Building Jewish in the Roman East


Archaeology has unearthed the glories of ancient Jewish buildings throughout the Mediterranean. But what has remained shrouded is what these buildings meant. Building Jewish first surveys the architecture of small rural villages in the Galilee in the early Roman period before examining the development of synagogues as “Jewish associations.” Finally, Building Jewish explores Jerusalem’s flurry of building activity under Herod the Great in the first century BCE. Richardson’s careful work not only documents the culture that forms the background to any study of Second Temple Judaism and early Christianity, but he also succeeds in demonstrating how architecture itself, like a text, conveys meaning and thus directly illuminates daily life and religious thought and practice in the ancient world.

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Peter Richardson, Ph.D.(Cambridge University), Professor Emeritus at the University of Toronto, is the author or editor of eleven books on Second Temple Judaism and Early Christianity, including, most recently, City and Sanctuary: Religion and Architecture in the Roman Near East (2002) and Herod the Great: King of Jews and Friend of Romans (1999). An experienced archaeologist, Richardson is also Honorary Fellow of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada.
' Richardson accomplishes a remarkable task by creating a synthesis of form and function in this study of religious architecture within the context of Second Temple Judaism and early Christian literature. He has effectively woven archaeological data into his very detailed interpretation of the development of religious practice during a time of social crisis under Roman rule.’ Victor H. Matthews, Professor of Religious Studies, Southwest Missouri State University. ' Richardson draws on his expertise in architecture and religion to reconstruct the social setting of early Judaism and nascent Christianity. The book is clearly and authoritatively written and is richly illustrated, making it ideal for classroom use as well as a basic scholarly resource.' Jodi Magness, Kenan Distinguished Professor for Teaching Excellence in Early Judaism, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. ' Provocative and well written, Richardson’s collection of studies bridges the gap between archaeology and text. A must read for anyone interested in the matrix from which Christianity arose.' Jonathan L. Reed, Professor of Religion, University of La Verne. ' Richardson’s continued interest in Herod, the Second Temple, the development of synagogues in the Diaspora as associations, early Jewish innovative monasticism, tombs, and the James ossuary result in a holistic understanding that revises and sensitively restates the relation between early Judaisms and Christianities as they developed in both Cana and Corinth.' David Balch, Brite Divinity School, Texas Christian University. ' Because the material in these essays is wide-ranging, sophisticated, and detailed, they will be of interest to both textual scholars and archaeologists. But this book can also be used with undergraduates as well, because no essay is inordinately long and the writing style is consistently clear and interesting. This book is, in sum, a remarkable achievement: sophisticated in ways that will satisfy the specialist and accessible in ways that will attract a student. Most of all, it shows that the benefits that do repay the effort—both physical and mental—to find and listen to the material evidence.' Byron McCane, Review of Biblical Literature, 2006.
College, university and seminary students; biblical scholars.