Heavenly Bodies as Archons in Philo

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Blood
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Heavenly Bodies as Archons in Philo

Post by Blood » Tue Dec 16, 2014 5:43 pm

I don't recall reading any authority on Gnosticism point out an interesting passage in Philo, namely Special Laws 1.13-14, in which he specifically calls the planets and stars "archons." It was the highly insightful Philo specialist David T. Runia, in his book Philo of Alexandria and The "Timaeus" of Plato, page 250, who cites this as "a significant passage in the history of ideas," as it is the earliest example of anyone referring to the planets as "archons." These archons must not be objects of worship. Note that their "subjects," ὑπήκοοι, are the "natures beneath the moon, hovering in the air and adjacent to the earth."

Were these the Archons of this Aeon who crucified the Lord of Doxa in the air above the moon? (1 Cor 2:8)

The Special Laws 1.13-14

(13) Some persons have conceived that the sun, and the moon, and the other stars are independent gods, to whom they have attributed the causes of all things that exist. But Moses was well aware that the world was created, and was like a very large city, having rulers (ἄρχοντες) and subjects in it; the rulers (ἄρχοντες) being all the bodies which are in heaven, such as planets and fixed stars; (14) and the subjects being all the natures beneath the moon, hovering in the air and adjacent to the earth. But that the rulers aforesaid are not independent and absolute, but are the viceroys of one supreme Being, the Father of all, in imitation of whom they administer with propriety and success the charge committed to their care, as he also presides over all created things in strict accordance with justice and with law. Others, on the contrary, who have not discovered the supreme Governor, who thus rules everything, have attributed the causes of the different things which exist in the world to the subordinate powers, as if they had brought them to pass by their own independent act.
“The only sensible response to fragmented, slowly but randomly accruing evidence is radical open-mindedness. A single, simple explanation for a historical event is generally a failure of imagination, not a triumph of induction.” William H.C. Propp

Eschaton
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Re: Heavenly Bodies as Archons in Philo

Post by Eschaton » Sat Dec 20, 2014 8:20 am

1 Cor 2:8 seems very much like Acts 3:17 where archon is used. Compare that to Jude 1:13 where certain men are like wayward stars and the angels that rebelled (Jude 1:6).

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Re: Heavenly Bodies as Archons in Philo

Post by cienfuegos » Thu Dec 25, 2014 10:51 am

Eschaton wrote:1 Cor 2:8 seems very much like Acts 3:17 where archon is used. Compare that to Jude 1:13 where certain men are like wayward stars and the angels that rebelled (Jude 1:6).
I think there is a distinction to make here. It is absolutely true that archons, even in Paul's writings, often refers to mundane civil authorities. This is the sense in Acts 3, which in context, has no mystical sense at all...much like Romans 13. whereas in 1 Cor, Paul refers to the rulers of this age in a highly mystical passage. I don't see "archons" in Jude 1:13, or in that section. I do see the similarity in the Jude passage, though, regarding wayward stars.

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Re: Heavenly Bodies as Archons in Philo

Post by rakovsky » Wed Feb 28, 2018 1:38 pm

An interesting question comes up in On the Contemplative Life regarding why Philo sees the therapeutae sect as having their name. He says that the name either comes from their cures or else because "they have been instructed by nature and the sacred laws to serve the living God, who is superior to the good, and more simple than the one, and more ancient than the unit".(Yonge's translation). Prof. Scouteris gives a different translation:
In Philo's De Vita Contemplativa we find the point that the monks "worship the Selfexistent who is better than the Good, purer than the One and more primordial than the Monad".

What does this mean that the Living God or Selfexistent is "more simple than the one and more ancient than the unity" or "purer than the One and more primordial than the Monad"?

I guess that "Monad" here refers to the first created being or object, as Wikipedia says:
Monad (from Greek μονάς monas, "singularity" in turn from μόνος monos, "alone"),[1] refers in cosmogony (creation theories) to the first being, divinity, or the totality of all beings. The concept was reportedly conceived by the Pythagoreans and may refer variously to a single source acting alone, or to an indivisible origin, or to both.
...
According to Hippolytus, the worldview was inspired by the Pythagoreans, who called the first thing that came into existence the "monad", which begat (bore) the dyad (from the Greek word for two), which begat the numbers, which begat the point, begetting lines or finiteness, etc.[2] It meant divinity, the first being, or the totality of all beings, referring in cosmogony (creation theories) variously to source acting alone and/or an indivisible origin and equivalent comparators.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monad_(philosophy)
It wouldn't make sense to say that God is older than divinity or the first being, since God would be the first being and would be divine, right?

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Re: Heavenly Bodies as Archons in Philo

Post by andrewcriddle » Fri Mar 02, 2018 1:33 am

rakovsky wrote:
Wed Feb 28, 2018 1:38 pm
An interesting question comes up in On the Contemplative Life regarding why Philo sees the therapeutae sect as having their name. He says that the name either comes from their cures or else because "they have been instructed by nature and the sacred laws to serve the living God, who is superior to the good, and more simple than the one, and more ancient than the unit".(Yonge's translation). Prof. Scouteris gives a different translation:
In Philo's De Vita Contemplativa we find the point that the monks "worship the Selfexistent who is better than the Good, purer than the One and more primordial than the Monad".

What does this mean that the Living God or Selfexistent is "more simple than the one and more ancient than the unity" or "purer than the One and more primordial than the Monad"?

I guess that "Monad" here refers to the first created being or object, as Wikipedia says:
Monad (from Greek μονάς monas, "singularity" in turn from μόνος monos, "alone"),[1] refers in cosmogony (creation theories) to the first being, divinity, or the totality of all beings. The concept was reportedly conceived by the Pythagoreans and may refer variously to a single source acting alone, or to an indivisible origin, or to both.
...
According to Hippolytus, the worldview was inspired by the Pythagoreans, who called the first thing that came into existence the "monad", which begat (bore) the dyad (from the Greek word for two), which begat the numbers, which begat the point, begetting lines or finiteness, etc.[2] It meant divinity, the first being, or the totality of all beings, referring in cosmogony (creation theories) variously to source acting alone and/or an indivisible origin and equivalent comparators.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monad_(philosophy)
It wouldn't make sense to say that God is older than divinity or the first being, since God would be the first being and would be divine, right?
Neo-Platonists held that God (the transcendent one) is the source of existence of everything else and hence is before being, not existing in the same way as subsequent things.

These ideas are later than Philo but may be relevant.

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Re: Heavenly Bodies as Archons in Philo

Post by rakovsky » Fri Mar 02, 2018 6:13 am

Maybe there is a contradiction in their thinking?

One who is self-existent is a being, since to exist means to be. And God is called the "Selfexistent" in one translation of this passage by Philo, and the Hebrew God Jehovah means "He Who Is", yet the passage by Philo also says that He precedes the Monad, which Wikipedia is called divinity or the "first being" and you are saying that "He is before being".

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Re: Heavenly Bodies as Archons in Philo

Post by andrewcriddle » Tue Mar 06, 2018 11:42 am

This may possibly be of interest. Plotinus
The Absolute is what is One simply and without qualification. It is prior to being and intellect...
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Re: Heavenly Bodies as Archons in Philo

Post by ourielbaruch » Tue Jul 31, 2018 1:22 pm

In Judaism God's "existence" is utterly unique and not comparable to the existence of anything else. God cannot exist in the universe, because He "existed" before reality. The Monad is simply the created Unity from which the rest of creation emanates. Even God's Unity is not comparable to the monad's unity. Very basic Jewish theology, which Philo is putting in Greek theological terms.

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Re: Heavenly Bodies as Archons in Philo

Post by ourielbaruch » Tue Jul 31, 2018 1:25 pm

In Judaism God's "existence" is utterly unique and not comparable to the existence of anything else. God cannot exist in the universe, because He "existed" before reality. The Monad is simply the created Unity from which the rest of creation emanates. Even God's Unity is not comparable to the monad's unity. Very basic Jewish theology, which Philo is putting in Greek theological terms.

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Re: Heavenly Bodies as Archons in Philo

Post by arnoldo » Tue Jul 31, 2018 6:51 pm

ourielbaruch wrote:
Tue Jul 31, 2018 1:25 pm
In Judaism God's "existence" is utterly unique and not comparable to the existence of anything else. God cannot exist in the universe, because He "existed" before reality. The Monad is simply the created Unity from which the rest of creation emanates. Even God's Unity is not comparable to the monad's unity. Very basic Jewish theology, which Philo is putting in Greek theological terms.
Mortimer J Adler wrote the following concerning the usage of the word "existence"

Analogical Speech: Its Distinction from Univocal and Equivocal Speech

The words "analogical" "univocal," and "equivocal" are not generally used. But they are of great importance philosophically. Philosophers are concerned with different senses in which we attribute characteristics to a number of things; or, to speak of this matter grammatically, they are concerned with the different ways in which we apply a predicate to two or more subjects. . . .

The importance of this point should be clear to persons who speak of God and human beings and other of God's creatures. We recognize that we are not using the word "exists" in the same sense when we say we and other things exist and that God exists, but we cannot specify the difference between God's mode of being and our mode of being except negatively. We know it is not the same.

We know that in the sense in which God exists, we do not exist; and in the sense in which we exist, God does not exist. The word "exists" is used analogically of God and God's creature.
http://www.thegreatideas.org/apd-anlo.html


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