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Re: orion synagogues (somewhat long)
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> Jim West wrote:
> > Both suggest that there is certainly a lack of archaeological evidence for
> > the existence of first century synagogues in Palestine. ABD identifies
> > three sites which may be synagogues- Gamla, Herodium, and Masada.
> > Both, on the other hand, suggest that there were multiple synagogues in
> > Israel in the first c. CE.
> > So, we have in these academic sources contradictory statements. On the one
> > hand "there were dozens of synagogues" but "there is little archaeological
> > evidence for their existence".
> Most likely the references to "dozens of synagogues" are based on
> ancient sources. Jack K and others have mentioned some of these
> sources, but I would like to go into more detail.
> ABD does indeed speak of the shortage of archaeological evidence,
> but it also mentions ancient sources (v.6 p. 252):
> By the 1st century C.E. the synagogue had become so important and
> central an institution to Jewish life in Palestine that the Talmud of
> Palestine refers to 480 of them existing in Jerusalem in the time of
> Vespasian (Kloner 1981: 12). One scholar has recently proposed that
> in Jerusalem alone there were 365 synagogues in the late Second
> Temple period (Wilkinson 1976: 76-77). A Greek inscription from
> Jerusalem dating to the 1st century C.E., found in the excavations of
> 1913-14, describes the varied function of the synagogue at that time
> (quoted in Levine 1987: 17):
> Theodotus, son of Vettenos, the priest and *archisynagogos*, son
> of a *archisynagogos* and grandson of a *archisynagogos*, who
> built the synagogue for purposes of reciting the Law and
> studying the commandments, and as a hotel with chambers and
> water installations to provide for the needs of itinerants from
> abroad, which his fathers, the elders and Simonides founded.
Corbo, in Liber Annus 17 (1967) pp 101-103, in his report of the
excavation of Herodium, assigns the conversion of the Triclinium to a
synagogue to the first Jewish Revolt. Yadin, in Masada, pp 181-189
assigns the synagogue to the time of Heros and reconstructed during the
First Revolt. The synagogue at Hammath Tiberias is assigned by Dothan
the 1st century, see Israel Exploration Journal 12 (1962) pp 153-154;
Biblique 70 (1963) 588-590. The synagogue at Magdala is similar in plan
to the ones at Herodium and Masada and close to the same time period,
see Corbo, Liber Annus 24 (1974), p. 22. The black basalt foundation of
the 1st century "centurion's synagogue" of Capernaum has been discussed,
see BAR, 1983, 9:6.
Now as to external evidence to support the archaeological
evidence, what could be more confirmatory to Paul's account in
Corinthians where "he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath" (Acts
18:4) where not only the lintel of the synagogue was found with the
Greek inscription "Hebrew Synagogue" but also Justus' house which was
next door. In other words, I don't have to be hit over the head with
a menorah to come to the conclusion that there were 1st century/
2nd temple synagogues. The Matthean scribe sure knew about
synagogues when he wrote in 85ish CE, he mentions them 9 times.
Mark mentions them 11 times.
I can appreciate difficulty associating the <Hebr>mow(d of
Ps 74:8 with the conventional perception of a synagogue, although
the possibility cannot be ruled out, but I cannot see how we can
doubt the existence of synagogues during 2nd temple times.
Díman dith laych idneh dínishMA nishMA
Jack Kilmon (email@example.com)