The Therapeutae as the Best Paradigm for the Contemplative Life: A Contextual Reading of Philo's De Vita Contemplativa /

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Bibliographic Details
Author / Creator:Stefanut, Romulus Daniel, author.
Ann Arbor : ProQuest Dissertations & Theses, 2017
Description:1 electronic resource (300 pages)
Format: E-Resource Dissertations
Local Note:School code: 0330
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Other authors / contributors:University of Chicago. degree granting institution.
Notes:Advisors: Hans-Josef Klauck Committee members: David G. Martinez; Gregory E. Sterling.
This item is not available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses.
Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 78-12(E), Section: A.
Summary:The object of this dissertation is the contextual reading and interpretation of Philo of Alexandria's De vita contemplativa, tracing the history of the contemplative life (βιoς θεωρητικóς) back to its inception in Greek philosophy, up through the Philonic corpus to this crowning work. Scholars have noted that De vita contemplativa is a puzzling composition for many reasons. Conceived as a second volume or part of a treatise on the contemplative life, as exemplified by an ascetic community called the Therapeutae, it makes reference to a first (and presumably lost) part of the treatise on the active life, whose exponents were the Essenes from Qumran. The Therapeutae are introduced as a group of philosophers who had devoted their lives to allegorical contemplation of the Holy Writings. Their way of life and their spiritual exercises occupy roughly half of the whole treatise. The rest of the treatise is a critique of other philosophies and philosophers.
In the dissertation, I argue that Philo constructed De vita contemplativa as a subtle protreptic treatise addressed to his own Jewish community who, like Philo's nephew, Julius Tiberius Alexander, might have strayed from their ancestral roots. Using the Therapeutae as models to emulate, he demonstrates the best possible contemplative life, which surpasses the bioi of even the finest Greek philosophical schools, and which has its roots and ultimate inspiration in the Torah and the Patriarchs of Israel. A virtuous active life is most appropriate during adulthood, but a contemplative life should crown one's existence after retirement.