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Re: orion-list Philo's "Suppliants"
Thanks to Robert Kraft for his thoughtful comments. His understanding
of the use of iketeuw and related roots in Philo is about the same as mine.
I would also point out for nuance the passages in Legatio ad Gaium where
Agripps appears in the role of a suppliant before Gaius Caligula, i.e. as a
denfenseless and obedient subject making an appeal before an all-powerful
potentate, in the same pacifist tradition as the Jews who appealed to
Petronius in the same matter of Gaius' statue being placed in the temple.
With respect to the pattern of flight with seeking protection from a
powerful host associated with the word iketeuw that Robert Kraft points out,
this in my opinion fits well with the refugee situation in 38 CE. I have no
doubt that the owners of the houses or village on the low hill on the beaches
near Alexandria where Philo located the "Therapeutae" had lived there for
some time. These houses obviously were not erected by the refugees. Rather,
this was a small pre-existing Jewish community. In the riots they doubtless
took in a number of refugees who were basically at the mercy of their
goodwill. Philo makes clear the community had the capability of defending
themselves from "robbers" (a term Philo elsewhere applies to the rioters in
Alexandria). The community thus possessed a role of "protector" in this
historical situation by defending the refugees from the violence and other
dangers (starvation, disease) they had fled in Alexandria. All this is well
within the meaning of the word "suppliant" in my opinion. That Philo
included this word in his title probably indicates he originally planned to
expand upon their status as suppliants. Doubtless Philo would have
spiritualized away the concrete political overtones of the term, explaining
that these were suppliants in the sense of ones who sought refuge in God,
much as he also spiritualizes the term Therapeutae (which in its first
definition as healers in my opinion had its concrete basis in the healing air
of the beach location, mentioned in both _The Contemplative Life_ and
_Embassy to Gaius_).
I appreciate George Brooks' enthusiastic support of my theories that see
the rise of the Dead Sea Scrolls community in the events of the Maccabean
period. IMO Philo's Therapeutae are an entirely different topic, though some
see a connection with the scrolls. George writes:
> 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?
Although Josephus mentions theEssene interest in healing properties of
rocks and plants, this detail does not occur in _The Contemplative Life_.
Instead, the latter essay only mentions the healthy beach breezes at the
site, which doesn't really connect with the Essenes. In _The Contemplative
Life_ those fleeing the city surrendered their property, not to the
Therapeutae, but to their kinsmen they left behind in the cities. This also
fails to convincingly connect up with the Essenes.
Clearly Philo did intend to describe the group as a unique spiritually
and philosophically inclined community. To what extent this idealized,
spiritualized portrayal had any basis in historical reality - much less
correlates with the Essenes - is not yet apparent, at least to me.
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