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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, 01:16:07 am »

Many interesting correspondences may be made out from the study of the apparently simple ordering of these points, monads, or atoms, but we are at present only engaged on the consideration of the number 50.

With regard to the triangular series, 1, 3, 6, 10, it is to be noticed that 1 = 1; 3 = 1 + 2; 6 = 1 + 2 + 3; and 10 = 1 + 2 + 3 + 4.

With regard to the square series, 1, 4, 9, 16, we see at once that 1 = 12; 4 = 22; 9 = 32; and 16 = 42. Moreover 1 + 3 + 6 + 10 = 20; and 1 + 4 + 9 + 16 = 30; and finally 20 + 30 = 50.

p. 84

Much more could be said; but our space is limited, and those who are interested in the matter can easily work out details for themselves.

In reading this treatise and the rest of the Philo's Connection with the Therapeuts. references to the Therapeuts scattered through Philo's writings, the chief questions that naturally arise are: What was Philo's connection with them; and how far can we rely on his account? There is an important passage in his writings which gives us the critical point of departure in seeking an answer. Philo (Leg. Alleg., i. 81) writes:

"I too have ofttimes left my kindred and my friends and country, and have gone into the wilderness [or into solitude] in order to comprehend the things worthy to be seen, yet have profited nothing; but my soul was scattered or stung with passion, and lapsed into the very opposite current."

We learn from this interesting item of autobiography that Philo had himself enjoyed no success in the contemplative life. This accounts for his great reverence and high respect for those who had succeeded in comprehending the things "worthy to be seen." Now as Philo never abandoned his property, he could therefore not have been a full accepted member of one of these brotherhoods. In all probability he belonged to one of their outer circles. As was the case with the Pythagoreans and Essenes, the Therapeuts had lay-pupils who lived in the world and who perhaps resorted to the community now and again for a period of "retreat," and then returned again to the world.

That these lay-disciples were men of great ability

p. 85

and insight is amply shown by the works of Philo The Lay Disciples. himself, but that there was a large literature of a still loftier and more inspired character is also evident from what Philo has to say of his teachers. What has become of all these works, commentaries, interpretations, hymns, sermons, expositions, apocalypses--works which aroused the admiration of so distinguished a writer as Philo? It seems to me that though we may have some scraps of them embedded in the Jewish Pseudepigrapha which have come down to us, many of them belonged to the now lost precursors of the fragments of the Gnostic literature which have survived.

But were the Therapeuts Jews, as Philo would lead us to believe in his apology for that nation? It is evident from his own statements that the community which he describes, and with which he was probably connected as lay-pupil, was but one of a vast number scattered all over the world. Philo would have us believe that his particular community was the chief of all, doubtless because it was mainly Jewish, though not orthodoxly so, for they were "sun-worshippers."

It is therefore reasonable to conclude that there were at this time numerous communities of mystics The Variety of Communities. and ascetics devoted to the holy life and sacred science scattered throughout the world, and that Philo's Mareotic community was one of these. Others may have been tinged as strongly with Egyptian, or Chaldæan, or Zoroastrian, or Orphic elements, as the one south of Alexandria was tinged with Judaism. It is further not incredible

p. 86

that there were also truly eclectic communities among them who combined and synthesized the various traditions and initiations handed down by the doctrinally more exclusive communities, and it is in this direction therefore that we must look for light on the origins of Gnosticism and for the occult background of Christianity. These communities did not at this time propagandize, though they may have indirectly been at the back of some of the greatest propagandist efforts, as in the case of Philo. I also think that the later. Gnostic communities did not propagandize directly, and that whatever works they may have put forward for lay-pupils or by lay-pupils were only a small part of their literature. For the people there were the Law and the Prophets and the Gospel; for the lay-pupils, the intermediate literature; and for those within, those most highly mystical and abstruse treatises that none but the trained mystics could possibly understand or were expected to understand.



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