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Therapeutae of Egypt

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#1 Michael 'Anthony' Cornett

Michael 'Anthony' Cornett

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Posted 26 November 2012 - 11:11 PM

Outside of Philo's account in "On the contemplative life", and a handful of short mentions of this group from early Church historians, we seem to have no historical accounts of their way of life or existence. Could they have also been known by another name?

It seems clear to me, based on their described way of life and location, that they were the forerunners for the earliest Christian monasticism. Are there any archaeological finds in their supposed region of habitation?

Eager to learn more,

#2 Kosta


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Posted 27 November 2012 - 11:25 AM

With so little information on them it's hard to construct any theory on what influence they may of had on Christian monasticism. We know there was an order of virgins in the early Church. ST Ignatius epistle to the Smyrnaens mentions the "virgins who are known as widows". Polycarp also mentions them as an order within his church. Mention is made by Alexandrian writers of the order of virgins.

They seem to also be linked to the order of widows mentioned by Paul. The order of widows was where the rank of deaconess came out of. While the order of virgins evolved into nuns. Both groups are described as having similar virtues.

There also seemed to of been an order of male virgins. Probably the earliest reference to such an order is from Revelations about the male virgins that follow CHrist wherever he maybe. This would seem to mimic descriptions of the Theraputaes attitudes.

#3 Michael 'Anthony' Cornett

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Posted 27 November 2012 - 05:37 PM

It would seem that these orders of virgins stemmed simply from pastoral care of city-dwelling members of the Church...something the synagogues would have also most likely had in place for their own flock. I think the Therapeutae form a much different type of group that didn't seem to be related to the distribution of funds, food, assistance with sacramental care, etc. This seems to be a group truly and intentionally set apart from the city life, as the Desert Fathers became known to be.

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