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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Re: Revisiting David Hay's Philo project

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Thank you, Stephen.

In 2021, David Hay died 15 years ago. Yet he's still cited as an author here (in the 7th vol.?): I understand how that happens but still find it odd.

I think that sort of time-gap occurred much more frequently w/ ms. in Antiquity.

Joan Taylor is a fine writer, but I disagree w/ many of her conclusions; often, I feel like she just 'misses the point'. It's disappointing, but a fresh translation is always welcome. Even a $200 Brill title (use InterLibrary Loan, people!)
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Re: Philo's De Somniis

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From 'Philo Alexandrinus's De Somniis: an attempt at reconstruction,' by Sofía Torallas Tovar (and extract of her PhD dissertation)

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... the threefold dream classification underlying the whole treatise...was probably inherited from Posidonius of Apamea, or at the very least from the Stoic tradition.

This dream classification identified dreams according to their source and origin. All dreams are God-sent, but their source is different: either God, immortal souls or the soul of the dreamer. Fortunately, Cicero preserves this classification in his De Divinatione (I, 64):

“Now (Posidonius) holds the view that there are three ways in which men dream as a result of divine impulse: first, the soul is clairvoyant of itself because of its kinship with the Gods; second, the air is full of immortal souls, already clearly stamped, as it were, with the mark s of the truth; and third, the Gods in person converse with men when they are asleep.”

If we compare this short description of Posidonius’s classification with Philo’s introductory words at the beginning of each book we find very important similarities. About the first type of dream, which corresponds to Cicero-Posidonius’s third type, he says: “The treatise before this one embraced that first class of heaven sent dreams, in which, as we said, the Deity of His own motion sends to us these visions which are presented to us in sleep” (de Somn. I, 1) ...

Philo describes the second type of dream as follows (Somn. I, 2): “The second kind of dream is that in which our mind, moving out of itself together with the Mind of the Universe, seems to be possessed and God-inspired, and so capable of receiving some foretaste and foreknowledge of things to come.” He later adds: “You see that the Divine word proclaims as dreams sent from God not only those which appear before the mind under the direct action of the Highest of Causes, but those also which are revealed through the agency of His interpreters and attendant messengers who have been held meet to receive from the Father to Whom they owe their being a divine and happy portion” (I, 90).

This Mind of the Universe is the Divine Logos, who occupies in this case the same level as God’s messengers, the angels, in this hierarchy of the Divine. In this type of dream, God does not appear to the dreamer, but he sends his angels to deliver His message. Moreover, these dreams, according to Philo (Somn. II, 3), are more ambiguous than the first type.

The dreams of the third type are those in which the soul, provided with a prophetic power, foretells the future (Somn. II, 1): “This third class of dreams arises whenever the soul in sleep, setting itself in motion and agitation of its own accord, becomes frenzied, and with the prescient power due to such inspiration foretells the future.”

This third class is the most obscure and requires the art of a wise interpreter.

https://www.academia.edu/1922929/1996_P ... nstruction

See also Sofía Torallas Tovar Philo of Alexandria’s Dream Classification Archiv für Religionsgeschichte, 15 (2014) 67-82.
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Re: Revisiting Philo's Therapeutae and their Context/Timeline

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'A theological, ancient Hellenistic, and psychological look at the dreams of Pharaoh's chief cupbearer and chief baker (Genesis 40: 5-13, 16-18)'

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1.1. Theological Perspectives on Dreams

According to biblical point of view, God can speak through dreams, as in Genesis 15:13 when God appeared to Abraham in a dream, and as were Urim in 1 Samuel 28:6 (cf. Eusebius, Onir. 1.1, Herodotus, Hist.7.16.2,and Cicero, Div.1.45; introduced in 1.2 Philosophical Perspectives on Dreams further on). In ancient Israel, Judaism, Greek, and the New East, prophets sometimes visited sanctuaries in order to obtain oracles (Metzger & Coogan, 2004; Gnuse, 1997, p.51), although there was in Jewish tradition also a reluctance to have dream incubation. The ancient Israelites no doubt shared many of the prevailing ideas about dreams and considered their dreams a legitimate source of divine guidance. Dreams of theophanies and with other divine direction are usually regarded as prophecies that contain messages from God, and on the other hand, a biblical prophecy is not necessarily a dream (see Rossel, 2003). Especially the dreams or visions that were experienced by prophets were frequently regarded as vehicles of divine revelation (Num. 12:6-8).

However, the distinction between dreams and visions is not always clear. Some biblical dreams and visions both constitute theophanies or appearance of God’s angels, eg. God’s appearance and speaking to Abraham while he falls sleep deeply (Gen. 15:12-13), Jacob’s dreams at Bethel about the vision of the staircase between heaven and earth and God’s angels ascending and descending on it (Gen.28:10-15), Jacob’s nightly message vision received directly from God to go to Egypt (Gen. 46:2-4). In some old Jewish and Christian traditions, even some visions are described as possible means of divine communication as well, eg. Paul’s dream in Acts 16:9-10, which legitimates his new move from Asia to Europe ...

There are two kinds of biblical dreams: one is called message (or called non-symbolic) dreams, and another is called symbolic (or called allegorical or enigmatic) dreams(for a survey of the message versus symbolic dream-genre. The biblical message dreams (eg. Gen. 20:3, 6; 31:24; 1 Kg.3:5; Matthean infancy dreams in Mt. 1:20-22; 2:12-13, 19-20) convey direct patriarchal information or divine revelation that is immediately comprehensible. These dreams are described as for the sake of simplicity, having no visual content of any import to the message, that is, God or angels speak directly in the dream, and no interpretation is needed (see Pirson, 2002, p. 41-42 for a review).

On the other hand, the symbolic dreams which are experienced by non-Israelites are almost always obscure in content, convey through images regarding the future, and need interpretation. Conversely, for Israelites, the symbolic dreams are always self-explanatory. For example, Joseph’s dreams are defined by most scholars as symbolic in nature.

According to Botterweck and Ringgren (1977), a symbolic dream can be interpreted in three different ways: (a) intuitively through the agency of a qualied individual; (b)through the use of collections of dream omina; [and] (c) through appeal to a deity ...

The relationship between message and symbolic dreams, according to Lasanté (2001, p. 75), are two aspects: first, since it is believed that message and symbolic dreams developed from distinct “religious” practices, i.e. message dreams from incubation rites and symbolic dreams from one iromancy (Husser and Munro, 1999, p. 100), therefore, there is little relation between message and symbolic dreams. Second, they share similarities based on the so-called “phenomenological foundation of universal experience” and develop their distinctions due to variations of that experience (for further explanation on the experience, see Lasanté, 2001, p. 10-11). Another typology of biblical dream incubation is provided as intentional (1 Kg. 3:5-15), incidental unintentional (Gen.46:2-4, 1 Sam. 3:2-14), and accidental unintentional (Gen.28:12-15) dreams (Gnuse, 1993).There are two types of considerations when approaching biblical dream interpretation (Hendel, 2011), although on the whole, the Bible says considerably little on the subject of dream interpretation. First, the dreams of kings, like the dreams of prophets, as well as the dreams with divine symbols have special significance as indicating long-term communal and spiritual events.

1.2. Ancient Hellenistic Perspectives on Dreams

In antiquity, dreams were dividedly understood as a means of how divinities communicate to humanity as well as just daily thoughts. For example, in Homer’s Iliad, Agamemnon’s dream is sent from a god, but his Odyssey 19.535 ff. expresses that only some dreams have prophetic significance. Herodotus in the fifth century BC seems to argue in his The Histories that divinities arrive via dreams that contain inevitable truths about the future. However, Herodotus also records Artabanus’s interpretation on his own dream in rational terms: “but (dreams) are not divine, child. For the things of a dream are the sorts of things that have been wandering about amongst men just as I, being much older than you, will teach you. These visions of dreams are accustomed to wander about, things that someone is thinking of during the day” (The Histories 7.16. β.2) (Greek translation quoted from Cox, 2011, p. 25).

In Plato, dreams are used to figuratively refer to something fleeting and/or unreal, and an epistemological distinction is specified: the one who has false knowledge or opinion is seen to be dreaming while the one who has true knowledge is regarded as being awake (Reddoch, 2011).Therefore, the lives of most people who have false knowledge may be characterized as a dream in which reality is not truly comprehended. Plato continuously presents dreams as both the fulfilment of our desires (non-predictive) in Republic IV 571B-572B and of “inspired prophesying” from the divine origin in Timaeus 71D-72B. Plato proposes that God devises for a dreamer divination through sleeping or illness when the dreamer is not in rational mind (King, 2004, p. 38).

On the contrary, Aristotle in his treatise of De Divinitatione per Somnum (On Divination by Dreams ) is skeptical of the divine inspiration of dreams (462b 21-23) and thinks that most dreams are simply the result of coincidence or simply the result of statistical probability (463b 12-22) ...

On the basis of Philo of Alexandria in the first century [AD], the one whose dreams are obscure is the one whose moral and spiritual progress is not sufcient to enable clarity of mental vision (Hay, 1991; Reddoch, 2010, p. iii). He makes references to dreams which are usually ontological and epistemological metaphors. He declares that the dreamer is one who is subject to an epistemological limitation and thus is asleep to the truth, whereas the dream interpreter is the one who is equipped with knowledge and thus is capable of dispelling ignorance (Reddoch, 2011). As concerns Joseph, for Philo’s understanding, he often loses his status as a dreamer but instead of as a dream interpreter.

However, Philo also criticizes that although Joseph is successful in Egypt as a dream interpreter, as a dreamer, his first two dreams lack mental clarification and require prophetic interpretation assistance as well. Furthermore, Joseph is vain-glorious in his own dreams since he dreams of future power and glory. In addition, Philo also treats the biblical dream narratives as exegesis of allegories.

The part legendary history of Alexander the Great in the first century BC is accounted of divination through dreams. While according to Eusebius in the second/third century AD (HE II.18.4), there were unknown two books dealing with non-prophetic dreams not sent by God in the oneirocritical tradition.

The extant Oneirocritica, the only surviving work from Artemidorus in the second century A.D, is the earliest Greek work on the subject of dream interpretation. Oneirocritica contains five books in which the first two argue theoretical and technical accounts on the interpretation of dreams, and the rest of the three introduce a collection of 95 dreams and their connotations ...


2.2. An Ancient Hellenistic Look

Driven by Philo of Alexandria’s oneirocritical concerns, headdresses a philosophically oriented exegesis on the chief cupbearer’s and chief bakers’ dream narratives in his treatise of De somniis II and reminders his readers that the two officials’ dream narratives are closely related. Furthermore, since the two dream narratives are interpreted as complementary symbols both for nourishment of food and drink and offer the opportunity to discuss related vices, gluttony, they also complements his interpretation of Joseph’s dreams ...

Philo connects the association between grape wine and drunkenness and considers the chief cupbearer’s dream ultimately as an allegory for thoughtlessness and folly (Reddoch, 2011; Torallas, 2003, p. 44). At here the chief cupbearer’s dream narrative is to be regarded as negative in Philo’s eyes since it does not simply prepare for necessary nourishment intending for basic body strength and well-being needs (cf. Philo’s praise on Jacob’s austerity when sleeping on a rock in Genesis 28:11, as well as the command “now see to it that you drink no wine or other fermented drink” in Judges 13:4a and Judges 13:14a to Manoah’s wife by the angel of the LORD), but associates with indulgence in pleasure and enjoyment comparing with austere way of life (Somn.I.155-163 and Somn. II.48-51) ...

Joseph is described actually as a veiled symbol for the corrupt Roman leadership in Alexandria in De somniis II. It is noteworthy that in Philo’s another treatise, De Iosepho, Joseph is described as a leader primarily for his virtue. Philo’s two contradictory interpretations of Joseph have received considerable scholarly attention, eg. Harold (1986,1987). However, another approach (e.g., Reddoch, 2011) emphasizes that Philo’s treatment of Joseph does not conflict since Philo sees Joseph as a multi-faceted character ...

If[?] distinguishing between God with Pharaoh, as well as between the high priest in the sanctuary as a servant of God with the chief cupbearer as the high priest of Pharaoh, the high priest in the sanctuary serves God Who is completely without passion and pours a pure drink, whereas the chief cupbearer is said to serve one who is intemperate, lacks self-mastery, and disperses destruction (for a more detailed interpretation on God’s complete pure nourishment in relation to Philo’s understanding of ethical standard of human beings, see Winston, 1984, p. 400; also Philo develops the idea of God’s high priest allegorically representing as the father of holy logoi, contrasting to the chief cupbearer as the eunuch who is sterile [Somn. II.185-189]).

The prominent spiritual functions of the high priest in the sanctuary as an agency of God to redeem souls are contrasted with the chief cupbearer whose functions are superuous and detrimental for saving souls. Philo differentiates Pharaoh who is conjuncted with Egypt and thus the gluttony of drunkenness (i.e. thoughtlessness) with the temperance of God (Reddoch, 2010, p. 239).

https://www.academia.edu/25023110/A_the ... _13_16_18_

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Re: Philo's De Somniis

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MrMacSon wrote: Tue Nov 09, 2021 3:34 pm From 'Philo Alexandrinus's De Somniis: an attempt at reconstruction,' by Sofía Torallas Tovar (and extract of her PhD dissertation)

.
... the threefold dream classification underlying the whole treatise...was probably inherited from Posidonius of Apamea, or at the very least from the Stoic tradition.

This dream classification identified dreams according to their source and origin. All dreams are God-sent, but their source is different: either God, immortal souls or the soul of the dreamer. Fortunately, Cicero preserves this classification in his De Divinatione (I, 64):
“Now (Posidonius) holds the view that there are three ways in which men dream as a result of divine impulse: first, the soul is clairvoyant of itself because of its kinship with the Gods; second, the air is full of immortal souls, already clearly stamped, as it were, with the mark s of the truth; and third, the Gods in person converse with men when they are asleep.”

If we compare this short description of Posidonius’s classification with Philo’s introductory words at the beginning of each book we find very important similarities. About the first type of dream, which corresponds to Cicero-Posidonius’s third type, he says: “The treatise before this one embraced that first class of heaven sent dreams, in which, as we said, the Deity of His own motion sends to us these visions which are presented to us in sleep” (de Somn. I, 1) ...

Thank you for this. I've been translating (German) Eduard Norden on this correspondence and influence, as of this weekend; I had been curious about the time-frame for Posidonius >>> Philo. Cicero's work (c.51 BC) wasn't likely Philo's source, rather Posidonius (c.75 BC), so Philo (c.25 BC) is utilizing a schema composed almost 100 years earlier (~3 generations old). This is another reminder that it typically took 60-90 years for philosophical ideas to spread across the Mediterranean in Antiquity.

Cicero/Posidonius and the Hermetica are both following a ten-fold (dekadic) Pythagorean system, if we remember to count God (+1). 'The One' plus two emanations (Logos and Anthropos) is also well-attested in Philo; it is also the basis (I suppose) of the Xian Trinitarian concept. LINK
In his commentary on section 17 of the Pymander (Poemandres) tractate - which describes how the seven spheres came into being - David Myatt draws a parallel with Cicero's nine orbs, quoting Cicero's text and providing his own translation:

Novem tibi orbibus vel potius globis conexa sunt omnia, quorum unus est caelestis, extimus, qui reliquos omnes complectitur, summus ipse deus arcens et continens ceteros; in quo sunt infixi illi, qui volvuntur, stellarum cursus sempiterni. Cui subiecti sunt septem, qui versantur retro contrario motu atque caelum. Ex quibus summum globum possidet illa, quam in terris Saturniam nominant.

Nine orbs - more correctly, spheres - connect the whole cosmic order, of which one - beyond the others but enfolding them - is where the uppermost deity dwells, enclosing and containing all. There - embedded - are the constant stars with their sempiternal movement, while below are seven spheres whose cyclicity is different, and one of which is the sphere given the name on Earth of Saturn.

In respect of the Hermetic ogdoadic physis, ὀγδοατικὴν φύσιν, Myatt connects these "nine orbs" to the septenary system writing in his commentary on section 26 of the Pymander tractate {CH 1.26} that there are

"seven plus two fundamental cosmic emanations, or by nine realms or spheres [...] the seven of the hebdomad, plus the one of the 'ogdoadic physis' mentioned here, plus the one (also mentioned here) of what is beyond even this 'ogdoadic physis'.

[As the Poemandres] text describes, there are seven realms or spheres - a seven-fold path to immortality, accessible to living mortals - and then two types of existence (not spheres) beyond these, accessible only after the mortal has journeyed along that path and then, having 'offered up' certain things along the way (their mortal ethos), 'handed over their body to its death'.

Ontologically, therefore, the seven might somewhat simplistically be described as partaking of what is 'causal' (of what is mortal) and the two types of existence beyond the seven as partaking of - as being - 'acausal' (of what is immortal). Thus, Pœmandres goes on to say, the former mortal - now immortal - moves on (from this first type of 'acausal existence') to become these forces (beyond the ogdoadic physis) to thus finally 'unite with theos': αὐτοὶ εἰς δυνάμεις ἑαυ τοὺς παραδιδόασι καὶ δυνάμεις γενόμενοι ἐν θεῷ γίνονται."

It's also useful to see how much older is an idea which many wrongly suppose dates '2nd C. AD' Gnostic. Oh it's gnostic alright - but more likely 200 BC. The (Chaldean?) idea of the Archons' spheres goes back a long time before Basilides ...

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Re: Philo's De Somniis

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billd89 wrote: Tue Nov 09, 2021 6:44 pm Thank you for this.
You're welcome.
billd89 wrote: Tue Nov 09, 2021 6:44 pm ... I had been curious about the time-frame for Posidonius >>> Philo. Cicero's work (c.51 BC) wasn't likely Philo's source, rather Posidonius (c.75 BC), so Philo (c.25 BC)* is utilizing a schema composed almost 100 years earlier (~3 generations old). This is another reminder that it typically took 60-90 years for philosophical ideas to spread across the Mediterranean in Antiquity.
* while Philo may have been born ~25-20 BC, he's unlikely to have been very active until ~1 BC/ 1 AD or later

(though, of course, Posidonius d. 51 BC and Cicero d. 1 BC, so were active later, too)
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Re: BC >> AD

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Typo, my bad: 25 AD. The math is correct, tho.
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Re: Revisiting Philo's Therapeutae and their Context/Timeline

Post by StephenGoranson »

Speaking of Posidonius and Philo, if interested:
"Posidonius, Strabo, and Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa as Sources on Essenes," JJS 45 (1994)

https://people.duke.edu/~goranson/Posid ... ssenes.pdf
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'4,000 Essenes' squeeze through a tiny window?

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StephenGoranson wrote: Wed Nov 10, 2021 5:23 am Speaking of Posidonius and Philo, if interested:
"Posidonius, Strabo, and Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa as Sources on Essenes," JJS 45 (1994)

https://people.duke.edu/~goranson/Posid ... ssenes.pdf
Thank you, Stephen. On second read, I presume (following through your points in that essay):

1) Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa was near Qumran in 15 BC (p.297), in proximity to an 'Essene' group.

2) Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa's writings,of unknown date, which presumably somewhere - a Commentary on an Roman Imperial atlas? - referenced the census number of 'about 4,000 Essenes.' If Point #1 is relevant, then Agrippa's writings should have been produced by another - say, his sister Vipsania Polla, c.10 BC at the earliest.

3) Because Strabo studied in Rome (-31 BC) under 'Court philosophers/teachers', he would have acquired these assumed relevant writings by Agrippa, w/ the '4,000 Essene' factoid, c.5 BC.

4) Strabo would have added this timely new factoid to an edited version of his already published Geographica in the next 15 years. Or - at the very least - he was using 'immediately current' information.

5) I don't automatically trust Wikipedia, but this is a clear red flag: "Around 25 BC, he sailed up the Nile until reaching Philae, after which point there is little record of his proceedings until 17 AD, when he returned to Rome to finish compiling a final draft of his Geography during his final years." Strabo could NOT have accessed Agrippa's writing (#1, #2) before 10 BC, so the 'Agrippa Factoid' must have been added later, to an updated 'last' version, c.17 AD.

6) Where Strabo supposedly resided +40 years (and in his late 70s and 80s) is a mystery. That he lived to be 87yo is extraordinary (if true). That he remained so sharp to add obscure data in a later edited version of his work is ... quite a stretch.

The above chain of assumptions is problematic and rather unlikely, however. I think instead:

a) it is quite possible the "4,000 Essenes" factoid appeared in Strabo, c.7 BC (independently of Agrippa*), AND
b) it is possible that Philo (c.25 AD) might also have referenced a 30yo text (VERY RECENT, in Antiquity)
c) it is unlikely, otoh, that Philo c.25-30 AD referenced a revised factoid from a brand new Roman text (8-10 years old) in his Alexandrian writing about the Essenes.

Circumstantially: I may suppose Strabo met the Jewish Ethnarch of Alexandria - Philo's grandfather (I assume), and that quite naturally Philo's family would have acquired such a book mentioning their patriarch c.5 BC - 5 AD. But that version would lack Agrippa's data. What I would need to see as evidence, however, is other points where Philo references Strabo 'Version 17 AD'. Because - if I am following your logic, Stephen - the chain of sources must be intact and very, very current for all these connections. Which, frankly, is really not within the typical time-frame by which authors of Antiquity referenced other authors across the Empire. And so,

d) it is also an unfortunate possibility the "4,000 Essenes" in Philo is an interpolation by a later editor-copyist from Strabo '17 AD' (which allows Agrippa's data); that implies Josephus also augmented Agrippa's data (even from from Strabo, or not) without any muddle.


Brief note on 'sources': I did a meticulous study of one rare commodity's global prices from 1700-1900. Now, commodity price is a data point of paramount importance. What I found: even 'market makers' in secondary mkts had little idea about true market price or why prices fluctuated, and 'bad data' was reported in popular works for decades. That was in the 19th C - how much poorer the data c.1 AD. It really becomes a guessing-game.

* Joan Taylor [2015] suggests Posidonius (c.60 BC) for Strabo's source, which means P. gave data for a group already well-known c.100 BC.
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Agrippa to Pliny was Re: Revisiting Philo's Therapeutae and their Context/Timeline

Post by StephenGoranson »

That is not what the linked 1994 article claims.
It claims that Posidonius and/or Strabo was/were the source or sources for Philo and Josephus.
It claims that Marcus V. Agrippa was the source for ***Pliny***, not for Philo nor Strabo.
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Re: Revisiting Philo's Therapeutae and their Context/Timeline

Post by StephenGoranson »

PS The reference to a "tiny window" may be (?) a reference to a recent claim by Daniel Vainstub (search Vainstub here for my comment; further, there is no reason to posit one main purpose only for Qumran--preserving writing is obviviously one of the purposes). In other words, I did not speculate about that window; Vainstub did.
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