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Allegorizations of the Active and Contemplative Lives in Philo, Origen, Augustine, and Gregory

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Allegorizations of the Active and Contemplative Lives in Philo, Origen, Augustine, and Gregory This paper examines the allegorical interpretations awarded to several Scriptural pairs as they relate to this Concept of their active and contemplative lives in Philo, Origen, Augustine, and Gregory. As will be shown, Augustine joins elements found in both preceding writers to form his allegory of the two wives of Jacob as representative of the active and contemplative lives. In Philo, most of the vital elements of later Christian thought on the active and contemplative lives are already current. The superiority of the contemplative life is given at the start of his treatise on it: "I have discussed the Essenes, who persistently pursued the active life and excelled in all or, to put it more moderately, in the majority of its departments. I'll now proceed at once in accordance with the sequence required by the subject to say what is needed about those who embraced the life of contemplation" (De Vita Cont. 1 [471]). The idea that the contemplative life follows upon the active is also present here, and is elaborated elsewhere: "... infants have one place and full grown men another. The one is named ascetic training and the other is called wisdom... For what life is far better than a contemplative life, or more appropriate to a rational being?" (De Migr. Abr. 9 [443]). Both the active and contemplative lives are virtuous, but the contemplative is the more mature and fuller expression of the life of wisdom; it should, however, only be practiced once the former has been used as a training ground. Philo allegorizes Leah and Rachel in several related ways in his works (cf. Sly, 163-74). At one point he identifies Rachel with bodily beauty,.

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