Revisiting Philo's Therapeutae and their Context/Timeline

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Revisiting Philo's Therapeutae and their Context/Timeline

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I'm starting a new thread off smthg DCHindley cut&pasted over two years ago, on what was there a minor point, the Therapeutae.
DCHindley wrote: Fri May 18, 2018 11:32 am
G R S Mead, 'On the Tracks of the Earliest Christians', (Did Jesus Live 100 years BC, 1903, pp. 324-353) 2 of 4:

The "Therapeut = Christian" Controversy: ... I can only repeat what I have already written in my "Fragments" (pp. 64, 65), after reviewing the whole matter.

1 Conybeare (F. C.), "Philo about the Contemplative Life, or the Fourth Book of the Treatise concerning the Virtues," critically edited, with a Defence of its Genuineness (Oxford; 1895).

It is convincingly established against the "Pseudo-Philo" speculation of Grätz, Nicolas and Lucius, that the "De Vita Contemplativa" is a genuine Philonean tract. As to its date, we are confronted with some difficulties; but the expert opinion of Conybeare assures us that "every reperusal of the works of Philo confirms my feeling that the D. V. C. is one of his earliest works " (op. cit. p. 276). Now as Philo was born about the year 30 B.C., the date of the treatise may be roughly ascribed to the first quarter of the first century; Conybeare puts it conservatively "about the year 22 or 23" (op. cit., p. 290).

The Therapeut Dilemma: The question, then, naturally arises: At such a date can the Therapeuts of Philo be identified with the earliest Christian Church at Alexandria? If the accepted dates of the origins are correct, the answer must be emphatically, No. If, on the contrary, the accepted dates are incorrect, and Philo's Therapeuts were "Christians," then we shall be compelled to change the values of many things.

[338] But apart from the question of date, the contents of the "D. V. C." are of immense importance and interest as affording us a glimpse into those mysterious com munities in which Christians for so many centuries recognized not only their forerunners, but themselves. The Therapeuts, however, were clearly not Christians in any sense in which the term has been used by dogmatic Christianity; Philo knows absolutely nothing of Christianity in any sense in which the word is used to-day. Who, then, were those Christian non-Christian Essene Therapeuts? The answer to this question demands, in our opinion, an entire reformulation of the accepted history of the origins.

The dilemma is one that cannot be avoided. It is chief of all problems which confront the student of Christian origins. The Therapeuts have been recognized throughout the centuries as identical with the earliest Christian Church of Egypt. They were known to Philo at the very latest as early as 25 A.D., and they must have existed long before. If the canonical dates are correct, they could not have been Christians, in the sense of being followers of Jesus; and yet they were so like the Christians, that the Church Fathers regarded them as the model of a Christian Church. We are, therefore, confronted with this dilemma; either Christianity existed before Christ, or the canonical dates are wrong. From this dilemma there seems to me to be no escape.

...
DCH
I'm inclined to agree w/ Mead [1903] on the approximate date 25 AD of the writing, but I have strong reservations about Conybeare (whose arguments/rhetorical ploys appear frankly sociopathic!) as I work through his text.

Who, then, were those Christian non-Christian Essene Therapeuts? The answer to this question demands, in our opinion, an entire reformulation of the accepted history of the origins.

No. There's no identification w/ the Alexandian Christian Church (whch I presume appeared 2 generations later). The "Therapeutae" were philosophic Jews, intellectually-advanced from a Palestinian standpoint and thoroughly cosmopolitan (anachronistically: 'modern') in their orientation. Philo mentions their varied fellowships or conventicles, which then quite old. It isnt a single unified group, and while many were likely Alexandrian, it was an eclectic and 'international' community of Judaizers and prosletyes. I'll sketch out my own working thesis, here.

If one figure predominated in their assumed belief system, it was probably Melchizedek. Many of their forebearers had been Jewish mercenaries in Egypt for centuries, and the Warrior/Judge/Savior figure of c.300-200 BC had become identified w/ the Logos/Son of God before Philo's time (c.100 BC). Samaritans in Egypt were 'Old Jewish', and Melchizedek transcended many other local cultural distinctions in the Diaspora. More 'orthodox' Jews would have uneasily accomodated these primitive and sometimes radically syncretistic Jews from the margins; some 'Therapeutae' came from hinterland towns and faraway places, Philo says.

Later still, and of a different origin?, it is more likely the Christos Myth had appeared only a few generations before exploding c.40 AD. The Chrestiani were a social phenomenon in different areas of Roman Empire before the Jesus Disciples (organized cultic hijackers) arrived in most towns 55-110 AD - that takeover was significantly later than Philo's record of the Therapeutae (whose colony disappeared in his lifetime, I'd guess).

In his day, Apollos would have been familiar w/ some living Therapeutae; he might have been student at the colony. Cerinthus (c.25-90 AD?) might possibly have studied under one or more Therapeuts, but he probably read/sang their works a generation after. (I see no reason to doubt that a few Therapeuts became 'Judeo-Christian' but I won't overstate that case either.)

The works which 'Therapeuts' (Jewish writers) produced at the writers' colony at Lake Mareotis c.10 BC - 25 AD expressed a kind of advanced exegetical & allegorical Judaizing propaganda of their day. It was a golden age for their book product, tailored for itinerant preachers and unorthodox synogogues appealing to the Chrestiani in distant towns of the Empire.

Some other material - later still, not produced at this colony, by yet more radical exegetical & allegorical Judaizers - clearly troubles Philo in his later years. Insofar as this 'movement' was literary, it evolved fairly quickly - from 20-50 AD - into something more heretical. This would explain the seeming contradictory positions he takes towards such writers in his different works, in his increasingly conservative standpoint.

Another issue is conflation: Philo's 'Therapeutae' are also explicitly identified as healers, but those were specialists - he doesnt elaborate what those folks did exactly. I suspect the standard rigamarole of fortune-telling, dream interpretation, magic, etc. which typically embarassed or offended normative/institutional Judaism. De Vita Contemplativa reads like a sympathetic attorney's 1969 defense of hippies, a commune that's being socially-condemned as licentious, freaky and dangerous: some important bits are obviously left out. And that is what fascinates me...

I think that in the Diaspora, the older and widespread but weak Melchizedek folk 'cult' was subsumed by a Christos movement c.40-85 AD, then the post-Apostalic Jesus cult opportunistically seized that mantle last (battling various gnostic competitors, ripping off their ideas when useful, etc.) A breach must have occurred well before 70 AD, but the collapse of Second Temple Judaism created a void into which all sorts of mad ideas flowed freely, c.70-140 AD. Patristic Christianity gets sorted fairly soon thereafter.

So the widespread but especially Judeo-Egyptian Melchizedekian belief (a key component of the 'Therapeutae' cult) had pre-existed for several hundred years, and persisted awhile longer into Christian Church times, but that specific commune on Lake Mareotis probably disappeared c.40 AD.
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Re: Revisiting Philo's Therapeutae and their Context/Timeline

Post by rgprice »

Very interesting. I'd certainly like to know more about both the Melchizedek folk cult and the Therapeutae.
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Re: Revisiting Philo's Therapeutae and their Context/Timeline

Post by DCHindley »

billd89 wrote: Sun Mar 14, 2021 9:21 am I'm starting a new thread off smthg DCHindley cut&pasted over two years ago, on what was there a minor point, the Therapeutae.

...

I'm inclined to agree w/ Mead [1903] on the approximate date 25 AD of the writing, but I have strong reservations about Conybeare (whose arguments/rhetorical ploys appear frankly sociopathic!) as I work through his text.

Who, then, were those Christian non-Christian Essene Therapeuts? The answer to this question demands, in our opinion, an entire reformulation of the accepted history of the origins.

No. There's no identification w/ the Alexandian Christian Church (whch I presume appeared 2 generations later). The "Therapeutae" were philosophic Jews, intellectually-advanced from a Palestinian standpoint and thoroughly cosmopolitan (anachronistically: 'modern') in their orientation. Philo mentions their varied fellowships or conventicles, which then quite old. It isnt a single unified group, and while many were likely Alexandrian, it was an eclectic and 'international' community of Judaizers and prosletyes. I'll sketch out my own working thesis, here.

If one figure predominated in their assumed belief system, it was probably Melchizedek. Many of their forebearers had been Jewish mercenaries in Egypt for centuries, and the Warrior/Judge/Savior figure of c.300-200 BC had become identified w/ the Logos/Son of God before Philo's time (c.100 BC). Samaritans in Egypt were 'Old Jewish', and Melchizedek transcended many local cultural distinctions in the Diaspora. More 'orthodox' Jews would have uneasily accomodated these exotic, primitive and syncretistic Jews from the margins; some 'Therapeutae' came from hinterland towns and faraway places, Philo says.
xxxxxxxxxxxx
Later still, and of a different origin?, it is more likely the Christos Myth had only appeared a few generations before exploding c.40 AD. The Chrestiani were a social phenomenon in different areas of Roman Empire before the Jesus Disciples (organized cultic hijackers) arrived in most towns 55-110 AD - that takeover was significantly later than Philo's record of the Therapeutae (whose colony disappeared in his lifetime, I'd guess).

Apollos would have been familiar w/ many living Therapeutae in his day. He might have been student at the colony. Cerinthus (c.25-90 AD?) might possibly have studied under the Therapeutae, but probably read/sang their works a generation after. (I see no reason to doubt some Therapeuts became 'Judeo-Christian' but I won't overstate that either.)

The works which 'Therapeuts' (Jewish writers) produced at the writers' colony at Lake Mareotis c.10 BC - 25 AD expressed a kind of advanced exegetical & allegorical Judaizing propaganda of their day. It was a golden age for their book product, tailored for itinerant preachers and unorthodox synogogues appealing to the Chrestiani in distant towns of the Empire.

Some other material - later still, not produced at this colony, by yet more radical exegetical & allegorical Judaizers - clearly troubles Philo in his later years. Insofar as this 'movement' was literary, it evolved fairly quickly - 20-50 AD - into something much more heretical. This would explain the seeming contradictory positions he takes towards such writers in his different works, from his increasingly conservative standpoint.
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Another issue is conflation: Philo's 'Therapeutae' are also identified as healers, but those were specialists - he doesnt elaborate what those folks did (which fascinates me). I suspect this was the fortune-telling, dream interpretation, magic, etc. which embarassed or angered normative/institutional Judaism. De Vita Contemplativa reads like a sympathetic attorney's 1969 defense of hippies, a commune that's being socially-condemned as licentious, freaky and dangerous: some important bits are left out.
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
I think that in the Diaspora, the older and widespread but weak Melchizedek folk 'cult' was subsumed by a Christos movement c.40-85 AD, then the post-Apostalic Jesus cult opportunistically seized that mantle last (battling various gnostic competitors, ripping off their ideas when useful, etc.) A breach must have occurred well before 70 AD, but the collapse of Second Temple Judaism created a void into which all sorts of mad ideas flowed freely, 70-140 AD.
I broke down your post into subsections, for the sake my own better understanding.

I agree with Mead that these therapeutae were cosmopolitan types, from different walks of life, and like to you, they come across to me, like hippie communes of the 1960s. In modern terms, it would be RV park culture with poetry and philosophical reading/discussion groups (think beatnik or hippie coffee shops of the 50s or 60s). The seriousness by which beatniks and hippies took these things was probably a bit deeper than the caricatures we see in Frankie Avalon & Annette Funicello, or Elvis Presley, movies. Today it would be called New Age. New Age tends to appeal to rick folks more than poor, willing to pay large sums to have guru's tickle their ears. Still, plenty of poor folks love their crystals and wind chimes.

Normally I get a little skeptical when I see a reconstruction that requires so many parts to explain. Pretty soon the explanation looks like Barbara Thiering does with Jesus & the Riddle of the Dead Sea Scrolls (1992), who was proposing all sorts of sub sects among the Essenes, with very specific beliefs associated with each, to explain how the Jesus story came about. Her take has generally been judged to be "highly speculative" although that should not dissuade someone from looking into it.

Philo says that these Ther. were similar to, but distinct from, Essenes. The only Christian writers to tackle them were:

1) Eusebius of Caesarea, who read a book on these folks with same name as preserved in presents mss of Philo, and exclaims that to him and his circles these must surely have been early Christians.

2) Epiphanius of Salamis, who had come across this description of "Jessaeans," in a book attributed to Philo titles On Jessaeans, he also repeats Eusebius' exclamation that these Jessaeans must have been early Christians. He doesn't seem to know the term Therapeutae.

Whether they were Jews or not, I am not sure. Philo thought they were a great example of simple living folks devoted to philosophical contemplation. The word itself means something like "healers" but I believe that Perseus.org also indicates that it can refer to a devotee of a god. Philo, however, is careful not to say specifically who the authors of the writings they read in group sessions actually were, making me think they are not necessarily Jews. Philo's text, currently found in the book De vita contemplativa 1.1-90, is actually a mixed narrative.

In the file I attached below, I break out Philo's direct observations of the Therapeutae (in red letters), his musings about the kind of men and women these Ther. represent (in blue letters), and then there is a sizable amount of digressions (in black letters). It is too long to post in its entirety, but take a look. This file is dated around 2018. I think that the red letter text is probably Philo's original description, with the blue being moralizations on his part, and the black letter stuff being digressions by copyists. YMMV.
Enjoy ...

DCH
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Re: Revisiting Philo's Therapeutae ...

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rgprice-
I'm working on it - and I have my work cut out for me.

The gist of it is: Philo's exegetical sermons are not random; rather he is addressing groups of Jews and non-Jews - persuasion along certain lines. So when he talks about the Logos and other topics related to Melchizedek, he's actually trying to influence that camp of believers, to bring them back to the Alexandrian center in some cases, to unify the Jews of the Egypt-Alexandria/Diaspora network generally. (His cynicism towards radical allegorists in a number of later works suggests he failed, or rather that horse had long since left the barn.)

dchindley-
Thank you for sharing your work! I will read it tonight.

They were definitely Jews 'of some kind': viz.,
"those persons who have devoted their whole life and themselves to the knowledge and contemplation of the affairs of nature in accordance with the most sacred admonitions and precepts of the prophet Moses" (...and in a longer section...) "When the Israelites saw and experienced this great miracle, which was an event beyond all description, beyond all imagination, and beyond all hope, both men and women together; under the influence of divine inspiration, becoming all one chorus, sang hymns of thanksgiving to God the Savior; Moses the prophet leading the men, and Miriam the prophetess leading the women."

I refer to the Therapeutae as "Jews" Judaizers and Jewish philosophers because those terms are functionally useful if imprecise. But I'll grant they were unorthodox Jews organized in their own affinity schools/synagogues or even mystery 'cults' (following Goodenough, 1935) almost heretical to mainstream Jewish authorities: "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 take as a kind of model, and imitate the general fashion of their sect."

In part, DVC seems written to answer some more conservative (Jewish) critics.
wrote:Philo says that these Ther. were similar to, but distinct from, Essenes.

If the Essenes were Palestinian Jews of a type, and the so-called 'Therapeutae' were elite Diaspora Jews who did or believed some very different things, to constitute a different category in people's minds, that distinction makes perfect sense. 'Same-same, but different.'

I'm convinced this particular and extraordinary commune was subsidized (as content-producers, for a publishing-house) and situated in a 'Jewish'/Jewish-sympathetic environs safe from the crowds of Alexandria. Among other obvious trappings, the site functioned as a college, infoshop, panhellenic council, writers' colony and propaganda center. "for they take up the sacred scriptures and philosophise concerning them, investigating the allegories of their national philosophy..." "they likewise compose psalms and hymns {ποιοῦσιν ᾄσματα καὶ ὕμνους} to God in every kind of metre and melody imaginable, which they of necessity arrange in more dignified rhythm."

Where Reitzenstein advanced the idea that synthetic cults developed at this time and place, it is plausible these quasi-Jewish fraternities were also writing for alternative or heterodox synagogues and collectors across the book-trade network. And the commune was known throughout the Diaspora (we are told) so it must have been a gathering place to harmonize any antagonisms between the different fraternities. Every dean or deacon(ess) had the opportunity to have their inspired -read: gnostic- writings produced, if there was a commission & demand. How that buyer's market functioned (what /who subsidized this eclectic colony) and where these different "sects" originated (Libya, the Fayum, ...?) are a few of the many unanswered questions in the DVC ellipsis here.

'Therapeutae' was a borrowed term; we don't know what these little sects called themselves, but its safe to suggest their (mythic) founder's name was recalled.
...a reconstruction that requires so many parts to explain...

Not really. I see it's more like Occam's Razor than something dependent on lots of divergent different moving parts. But whatever the reality actually was, it must have been more complicated than what little DVC offers us. I'm reading 'Philo' as though it is an accurate (if deliberately vague) portrayal of a community Philo had visited as a youth; I'm filling in the blanks (hypothetically.) I also suppose it's a recollection (circa 15 AD) of what he saw c.5 AD and generally 'knew of' later: he is attesting to the good character of 'those people'. So I've taken liberties to try to explain some aspects of what it probably was/might have been, how it came to be, what became of those folks, and so on.

The truly radical part of my thesis (which I have only intuited from Friedlaender, via a major mid-20th Century scholar) is that these Therapeutae were also composing Hermetic material - synthesizing Jewish ideas to myths of the Serapis cult, viz. writing the 'Jewish' Hermetica. That artistic license was hugely controversial, causing unrest in Alexandria in 17 AD and later, after tragic events, leading Emperor Claudius to warn the Jews in an edict to cease & desist from tampering with the Greek cult. The naughty Therapeutae! (Again, I've inferred this from a secondary source c.1938.) Personally, I love sh*t-stirrers, bizarre mysteries and occult weirdness, so I am unabashedly intrigued by these Jewish soul-healers. So was Carl Jung.

A few things of note:
1) ἀνίσχοντος εὐημερίαν αἰτούμενοι...: asking to be filled with success, so that their minds may be filled with heavenly light, etc.
ἐκπληρόω = i.e. where the Logos is fulfilled with heavenly powers, in De Somniis 1.62,64 etc.
τελέω = brought to perfection, fulfilled.
I wonder if these are relative parallels?

2) their Solar cultic worship was public, therefore indisputable: Philo explains it away. He doesnt call it 'Mechizedekian' but that's an obvious implication and conclusion, viz. the Sun/Savior God (See my long post/translation of Martin Bodinger's 'Enigma of Melchizedek', pp.310-3).

3) §87: "hymns of thanksgiving to God the Savior" (σωτῆρα θεὸν) = Melchizedek/Logos, viz. Melchizedek's intermediary role as Savior in 11QMelch’s text; 'Epistle to the Hebrews' has Melchizedek as the embodiment of mankind’s continuing hope in righteousness and salvation, etc.

See especially M. Friedlaender, “La secte de Melchisédec et l’épître aux Hébreux,” REJ, 5, [1882], pp.1-26, 188-198; 6, 1883, pp.187-189; M. Friedlaender, Synagoge und Kirche in ihren Anfângen, Berlin, [1908], pp.84-89; M. Friedlaender, “The ‘Pauline’ Emancipation from the Law, a Product of the pre-Christian Jewish Diaspora,” JQR, 14, [1902], pp.288-297.
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Re: Revisiting Philo's Therapeutae, via Carl Jung

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"Psychic Change”: Illustration of an Archetype of the Collective Unconscious

Carl Jung was heavily influenced by GRS Mead, and Jung reportedly brought him to Eranos (rumored by Gilles Quispel) around the same summer he met and closely befriended Heinrich Zimmer (Ludwig Edelstein's roommate at Heidelberg & Joseph Campbell's teacher at Columbia). What Jung expresses on the Christ-Therapeutae is bollocks - and Mithraism was absent from Egypt - but we should realize his profound importance, here: he was treating the Mellons and at least one of JD Rockefeller Sr.'s adult children in this period.

Jung's lectures hint at his methods, his odd therapeusis; that's what important here. The Collective Unconscious and Archetype are huge concepts in the history of psychology! That he suggests he got his original ideas from the Therapeutae, via Mead, is no trivial connection. (I have my doubts: I suspect Jung merely copied Freud, ripping off the Therapeutae as Freud had earlier.)

In a 1936 lecture delivered and published for the Analytical Club of New York, Jung explained the Collective Unconscious through an Archetype he carefully identified with both the Corpus Hermeticum and Philo’s Therapeutae. Bingo! The combined key sources for the Rockefellers' 1939 book.

“I came upon a book by the late Albrecht Dieterich …The work, published in 1910, deals with a Greek papyrus [Papyrus 574 of the Bibliothèque nationale] discovered a Mithraic ritual in one part of the text [Lines 475- 834] undoubtedly a religious prescription for carrying out certain incantations […] It comes from the Alexandrian school of mysticism and shows affinities with certain passages in the Leiden papyri and the Corpus Hermeticum. […] It is obviously the author's intention to enable the reader to experience the vision which he had, or which at least he believes in. The reader is to be initiated into the inner religious experience either of the author, or — what seems more likely — of one of those mystic communities of which Philo Judaeus gives contemporary accounts. It is therefore a ‘representation collective,’ as are also the ritual actions described … The vision is embedded in a religious context of a distinctly ecstatic nature and describes a kind of initiation into mystic experience of the Deity.”

Another lecture that same year, Jung ridicules the idea he himself would send a patient to a faith-healer, but implies that his own therapeusis (analytical psychology) was essentially the same as that preached by Jesus, the Therapeuts and Zosimos. It is important to note that Jung’s opinion - conflation - is both highly speculative and unsupported by most mainstream scholars. See Lecture IX, 4 December 1929 [1984,p.41]:
“Both Christianity and Islam are psychological methods of treating diseases of the human soul. They prescribe methods of living, attitudes, moral codes as well as dogmatic explanations of why things are as they are—how man misbehaved and God saw himself forced to do something about it, sending sons or prophets to cure the evils of man. Christ was essentially the Healer. The sect to which he belonged, the Essenes, was known as the Therapeuts. We cannot see now how our actual Christianity could possibly heal, since we cannot establish a connection between Christianity and a neurosis. If I told a patient that his religion ought to cure him, he would think that I was stark mad. But in beginning it was effective. In the time of Augustus, the old gods were dying or dead, the old religions and the old temples were going fast. There was great confusion, the world was neurotic, and it became necessary to have a new therapeutic system. There was the Stoic system, for instance, with its theory of the happy, right, and complete life. lnnumerable cults from the East were introduced. I have already spoken several times of the letter of Zosimos to a certain lady advising her to go to the krater, the mixing bowl, to find rebirth. It was just as if a modern man wrote to a friend: “I strongly advise you to go to the krater at Zurich for analysis — to the Jungbrunnen!” It is essentially the same idea.” See Winter, Second Part, Lecture IV, 5 March 1930 [1984,p.520]: “[A number of Jesus legends] coincide in the idea that he was an illegitimate son and as such was a sort of outcast and naturally had a tremendous feeling of inferiority. […] His first fight with the Devil was with his own power-devil, his worldly ambition, and he had the greatness to renounce it. Thus he achieved spiritual greatness. So he went to one of the schools of the Therapeutae, a religious sect who left the world to live a contemplative life in schools or monasteries. They were teachers and healers, and they had a rather wide-spread spiritual and philosophical influence, and were also well-known for their dream interpretation.”

Emma and Ludwig Edelstein also published a major study of therapeutae, in 1945: Asclepius: A Collection and Interpretation of the Testimonies. In the Refugee Scholar Program 1934-39, Ludwig was on the Rockefeller payroll as a 'Researcher' at Johns Hopkins. There, in 1938, Emma and he wrote the Big Book on deadline.
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Re: Philo's Therapeutae, associated w/ Magharia

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Is it strange, that "Magharians" have never been discussed here before?

The ascetic cult of the so-called Magharians sounds suspiciously like the Qumran community, and their intermediary Power recalls Logos/Melchizedek. But these are not the wealthy Therapeutae, retiring from urban life in seniority, to write synagogal songs for the book trade; these are radical desert hermits. Salo Baron disagreed. What did they teach of healing, pray tell?

Again: 'Therapeutae' were constituted by different sects found in all the nomoi of Egypt and abroad. These words might all describe the same conventicle: 'Magharian' would be a practical term, 'Therapeut' would be a cosmopolitan designation, 'Essene' a category and more specific to Palestine. We still don't know what such grouplings called themselves.

Jewish Virtual Library, Encyclopaedia Judaica, Vol.10 (1972), p.1087 on Magharia:

Maghāriya was a sect that appeared during the first century B.C.E. according to *Kirkisānī {937 AD}. The name is Arabic, meaning "men [people] of the caves" and refers to their practice of keeping their books and sacred writings in caves in the surrounding hills of Palestine. Doctrinal differences with the rest of the Jewish community pivoted around the Maghāriya's transcendental view that God is too sublime to mingle with matter. They therefore rejected the idea that the world was directly created by God, but rather held that an intermediary power, an angel, was responsible for that act and now represents God in the created world. The sect wrote its own peculiar commentaries on the Bible and attributed the Law, all communications, and all anthropomorphic references, not to God, but to this angel. Two writings of importance, the Alexandrian and a later work, Sefer Yadu'a, were kept; the rest were of little apparent significance.

Some scholars have identified the Maghāriya with the Essenes or the Therapeutae. Harkavy {1895} gives as his reasons for such identification:

(1) the name of the sect, which according to him, does not refer to its books but to its followers, who lived in caves or in the desert, this being known to have been the Essene mode of life;
(2) the coincidence in the date of its foundation with that of the Essenes;
(3) Maghāriya theory of the angel which is in keeping with the tenets of the Essenes;
(4) Kirkisānī's omission of the Essenes from his list of the Jewish sects, which would be unaccountable had he not considered the Maghāriya to be identical with the Essenes.

Harkavy identifies the Alexandrian author with Philo, who underwent the training period for the Essenes, and suggests that the angel in Maghāriya doctrine might be identical with Philo's Logos. Harkavy's hypothesis has found wide acceptance. S. Baron states that they are clearly related to the Qumran community and thus distinguishes between the Qumran community and the Essenes. Baron also disagrees with Harkavy's identification of the "Alexandrian" with Philo since he considers it highly unlikely that Arabic or Hebrew translations of Philo's works were known in Kirkisānī's time. (For the modern period see *Subbotniki; *Somrei Sabat.)

MAGHĀRIYA: Graetz, Gesch, 6 (1870), 192; A.E. Harkavy, Le-Korot ha-Kittot be-Yisrael (1895); Jellinek, in: OLZ, 12 (1909), 410; Baron, Social2, 5 (1957), 196; M. Simon, Jewish Sects at the Time of Jesus (1967).

B. Revel, The Karaite Halakah Vol.1 (1913), pp.87-8:
The tenth century Karaite, Abu Yusuf al-Kirkisani, in his work Kitab al-anwar wal-marakib (written 937), speaks of a Jewish Sect named "the Magarites" (HntuobK). This sect, says Kirkisani, sprang up before the rise of Christianity. The adherents of the sect make the biblical passages that speak of attributes of God refer to an angel who, according to them, created the world (ed. Harkavy, 304). Among them are the works of the "Alexandrine" ('jKnjaDt^K) which are the best of the "Books of the Cave" (ib., 283). The same author, speaking of Benjamin Nahawendi whom he considers the second founder of Karaism, says that Benjamin's belief that an angel created the world is similar to the view held by the Alexandrine (ib., 314). Harkavy ingeniously suggested that these "Magarites" are the Egyptian Essenes, known as the Therapeutae. The "Alexandrine" whose works they so highly estimated is no other than Philo (ib., 256 ff.) and Nahawendi's "Angel" goes back to Philo's "Logos" (comp. Poznariski, REL, L, 19o5, "Philon dans l'ancienne litterature judeo-arabe," where all the material is collected and discussed). The view that some of the works of Philo were known to the Jews in the eighth, ninth, and tenth centuries—the period of religious unrest among the Jews and the birth of Jewish religious philosophy—is shared by many scholars. See Bacher, JON AH, 7o1; Hirschfeld, ib., XVII (19o5), 65 ff.; Poznanski, I c (see id., btnw lSiK, III, 128a); Eppenstein, MGWJ., LIV (191o), 2oo; D. Neumark, Geschichte der judischen Philosophic des Mittelalters, I, Berlin 19o7, 128, 133, 56o, 568; II, 372 and 466 ff. Among Philo's (the "Alexandrine's) works—which, as Kirkisani informs us, were eagerly studied,—might have been those that contain Philo's expositions of biblical laws; Philo thus influencing, not only the theological views of the first Karaite philosophers (Benjamin Nahawendi and his followers), but also their interpretation of biblical laws and their practices.1*>
1M The allegorical method of interpretation, characteristic of Philo, was popular also among the Karaites; see Weiss, Dor, IV, 86 and Poznanski, MGWJ., 1897, 2o8, n. 1; comp. also H. Hirschfeld, Jefeth b. Ali's Arabic Commentary to Nahum, London 1911, 8 and 1o ff. The Karaites share also the view of Philo that the Decalogue is the text on which the whole Law is but a commentary (this view is found also in the later Midrashim; see the references by L. Low, Ges. Schr., I, 42. A similar view is found in p. Shekalim 6, 1. Reifmann, L1dsd fV3, I, 35o and Weiss, Dor, IV, 141 are to be corrected accordingly). Saadia Gaon proved to them by it the possibility of an oral law (comp. Weiss, Dor, IV, 141) and the Karaites Nissi b. Noah (eleventh century; see lastly Harkavy, DD, intr., VII) and Judah Hadassi (twelfth century) arranged their works, like Philo, according to this view. Comp. also Muller in Oeuvres completes, XI, intr., XIX; Bacher, Jewish Encyclopedia, X, 5836.

Jung's acolyte, and a (the?) major Gnostic scholar, Gilles Quispel, suggested a mysterious Vicegerent/Demiurge who looks like Melchizedek. That this Gnostic Demiurge originated in the Magharians sect, identified by some as THE Therapeutae, is yet more circumstantial evidence.

Michael Allen Williams' Rethinking "Gnosticism": An Argument for Dismantling a Dubious Category (1999), p.223:
... a 'vicegerent' principal Angel of God, who carried the Divine Name and the demiurgical authority and powers inherent therein. This idea draws inspiration from the work of Fossum's teacher, Gilles Quispel. Quispel* had argued that the 'gnostic' demiurge derives from teachings of the Magharians, a Jewish sect alleged to have existed during the period of the Second Temple (i.e. Pre-70 CE).

*G. Quispel, "The Origins of the Gnostic Demiurge," in Gnostic Studies, vol. I, Istanbul 1974, 213-19.
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MrMacSon
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Re: Revisiting Philo's Therapeutae ...

Post by MrMacSon »

billd89 wrote: ... Philo's exegetical sermons are not random; rather he is addressing groups of Jews and non-Jews - persuasion along certain lines. So when he talks about the Logos and other topics related to Melchizedek, he's actually trying to influence that camp of believers, to bring them back to the Alexandrian center in some cases, to unify the Jews of the Egypt-Alexandria/Diaspora network generally. (His cynicism towards radical allegorists in a number of later works suggests he failed, or rather that horse had long since left the barn.)
I'm interested in this too so this post of mine is as much a bookmark as a contribution (or reply per se)

.
Melchizedek: Ancient Sources
Author: PEARSON, BIRGER A.

Melchizedek is mentioned by Philo, a first-century Jewish philosopher of Alexandria, in three writings (Legum Allegoriae 3.79-82; De Congressu 89; De Abrahamo 235). Philo interprets the text of Genesis in a Platonic-allegorical fashion, seeing in Melchizedek a reference to the divine Logos, the thought of God in which the pattern of all existing things is conceived and the "image" of God according to which man was created.

https://eom.byu.edu/index.php/Melchized ... o%20235%29
.


Philo speaks of him [Melchizedek] as "the logos, the priest whose inheritance is the true God" (De Allegoriis Legum, iii. 26),
via https://jewishencyclopedia.com/articles ... elchizedek

Fred L. Horton The Melchizedek Tradition: A Critical Examination of the Sources 2005 p.170: "...in Philo Melchizedek is honored as the possessor of an unlearned and untutored priesthood, indeed as a representation"

[for posterity for myself, viewtopic.php?p=120519#p120519]

and, The Dead Sea Scrolls document 11Q13 holds that Melchizedek was an angel or “a godlike being” who was part of the Divine Council referred to in Psalm 82:1 and Psalm 7:7–8): Michael Wise, et al., The Dead Sea Scrolls: A New Translation (Harper; San Francisco, 1996), pp. 456–457.
via https://www.askelm.com/doctrine/d110101.PDF
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billd89
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Re: Magharians, Name Base

Post by billd89 »

Höhlenbewohner: Meghärija OR Makariba OR Makärija OR Maghariya

Especially interested in any German or French pre-1939 scholarship.

This 1981 essay by I.P. Culianu adds smthg:

The idea that an angel of the Lord is the creator of the world is assigned to Simon Magus by the Pseudo-Clementine Recognitiones33 and to Cerinthus by Irenaeus34 and by Pseudo-Tertullian.35 The same belief was also shared by other Gnostics.36 Thus, it is likely that Simon Magus borrowed the idea of a second Creator from the Magharians, i.e., from representatives of the heresy of "Two Powers in Heaven", but this second Creator became, in the Samaritan gnosis, the God of the Jews.37 One may certainly infer that Simon's perverse interpretation was meant to put in a bad light the God of his neighbours, i.e., to show that he was only an angel of the true Lord.

Personally, I'm reading the 'Magharians' as primitive, rural ascetics: crude, dissident 'Therapeutae' beyond the margins of orthodox Judaica. Wild men, outcasts, the insane - folk-healers & radical preachers to ethnically-mixed 'Old Jewish' communities deep in Egypt (or elsewhere). Among the most heterodoxically 'Jewish' congregations, some of these wild men might even dare to worship Serapis as Joseph, for example.

Following Quispel (1974), Culianu (1981) declares that the Magharians' Gnostic Demiurge was bequeathed to Simon Magus (c.60 AD) and Cerinthus (c.75 AD) among many others. To be so popular, this Binitarian Jewish concept must have circulated at least 25-50 years earlier (c.20 AD) likewise, Philo's work* (c.45 AD) addresses a pre-existent Binitarian belief system. Or should we assume the '2nd Creator' idea began generations before 20 AD, within some some radical 'cave community' or synagogal network?

I suspect the origin & transition goes smthg like ... Melchizedek, c.175 BC, expressed as God the guardian of Jewish mercenaries in Egypt and far-flung Jewish communities, then as a Judge etc. (c.50 BC), then in a ditheistic role as abstract Power (Logos) c.25 BC, then - a turmoil: repressed in name, splintering c.70 AD? - as the un-named Mighty Power, Demiurge, Angel. I'd guess that rabbinical authorities had begun aggressively stamping out the Minim belief in of 'Melchizedek' within a generation after Philo. So Epistle to the Hebrews captures the transit of 'Melchizedek' to 'Christ' c.55 AD; one Judaic cult symbol dies, another iteration is born.


*'Philo, De conf. ling. 146, De migr. Abr. 174, Quis rer. div. her. sit. 205 f.
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Re: Philo's Therapeutae and Epiphanius Panarion 55.8

Post by billd89 »

Epiphanius Panarion 55 c.8: καὶ δεῖ ἡμᾶς αὐτῷ (sc. Μελχισεδὲκ) προσφέρειν, φασίν, ἵνα δι' αὐτοῦ προσενεχθῇ ὑπὲρ ἡμῶν καὶ εὕρωμεν δι' αὐτοῦ ζωήν. καὶ Χριστὸς μέν, φησίν, ἐξελέγη, ἵνα ἡμᾶς καλέσῃ ἐκ πολλῶν ὁδῶν εἰς μίαν ταύτην τὴν γνῶσιν, ὑπὸ θεοῦ κεχρισμένος καὶ ἐκλεκτὸς γενόμενος, ἐπειδὴ ἀπέστρεψεν ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ εἰδώλων καὶ ὑπέδειξεν ἡμῖν τὴν ὁδόν. αὐτοῦ τῆς εὐλογίας.

Epiphanius Panarion 55.8: And it is fitting we make offerings to Him (sc. Melchizedek), they say, so that such may be offered through Him on our behalf, and through Him we may attain Life. And Christ was also chosen, they say, to summon us from many ways to this one Gnosis. He was anointed by God and made his elect, for he turned us from idols and showed us the way. After that, the Apostle {Paul?} was sent and revealed Melchizedek’s greatness to us: that He remains a Priest forever. And behold how great He is: that the lesser is blessed by the greater. And therefore, they say, He as being greater blessed the Abraham also. And we are His initiates, so that we too may be recipients of His blessing.

Drawing on documents unseen, Epiphanius (c.350 AD) describes the 'Melchizedekians': there's an obvious reference to Epistle to Hebrews, but such 'Melchizedekians' are summoned to "Gnosis" and these "initiates" receive that "blessing."

Here is what Birger Pearson ("Melchizedek in Early Judaism, Christianity, and Gnosticism," [2003] p.190) says about this:

the information that Epiphanius seems to have had at his disposal in his invention of a 'Melchizedekian' sect. Even the detail about the sects' offerings in Melchizedek's name (55.8.1) can be construed as a misunderstanding of what is said in Pseudo-Tertullian about the intercessory role of Melchizedek, unless, perchance, Epiphanius reflects here some vague information about Gnostic cultic activity in Egypt involving Melchizedek. There is, of course, nothing specifically 'Gnostic' about the Melchizedekian heresy described by Epiphanius.

Pearson is correct: there's nothing to tie this reference to "Gnositicism" of the 2nd or 3rd C. AD. Actually, in the next section (9.2), Epiphanius specifically ridicules the old Two God Thesis: "It was to {Jesus/Logos}, not to Melchizedek, that the Father said, 'Let us make man in our image and after our likeness.'" That's the Magharians' own Thesis, borrowed and probably dated 300 years earlier - an almost ancient cult belief, probably conflated with the more recent (also defunct? poorly understood) Byzantine heretical sect - Theodotians - who the Church Fathers were attacking. An old JEWISH heresy was invoked, resurrected. Epiphanius (of Jewish descent, long resident in Egypt) could simply descibe the similar fallacy without further detail, as though it were well known.

This is a muddle: something found in the archives, a general fact in 350 AD, combined w/ something recently happened. For that, Epiphanius would indeed be revealing archival information about a proto-Gnostic Jewish cult. In Egypt. Involving Initiates of Melchizedek. I should guess, c.25-75 AD. Who were they? Epiphanius has no idea who the Therapeutae were; they had disappeared very quickly, almost without a trace.
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Re: Revisiting Philo's Therapeutae and their Context/Timeline

Post by StephenGoranson »

For a proposed dating of De Vita Contemplativa to the 40s CE, if I may copy a 2018 comment:

A new (2018) book, Philo of Alexandria: An Intellectual Biography, by Maren R. Niehoff, proposes that he had a change in philosophy after his mission to Rome.
A review is here:
http://bmcr.brynmawr.edu/2018/2018-05-36.html

I have just received a copy of the book. Though I have not always agreed with the author in the past (e.g., about her claim that the Jew presented by Celsus was drawn from an Alexandrian text, J. of Early Christian Studies v. 21 [2013] 151-175*), this book so far appears to be an ambitious and learned attempt at a diachronic analysis of Philo's many writings. "Appendix I: Philo's Date and Works," pp. 245-6, (boldly) proposes dividing Philo's works into two batches, the first ones circa 10-35 CE and then others in circa 40-49 CE. For example, Every Good Man is Free, thought by some earlier commentators to be an early work by Philo, she places in the second, later, batch.

* My view of Celsus:
http://people.duke.edu/~goranson/Celsus_of_Pergamum.pdf
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