Jewish Art in Late Antiquity

The State of Research in Ancient Jewish Art


Antique Jewish art visualized the idea that the essence of God is beyond the world of forms. In the Bible, the Israelites were commanded to build sanctuaries without cult statues. Following the destruction of the Second Temple, Jews turned to literary and visual aids to fill the void. In this accessible survey, Shulamit Laderman traces the visualizations of the Tabernacle implements, including the seven-branch menorah, the Torah ark, the shofar, the four species, and other motifs associated with the Hebrew Bible and the Jewish calendar. These motifs evolved into iconographic symbols visualized in a range of media, including coins, funerary art, and synagogue decorations in both Israel and the Diaspora. Particular attention is given to important discoveries such as the frescoes of the third-century CE synagogue in Dura-Europos, mosaic floors in synagogues in Galilee, and architectural and carved motifs that decorated burial places.

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Shulamit Laderman, Ph.D. (2000), The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, teaches Jewish and General Art at Bar-Ilan University and the Schechter Institute. She is the author of Images of Cosmology in Jewish and Byzantine Art (Brill, 2013) and The Illuminated Torah (Gefen, 2016) and has also published a broad array of articles focused primarily on various aspects of Jewish art.

Jewish Art in Late Antiquity
State of the Research in Ancient Jewish Art
 1 Introduction
 2 The Cosmological Significance of the Tabernacle
 3 Coins and Their Symbolic Language
 4 Burial Architecture and Ornamentation
 5 Ancient Synagogues in Palestine
 6 Ancient Synagogues in the Diaspora
 7 Synagogue Art – Decorating the Sacred Realm
 8 Architectural Elements and Furnishings in the Ancient Synagogues
 9 The Seven-Branch Menorah
 10 Conclusions
This essay should find its way onto the shelves of academic libraries and be of interest to students and scholars in the field of Jewish art as well as to educated non-specialists who would like to gain some familiarity with the subject.
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