Revisiting Philo's Therapeutae and their Context/Timeline

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Re: Dating Philo's Therapeutae; Context/Timeline

Post by billd89 » Fri Apr 02, 2021 3:52 am

Thank you. I was aware of this, havent seen it; what is Niehoff's timeline, please? At least for DVC.

Moritz Friedländer claimed DVC was written by a 'plagiarist' of Philo (perhaps a former scribe of his?), presumably a decade after his Essene work became known, c. 30 AD; I'm not persuaded by this thesis but also doubtful.

otoh, Conybeare (who I find problematic) definitively claims DVC was written 22 or 23 AD!

My own hunch: in whatever function(s) as a lawyer/propagandist/PR, a fairly young Philo might have written this c.17 AD. I think it's a defense against (Jewish & Greek) harsh criticisms: that the 'Therapeutae' were unsavory, trouble-making, libertine heretics. His account also seems recollective (to me); I would guess he himself lived at the commune as a student, c.5 BC or so.

*Edit: Niehoff (2018) follows Joan Taylor (& David Hay?) in late dating DVC (Taylor [2020], p.5): "We can therefore date it around 41 CE. As Niehoff (2011b; 2018) has well defined, it forms part of a body of work that deals with philosophical topics ..."

"As Alexandrian Jews were vilified and attacked, Philo went to Rome to present the case for his community, faced with intense opposition. Side-stepping direct confrontation, Philo here cleverly presents the Therapeutae ..."

I disagree: stylistically, it's different. There are internal contradictions against a late date, also. In her 2003 work on Jewish women philosophers in Alexandria, she proferred the idea (Hay's?) that DVC was a reworked essay from decades earlier. That fits my idea of 'recollection' (i.e. that it may be largely based on decades-old memories), however. The world of DVC is a past-time place (quasi-fiction) already. By this, I mean that -in either case- it's a partly a memorial to the Therapeuts' writers' colony, as recalled from sometime between 5 BC and 15 AD.

Though I enjoy her writing style, I (sadly?) disagree with most of Taylor's conclusions. Perhaps this is the peril of highly conjectural history w/ a dearth of material: it boils down to opinion.

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