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Re: orion 1st C synagogue - was ....

Dear David,

>Having visited the site in the Golan believed to be Gamla some years ago I
>would be very interested if anyone has a reference to a reliable academic
>article or book proving it to be less than 50% probable that the building
>there was a pre-68 synagogue.
>David L. Mealand            *    E-mail: D.Mealand@ed.ac.uk
>University of Edinburgh     *    Office tel.:(+44)-131-650-8917 or 8921
>Scotland, U.K.  EH1 2LX     *    Office fax.:(+44)-131-650-6579

Dear David,
There is a better way of asking the question.  What is the evidence that
the building at Gamla is a synagogue?  Starting with the basics: Gamla is
an archaeological site that has been excavated.  The nice thing about
archaeology is that it is a "science." That is, it's methods supposedly
enable it demonstrate its conclusions (to the limits of the evidence).  The
vehicle for archaeological evidence is the final report, the place in which
all conclusions about a site are supported as strongly as possible with all
the available evidence.

There is no final report on Gamla, and the excavator will never publish
such a report.  There is a book in Hebrew (of the popular variety)  in
which the excavator gave 6-8 pages about the so-called synagogue.  Not a
"scientific demonstration" at all.  (I can't remember the bibliographical
info, but I have the volume at home and can check it if anyone needs it.)

In my article on pre-70 synagogues, Gamla was the only claim for a pre-70
that I accepted,  (See Urman and Flesher, _Ancient Synagogues_ Brill, 1995,
vol. 1).  One reviewer who discussed the essay (my memory is failing me on
a friday afternoon again, but I think the review appeared in JSJ),
essentially showed that the reasons I put forward for accepting it as a
synagogue were invalid. So I now conclude that there are no pre-70
Palestinian synagogues.


Paul V. M. Flesher, Director
Religious Studies Program
University of Wyoming
Laramie, WY  82071-3353


Confucius said: "To study and not think is a waste. To think and not study
is dangerous."
Analects 2:15