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Re: orion synagogues
Perhaps we can all agree that much depends here on the definition(s) of
I would ask whether those who argue in favour of considering Qumran as
possibly having a synagogue (room--not a separate building?) or study-house
would take that possibility, if accepted, as suggesting that writing and
copying of texts would be a likely activity at the same site?
Also, I, for one, would like to hear more from Steven Fine about the
relation of manuscripts and the proposed Masada synagogue. E.g., which
texts found at Masada, Steven, do you propose were used in the proposed
synagogue and when? And, if your forthcoming book addresses this, perhaps
you could mention that.
I would add, as an aside, that several other publications relevant
to synagogue study are now in press. These include a collection of essays
with important observations, especially on diaspora synagogues, by Leonard
V. Rutgers (publisher: Peeters). And a collection of essays including
papers from the Second International Conference on Galilee in Antiquity
(Duke Judaic Studies series; Eisenbrauns).
>identification). and wrong about Masada. Almost every scroll found on
>Masada was found within 20 meters of this room, and two were found buried
>inside. If a synagogue during this period is defined foremost as a place
>for communal study, then Masada is a synagogue. Gamla is problematic,
>since we have the shell of a building with virtually no religious
>appurtenences and no signage. It's ID is nevertheless very plausible, if
>unprovable. See my comments on Masada in -Sacred Realm- (OUP, 1996)
>expanded in -This -Holy Place- (Notre Dame UP, forthcoming in 1998).
>Incidentally, archaeology is no more reliable than any other area of
>historical reconstruction, and should not be given precedence. There was
>an article a number of years ago on this in -Maarav- by Fred Branfon
>(Sp.?), an archaeologist.
>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.
>For other approaches, see Lee Levine's in -The Synagogue in Late
>Antiquity-, and Paul Flesher's in his edited volume with D. Urman.
>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?
>Have a nice weekend, and happy synagogue hunting! I will spend tomorrow in
>a house that was refurbished as a synagogue. In a century, if the signage
>and the ark don't survive in situ, no one may know that a synagogue was
>Assistant Professor of Rabbinic Literature and History
>Baltimore Hebrew University
>5800 Park Heights Avenue
>Baltimore, MD 21215
>410-578-6908; Fax: 410-578-6940
>> Now, I hate to disagree with the authors of ABD and OXford's
>> but there simply is no concrete evidence to support the idea that Herod
>> built a Synagogue at Herodium; that the room on Masada was used for
>> scripture and prayer; or that the site of Gamla was used for religious
>> assemblies. These three sites aside, where are the other archaeological
>> remains which would demonstrate that there were hundreds of buildings
>> synagogues scattered throughout the land? If there were so many, why no
>> remains (thus far discovered)? The reason seems quite simple; there was
>> need for such buildings while the Temple stood. Once the Temple was
>> destroyed, then such places of meeting would become important.
>> And in particular, where is there any evidence at all for a synagogue at
>> Finally, for those interested in the subject may I recommend the
>> book by Richard A. Horsley, "Archaeology, History and Society in
>> In chapter 6, p. 133 he quotes "no synagogue buildings have been found in
>> Palestine for the almost 200 years following the destruction of the
>> (Quoting Lee Levine).
>> Jim West, ThD
>> Petros TN