The Women Therapeutae and the Divided Space of the ‘Synagogue’

With imminent publication of the Taylor-Hay commentary on De Vita Contemplativa (SBL Philo series), it is timely to reflect on the presentation of aspects of women and gender in the treatise, and update aspects I have explored in Jewish Women Philosophers: Philo’s Therapeutae Reconsidered (2003). This paper considers issues of actuality and rhetoric, as well as some other broader questions, and then focuses on the divided physical space Philo describes for the Sabbath meetings of the Therapeutae, in the light of what we now know of ancient synagogues and lecture halls.