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Foils for the Therapeutae: References to Other Texts and Persons in Philo’S “De Vita Contemplativa”

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Chapter Summary

Much of the modern discussion of Philo's treatise On the Contemplative Life (De vita contemplativa) has hinged on two historical questions: assuming that the Therapeutae he describes were a Jewish group existing in the vicinity of Alexandria in his lifetime, how were they related to the Essenes and what was the history of the Therapeutae themselves? This chapter focuses, rather, on exploring some of the literary features of the treatise itself, giving primary attention to its references to texts, groups, and individuals other than the Therapeutae. The primary Jewish texts referred to in On the Contemplative Life are the Jewish scriptures, though they are never quoted. In On the Contemplative Life Philo paints an attractive picture of the Therapeutae, and the references to other texts and persons outside their community add richness and depth to the picture.

Keywords: Alexandria; Jewish texts; On the Contemplative Life; Philo; Therapeutae



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