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Headword: Θεραπευταί
Adler number: theta,228
Translated headword: Therapeutae
Vetting Status: high
In On the contemplative life, Philo wrote about the Hebrew ascetics, whom he named Therapeutae, and the women who dressed similarly and followed the same way of life whom he named Therapeutidae. And he says they are called Therapeutae either because they heal [θεραπεύειν ] the souls of those who come to them, like physicians relieving them from the evil of diseases, or because of their pure and undefiled service [θεραπεία ] and worship of the divine. When these people begin to practice philosophy, they first separate themselves from their relatives and possessions, then retiring from all the cares of life and going outside the walls they spend their time in lonely fields or groves or mountains, knowing that association with people unlike them is unprofitable and harmful, they pursue and practice a prophet-like lifestyle. And in each of their communities there is a sacred building, which they call a semneion ('holy place')[1] and a monasterion ('monastery'), where in solitude they practice the mysteries of the pious life, no one bringing anything, not drink nor food nor anything else that is necessary for the needs of the body, but bringing laws and sayings divinely uttered by the prophets, and hymns, and the other things with which understanding and piety are increased and perfected. And to summarize, the whole space of time from dawn to evening is an ascetic exercise for them; for no one of them would take food or drink before the setting of the sun, since they judge that philosophizing is appropriate for the light, but the needs of the body for darkness. They make their interpretations of the sacred writings by hidden meanings in allegories; for the entirety of [divine] legislation seems to these men to resemble a living creature, and to have as its body the spoken discourses, but as its soul the unseen thought hidden in the words. The women also are in the same condition.
Greek Original:
Θεραπευταί: Φίλων περὶ τῶν ἐξ Ἑβραίων ἀσκητῶν ἔγραψεν περὶ θεωρητικοῦ βίου, οὓς θεραπευτάς, καὶ τὰς ὁμοιοσχήμους καὶ ὁμοτρόπους γυναῖκας Θεραπευτίδας ὠνόμασε. καὶ Θεραπευταὶ μέν, φησί, κέκληνται ἢ παρὰ τὸ τὰς ψυχὰς τῶν προσιόντων αὐτοῖς ἀπὸ κακίας παθῶν ἰατρῶν δίκην ἀπαλλάττοντας θεραπεύειν, ἢ τῆς πρὸς τὸ θεῖον καθαρᾶς καὶ εἰλικρινοῦς θεραπείας καὶ θρησκείας ἕνεκα. οὗτοι πρῶτον μὲν ἀρξάμενοι φιλοσοφεῖν ἐξίστανται τῶν προσηκόντων καὶ τῶν ὑπαρχόντων, ἔπειτα δὲ πάσαις ἀποταξάμενοι ταῖς τοῦ βίου φροντίσι καὶ ἔξω τειχῶν προελθόντες ἐν μονάγροις ἢ κήποις ἢ ὄρεσι τὰς διατριβὰς ποιοῦνται τὰς ἐκ τῶν ἀνομοίων ἐπιμιξίας ἀλυσιτελεῖς τε καὶ βλαβερὰς εἰδότες τὸν προφητικὸν ζηλοῦσι καὶ ἀσκοῦσι βίον. καὶ ἐν ἑκάστῃ συμμορίᾳ οἴκημά ἐστιν ἱερόν, ὃ καλοῦσι σεμνεῖον καὶ μοναστήριον, ἐν ᾧ μονούμενοι τὰ τοῦ σεμνοῦ βίου μυστήρια τελοῦνται, μηδεὶς μηδὲν κομίζοντες, μὴ ποτὸν μὴ σιτίον μηδέ τι τῶν ἄλλων, ὅσα πρὸς τὰς τοῦ σώματος χρείας ἀναγκαῖα, ἀλλὰ νόμους καὶ λόγια θεσπισθέντα διὰ προφητῶν καὶ ὕμνους καὶ τἄλλα, οἷς ἐπιστήμη καὶ εὐσέβεια συναύξονταί τε καὶ τελειοῦνται. καὶ συνελόντι φάναι, σιτίον ἢ ποτὸν οὐδεὶς αὐτῶν προσενέγκοιτο πρὸ ἡλίου δύσεως, ἐπειδὴ τὸ μὲν φιλοσοφεῖν ἄξιον φωτὸς εἶναι κρίνουσι, σκότους δὲ τὰς τοῦ σώματος ἀνάγκας. αἱ δὲ ἐξηγήσεις τῶν ἱερῶν λογίων γίνονται αὐτοῖς δι' ὑπονοιῶν ἐν ἀλληγορίαις. πᾶσα γὰρ νομοθεσία δοκεῖ τοῖς ἀνδράσι τούτοις ζῴῳ ἐοικέναι, καὶ σῶμα μὲν ἔχειν τὰς ῥητὰς διαλέξεις, ψυχὴν δὲ τὸν ἐναποκείμενον ταῖς λέξεσιν ἀόρατον νοῦν. ὡσαύτως δέ εἰσι τῆς αὐτῆς καταστάσεως καὶ αἱ γυναῖκες.
George the Monk, Chronicon 332.5 - 333.25.
On the Therapeutae see also beta 294. For Philo of Alexandria on the Therapeutae, see web address 1. At Historia Ecclesiastica 2.17-18 (web address 2), Eusebius attributes his information on the Therapeutae (whom he identifies with the Christians) to Philo.
[1] cf. sigma 223, where the passage from here down to "...setting of the sun" is repeated verbatim; see also phi 734.
Associated internet addresses:
Web address 1,
Web address 2
Keywords: Christianity; clothing; daily life; definition; dialects, grammar, and etymology; ethics; food; gender and sexuality; geography; historiography; imagery; law; medicine; meter and music; philosophy; religion; women
Translated by: Catharine Roth on 23 February 2008@12:58:33.
Vetted by:
William Hutton (tweaks of translation and notes, added keywords, set status) on 23 February 2008@17:09:13.
Catharine Roth (augmented note, added another link) on 23 February 2008@20:08:12.
David Whitehead (more keywords; cosmetics) on 24 February 2008@04:26:12.
David Whitehead (another keyword; cosmetics) on 1 January 2013@07:12:50.
Catharine Roth (cosmeticule) on 5 November 2018@19:23:43.


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