Judaism and to humankind
as well, not to mention a purported skill in the healing arts (whether
physical or spiritual healing - - it doesn't really matter, does it?).
more do we need to show that there is **some** mysterious connection
between these Egyptian dwellers of the wilderness and the Palestinian
dwellers of the wilderness?
On the other hand, Russell has to say that these connections are not
sufficient to "prove" anything, but that his perception of similarities
between the writing style of an Egyptian pagan and Philo's writing
style are enough to "prove" that the Therapeutae did not exist, or
are not truly "DSS-like" in their living arrangements.
How does this kind of disputation advance **any** of Russell's
theories? Having become increasingly familiar with some of Russ's
other theories (some of which are truly convincing and compelling),
I just can't understand Russell's fixation on Philo falsifying a topic
that would probably be one of the most obvious falsifications in
Egypt's contemporary Jewish and Roman community.
On some issues I would follow Russell into the "flames," but not
if behind the "flames" there is a brick wall made with his own hands.
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