I accept that a paradox to one person may not necessarily be a paradox to another. My approach may be wrong-headed but it isn't bad intentioned. You may ask these questions a, b, c, d. These are important questions. And should be answered. But I have asked this question:billd89 wrote: ↑Mon Sep 05, 2022 1:04 pm For me, a true paradox is an evident or known conundrum or enigma: a confounding mystery, not merely a gap in the data-set or unknown, nor something that is merely debatable.
By design, your descriptions of paradoxes here are disinformative in almost every case. AND YET -- that notorious 'But...' -- the work De Vita Contemplativa ascribed to one 'Philo Judaeus' is deeply problematic itself: "a hot mess" as the kids of today would say. Legitimately, we may argue
a) whether Philo wrote it (or not),
b) whether the Therapeutae at Lake Mareotis were real or fiction,
c) whether they were "Jews" ,
d) whether they were connected to other 'Jewish groups', and so on.
This tedious path has been tread and re-tread many times before: why bother re-explaining to the wrong-headed or bad-intentioned for the umpteenth time?
e) "Who were the therapeutae in antiquity"?
This also deserves an answer. So let's start at the top.
Let me try and explain why I think the general answer to this question appears (to me) to be paradoxical."Paradox 1" isn't. Like so many terms in Philo's vocabulary, the word 'therapeutae' is pagan Greek. The 'therapeut' as an ascetic or devotional personality type existed throughout the then-known world (as he says). There's no archaeological evidence proving that, either. 'We don't have proof' isn't paradoxical, and literary inconsistency isn't either. 'Problematic' is not 'paradoxical' by definition.
I agree that the word 'therapeutae' is pagan Greek. I supplied a long extended list (reproduced below) of its use in the pre-Christian and "early" Christian epoch through to Julian. Galen identified himself to the emperor Marcus Aurelius that he wished to be granted an exception for military service on the basis that he was a therapeutae of Asclepius. Was Galen an ascetic or devotional personality type? As far as I understand he was a physician in (devotional) service to the healing deity Asclepius. I admire and accept the Edelstein's research on the archeology of Asclepius and rightly or wrongly see the healing cult as one of the major cults - if not the largest - in the Graeco-Roman world up until the appearance of Constantine - who trashed the cult and its major temples.
The term therapeutai also occurs in relation to worshippers of Sarapis in inscriptions, such as on Delos. So we can both possibly accept it was a Greek generic term reserved for the "worshippers, followers or attendants" at all sorts of pagan temples which filled the Graeco-Roman world - including Egypt - prior to its Christianisation.
The "paradox" IMO is reflected in this:
The use of the term in Philo is IMO completely different to the use of the term in all the other pagan writers of antiquity. Where all the pagan writers use the term in a generic sense to refer to the pagan "followers" of the [pagan] gods, Philo uses the term as the name of a specific sect which Coneybeare (and those following his theory) argue were "Jewish".
Such is the extent of the "acceptance" of Coneybeare's theory that when one asks "Who were the therapeutae in antiquity invariably the answer given is that they were a 1st century Jewish sect. This explanation ignores the mass of pagan literary and archaeological evidence.
Rightly or wrongly I see this as a paradox. That is to say if we went back to antiquity and asked the people everywhere "Who are the therapeutae" everyone but Philo (if indeed he is the author of VC) would point to the great class of people who served, attended, in the pagan temples. (It's as if the term has been obfuscated)
1) BTW thanks for your links
Why did the Edelsteins assiduously avoid any reference to the word?The Edelsteins literally wrote the book on Asclepius; archival evidence proves they had been studying that cult since at least 1934. Yet their work, Asclepius: Collection and Interpretation of the Testimonies  has NO WORD INDEX for "Therapeutae" -- Ding! Ding! Ding! -- they have assiduously avoided any reference to the word which appears several dozen times in the Greek of their text. Why, o why, indeed (telling by omission). "Who were the Therapeutae?" is the winning Jeopardy answer to the question, "Who were the First A. A.?"
3) IDK what you are referring to as "the First A.A."?