I finished Joan Taylor's Jewish Women Philosophers of First-Century Alexandria: Philo's 'Therapeutae' Reconsidered. In my latest reading, Taylor presents the Therapeutae as a Jewish group in the first century that celebrated the weekly Sabbath but also a festival every forty-nine days. On that particular festival, they celebrated the Exodus and the liberation of their souls from their bodies, which enabled them to have an ecstatic experience of God. On this festival, men and women were together, whereas Philo says that they were apart many other times.
When reading about people in the
ancient world who sought liberation from the body and their desires, I
have been puzzled. Why (in their minds) would they have to work to
attain this, when we're all heading towards death anyway, and at that
time our souls will be liberated from our body? It's sort of automatic,
isn't it? Short of suicide, how can people right now liberate their
souls from their bodies and see God? We know that these ancient
thinkers did not commit suicide, but they pursued a path of asceticism
On page 339, Taylor quotes Philo's statement in
De Vita Contemplativa 12-13 regarding the Therapeutae: "they are seized
by a heavenly passion----just like the Bacchic revellers and
Corybants----(and) are inspired until they see the object of desire.
Then through their longing for the deathless and blessed life, they
consider their mortal life to have already ended". It's as if they
attained a state of such ecstasy----after asceticism and
contemplation----that they feel that they have escaped their mortal body
and have seen God, even if (technically-speaking) they are still
Was Jesus a pacifist?
2 hours ago