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PostPosted: Fri Jun 22, 2012 6:25 pm 
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Therapeuts and Ancient Usages of the Greek Word Therapeuo

In my books, beginning with Christ Conspiracy and including Suns of God and Christ in Egypt, I address the origins of much Christianity within the sect at Lake Mareotis near Alexandria, Egypt, called the Therapeuts.

First discussed in detail as a sect by Philo Judaeus of Alexandria, the Therapeuts were named by Eusebius in the 4th century as the early Christians whose "short allegorical works" served as the basis of the gospels. This admission is quite damning for the traditional origins of Christianity, so it has been dismissed as inconvenient and clearly a mistake on the part of Eusebius. Like others, I have taken the position that Eusebius was speaking the truth here, although he was not in a position to understand its ramifications.

Who are the Therapeuts, then? I answer this question extensively in my books, particularly in Christ in Egypt, in which I discuss this sect in depth as well as the other therapeuts outside of the Alexandria region. What other therapeuts, you might ask? Your question would be merited, because most discussions of Philo's Therapeuts contend that the name is incomprehensible and that since there is no other extent record of said Therapeuts they might be a figment of Philo's imagination. As stated, in Christ in Egypt I produce the scholarship that shows there were other groups of therapeuts, such as on the Greek island of Delos.

In addition, however, by searching through extant ancient Greek texts, we discover that the word θεραπεύω or therapeuo, the verb form of therapeut, was used thousands of times in antiquity and was obviously fairly familiar to literate Greeks. Its meaning is clear, not mysterious: "to be an attendant, do service." Certain authors such as Plato and Plutarch use this term extensively, both of these authors predating the clear emergence of the Christian canon in the historical record.

Following is a list of Pagan and Jewish writers of before and shortly into the common era who used some form of the word θεραπεύω/therapeuo in their writings.

An in-depth analysis of these numerous usages - which must total in the thousands - would be very interesting to establish a background for this crucial sect that obviously contributed tremendously to the creation of Christianity.

While contemplating this issue, it should be kept in mind that Indologists and other scholars familiar with India have noted the correspondence between this word Therapeut and the Indian term Theraputta. In this regard, I have a document in the editing stage that explores this connection in greater depth, based on the writings of Drs. Michael Lockwood and Christian Lindtner.

The verb θεραπεύω/therapeuo in some form appears in some 300 extant Greek documents from antiquity, sometimes dozens of usages in the same text, for a total of thousands of instances. It is therefore hardly an obscure term. Yet, the scholarship concerning the mysterious Therapeuts of Philo makes it seem as if this word is very unfamiliar to both us and the ancient readers of Greek. That misconception needs to be disabused, as does the notion that Philo's Therapeuts were the only such individuals by that name in the Mediterranean of the time.

Achilles Tatius
Aelian
Aeschines
Antiphon
Apollodorus
Appian
Aristides (numerous times)
Aristophanes
Arrian
Athenaeus (numerous times)
Cassius Dio
Chariton
Claudius Ptolemy
Demosthenes
Dio Chrysostom
Diodorus
Diogenes
Dionysius of Halicarnassus
Epictetus
Euripides (numerous times)
Galen
Herodotus
Hesiod
Hippocrates
Homer
Hymn 3 to Apollo
Hyperides
Isaeus
Isocrates
Julian (many times)
Lucian (numerous times)
Lysias
Marcus Aurelius
Onasander
Philostratus the Athenian
Pindar
Plato (especially popular in Plato)
Plutarch (many, many times - MOST references are in Plutarch)
Polybius
Procopius
Sophocles
Strabo
Theophrastus
Thucydides (numerous times)
Xenophon

As but one intriguing example, in Euripides's The Bacchae (82), we read the line Διόνυσον θεραπεύει or "Dionysus he serves," "Dionysus he attends," "he is the servant of Dionysus" or "he is an attendant of Dionysus," etc. Thus, we essentially have a therapeut of Dionysus four centuries before the common era, as The Bacchae was written around 408 BCE.

In the Homeric Hymn 3 to Apollo we find references to Phoebus Apollo's "ministers in sacrifice" who "serve him in rocky Pytho":

Quote:
καὶ τότε δὴ κατὰ θυμὸν ἐφράζετο Φοῖβος Απόλλων, οὕστινας ἀνθρώπους ὀργείονας εἰσαγάγοιτο, οἳ θεραπεύσονται Πυθοῖ ἔνι πετρηέσσῃ

Note the bolded phrase, which is transliterated as "oi [the] therapeusontai," rendered "ministers."

Hugh G. Evelyn-White's translation of this passage:

Quote:
Then Phoebus Apollo pondered in his heart what men he should bring in to be his ministers in sacrifice and to serve him in rocky Pytho.

By the time of Diodorus Siculus (fl. 60-30 BCE), the term was clearly associated with illness, healing and physicians, as it is by Philo, whose Therapeuts are basically spiritual ministers:

Quote:
καὶ τοσοῦτον ὑπερεβάλετο τοὺς πρότερον νομοθετήσαντας δημοσίῳ μισθῷ τοὺς νοσοῦντας τῶν ἰδιωτῶν ὑπὸ ἰατρῶν θεραπεύεσθαι, ὥσθ᾽ οἱ μὲν τὰ σώματα θεραπείας ἠξίωσαν, ὁ δὲ τὰς ψυχὰς τὰς ὑπ᾽ ἀπαιδευσίας ἐνοχλουμένας ἐθεράπευσε, κἀκείνων μὲν τῶν ἰατρῶν εὐχόμεθα μηδέποτε χρείαν ἔχειν, τοῖς δὲ τῆς παιδείας διδασκάλοις ἐπιθυμοῦμεν ἅπαντα τὸν χρόνον συνδιατρίβειν.

Peter Green's translation of this passage in Diodorus (Hist. Lib. 12.13.4) is:

Quote:
...and whereas earlier legislators had decreed that private individuals, when sick, should enjoy medical services at the expense of the state, he went far beyond what they did, since they [merely] thought bodies worth healing, while he offered care to souls burdened through lack of education. Indeed, while we must pray that we never stand in need of those [other] physicians, we most heartily desire that all our times may be spent among such teachers of knowledge.

Obviously, this word has been passed down to us via "therapeutic," conveying this meaning of health. It's fascinating to see the same debate about socialized medicine over 2,000 years ago.

Therapeuting in the New Testament

It should be noted that the word is used in the biblical book of Acts several times as well at Acts 4:14, 5:16, 8:7, 17:25, 28:9. In the New Testament, some form of θεραπεύω/therapeuō (Strong's G2323) is used 44 times, a number of these instances describing Jesus healing people (e.g., Mt 4:23-24). For example, Matthew 8:7:

Quote:
καὶ λέγει αὐτῷ ἐγὼ ἐλθὼν θεραπεύσω αὐτόν

Quote:
And he said to him, "I will come and heal him."

At Matthew 10:1, we read that Jesus essentially makes of his disciples Therapeuts:

Quote:
And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every infirmity.

Quote:
καὶ προσκαλεσάμενος τοὺς δώδεκα μαθητὰς αὐτοῦ ἔδωκεν αὐτοῖς ἐξουσίαν πνευμάτων ἀκαθάρτων ὥστε ἐκβάλλειν αὐτὰ καὶ θεραπεύειν πᾶσαν νόσον καὶ πᾶσαν μαλακίαν

At Matthew 10:8, we read again the emphasis on healing as part of being a good disciple, using the word therapeuo:

Quote:
Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying, give without pay.

Quote:
ἀσθενοῦντας θεραπεύετε νεκροὺς ἐγείρετε λεπροὺς καθαρίζετε δαιμόνια ἐκβάλλετε δωρεὰν ἐλάβετε δωρεὰν δότε

Actually, in the New Testament we have one instance after another in which Jesus or his disciples are "therapeuting" people all over the place - it's a major term used to describe this crucially important aspect of Jesus's ministry. Many of the miraculous deeds for which Jesus was purportedly famed throughout the land revolve around people being "therapeuted." There is good reason, therefore, that Eusebius pointed to Philo's Therapeuts as the proto-Christians.

Here's another important verse, at Luke 4:23:

Quote:
And he said to them, "Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, 'Physician, heal yourself; what we have heard you did at Caper'na-um, do here also in your own country.'"

Quote:
καὶ εἶπεν πρὸς αὐτούς πάντως ἐρεῖτέ μοι τὴν παραβολὴν ταύτην ἰατρέ θεράπευσον σεαυτόν ὅσα ἠκούσαμεν γενόμενα εἰς τὴν Καφαρναοὺμ ποίησον καὶ ὧδε ἐν τῇ πατρίδι σου

To wit:

"Physician, therapeut yourself."

In a famous verse at Luke 14:13, Jesus asks the Jewish lawyers and Pharisees if it is lawful to therapeut on the Sabbath:

Quote:
καὶ ἀποκριθεὶς ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν πρὸς τοὺς νομικοὺς καὶ Φαρισαίους λέγων ἔξεστιν τῷ σαββάτῳ θεραπεῦσαι ἢ οὔ

Therapeuting is obviously quite important to Jesus, according to the story.

The numbers of usages in the New Testament texts varies widely from book to book. John (5:10) uses the term only once, in the story of the therapeuted man carrying a pallet on the Sabbath. Matthew uses therapeuo 15 times, while the word appears in some form in Mark five times, and in Luke 13 times. There are two usages in Revelation (13:3, 12)

Here is what Thayer's Lexicon says of the word's usage in the New Testament:

Image

Take a look at the Perseus Hopper search results for more examples.

Therapeuts in the Old Testament

And then there are the usages of therapeuo in the Greek Old Testament or Septuagint...

One of the more noteworthy usages in the Old Testament is at Isaiah 54:17 - always look at the book of Isaiah for "messianic prophecies" or blueprints used midrashically in the New Testament.

Quote:
no weapon that is fashioned against you shall prosper, and you shall confute every tongue that rises against you in judgment. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD and their vindication from me, says the LORD."

Quote:
πᾶν σκεῦος φθαρτόν ἐπὶ σὲ οὐκ εὐοδώσω καὶ πᾶσα φωνὴ ἀναστήσεται ἐπὶ σὲ εἰς κρίσιν πάντας αὐτοὺς ἡττήσεις οἱ δὲ ἔνοχοί σου ἔσονται ἐν αὐτῇ ἔστιν κληρονομία τοῖς θεραπεύουσιν κύριον καὶ ὑμεῖς ἔσεσθέ μοι δίκαιοι λέγει κύριος

The Septuagint was created during the first centuries preceding the common era, during which time many people would have read or heard this verse about the "ministers of the Lord." Could not some of these Therapeuts of the Lord have ended up at Alexandria, Egypt, to be discussed a few centuries later by Philo? With their allegorical short works serving as the basis for the gospels?

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 22, 2012 9:11 pm 
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"Therapy" is a term that is primarily associated with psychoanalysis, the 'talking cure', discussion of mental health in order to bring to consciousness latent problems that are concealed. Freud and Jung are the main modern Gnostics, applying the therapy of enlightenment.

Rollo May, in his book The Cry for Myth, argues that myth is primarily the stories that give meaning to our lives, and that investigation of mythical archetypes is the primary therapy that enables understanding of identity.

Philo's Therapeuts lived in a Platonic philosophical framework that modern science largely finds incomprehensible. One website that provides a good introduction to the therapeutic role of philosophy is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maieutics where the role of Socrates as midwife is explained through the idea of Gnosis in Plato's dialogues. In The Symposium, Socrates repeats the words of the priestess or wise woman Diotima of Mantinea who suggested that the soul is pregnant and wants to give birth, but the delivery requires assistance. Thus according to Plato, the role of the philosopher is to assist in this delivery, as would a midwife. From this dialogue comes the word "maieutics", the "spiritual midwife." In Theaetetus, Socrates is presented as a "spiritual midwife" and in Meno, by posing questions to a slave who never learned geometry, Socrates leads him to “remember” how a square is doubled. Maieutics is related to methods of Orphism, based on the idea of reminiscence and the practice of Catharsis especially developed by Pythagoras.

One book that I found informative is Plato's Theory of Knowledge, although typically it is benighted by modern arrogance and its inability to take ancient thought seriously.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 22, 2012 10:04 pm 
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Acharya

Your comparing the word therapeuts to a similar word from India has me wondering if the Therapeuts had a connection with the Buddhist colony that was supposed to have existed outside of the city of ancient Alexandria. The Indian king Ashoka was supposed to have sent Buddhist missionaries to Greece, Syria/Palestine, and Egypt during the 3rd century BCE. Perhaps some stories from the Buddha legend, such as the Buddha walking on water, made it into the biblical Jesus legend.

I was also wondering about the biblical Jesus gospel stories connection with Marcion. I have read that Marcion was supposed to have found his Euangelion gospel and the letters of Paul in Antioch, and then he took them to Rome for translation and reproduction. If the Gnostic Euangelion gospel was also carried by others southward from Antioch through Palestine to Alexandria it may have picked up Jewish additions and modifications in order to try to convert Jews to Gnosticism. In Alexandria, Therapeut additions of healing and asceticism may also have been added to the original Gnostic text turning it into a new gospel called Luke. I was just wondering.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhism_a ... oman_world

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2012 11:14 am 
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Robert, it would be interesting to do a study of the usage of therapeuo in Plato. As I mention above, there are many such instances.

Here's a list of the direct references in Plato - have fun!

Terullian, you're forcing me to play my hand here! As I mentioned briefly and tantalizingly above, there is reason to discuss a connection between the moniker Therapeut and the Indian term Theraputta. I've been sitting on a long summary of a book called Buddhism's Relation to Christianity. This book is the product of a professor of philosophy who lived and taught in India for over 30 years, Dr. Michael Lockwood, and a longtime Buddhist/Sanskrit scholar, Dr. Christian Lindtner. They use primary sources, including Ashoka's edicts, to show that Buddhist "medical missionaries" spread out throughout the Levant and into Egypt, where they likely were highly influential on the quasi-Jewish group that eventually became Philo's Therapeuts - who, I'm surmising, were very fond of the book of Isaiah.

However, it should be kept in mind that the word therapeuo has been in use since at least the time of Homer and Hesiod, 9th-8th centuries BCE. It is quite possible, nevertheless, that this term became popularized because of the Buddhist missionaries and that it began to take on more of a medical meaning at that point. It is further possible that the correspondence between this word and the various Indian terms was lit upon specifically because of noticed similarities.

Here is an excerpt from my review/summary of Buddhism's Relation to Christianity:

Quote:
The Buddhist Therapeuts of Egypt?

At this point, Lockwood (99ff) touches upon one of the more important discussions concerning the Buddhist presence in ancient Egypt: The mysterious Therapeuts at Lake Mareotis, near the city of Alexandria. Regarding the spread of Buddhism, after citing passages from Buddhist texts, Lockwood remarks:

Quote:
The Buddha's knowledge, then, was to be passed down generation after generation of monks, under the guidance of leading Elders ("maha-thera-s"), who had attained a thorough knowledge of the doctrine. It is in this sense that the term "theraputta" came to be applied to Buddhist monks in a monastery under the leadership of a Maha-Thera ("Great Elder"). "Theraputta"” (Pali) is a compound of the two words: thera—elder, and putta = son(s). The fem. of the Pali word thera ("elder") is theri, from (Skt.) sthaviri or sthavira, and "“daughter," (Skt.) putri. Emperor Aśōka’s medical missionary monks who arrived in Alexandria, Egypt, in the 3rd century BCE and their followers and converts were to be known by this name, which, to the Greeks, would sound like "therapeutai." These monks' skill in healing the sick, both physically and spiritually, would enhance a medical connotation of the Greek term, "therapeutai,"” and its later English offshoots, "therapy," "therapeutics," etc.

Lockwood goes on to discuss the Therapeuts in greater depth, along with presenting views assigned to Christ in the New Testament that reflect Buddhist monasticism. Lockwood's assessment of the Therapeuts as Theraputta appears to have been staring us in the face for quite some time, since it has been known for decades that there are figures in Buddhist lore called "Theraputta," both as a name and as a title.

In this regard, after raising up the subject of the Therapeuts and their Judean cousins the Essenes, the Indian sage Swami Abhedananda (158) states:

Quote:
It is interesting to note the similarities between the Essenes and the followers of Buddha. The Buddhists were also called Theraputta, a Pali form of the Sanskrit Sthiraputra, meaning the son of Sthira, or Thera: one who is serene…

Indeed, we must keep in mind the Theravada school of Buddhism as well, the term "Theravada" meaning the "Teachings of the Elders," a concept crystalized at Ashoka's Great Council in 240 BCE. It has been suggested that the Theravadins may thus have been those sent out by Ashoka to "all points of the known world." The word "Theraputta" appears to postdate this time.

In any event, needless to say, this source of the Greek name for this group of monastics described by the Jewish philosopher and writer Philo of Alexandria (20 BCE-50 AD/CE)—a name he attests is so ancient as to have lost its origin—rates as highly satisfying for a number of reasons, not the least of which that it explains how so much Buddhist doctrine ended up in the Christian effort, which is clearly a combination of Judaism and Paganism, including and especially Buddhist and Egyptian religion. Here we find these two major influences dovetailing in precisely the area and the era in which much of Christianity was evidently founded.

The term Theraputta as meaning "son of the elder" makes sense also in consideration of the Therapeutan hierarchy as described by Philo, who discusses younger acolytes serving their elders. The most logical conclusion here is that Buddhist monks did indeed travel to Egypt, as stated in Ashoka's inscriptions, to establish monastic communities, the descendants of one of which were the Therapeutai, who were largely Hebraic and Judaic in ethnicity by the time of Philo. In this scenario, their allegorical works as described by Philo and later identified by Eusebius as the early forms of the gospels were Jewish-Buddhist texts. Interestingly, we find this Therapeutan network not confined to Alexandria but also named as such in other locales, such as on the Greek island of Delos, where thrived a synagogue as well.

Of course, everything is cited, but you'll have to wait for the final edition for the rest!

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2012 1:39 pm 
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Acharya,
Thanks for all the "crumbs trail" :) - I mean updates on your new book.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 24, 2012 5:11 am 
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Acharya wrote:
Robert, it would be interesting to do a study of the usage of therapeuo in Plato. As I mention above, there are many such instances.

Here's a list of the direct references in Plato - have fun!


What a great site. The links go through to the start of each dialogue, and I am having trouble finding the therapeut text in each dialogue using the search function.

Charmides is one dialogue that I was not familiar with. It has the following at 156 ff which explains Plato's theory of healing:
Socrates wrote:
eminent physicians ... apply their methods to the whole body, and try to treat and heal the whole and the part together. ...

a god, says further, "that as you ought not to attempt to cure the eyes without the head, or the head without the body, so neither ought you to attempt to cure the body without the soul; and this," he said, "is the reason why the cure of many diseases is unknown to the physicians of Hellas, because they are ignorant of the whole, which ought to be studied also; for the part can never be well unless the whole is well."

For all good and evil, whether in the body or in human nature, originates, as he declared, in the soul, and overflows from thence, as if from the head into the eyes. And therefore if the head and body are to be well, you must begin by curing the soul; that is the first thing. And the cure, my dear youth, has to be effected by ... words; and by them temperance is implanted in the soul, and where temperance is, there health is speedily imparted, not only to the head, but to the whole body.

And he who taught me the cure and the charm at the same time added a special direction: "Let no one," he said, "persuade you to cure the head, until he has first given you his soul to be cured by the charm. For this," he said, "is the great error of our day in the treatment of the human body, that physicians separate the soul from the body."


Here Plato provides the origin of therapy as a talking cure focussed on achievement of an integrated vision of the whole.

A further Gnostic idea in Plato is the idea in Meno that Gnosis is virtue. This claim is routinely mocked by people who say it is possible to know the good and not do it, but Plato's response would be that such people do not genuinely know.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 24, 2012 5:43 pm 
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You're welcome, NS!

Not sure what you mean about the Perseus Hopper, Robert, but if you look on the right where it usually says "English," there are two links, one reading "focus" and the other "load." If you click on "load," you will have the side-by-side English of the Greek passage you're looking at.

The original Greek passage in Plato's Charmides (156b) you cited above is:

Quote:
[156β] περὶ τῆς ἐπῳδῆς οἵα τυγχάνει οὖσα: ἄρτι δ᾽ ἠπόρουν τίνι τρόπῳ σοι ἐνδειξαίμην τὴν δύναμιν αὐτῆς. ἔστι γάρ, ὦ Χαρμίδη, τοιαύτη οἵα μὴ δύνασθαι τὴν κεφαλὴν μόνον ὑγιᾶ ποιεῖν, ἀλλ᾽ ὥσπερ ἴσως ἤδη καὶ σὺ ἀκήκοας τῶν ἀγαθῶν ἰατρῶν, ἐπειδάν τις αὐτοῖς προσέλθῃ τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς ἀλγῶν, λέγουσί που ὅτι οὐχ οἷόν τε αὐτοὺς μόνους ἐπιχειρεῖν τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς ἰᾶσθαι, ἀλλ᾽ ἀναγκαῖον εἴη ἅμα καὶ τὴν κεφαλὴν θεραπεύειν, εἰ μέλλοι

The relevant term here is θεραπεύειν, bolded above. Below is the English translation also provided at the same link, if you click on "load." If you click on "focus," it will bring up the "focused" English translation, without the Greek:

Quote:
[156b]...about the charm, and its real nature; just now I was at a loss for the way to apprise you of its power. For it is of such a nature, Charmides, that it cannot cure the head alone; I daresay you have yourself sometimes heard good doctors say, you know, when a patient comes to them with a pain in his eyes, that it is not possible for them to attempt a cure of his eyes alone, but that it is necessary to treat his head too at the same time,

Here we see that the word therapeuein is rendered "to treat," which, again, also means "to be an attendant, do service."

Here's another view of all the uses of therapeuo in this corpus, appearing in alphabetical order by the name of the text.

Word frequency information for θεραπεύω

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 28, 2012 8:38 pm 
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Ancient Uses of the Term Θεραπευταί/Therapeutai, as Found in Philo

The form of therapeuo used by Philo Judaeus of Alexandria to describe the sect at Lake Mareotis near Alexander called "Therapeuts" is Θεραπευταί or Therapeutai/Therapeutae. Interestingly, this term can be found in the works of several ancient writers besides Philo, even though we have been led to believe it is a mysterious word. As the posts above demonstrate, therapeuo is not a mysterious word in antiquity but was used widely. How these individuals became known as Therapeuts may seem "mysterious," but let us recall that the other impression given of these sectarians at Alexandria of being unique is likewise erroneous. Hence, we know there were other therapeutai.

Here are the uses of therapeutai returned in the search results at the Perseus Hopper:

Plato, Phaedrus 1
Plato, Gorgias 1
Athenaeus, The Deipnosophists 1
Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Antiquitates Romanae, Books VII-IX 1
Aristides, Aelius, Orationes 24 1
Aristides, Aelius, Orationes 26 1
Aristides, Aelius, Orationes 45 1
Aelian, De Natura Animalium 3
Eusebius of Caesarea, Historia ecclesiastica 1
Julian the Emperor, Epistulae

These are not all the usages from antiquity, but it's a great start. Some of these, obviously, postdate the common era, such Aelian, Atheneus, Eusebius and Julian. Interestingly, Dionysius of Halicarnasus (c. 60-7 BCE) is credited with developing something called Dionysian imitatio, the "literary method of imitation as formulated by Dionysius, who conceived it as the rhetorical practice of emulating, adapting, reworking, and enriching a source text by an earlier author." This pseudepigraphical method appears to be very much like the Jewish process of midrash, creating allegorical (fictional) works using earlier biblical writers.

Despite Philo's assertion that the Therapeuts were widespread ("Now this class of persons may be met with in many places…"), we have likewise been given the impression in modern scholarship that they were located only near Lake Mareotis, if they even existed at all. It appears that these widespread therapeutai may have been members of a number of known brotherhood locales, such as can be found in Paul's epistles. Besides closely resembling Buddhist sanghas/communities, the Alexandrian branch favored the use of biblical texts, including the Prophets, indicating they were more Judaic than Samaritan, but we know they also incorporated Egyptian religion, and we know too that it is unwise and unscholarly to ignore Eusebius's identification of these sectarians as proto-Christians. Hence, those who claim no Christian-origins relationship to Alexandria are quite myopic, not very scholarly and not experts on this subject.

Other, more knowledgeable scholars on this particular issue have made remarks like the following:

Quote:
"The semianchoritic character of the Therapeutae community, the renunciation of property, the solitude during the six days of the week and the gathering together on Saturday for the common prayer and the common meal, the severe fasting, the keeping alive of the memory of God, the continuous prayer, the meditation and study of Holy Scripture were also practices of the Christian anchorites of the Alexandrian desert."

Again, we are not being scientific or scholarly at all by blithely and ignorantly dismissing the massive influence of Egypt on the Christian effort, as some "authorities" have done.

One text that has been identified as possibly Therapeutan - recall that Eusebius claimed the Therapeuts' "short allegorical works," as Philo had called them, were the basis for the gospels - is the Testament of Job. I surmise further that an Isaiah text was created by this sect that extracted the "messianic prophecies" from that book in order to create midrashically a messianic figure, an effort built upon by their later sectarians who created the Christ character.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 28, 2012 10:01 pm 
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Discussion of the Therapeuts is central to reconstructing what most probably actually occurred in the development of the Christ Myth.

Ken Humphreys provides an excellent discussion of syncretism, the meshing of different cultures, as the basis of the emergence of the Serapis cult in Alexandria, the origin of the Therapeut movement of Christianity. See Ken's article at http://www.jesusneverexisted.com/syncretism.html

What we see in current debate is the hangover of various errors from the Dark Ages that continue to govern mainstream scholarship in theology. Firstly, the idea of Christendom as a holy united state in which everyone accepts the same creed remains emotionally attractive to the true believer, with unity seen as more important than accuracy. While this insistence on total monotony of belief was partly reduced with the Protestant Reformation, and Calvin's important concession towards allegorical reading, the real differences between Protestant and Catholic and Orthodox Christianity remain within the context of the guiding false assumption of Gospels as historical documents. The idea of the Historical Jesus is central to this creedal monomania. The visceral reaction against scholarly questioning, despite four centuries of modern science, remains the instinctive reaction of those who hearken to the days of Church Power.

The idea that the Therapeuts were a large and diverse movement of New Age scholars at the time of Christ, seeking enlightenment through scholarly investigation, is a basically unacceptable premise for defenders of Christendom. The extent of Big Brother-style suppression of evidence of diversity in ancient thought means that reconstructing the fragments can be difficult, especially when there is an aggressive denialist agenda at large that refuses even to discuss the evidence of the Christ myth in any serious way.

Understanding how the Therapeuts stood in continuity with Platonic, Buddhist, Chaldean and Egyptian thought in the creation of Christianity can make a fundamental and transformative contribution to modern discussion of religion. So gathering the details on this topic as Acharya is doing here is highly valuable.

During my Masters Degree in the 1980s I attended lectures by Professor Raoul Mortley on Plotinus. At the time I found them rather incomprehensible, but as with my recent reading of Proclus on Timaeus, there is some very useful material for mythicist scholarship in the study of the Neoplatonists. Professor Mortley wrote a book on Plotinus available free at http://epublications.bond.edu.au/word_to_silence_II/ which covers the relation between Platonism, Gnosticism and Christianity. I have now downloaded it and will have a look.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 29, 2012 12:25 am 
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Well, here's the holy grail of therapeuo research!

Wells, Louise. The Greek Language of Healing from Homer to New Testament Times. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1998.

Notice that the book is largely about Jesus and Aesculapius or Asclepius, a curious development considering how intertwined are these two godmen, the former clearly having been the recipient of many of the latter's attributes.

In this regard, a prominent traveling priest-orator of Asclepius, Aristides Aelius, tutor of Emperor Marcus Aurelius, uses the word therapeutai a number of times in his orations. In this book, Wells discusses him too. It is evident there was an entire cult of priest-healers who transcended ethnicity and traveled around the Mediterranean and beyond to dispense their wares. This group is significantly represented in the New Testament, which is a midrashic or allegorical text about the "life" of the cult's syncretistic spiritual figurehead, developed over a period of decades to centuries and incorporating a multiplicity of religions, sects, cults, brotherhoods, collegia and so on.

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PostPosted: Fri Jun 29, 2012 6:18 pm 
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Briefly, another interesting connection to Asclepius is mentioned in the biography of Apollonius of Tyana by Philostratus. Apollonius was known as a healer and a neopythagorean. He traveled around the Mediterranean, and when he came to a new city he would go to a temple of Asclepius, according to the biography.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 30, 2012 10:59 am 
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Chiron the Centaur, the wounded healer, reputedly mentored Asclepius the founder of medicine. Chiron, as secret lovechild of Time and grandson of the Ocean, gave his immortality to Prometheus in the myth.

Quote:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chiron says that the great healing power of Asclepius is based on Chiron's teaching. Artemis killed Asclepius' mother Coronis, on Apollo's orders, while still pregnant but snatched the child from the pyre, bringing him to Chiron who reared him and taught him the arts of healing and hunting.


Other sources on Chiron are
- http://www.theoi.com/Georgikos/KentaurosKheiron.html a long page with comprehensive classical sources,
- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chiron describing the dwarf planet between Saturn and Uranus discovered in 1977, and
- http://www.cafeastrology.com/chiron.html and http://www.zanestein.com/chiron.htm discussing astrological symbolism of the 'wounded healer'.

The wounded healer symbolism of Chiron has an obvious strong archetypal influence on Jesus Christ, whose stigmata, from the nails through his palms, were connected to his miraculous healing power of touch. As in Isaiah 53:5 "he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed."

And here is a contemporary version of the stigmata in a wounded healer - Iron Man


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2012 10:48 pm 
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just posting to say

Thanks everyone!

had a great time following some of the links in this thread, and i learnt some things as well.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2013 8:04 am 
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Who were the Therapeuts? The consensus appears to be that they were contemplative attendants on the divine. Beyond that, even their healing role as some sort of Socratic midwives of the soul seems uncertain in some quarters. And yet their position as enlightened thinkers within the syncretic location where Christian theology was born in Alexandria gives them an alluring and intriguing status.

The similarity of the name of the Therapeuts to the Buddhist Theraputta contemplative missionaries sent by Ashoka illustrates how little we really know of ancient culture. See Acharya's fine review - Buddhism's Relation to Christianity.

Today, looking for midwives of the soul, the modern psychopomp able to help us give birth to our innate knowledge, the German philosopher Martin Heidegger certainly stands high with his axiom that care is the meaning of being. My thesis on The Place of Ethics in Heidegger's Ontology explored how this existential ontology of care provides a coherent basis for ethics grounded in connectedness, an idea closely aligned to attendance on the divine.

The central place of knowledge within Heidegger's system of thought gives him something of an affinity with Gnosticism, a school with some contact with the Therapeuts. Heidegger's central question in Being and Time is taken from Plato's Sophist, "For manifestly you have long been aware of what you mean when you use the expression "being." We, however, who used to think we understood it, have now become perplexed." This lack of knowledge of the meaning of being is a central problem in Heidegger's work, and yet his view that the answer is care suggests something simple and innate, a sort of restorative atonement.

This questioning of the meaning of being is closely allied to the Therapeut task of attendance on the divine. Such attendance cannot be a matter of exclusive dogma, but requires a phenomenological openness, allowing the things to reveal themselves. Openness to the whole is then an intrinsically healing process. The existential psychology of writers such as Binswanger and May indicates how openness to the whole can be a source of modern epiphany.

Looking today for those who apply such a therapeutic openness to being as a whole, I put Acharya S in the first rank. It does not faze me that some fail to read her work with respect, because at the centre of the Heideggerian attitude is a sense of paradigm shift, a vision that our culture has some wrong assumptions at its base, but that a new framework can be constructed. Murdock is a courageous pioneer in constructing a new evidence-based framework for religious experience, rather like Heidegger in building upon atheism but recognising that religious heritage is a source of meaning and identity.

My interest in both Heidegger and Murdock was inspired by study of precession of the equinox as the structure of terrestrial time. I remember when I first picked up my copy of Heidegger's Being and Time in Macquarie University bookshop in 1983, and thought, wow, this is the book. My study of time since then led me to an interest in the real temporal structures seen by astronomy, and how these visible phenomena are encoded in myth. I firmly believe this knowledge is a great source of spiritual and social healing, and was recognised as such by the ancient therapeuts, but our society is still under the spell of the fall from grace, alienated from a real understanding of time. The truth will set you free.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2013 10:29 pm 
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The Therapeuts of Apollo/Horus, Serapis and Asclepius

To recap, the Therapeuts have sparked interest since Jewish writer Philo described them in some detail in the early part of the first century AD/CE. Philo's Therapeuts comprised a monkish sect outside of Alexandria, Egypt. Church historian Eusebius (263–339) stated that Philo's Therapeuts were the early Christians and that their "short allegorical works" were the basis of the gospels. Eusebius's admissions against interest continue to raise eyebrows, and because they do not jibe with the mainstream picture of Christian origins, they have been dismissed. However, as we have seen in this thread and in my books, there is good reason to suppose that Eusebius inadvertently let the cat out of the bag. Indeed, Eusebius's fellow bishop of Caesarea, St. Basil (329/330-379), uses the term therapeuts (τοῖς θεραπευταῖς) to describe "officers of the church" (Epistulae, 94:11) Hence, this subject ranks as highly important to the study of Christian origins and the Christ myth/Jesus mythicism.

Despite this tradition concerning Philo's Alexandrian Therapeuts, some scholars and researchers over the centuries have opined that no such figures existed. Again, the data provided here and in my books proves otherwise: In fact, the Greek term "therapeut" in some form or another is traceable to centuries before the common era and well into it. There clearly were more or less organized groups of therapeuts/healers around the Mediterranean, and in Buddhism's Relation to Christianity, Dr. Michael Lockwood surmises that wandering Buddhist medical monks were the source of this tradition, based on the Indian term "Theraputta."

In this regard, I've chased down a reference to "therapeutai" in the works of the Roman teacher and writer Claudius Aelianus or "Aelian" (c. 175-c. 235 AD/CE). In his work entitled On the Characteristics of Animals (7.9), Aelian states:

Quote:
ἱεράκων πέρι καὶ ταῦτα προσακήκοα. οἱ τοῦ Ἀπόλλωνος ἐν τῇ Αἰγύπτῳ θεραπευταὶ λέγουσι καλεῖσθαί τινας οὕτως ἱερακοβοσκούς, οἵπερ οὖν εἰσι τῶν τοῦ θεοῦ ἱεράκων τροφεῖς τε καὶ μελεδωνοὶ μέντοι οἱ αὐτοί. πᾶν μὲν οὖν τὸ φῦλον ἀνεῖται τῷ θεῷ τῷδε...

A.F. Scholfield's translation of this passage is:

Quote:
Here are further facts which I have heard touching Hawks. The ministers of Apollo in Egypt say that there are certain men called "hawk-keepers" for this reason: they feed and tend the Hawks belonging to the gods. Now the whole race of Hawks is consecrated to this god...

Scholfield notes on the word "Apollo": "I.e. Horus; cp. NA 10. 14"

This latter reference is to the Latin name of Aelian's work, De Natura Animalium, abbreviated "NA." Turning to NA 10.14, we read:

Quote:
Αἰγύπτιοι τὸν ἱέρακα Ἀπόλλωνι τιμᾶν ἐοίκασι, καὶ τὸν μὲν θεὸν Ὧρον καλοῦσι τῇ φωνῇ τῇ σφετέρᾳ...

Here is the Latin translation:

Quote:
Accipitrem Apollini consecrant Aegyptii, et Oron sua lingua deum appellant...

In English:

Quote:
The Egyptians consecrate the hawk to Apollo, also the very god they call in their own tongue Horus...

Hence, in this Roman writer's works we find a reference to the "therapeuts of Apollo/Horus," the former term rendered by Scholfield as "ministers." These therapeutai are unquestionably "men of the cloth," in pre-Christian times, a role obviously adopted into Christianity. Since these "ministers" are clearly named as "therapeuts," it remains curious as to why a common "meme" concerning Philo's discussion has been that he "made them up." Again, see the rest of this thread, including the long list of other writers in antiquity who used some form of the word "therapeut."

Aelian himself uses θεραπευταί therapeutai two more times: 10.28 and 11.10. At 10.28, Aelian remarks:

Quote:
μισοῦσι δὲ οἱ αὐτοὶ θεραπευταὶ τοῦ Διὸς τοῦ προειρημένου καὶ τὸν ὄρυγα.

Here the "therapeuts of God" evidently refers to the ministers of Serapis, according to the Latin translation:

Quote:
Et vero etiam, quos modo commemoravi Serapidis colentes, ex eo orygem male oderunt

And at 11:10:

Quote:
οὐ γάρ οἵ φασιν οἱ θεραπευταί τε καὶ ἱερεῖς λυσιτελεῖν ἀεὶ Νειλῴου πίνειν

The Latin for therapeutai in this passage is ministri.

Servants of the Gods and Healers of Sickness

When we turn to the word "therapeutai" on the Perseus Hopper, we are taken to the singular term:

Quote:
θεραπευτής one who serves the gods, worshipper

This exact form is used by Plato (Rep. 1.341c), centuries before the common era. In a translation of Plato's Republic from 1969, θεραπευτής therapeutes is rendered "healer of the sick," while Google translates it as "therapist."

The Greek orator Aristides (117 - 181 AD/CE) remarks: ὅτι ὁ θεραπευτὴς εἴην ὁ τοῦ Ἀσκληπιοῦ - "the therapeut is the son of Asclepius" (Orat. 23 279), appropriate for a god of healing. Again, the name would also be appropriate for wandering medical monks such as Ashoka's Buddhists or "followers of Theraputta," as surmised by Lockwood. Note, however, that Plato uses this term a century earlier than Ashoka's mission. That fact does not preclude the term's possible origin in Indian religion and language.

All of these gods, Apollo, Horus, Serapis and Asclepius, possess solar attributes and are categorized by Macrobius as "sun gods." Indeed, the sun has been viewed since remote antiquity as the "Great Healer."

The Buddhist Connection

Centuries later than Aristides, in the Life of Barlaam and Josaphat (4.22) - a fictional account of Buddha as "Josaphat" traditionally but pseudepigraphically attributed to John of Damascus - the author uses the term θεραπευτὴς therapeutes:

Quote:
ὁ δὲ πένης ἐκεῖνος καὶ ἀσθενής, Ἐγώ, φησίν, ἄνθρωπός εἰμι θεραπευτὴς ῥημάτων: εἰ γάρ ποτε ἐν ῥήμασιν ἢ ὁμιλίαις πληγή τις ἢ κάκωσις εὑρεθείη, καταλλήλοις φαρμάκοις ταῦτα θεραπεύσω, τοῦ μὴ περαιτέρω τὸ κακὸν χωρῆσαι...

Loeb's English translation from the 19th century renders this passage thus:

Quote:
The poor sick man answered, "I am a physician of words. If ever in speech or converse any wound or damage be found, I heal it with befitting medicines, that so the evil spread no further."

This type of speech indeed sounds Buddhistic. Earlier in this passage, we see the word θεραπείας therapeias or "therapy," here rendered as "service." Note also the verb θεραπεύσω therapeuso towards the end, rendered in Loeb's as "I heal." Therapeuso can also mean "to be an attendant, do service."

It should be noted further that, as faith healers do today, in antiquity healing was done frequently by the use of "magical words," including the name "Jesus," as at Mark 9:38:

Quote:
John said to him, "Teacher, we saw a man casting out demons in your name, and we forbade him, because he was not following us."

This casting out of demons using a name predates Christianity by many centuries, and it is demonstrable that it was also done using this name "Jesus" or "savior/healer" long before the purported advent of a historical "Jesus of Nazareth."

Note that the original of this Buddhist story has been traced to a Sanskrit Mahayana Buddhist manuscript of the second to fourth century AD/CE. Hence, we find in a Buddhistic text the use of the word therapeut, as late as the 11th century, when this story evidently was translated into Greek. It would be interesting to see what words were used in the original Sanskrit text that were rendered later as some from of therapeuo.

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