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Fragments of a Faith Forgotten

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Author Topic: Fragments of a Faith Forgotten  (Read 2268 times)
Peggie Welles
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« Reply #15 on: January 25, 2009, 01:14:24 am »

They then chant hymns made in God's honour in many metres and melodies, sometimes singing in chorus, sometimes one band beating time to the answering chant of the other, [now] dancing to its music, [now] inspiring it, at one time in processional hymns, at another in standing songs, turning and returning in the dance.

"Then when each band has feasted [that is, has sung and danced] apart by itself, drinking of God-pleasing [nectar], just as in the Bacchic rites men drink the wine unmixed, then they join together, and one chorus is formed of the two bands, in imitation of the joined chorus on the banks of the Red Sea because of the wonderful works that had been there wrought. For the sea at God's command became for one party a cause of safety and for the other a cause of ruin."

(Philo here refers to the fabled dance of triumph of the Israelites at the destruction of Pharaoh and his host, when Moses led the men and Miriam the women in a common dance; but the Therapeuts all over the world could not have traced the custom to this myth.)

"So the chorus of men and women Therapeuts, being formed as closely as possible on this model, by means of melodies in parts and harmony--the high notes of the women answering to the deep tones of the men--produces a harmonious and most musical symphony. The ideas are of the most beautiful, the expressions of the most beautiful, and the dancers reverent; while the goal. of the ideas, expressions, and dancers is piety.

p. 82

"Thus drunken unto morning's light with this The Morning Prayer. fair drunkenness, with no head-heaviness or drowsiness, but with eyes and body fresher even than when they came to the banquet, they take their stand at dawn, when, catching sight of the rising sun, they raise their hands to heaven, praying for sunlight and truth and keenness of spiritual vision. After this prayer each returns to his own sanctuary, to his accustomed traffic in philosophy and labour in its fields.

"So far then about the Therapeuts, who are devoted to the contemplation of nature and live in it and in the soul alone, citizens of heaven and the world, legitimately recommended to the Father and Creator of the Universe by their virtue, which procures them His love, virtue that sets before it for its prize the most suitable reward of nobility and goodness, outstripping every gift of fortune, and the first coiner in the race to the very goal of blessedness."

 

With regard to the mystic numbers 7 and 50 mentioned in the text above, it may be of interest to Note on the Sacred Numbers. remark that Philo elsewhere (Leg. Alleg., i. 46) tells us that the Pythagoreans called the number 7 the ever-virgin, because "it neither produces any of the numbers within the decad [i.e., from 1 to 10] nor is produced by any of them." The power or square of 7 is 49, and the great feast therefore took place every fiftieth day. The number 50 is based on the proportioned of the sides of the "perfect" right-angled triangle, the famous Pythagorean triangle,

p. 83

so often referred to by Plato. (Cf. The Nuptial Number of Plato, by James Adam, M.A., Cambridge, 1891; the best work on the subject.) The sides of this triangle bear the proportions of 3, 4, and 5, and 32 + 42=52, or 9 + 16=25; and 9 + 16 + 25 = 50.

In another treatise (Qu. in Gen., iii. 39) we get some further interesting information concerning the 50. Philo speaks of two series, which he calls triangles and squares, namely 1, 3, 6, 10, and 1, 4, 9, 16. At first sight it is difficult to discover why Philo should call the first series of numbers triangles, but it has occurred to me that he had in mind some such arrangement as the following.

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