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AW: orion 1st C synagogue - was ....
>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
Paul V. M. Flesher, Director
Religious Studies Program
**In BAR march/april 1996, it is said that the word
'synagogue' only becan to indicate a building instead
of an assembly [*] in the 3th c., the word for a Jewish
meeting place/building before that being 'proseuche'.
[*cf. ekklesia - eglise]
But how would one recognize such a building, as (like Mr.
West says) they likely just were normal buildings or rooms in
private houses at the start? I.e.: what has to
be found to show a place to be a proseuche? Or phrased
otherwise: what minimal requirements make a building a
'synagogue' [in the later sense]? Would there not have been
a gradual development in iconography and layout etc.? (F.e.
slowly taking on Temple traits after 70 AD). So if a
1st c. 'synagogue' was excavated - would it be
recognized? Just wondering.
The above BAR article btw deals with excavations on the
Crimea. That there was a building/proseuche on the spot
was determined on the basis of a menorah depiction and a
plaster with the word "Jerusalem", but these date to
between the 2nd and 4th c. The proseuche and the synagogue
(=assembly, community, in this case) are mentionned
in an inscription of 80 AD. So building and inscriptions
ARE of different dates. Also in the Chersonesus, a stone block
with menorah was found in secondary use in 2th c. BC
to 1st c. AD context (giving the "probable date"). Are there
other places than a proseuche where such a menorah
could have been in use??
Anyhow, not much proof of a 'decorated' (i.e. synagogue-like)
proseuche from the 1st c. there either, I guess?
BAR sept/oct 1993 says that "the first-century dating"
of the synagogue of Capernaum, as was done by the
earliest excavator Orfali, "is universally rejected today",
and "now generally dated to the 4th c." (with reference
to IEJ 23 p.37-42 and BA 43.2 p.97-108) .
In the same BAR 22 (1996) there is an interesting book
review (p.67), commenting on the Capernaum synagogue,
and also mentioning the building that holds the purpoited
"Upper Room" in Jerusalem. Finegan and
Pixner considering it a 1st c. church-synagogue
(i.e. Jewish-Christian meeting place) [ref: BAR
may/june 1990], it having a Torah nice that was
not exactly oriented toward the Temple Mount. Their
view however was/is "not widely accepted". What
do you think of this building [leaving alone whether
it had anything to do with early christians!]:
what is the generally accepted date and WAS
there a Torah nice?