Revisiting Philo's Therapeutae and their Context/Timeline

Discussion about the Hebrew Bible, Septuagint, pseudepigrapha, Philo, Josephus, Talmud, Dead Sea Scrolls, archaeology, etc.
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billd89
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By Implication, We Infer

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StephenGoranson wrote: Thu Nov 11, 2021 3:58 amThat is not what the linked 1994 article claims. ... It claims that Marcus V. Agrippa was the source for ***Pliny***, not for Philo nor Strabo.
The argument implies Agrippa may have been a source for the others, by sheer context. (Another scholar called it "tenous".) Pliny isn't discussed in the essay; only one citation, a tiny aside, appears in Footnote #20 on the last page.

Date-wise, Agrippa as a source for Pliny c.77 AD is entirely plausible imo; I had missed Joan Taylor's reference [2012] to Muscianus, c. 70 AD but that's far too close (I think). I am not at all convinced the Essenes and Therapeutae held identical beliefs, so that's veering off-topic for me.

These Essenes were considered an ancient ascetic cult and separate 'race'; they must have been many generations old (>150 years at least, prior to 100 BC anyway), and Qumran evidence - assumed 'Essene' - would support that.

Pliny the Elder, Natural History (77 AD), 5.15 (in Loeb [1938], p.277):
On the west side of the Dead Sea, but out of range of the noxious exhalations of the coast, is the solitary tribe of the Essenes, which is remarkable beyond all the other tribes in the whole world, as it has no women and has renounced all sexual desire, has no money, and has only palm-trees for company. Day by day the throng of refugees is recruited to an equal number by numerous accessions of persons tired of life and driven thither by the waves of fortune to adopt their manners. Thus through thousands of ages (incredible to relate) a race in which no one is born lives on for ever: so prolific for their advantage is other men’s weariness of life!

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Re: Revisiting Philo's Therapeutae and their Context/Timeline

Post by StephenGoranson »

I wrote “The source of Pliny’s account of Essenes by the Dead Sea…” is Agrippa, as detailed on the last two pages of the article, including in footnotes 14 through 20.

Example, from note 17: “Pliny cited M. Agrippa thirty times in books 3-6. Pliny listed M. Agrippa first in his list of sources for book V….”

The article names Agrippa more than a dozen times. Any reader here can check.
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Conjectural Note on Philo's Essenes

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Philo's Quod Omnius Probus Liber looks to be the earliest surviving reference to 'The 4000 Essenes.'

In addition to the likelihood Philo would have owned an early copy of Strabo (referencing and perhaps interviewing the patriarch of Philo's family, but w/o a '4000 Essene' reference), it seems highly probable they also personally knew Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa and would certainly have owned his works. Here's why.

Herod Agrippa (Herod II: 11BC - 44AD) was named after M.V. Agrippa, who had no sons/male issue. This was a politically astute move by Herod I (Herod II's grandfather) and perhaps H2's father (who H1 apparently had strangled). H2 was raised in the Imperial court in Rome; beyond infancy, it seems impossible H2 knew MV Agrippa. H2 was about 10yrs younger than Philo Judaeus, and he was longtime close friends w/ Alexander the Alabarch (10 BC-?60 AD?). Alexander was Philo J's younger brother, who also 'spent time' (something between Imperial hostage and safe-keeping) at the Roman Imperial Court. H2 would also become financially dependent on the family of Philo, vastly rich shipping magnates (the wealthiest Jewish clan in the Roman Empire?) In 41 AD, H2 married his daughter Berenice to Alexander's son (Philo's nephew), but the families may have had earlier marital-biological connections. All this merely establishes the long and close connection of Philo to H2, namesake of the Roman statesman-geographer MV Agrippa. The social network.

Philo (b.20 BC) was older; unlike H2, he may have retained childhood recollections of meeting the Roman. MV Agrippa was friendly with and admired by Jews; if he visited Alexandria he should certainly have seen Philo J's family. Why? Philo's father and/or grandfather were assumed the leader(s) of the Jewish community --this bit is murky; Wiki says "His ancestors and family had social ties and connections to the priesthood in Judea, the Hasmonean dynasty, the Herodian dynasty and the Julio-Claudian dynasty in Rome." At any rate, Philo's family would have had every reason to own MV Agrippa's works at an early date, c.10 BC, and such books would certainly have been studied by Philo.

Circumstantially: Philo's reference to 'the 4000 Essenes' in Quod Omnius Probus Liber (say, c.25 AD), as a census-type factoid lifted from a lost work (c.10 BC) of legate/geographer MV Agrippa, is entirely plausible. That also seems to be the best explanation for the factoid's origin, imo. If so, therefore, the data estimate should be current as of c.16 BC.
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Re: Revisiting Philo's Therapeutae and their Context/Timeline

Post by StephenGoranson »

Philo in Quod Omnis Probus Liber Sit wrote about “*more* than 4,000,” hypertetrakischilioi.

At least Joan T. had no trouble reading my proposal correctly. And I can rely on her not to confuse authors S. G and D. V.

I’ll pass over speculation of Philo reading that Latin (with, in extant works, Essenes location by Dead Sea unmentioned by him).

If anyone here is interested, there’s a bit more at my “Rereading Pliny on the Essenes: Some Bibliographic Notes”:

http://orion.mscc.huji.ac.il/symposiums ... on98.shtml

And that is updated somewhat in note 31 at

https://people.duke.edu/~goranson/jannaeus.pdf
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The Monasterion and Semnion of Philo's Therapeutae

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Of topical but not critical interest, see Anthony De Cosson's Mareotis, 1935.

Although the architectural description of the 'houses' of the Mareotis colony strikes me as somewhat garbled - proto-monasteries as larger buildings with cells, or tiny single-man cottages with even tinier closets, or some combination of both types? - I suspect the names 'monasterion'/'semneion' both derive in fact from a sacred chamber in the larger communal barracks of the old Judeo-Egyptian fortresses, the place where 'holy' weapons, battle standards, and such mercenary 'treasures' were once stored, in the days of Ptolemaic Egypt.

By this, I mean that the main 'houses' were repurposed Canaan-style stone fortresses erected along the Egypt's western frontier, facing Libya. They were probably originally also called by their Semitic name, magadilu (In Hebrew for instance migdal means tower; cf. the biblical Migdol [Jer. 44:1; 46:14] ), although not every such barracks had a tower. I found a copy online of James Douglas Grant Dunn/'Troy Fox', Military Architecture of Ancient Egypt, n.d. {2003?}, LINK; I am interested in other such Egyptian architectural resources. Please recommend!

My thesis:
Originally c.300 BC, the Monasterion (μοναστήριον) was the Hellenized name for that 'sacred room' in the Semitic barracks where The Godhead (μόνος) dwelt, protecting His 'holy' weapons, religious accessories, etc. stored here, under guard. Later on,
c.50-25 BC, when such barracks were decommissioned and debilitated/ infirm veterans eventually repurposed the site, first as a rehabilitation clinic and then retirement home, Torahs and other religious/cult books were valuables still stored in the holy room, no longer any armory but a library. Eventually, a Judeo-Pythagorean cult took over these probably somewhat dilapidated buildings c.10 BC-10 AD. Yet as they would have respected certain traditions of their forefathers (i.e. ancestors), so in that chamber where soldiers had been initiated into the Jewish military fraternity for hundreds of years the Therapeuts might also have initiated their own. Philo says the room was in use all day long: a contemplative library, smthg like a Xian Science Reading Room? And such a barracks, the ex-magadilu, would have characteristically taken its new name ('Monasterion') from that special room once held sacred by the veterans, by Philo's day c.25 AD. I doubt Philo coined the term; metonymy explains this colloquial neologism.

Likewise, the other term Semneion* (σεμνεῖον), a 'holy place', recalls semeion (σημεῖον = מוֹעָדָה): of signs, portents of remarkable events soon to happen; of miracles and wonders by which God authenticates His men, or by which men prove their cause is God's, etc. This suggests the 'sacred meeting room' was where priests of the military cult (in the earlier phase: as active military barracks) - literally 'met God'. Semnium would be the later Latin term/derivation: a kind of temple. Later, the retired veterans preserved but repurposed this special room (where God dwelt, or divine auguries of battles had foretold or explained success/failure) as a healing chamber; the Therapeutae continued that tradition for awhile and that name also stuck.

Where DVC says both 'Semneion and Monasterion' (25: σεμνεῖον καὶ μοναστήριον), this dual terminology may indicate that Jews in different parts of Egypt already had different expressions for such repurposed local barracks, i.e. that the Mareotis locale was not unique as a religious retreat of only one group of Jews availing themselves of a decommissioned military architectural site. The Mareotis complex - a string of small forts built c.300 BC and fortuitously situated in a desirable county where 'Jewish' veterans eventually settled and remained, was only the most famous Jewish rehab-turned-writers' colony in the Judeo-Egyptian Diaspora.

* Also note this curiosity (c. 75 AD, but information from Pseudo-Democritus c.150 BC?) in Pliny the Elder, Secundi Naturalis historiae 24.102:
The theobrotion {"Food for the gods"} is a plant found at a distance of thirty schœnis from the river Choaspes {in Afghanistan}; it represents the varied tints of the peacock, and the odor of it is remarkably fine. The kings of Persia, he says, are in the habit of taking it in their food or drink, for all maladies of the body, and derangements of the mind. It has the additional name of semnion, from the use thus made of it by majesty.

Oily, iridescent leaves? Offering to the gods? The Persian haoma? Strong odor? Well, I am not suggesting that Jewish warrior-priests of Egypt ever kept Weed in their storehouse - consuming Cannabis Sativa for prophecy. Or that injured veterans might have used it in their materia medica for varied maladies. Or that 1st C. AD Jewish vegetarians (aka 'sober healers') ever employed this so-called 'semnion' as a ritual etheogen for their own process of artistic/literary composition. But Hmmm! has all this been considered elsewhere? Strange linguistic coincidence of the period, I suppose.

Medical Cannabis was certainly used in Egypt for many centuries before:
Previous scholars had thought cannabis to be absent from Ancient Egypt, but Nunn (1996) cited six supporting experts, indicating that it was utilized medicinally. These authors agree with the view of Dawson that the hieroglyphic shemshemet means cannabis. Physical proof includes discoveries of hemp remnants in the tomb of Akhenaten (Amenophis IV) around 1350 BCE ...

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Parting thought: we know that Persian/Assyrian Jews at Elephantine Egypt c.400 BC did not sacrifice animals, for "the God of the Jews was to receive only vegetable offerings and incense," according to papyri evidence. Who knows exactly what 'incense' was burned: did Yahu receive 'the dank'?

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StephenGoranson
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Re: Revisiting Philo's Therapeutae and their Context/Timeline

Post by StephenGoranson »

The earliest uses of the Greek word monasterion (that are known to me) are in Philo, On the Contemplative Life, 25 and 30.
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Your Point?

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Presumably. The architectural terminology of Ptolemaic Egypt is almost unknown to us: hundreds of words have disappeared without a trace. Absence of proof is not proof of absence, however. 'First evidence' is also not proof of 'First Use', either.

While I disagree with many points in his essay on the architecture of the Therapeut colony, at least P. Richardson [2004] is considering the matter in great detail.
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Re: Revisiting Philo's Therapeutae and their Context/Timeline

Post by StephenGoranson »

Many texts are lost indeed. But, given the climate, and intensive archaeology, maybe fewer in Egypt than elsewhere?
A recent find of writing on ostraca, published Dec. 15:
https://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsConten ... -Soha.aspx
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Re: Khromenoi = The Experienced

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In my fairly recent research into the Therapeutae of Philo Judaeus, I realized that Yonge's Translation was exceedingly poor. Unfortunately, it has set an abysmal standard which subsequent translators have followed. Few scholars go beyond Yonge or Colson, sadly. For my own research, that clearly would not suffice.

I realized that Philo's data on the sect was more precise than assumed by scholars today (after Yonge & Colson), and this word χρώμενοι (Khromenoi) revealed abit more about the Therapeuts.

DVC 3.29: ἔστι δὲ αὐτοῖς καὶ συγγράμματα παλαιῶν ἀνδρῶν, οἳ τῆς αἱρέσεως ἀρχηγέται γενόμενοι πολλὰ μνημεῖα τῆς ἐν τοῖς ἀλληγορουμένοις ἰδέας ἀπέλιπον, οἷς καθάπερ τισὶν ἀρχετύποις χρώμενοι μιμοῦνται τῆς προαιρέσεως τὸν τρόπον·

Yonge's Trans:
DVC (29) They have also writings of ancient men, who having been the founders of one sect or another have left behind them many memorials of the allegorical system of writing and explanation, whom they use as a kind of model, and imitate the general fashion of their sect...

Colson's Trans:
Also they have writings of ancient men, who, being leaders of the sect, left behind many monuments of nature in allegorical form, which they treat as some sort of archetype, they mimic the manner of this similar sect...

My translation:
DVC 3.29: “They also have treatises of ancient men, founders of their sect {αἱρέσεως ‘heresy’}, who left behind many records of the allegorical interpretation of the Idea, which – according to a certain archetype {ἀρχετύποις} – they use {χρώμενοι} to imitate the course of action/purpose {προαιρέσεως} in such a way.”

At the start, before addressing Khromenoi, this (process) must have smthg to do with the προαιρέσεως (Proaíresis), a central idea in Aristotle's moral psychology. 'Deliberative will' (Proaíresisis) willingness and ethical intention ("making a decision"), choosing the moral action, the principle of action, the plan of action... for what end? For anagogy, for henosis obviously. But it's more than a mere modality, it's a 'way of life.' The Judeo-Hermeticist prays, "May I never fall from the band..." τάξει (= rank, band, company). In a three-fold system, the Physical Company is the Race of the Logos; the Mental Purpose is their Proaíresis. The Spiritual ... ? Philo's suggestion of the Archetypal Hermeneutic is evasive, here: the Spiritual Component is esoteric, a KEY QUESTION.

On Proaíresisis as a kind of zealotry (i.e. burning zeal), see for example Timothy H. Lim, "Towards A Description Of The Sectarian Matrix" in Echoes from the Caves: Qumran and the New Testament [2009], p.11:
Thus Philo calls the Therapeutae proairesis (Contempl. 29, 32 and 67) and hairesis (Contempl. 29), and the Essenes proairesis (Hypoth. 11.2). The basic meaning of both cognate nouns is that of 'taking' or 'choosing.' Thus, those who are described as belonging to a proairesis or hairesis have chosen a particular way of life or follow a philosophy. Philo, emphasizing the philosophical quality of virtue and philanthropy, describes the Essene's recruitment in a manner that reveals its essential character: Their enlistment (prohairesis) is not due to race — the word 'race' is unsuitable where volunteers are concerned — but is due to zeal for the cause of virtue and an ardent love of men.

Reading Liddell-Scott's Greek-English Lexicon (1940), by variant definitions of Khromenoi (= the Therapeutae; or Philo's A. A.) should be those who a) consult/inquire {e.g. an oracle}; b) are experienced {e.g. in suffering, revelation}; c) become friendly or intimate with another {e.g. God}; d) make use of {e.g. a method} and e) proclaim the 'Therapeutic Idea' or Archetypal Hermeneutic of this Jewish mystical cult. In these definitions, there is also a sense of their Employment for a higher goal, divine Agency.

From the Edelsteins' monumental Torah of Sobriety, Khromenoi correspondingly will be those who a) in daily inventory, "ask God's forgiveness and inquire what corrective measures should be taken," those who have b) "had a vital spiritual experience," those who c) have a "new-found Friend" in God, those who d) are "willing to make use of our experience" for their own spiritual recovery, so d) to "make use of spiritual principles," and then e) to share our A. A. message, "our way of life." God is the Director, you are his agent, etc.

How Philo Judaeus uses this seemingly trivial term χρώμενοι (an engaged state of being?) in his other works may provide greater insights. But this concept is richly elaborated in the Neo-Therapeut recovery bible written in 1938. Our Archetype (i.e. the Therapeutae = Aletheian Anthropoi: the primeval A. A.) is rather obvious, but the Prototype is mysterious still.

What is the 'Therapeutic Idea', what was their Archetypal Hermeneutic? The Archetype (ἀρχετύποις) in its origin, purpose, effect, etc. is, I believe, the Logos (Son of God), as indicated at De Somniis, 1.215 (for these mystics are 'the Sons of God'):
De Somniis, 1.215: The perceptible copy {of the Archetype or Second Son; i.e. human Actualized Man = A. A.} is not a mimic performing paternal prayers and sacrificial acts, but one allowed to put on the aforesaid tunic/mantle (i.e. exact replica of the entire Heaven), so both Cosmos with man and man with the Whole may synergistically realize a pious discernment and supra-rational accord (i.e. accomplishing sacrifices).

Exactly: why we pray. For 'Gnosis' of God: Knowledge of His Will for us, and The Power to carry It out.

Another example of Philo's Archetype is worth examining (and here is a thesis):
De Opificio Mundi 69: ἡ δὲ εἰκὼν λέλεκται κατὰ τὸν τῆς ψυχῆς ἡγεμόνα νοῦν· πρὸς γὰρ ἕνα τὸν τῶν ὅλων ἐκεῖνον ὡς ἂν ἀρχέτυπον ὁ ἐν ἑκάστῳ τῶν κατὰ μέρος ἀπεικονίσθη, τρόπον τινὰ θεὸς ὢν τοῦ φέροντος καὶ ἀγαλματοφοροῦντος αὐτόν·

My working trans:
And Ikon is called 'Sovereign Ruler' of Psyche, namely: Nous. For the One is in everything, in some sense; He is the Archetype against which each has been partly modelled, in some manner the god which is carried and made a statue of (i.e. 'glorifies') him.

Philo presents an intriguing but complex topic mentioned in De Opificio Mundi 16 and 25. Jews were forbidden from glorifying, representational ikons of God, then in the 1st C. AD as now. Unless Philo's audience was heterodox or proselytes who needed an explanation within their own trope, this analogy sounds problematic. In any case, Nous cannot be the Unknown Father-God - for how could that be - unless pagan idolatry (i.e. mimicry) is accepted by this philosophically-minded Jew.

The Soul's nous - its hegemon or 'ruling faculty' (we might say 'Conscience') - is 'Ikon': the Image of God/Imago Dei. Here, 'Ikon' is not Anthropos but rather or supposedly Logos, unless Logos = Cosmic Man. (Elsewhere in Philo, the Image is Anthropos, Adam Kadmon.) The Authors of Genesis knew and incorporated this myth, c.272 BC; Sethians would seem to be in existence by c.350 BC if not earlier (Josephus also claimed they were ancient, and sets them apart: a cult of Judaism.) Philo is describing mystical doctrine of the 'Son of God' cult: Sethians.
  • Genesis 5:3, RSV
    When Adam had lived a hundred and thirty years, he became the father of a son in his own likeness, after his image (Hebrew wayyōled bidm–utō ketsalmō; Greek egennēsen kata t–en idean autou kai kata tēn eikona autou), and named him Seth.
Where an individual's mind (nous) has for its archetype the Logos-Nous, (Son of) Divine Mind, the Creator should be the Second Power/Second God. 'Father and Creator' is therefore two hypostases (as the Christian Trinity has three): God made the Image of God (Archetype) and Mankind is fashioned after the Image, in an iconic sense. 'Sons of Man' (Cainite, after Anthropos) and 'Sons of God' (Sethian, after Logos) should be exclusive categories, if not competing cults.

Whether Philo's topical treatment is inescapably muddled, or deliberately obscure (esoteric), or 'the Mystery' has inherent contradictions, or a double-language is deployed (for either converts or persecuted Jews forced to adopt gentile conventions) we cannot say. The verse/context of De Opificio Mundi 69 is not clear. I suppose it is merely a variety of cosmopolitan 'psychological Judaism' and/or a prevalent Mysticism expressed evasively, but my amateur opinion may be too simplistic/ignorant.

The simple point, however, remains fairly straight-forward and consistent with De Somniis, 1.215: the 'Sons of God' will replicate God's revealed process as nearly as possible, to (re-)make the Actualized or Divinized Man (A. A.) in their cult.

...
...
(The more one thinks about it, the more obvious it is that a philologist was the Anonymous Author of the Rockefeller-funded book, this course of action/Program.)
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