The contemplative asceticism of the Essenes of Judaea may be mentioned, and, somewhat later, the life of the Therapeutae on the shores of Lake Moeris.
While the Essenes were confined to Palestine or its near neighbourhood, the Therapeutae, we are told, existed in many parts of the world, but especially in Egypt.
At sunrise the Therapeutae prayed and again at sunset.
In addition to the Old Testament the Therapeutae had books by the founders of their sect on the allegorical method of interpreting Scripture.
Thus during the six days of the week the Therapeutae "philosophized," each in his own cell, but on the Sabbath they met in a common assembly, where women also had places screened off from the men, and listened to a discourse from one who was the eldest and most skilled in their doctrines.
In contrast with the drunken revels of the Greeks, Philo describes the sober enjoyment by the Therapeutae of the feast of Pentecost, or rather of the eve of that festival.
Such is the account of the Therapeutae given by Philo.
To the modern reader the importance of the Therapeutae, as of the Essenes, lies in the evidence they afford of the existence of the monastic system long before the Christian era.
We have no clue to the origin of the Therapeutae, but it is plain that they were already ancient when Philo described them.
Eusebius was so much struck by the likeness of the Therapeutae to the Christian monks of his own day as to claim that they were Christians converted by the preaching of St Mark.
Nothing is more likely than that Christianity gained adherents among the Therapeutae, and that their institutions were adapted to the new religion, just as they seem to have been borrowed by the Jews from the Egyptians.
29, p. 806) tells us how he saw at Heliopolis large buildings belonging to the priests, which had once been tenanted by men skilled in philosophy and astronomy, who had been consulted by Plato and Eudoxus, but that the o-uanjµa and iaicgats (the very words used by Philo in speaking of the Therapeutae) had then fallen into decay.
8.7) and the Therapeutae (Philo, De Vita Contempl.
The sacred feasts of the Essenes and Therapeutae in particular, as described by Josephus and Philo, closely resembled the Eucharistic agape.
In the latter's description of the Therapeutae (ed.
Has led Prof. Harnack to suppose that in the earliest age water was used equally with wine, and Eusebius the historian, who had means of judging which we have not, saw no difficulty in identifying with the first converts of St Mark the Therapeutae of Philo who took only bread and water in their holy repast.
The example had been already set by the Essenes in Judea and the Therapeutae in Egypt.
§ 30); and the same is true in regard to the Therapeutae in the neighbourhood of Alexandria (the authenticity of Philo's De Vita contemplativa, which describes their manner of life, is again recognized by scholars).
The same fear of imbibing the irrational soul of animals, and thereby reinforcing the lower appetites and instincts of the human being, inspired the vegetarianism of Apollonius of Tyana and of the Jewish Therapeutae, who in their sacred meals were careful to have a table free from blood-containing meats; and the fear of absorbing the animal's psychic qualities equally motived the Jewish and early Christian rule against eating things strangled.