Jewish Women Philosophers of First-Century Alexandria: Philo's 'Therapeutae' Reconsidered

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The first-century ascetic Jewish philosophers known as the 'Therapeutae', described in Philo's treatise De Vita Contemplativa, have often been considered in comparison with early Christians, the Essenes, and the Dead Sea Scrolls. This study focuses particularly on issues of historical method, rhetoric, women, and gender, and comes to new conclusions about the nature of the group and its relationship with the allegorical school of exegesis in Alexandria. In particular it aims to bring the women of the group to light. The women 'Therapeutae' participated fully in all aspects of the philosophical life of the group. As such, they provide a radically egalitarian model for women within Judaism in the first century CE. Joan E. Taylor argues that the group represents the tip of an iceberg in terms of ascetic practices and allegorical exegesis practised in Alexandria, a city where Judaism could be strongly influenced by contemporary Graeco-Roman philosophical trends.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199259618
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 10/1/2003
  • Pages: 440
  • Product dimensions: 8.60 (w) x 5.70 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Joan E. Taylor is Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of History at University College London and Honorary Fellow in the Department of Religious Studies and Philosophy at Waikato University, Hamilton, New Zealand.

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Table of Contents

I Philo's 'Therapeutae' reconsidered
1 On method 3
2 Philo's De Vita Contemplativa in historical context 21
3 Identity : the name 'Therapeutae' and the Essenes 54
4 Placements : the geographical and social locations of the Mareotic group 74
5 The Philosophia of Ioudaismos 105
6 Allegory and asceticism 126
7 A solar calendar 154
II Women and gender in De Vita Contemplativa
8 Paradigms of 'women' in discourses in Philosophia 173
9 Women and sex in De Vita Contemplativa 227
10 Gendered space 265
11 Gender blenders : Moses, Miriam, and music 311
App. 1 Partial translation of Philo of Alexandria, De Vita Contemplative
App. 2 De Migratione Abrahami 86-96
App. 3 Epitome of Chaeremon the Stoic, 'On the Egyptian priests'
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