Ancient Synagogues (2 vols)

Historical Analysis and Archaeological Discovery


The origins of the synagogue remain shrouded in mystery and its development in its early centuries is only slightly better understood. This book brings together over twenty essays from Israeli, British, and American scholars to explore the development of the ancient synagogue. Combining original articles with the best of earlier studies—including nine articles here translated from the Hebrew for the first time—this collection presents the fullest critical picture of the early synagogue and the scholarly discussions concerning it. The book focuses on two central questions. First, what were the origins of the earliest synagogues, and where did they achieve the greatest growth in the early centuries? Second, what role did the early synagogue play within the Jewish community?


EUR €311.00USD $374.00

Biographical Note

Dan Urman, Ph.D. (1979) New York University, is Senior Lecturer at Ben-Gurion University. He has directed numerous surveys and excavations in Israel, and has published books on the Golan and the Shephelah in the Roman and Byzantine periods. Paul V.M. Flesher, Ph.D. (1988) Brown University, directs Religious Studies at the University of Wyoming. He has published on synagogues, targums, and early Rabbinic Judaism.

Review Quote

' We are greatly indebted to Brill and the authors for publishing these significant studies which will be of interest to all students of ancient Jewish and art.' Joseph Gutmann, National Jewish Post and Opinion, 1995.

Table of contents

Volume I 'Ancient Synagogues: A Reader's Guide.' I. THE ORIGINS OF ANCIENT SYNAGOGUES J.G. Griffiths, 'Egypt and the Rise of the Synagogue.' L.L. Grabbe, 'Synagogues in Pre-70 Palestine: A Re-assessment.' P.V.M. Flesher, 'Palestinian Synagogues before 70 C.E.: A Review of the Evidence.' A. Oppenheimer, 'Babylonian Synagogues with Historical Associations.' II. THE DEVELOPMENT OF ANCIENT SYNAGOGUES D.E. Groh, 'The Stratigraphic Chronology of the Galilean Synagogue from the Early Roman Period Through the Early Byzantine Period (ca. 420 C.E.).' Y. Tsafrir, 'On the Source of the Architectural Design of the Ancient Synagogues in the Galilee: A New Appraisal.' G. Foester, 'Dating Synagogues with a 'Basilical' Plan and an Apse.' A.T. Kraabel, 'The Diaspora Synagogue: Archaeological and Epigraphic Evidence since Sukenik.' III. SYNAGOGUES AND SETTLEMENTS: REPORTS AND ANALYSIS D. Amit, 'Architectural Plans of Synagogues in the Southern Judean Hills and the ''Halakah'.' S. Dar & Y. Mintzker, 'The Synagogue of ḥorvat Sumaqa, 1983-1993.' Z. Gal, 'Ancient Synagogues in the Eastern Lower Galilee.' D. Urman, 'Early Photographs of Galilean Synagogues.' IV. THE SYNAGOGUE'S NATURE AND THE JEWISH COMMUNITY Z. Safrai. 'The Communal Functions of the Synagogue in the Land of Israel in the Rabbinic Period.' A. Kasher, 'Synagogues as 'Houses of Prayer' and 'Holy Places' in the Jewish Communities of Hellenistic and Roman Egypt.' I. Gafni, 'Synagogues in Babylonia in the Talmudic Period.' D. Urman, 'The House of Assembly and the House of Study: Are they One and the Same? Z. Ilan, 'The Synagogue and Study House at Meroth.' R. Reich, 'The Synagogue and the miqweh in Eretz-Israel in the Second-Temple, Mishnaic, and Talmudic Periods.' Volume II V. THE SYNAGOGUE'S INTERNAL AESTHETICS A. Ovadiah, 'Art of the Ancient Synagogues in Israel.' J.R. Branham, 'Vicarious Sacrality: Temple Space in Ancient Synagogues.' P.V.M. Flesher, 'Rereading the Reredos: David, Orpheus, and Messianism in the Dura Europos Synagogue.' A. Ovadiah, 'The Mosaic Workshop of Gaza in Christian Antiquity.' VI. D. Urman, PUBLIC STRUCTURES AND JEWISH COMMUNITIES IN THE GOLAN HEIGHTS


Scholars, graduate students, advanced undergraduates, and perhaps educated and knowledgeable lay persons interested in Second Temple and Rabbinic Judaism, New Testament and Early Christianity, or Roman or Byzantine archaeology in Israel.