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Re: orion synagogues

Steve wrote:
>The article in ABD was by Eric Meyers, and the article in OEANE by Meyers
>and myself.  I would like to clarify some points on this very difficult
>subject.  This is another case where we would like to know much more than
>we do!
Paul wrote:
I heartily agree with the last sentence!

Steve wrote:
>The problem with 1st century synagogues is that we may not recognize them
>when we see them, since they have none of the furnishings we might expect
>in later periods.  A good example might be the Theodotos synagogue.  Were
>the place where the inscription was found found without an inscription,
>would anyone identify it as a synagogue?  (I realize that there has been
>some dispute on this piece recently, though it was effectively disarmed by
>Oster, E.P. Sanders and van der Horst in a number of publications).  A
>better case is the earlier synagogue at Stobi, which was just a converted
>house.  Michael White's Building God's House... provides good examples of
>house synagogues-churches-temples, many of which would be archaeologically
>invisible without specific and distinctive appurtenances and decorations
>that managed to survive and be excavated.

Paul wrote:
In general, I agree with Steve here.  Let me make two quick points,
however.  (1) Sanders, Oster, et al have NOT put to rest the problems with
the Theodotus Inscription.  (2) As White's book makes clear, there is a
difference in this debate between synagogues in Palestine and those outside
Palestine. There is solid, datable, published archaeological evidence for
synagogues outside Palestine, but not for any inside Palestine.

Steve wrote:
>Incidentially, while no synagogue buildings have been found that date
>between 74 and the 3rd century, as Levine correctly notes, would you assume
>that there were none, based upon the abundant literary evidence and your
>assumption that synagogues filled a "need" and became "important" only
>after the destruction of the Temple?

Paul wrote:
See my essay (already cited more fully in previous emails) on the "abundant
literary evidence." I conclude that there is practically no solid C1
evidence for synagogues in Palestine south of Galilee, and the evidence for
Galilee is not 100% reliable.

>Steven Fine
>Assistant Professor of Rabbinic Literature and History
>Baltimore Hebrew University
>5800 Park Heights Avenue
>Baltimore, MD 21215
>410-578-6908; Fax: 410-578-6940

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