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Friedländer’s On the Origin of Christianity ...[1894], Part 10

Posted: Thu Aug 20, 2020 4:19 am
by billd89
{p.95} We recall the DVC repeatedly emphasizes the outsized role Allegory played for the Therapeuts. In this regard, the following passage is particularly important: “The interpretation of the Holy Scripture aims to explore the deeper meaning through Allegory, because for these men the whole of The Law is likened unto a living being. They compare the literal version to its body, but for its soul is the meaning hidden under the words, upon which the {p.96} sensible or rational soul begins to contemplate itself, as in a mirror, getting to know and be conditioned by the extraordinary sublimity of the inherent Mind: to thoroughly examine and to clarify the Symbols – to the very core of those capable of so being openly propounded, and on so seemingly trivial a cause – thus, to recognize the hidden in the visible.”57)

Philo accepted this image used by Therapeutism in his rebuke directed against it, however modified, so that – even if we consider the literal sense for the body but the arcane sense for the soul – we are obliged to observe the literal meaning of the Law as well: how to take care of the body which forms the dwelling of the soul. If the Therapeuts now put all the emphasis on the revelation of the thought hidden in Scriptures but reject the literal sense of the law, so they refer Philo to the necessity of also taking into account the ‘body’: that is to say, the religious ceremonies. — His clear closing words in relation to this are: “Because if we only wanted to hold onto the higher meaning, we would also have to reject the Temple service and a thousand other things. You have to look at the sense of the word for the body, the secret for the soul. Just as you take care of the body as a dwelling place for the soul, you also have to respect the literal sense of the Law. Because only when this is observed can you clearly see the hidden truth and also escape the blame of the crowd.”58) —

After all, we believe we can express the conviction that in reality there were Jewish Therapeuts who were nothing more than Essenes of the Diaspora and hardly touched by Pharisaism. They followed the directive of Alexandria (‘fatherland and nursery’ of Therapeutism) receiving and recruiting followers for their teaching everywhere. DVC depicts real conditions and there is little reason to reject this document: the author is an Alexandrian Jew from the age of Philo. {p.97} This is taught not only by the Philonic Spirit (with which the whole book is imbued) but even by repeatedly-directed attacks against infidelity: weapons and tactics borrowed not (as Lucius thinks59)) from the arsenal of Christian Apologetics but from that of Alexandrian Judaism.60) We will therefore not hesitate to use Therapeutism to better illuminate Essenism; but notice right away that we will make the most modest use of DVC, not because we have no confidence in this source, but because the existing reports about Essenism (which can hardly be challenged) are so definite they can easily withdraw any support from Therapeutism, even if put in a brighter light by it.

57) DVC II, p.483.
58) De Migratione Abrahami I, 450.
59), op. cit., p.93,116.
60) cf. Pseudo-Solomon c.XIII,XIV,XV. Orac. Sibyll. ask. II, v.20-35. III,v.30 sq.; v. 546 u.a. St. B.
cf. Pseudo-Solomon The Book of Wisdom 13.6-7 {Critique of the Jews-who-went-astray: “For they too peradventure err. Seeking God and having the will to find him. For being conversant with his works they do search diligently, and believe their sight, that the things seen are beautiful. But again even they are not to be pardoned. For if they had power to know so much as to be able to form theories about the world, how found they not the Lord of these things sooner?”; 14.8-31;15. Sibylline Oracles, Book? 2.20-35; 3.30; v.546? {13.456?}

Re: Translation Help: Philo Passage on Therapeuts, DVC 78-79

Posted: Thu Aug 20, 2020 5:39 am
by StephenGoranson
Billd89 wrote: ….I am trying to follow the forgotten/ignored thesis of Friedländer, that DVC is a contemporary forgery - wrongly ascribed to Philo….”

IMO, the essential book arguing in detail that Philo indeed wrote De Vita Contemplative is
Philo about the contemplative life or the fourth book of the treatise concerning virtues :
critically edited with a defence of its genuineness /
Philo, Alexandrinus; Frederick C Conybeare
English Book
Oxford : Clarendon,

It is available here at HathiTrust: ... setft=true

Question of Authorship

Posted: Fri Aug 21, 2020 12:33 am
by billd89
No doubt, DVC is Very Important, the Most Significant of Philo's (supposed) works. Scholars desperately 'want' DVC to be Philo's (and that alone makes me suspicious!), so this is the peskiest question:

But is it? What makes it so? In fact: beyond druthers, or the politics of opinion (bullsh*t). Because - and I can say this with absolute certainty - it either IS or it ISN'T, there's no alternative.

Friedländer maintains it isn't, because DVC flagrantly contradicts 'positions taken' by Philo, otherwise confirmed and repeated throughout his known works. IF it IS Philo's, it remains an odd (schizoidal) outlier which begs all kinds of contortionist explanations; if NOT (on the contrary), then rather simple possibilities are easily suggested. (Here, I take for granted, following Friedländer and almost all scholars today, that DVC is a period work describing a 'Judaic' Mareotic group that truly existed.) So I see at least two obvious possibilities for a Pseudonymous Authorship of DVC:

1) Philo's writing style was copied by someone completely unconnected to him, one as sympathetic to the 'Therapeutae' (radical allegorists/extremists) as Philo was hostile. Friedländer maintains this alternative copyist knowingly 'responded' to Philo's work on the Essenes; that DVC must have appeared within a few years of Philo's life or the popularity of the Essene work (+ 2-15 years), perhaps from the hand of a competing author of his day: therefore still a factual "forgery".

2) 'Philo's writing' was produced by someone (previously) connected to him, a former scribe* of his. Philo was a veritable publishing house: he must have had teams of scribes, over 10-20yrs: so one of 'his' writers went freelance at some point. Or radically re-wrote another's bios of the Therapeutae in 'his own' familiar Philonic style. This would best explain extensive similarities, if so judged in fact (IMO).

Pseudonymous authorship - for whatever reasons - should by no means surprise, given Philo's stature and reknown. For example: Pseudo-Philo's DVC might have been purchased by Origen (or another later collector, viz., Pierius, Pamphilus, etc.), assumed a genuine Philonic work, and survived in his library. Such a work might have been accidentally subsumed within Philo's oeuvre by well-intentioned but confused collectors &copyist-librarians about 150-200 years after Philo's death.

Most mainstream sources say DVC is "ascribed to Philo" - that admits doubt, no? I'm undecided. Friedländer's case seems plausible (to me), but the burden of proof is rather on those insisting that DVC belongs to Philo definitively. Has that case been made and won? Which scholars have treated this specific matter thoroughly?

*This kind of pseudonymous forgery is a grey area. I personally know a Famous Author's ghostwriter in the mid-1980s who wrote three (3) sci-fi books under that Famous Author's name AFTER said Author was deceased. That was simply a commercial, contractual deal; nothing illegal about it! The Famous Author is still listed as the creator of those works, in 2020.

Re: Translation Help: Philo Passage on Therapeuts, DVC 78-79

Posted: Fri Aug 21, 2020 1:32 am
by StephenGoranson
billd89 wrote about the author of DVC "...Which scholars have treated this specific matter thoroughly?"

Conybeare, linked above, in his critical edition, including Armenian, especially in pages 258 to 358, "Excursus on the Philonean authorship."

Re: Translation Help: Philo Passage on Therapeuts, DVC 78-79

Posted: Fri Aug 21, 2020 3:37 am
by StephenGoranson
Also, Conybeare reviewed M. F.’s book in Jewish Quarterly Review 7.3 (April, 1895) pages 554-563.
(It’s on
For more recent discussions see various articles in Studia Philonica. E.g., Friedländer revisited: Alexandrian Judaism and gnostic origins
Pearson, Birger A
Studia philonica, vol 2, Chicago : The Philo Institute, 1974, p 23-39. ATLA0001032668
Publication Year:
Friedlaender, Moriz
Judaism and gnosticism
Joan E. Taylor publications. Further bibliography, volumes of Philo of Alexandria : an annotated bibliography, E. Runia et al.

hmm - what do you mean?

Posted: Fri Aug 21, 2020 6:54 am
by billd89
The sources don't show what you're saying. Can you be more specific?

1) On his essay on Jewish Gnosticism, Birger Pearson recommends Friedländer (although not unreservedly) as a radical thinker who was ignored by his peers. His unpopular positions challenged dominant Jewish and Christian writers alike; that doesn't mean he's wrong. Pearson argued for a re-assessment.

2) Re: Conybeare's Review of Friedländer's book. I have read this before, thank you. It's wholly unpersuasive: a shallow, transparent denial (albeit polite). In fact, this review makes C.'s Philonic Authorship Thesis look even more like 'wish-fulfillment.'

"Reviewed Work: Zur Entstehungsgeschichte des Christenthums by Max Friedlander" Review by: Fred. C. Conybeare in The Jewish Quarterly Review, Vol. 7, No. 3 (Apr., 1895), see p.557 and p.562

“His view of Therapeutism in Ch. III. is at fault. He is right in rejecting the view of Lucius, who pretends that the De Vita Contemplativa is a late third or early fourth century panegyric of Christian monachism, and in ascribing it to Philo's age and circle. But his reasons for denying the authorship to Philo himself are insufficient; for it is not true that the Therapeuta were heretical Jews any more than was Philo himself. ...The passage in the D. V. C., however, does not even hint that the Therapeutas, because they allegorised the Law, therefore neglected its literal fulfilment in any respect. As I have pointed out in the testimonia to the passage in my recent edition of the D. V. C., similar descriptions of the relation of the letter to the spirit of the Law occur in other works of Philo, and their occurrence quite forbids Friedlander's inference. It is a fact that the allegorising activity of the Therapeutse, as described in the D. V. C., in no way differs from the same activity as described and warmly eulogised and defended everywhere else in the genuine works of Philo.”

In fact, there are many many places where the radical allegorisers - Philo's competition - are scorned; in other places, we can easily read in to Philo's oblique or abstruse critiques of 'others' (Jews, but not singled out that way) in several categories of 'Philonic apostates' who existed on paper at least. He never names names, but - if the Anonynmous Author isn't someone else - then DVC is bizarre and wholly counter-intuitive example of Defend Your Enemy: so Philo's Authorship remains thoroughly suspect.

3) I have also read Joan E. Taylor's book. I am well aware that many scholars 'act-as-if' Philo wrote DVC and admit side-stepping the Authorship Question. I am not bothered by that, either. Again: what are you saying otherwise, exactly: page citation?

Most importantly:
In 2020 - 125 years later - forensic computational tools are at our disposal. Has any scholar attacked the question, the dubious authorship of Philo's DVC, with a more scientific analysis? (Philo's authorship must be proven, not disproven, to be definite.)

What brings me here is the positive identification of ghostwriter(s) of one of the top bestsellers in the English language; they adopted the guise of an anonymous Philonic scholar and a Therapeutides in writing one of the world's most famous self-help books. In crafting (re-imagining) a 'First Century' Jewish Theosophy out of parts of the Jewish Hermetica and Philo - updated, of course, and synthesized w/ certain Emmanuelist ideas for a modern therapeusis, and more - they arguably created one of the world's most influential books of the 20th C. ...and healing cults of the past 1,800 years.

Apparently, they adopted (adapted) Friedländer's thesis and a number of his points for this anonymous exercise. Professionally, they too were known as iconoclasts in their field... but so highly regarded as to be cited in one of the most famous US Supreme Court cases of the 20th C. And fully-funded in this project by the richest man on earth, even? (One doesn't make cthat laim unless there's definite proof in the Rockefeller Archives at Sleepy Hollow.) Like the DVC Author, too, anonymity is at the very heart of their job.

None of this proves that Friedländer's original thesis about DVC is correct, of course.


Re: Translation Help: Philo Passage on Therapeuts, DVC 78-79

Posted: Fri Aug 21, 2020 7:04 am
by StephenGoranson
billd89, you consider Conybeare's scholarship (book and/or review) on DVC "shallow" !?

No. That wasn't what I said at all.

Posted: Fri Aug 21, 2020 7:14 am
by billd89
This is what I wrote:
"I have read this before, thank you. It's wholly unpersuasive: a shallow, transparent denial"

and then...
"His view of Therapeutism in Ch. III. is at fault. ... It is a fact that the allegorising activity of the Therapeutse, as described in the D. V. C., in no way differs from the same activity as described and warmly eulogised and defended everywhere else in the genuine works of Philo.”

C.'s rebuttal of this point is evasive, a shallow & transparent denial. That's persuasive he may be wrong! (Most excellent scholars may still be wrong.) Definitive proof is still wanting.

Don't play such games, here. You haven't provided any proof of Authorship, merely cited a few names instead. The ball is still in your court lol

Re: Translation Help: Philo Passage on Therapeuts, DVC 78-79

Posted: Fri Aug 21, 2020 7:55 am
by StephenGoranson
In his review, which was partly complimentary, Conybeare referred to his DVC book, which has, as already mentioned, among other things, a one-hundred page section on the authorship of DVC. So I would not call his opinion on authorship in any way "shallow." Good day.

Re: Translation Help: Philo Passage on Therapeuts, DVC 78-79

Posted: Mon Aug 24, 2020 6:00 am
by StephenGoranson
To be clear, I don't object to asking whether Philo wrote DVC, though I think he did. And the translation of Friedländer's article is welcome. And, as you may already know, recent publications by Maren Niehoff (Philo, an Intellectual Biography, 2018) and John J. Collins (in Burke O. Long FS, 2020), though they do not begin with your preferred question, do consider it fitting as part of his work. It may be that the onus of proof is on the view that Philo did not write it, but I'm ok with letting each reader decide that.