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Re: orion-list Full Suda Translation (rough draft)

On Sat, 1 Apr 2000, Russell Gmirkin responded to posts by Dave Hindley
and George Brooks:

>>  As David Hindley and George Brooks point out, Epiphanius' Panarion
(H1.326/29.5) certainly does associate Christians, Essenes
("Jessaeans") and the Therapeutae of the "monasteries in the region of
Lake Marea [Mareotis]."  (The Contemplative Life contains the first
occurrence of the word "monastery" in Greek.  Its precise meaning
there is unknown.)  Eusebius already identified the Therapeutae of
Philo as Christians (though not the Essenes - showing the evolution of
this chain of patristic tradition).  Hindley appears correct in his
conclusion that

    "The compiler of the article on Essenes found in the Suda seems to
have associated the Therapeutae and the Essenes in a manner similar to
that made by Jerome and Filastrius."

    George suggests the following:

    "I do not doubt the Egyptian-ness of Chaeremon.  I doubt the
Egyptian-ness of his group of Egyptian Priests.  I think they were
Jewish linked to the Egyptian Temple, and supported in part by
revenues generated from this Temple."

    Chaeremon was certainly writing about Egyptian priests.  Earlier I
posted that Jerome's Adversus Iovinianum II 14 deduces Essene
vegetarianism from Philo's _The Contemplative Life_.  The preceding
passage, Adversus Iovinianum II 14, quotes extensively from
Chaeremon's idealized account of the priests of Egypt (and their
vegetarianism) beginning as follows:

    "Chaeremon the Stoic, a very eloquent man, tells about the life of
the ancient priests of Egypt, that they were always in the temple,
laying aside all worldly affairs and concerns, and that they
contemplated the nature and causes of all things and the order of the

    A very similar picture is seen at Porphyry, De Abstinentia IV 6-8,
etc.  There is simply no question that Chaeremon's topic was Egyptian
priests.  <<

I am inclined to agree with Russell.

George cited Jerome, Against Jovinianus, Book II:

13.  ..... "Chaeremon the Stoic [117], a man of great eloquence, has a
treatise on the life of the ancient priests of Egypt, who, he says,

A)	laid aside all worldly business and cares, and were ever in the
temple, studying nature and the regulating causes of the heavenly
bodies; [[Jewish priests rotated to work at the Temple for one week at
a time about twice a year, not continuously serving. Sectarians who
were priests are commonly assumed to have abstained from serving in
the Temple when their family came up in the rotation, based on the
Essene hypothesis, but they did maintain records of priestly rotations
and correlated them with other calendars, and this suggests that there
may have been participation. The sources are ambiguous.]]

B)	they never had intercourse with women; [[Jewish priests were not
restricted from sexual intercourse except when on duty in the Temple.
If the sectarians abstained, their own literature says nothing about
it. I'll reserve judgement for the time being as to whether the
description of Essenes and Therapeutae found in secondary historical
sources like Philo, Pliny, etc, really refer to the sect(s)
represented in the DSS literature.]]

C)	they never from the time they began to devote themselves to the
divine service set eyes on their kindred and relations, nor even saw
their children; [[Again, no such restriction applied to Jewish
priests, even when on duty! The only restriction was against
intercourse. Only *some* Essenes (but all Therapeutae) abstained from
intercourse. The sectarians of the DSS say nothing at all about
celibacy as a normal practice (except when acting as soldiers in holy
war), and several DSS imply the presence of women in the camps.]]

D)	they always abstained from flesh and wine, on account of the
light-headedness and dizziness which a small quantity of food caused,
and especially to avoid the stimulation of the lustful appetite
engendered by this meat and drink. [[Again, no such restriction
applied to Jewish priests. Josephus does relate the case of priests
transported to Rome from Judea for trial who lived on a vegetarian
diet. However, he does not specifically say that they *always*
observed such a diet! It has long been suggested that they were
following the example of Daniel and his fellow captives, who refused
Gentile meat out of respect for their national dietary prohibitions.
Again, I have to ignore for now any anachronisms, based on the book of
Daniel, that this image may contain. Avoidance of wine is standard for
anyone who is attempting to maintain a strict regimen, as intoxication
will impair judgement and the regimen may be affected.]]

E)	They seldom ate bread, that they might not load the stomach. And
whenever they ate it, they mixed pounded hyssop with all that they
took, so that the action of its warmth might diminish the weight of
the heavier food. [[Again, no such restriction applied to Jewish
priests. The *regular* meals of the Essenes are described as *both*
bread and vegetables!]]

F)	They used no oil except with vegetables, and then only in small
quantities, to mitigate the unpalatable taste. [[Again, no such
restriction applied to Jewish priests. The secondary historical
sources speak of Essenes avoiding the practice of *annointing*
themselves with oil, but the statement in question appears to be about
oil used to prepare food.]]

G)	What need, he says, to speak of birds, when they avoided even eggs
and milk as flesh. The one, they said, was liquid flesh, the other was
blood with the colour changed? [[See D. Birds or their eggs, and Milk,
are all kosher (except mixed).]]

H)	Their bed was made of palm-leaves, called by them baiae a sloping
footstool laid upon the ground served for a pillow, and they could go
without food for two or three days. [[There is nothing about this
relating to either Jewish priests or Essenes or the DSS sectarians.]]

I)	The humours of the body which arise from sedentary habits were
dried up by reducing their diet to an extreme point." [[Ditto]]

George, tells us that he gets "the distinct impression that Chaeremon
was talking about JEWISH priests!  There is everything about Jerome's
text which sounds like the Essenes as we have come to know them."

NONE of these traits are to be associated with Jewish Priests! A few
of these points of description may correspond to practices of the
sect(s) described in certain DSS, but not all these sectarians were
Priests! Also, associations based on secondary historical literature
(referring to Essenes and Therapeutae) are not really very secure due
to the practices employed to relate "historical" detail in the period
under consideration. To support your generalizations, a good deal more
"deconstruction" must be applied to the sources than you have so far

To make the association George implies, he has to really stretch the
sources and read a lot into them. Besides, you (Russel) have pointed
out that there can be no question that Chaeremon (as quoted by Jerome)
is intending to describe native Egyptian priests, as they are
described as "ancient" instead of "recent/novel". Jewish priests may
have been present in Egypt as refugees since the time of the
Babylonian captivity, but the Egyptian priesthoods had existed far
before that time.


Dave Hindley
Cleveland, Ohio, USA

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