Sacred Realm: The Emergence of the Synagogue in the Ancient World

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The rich tradition and profound spirituality of Judaism has touched people the world over for thousands of years. With the arrival in the Near East of Alexander the Great and the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE, the synagogue came to represent a new era of this powerful religion, one which witnessed a greater emphasis on shared religious experience and prayer. In turn, the synagogue, derived from the Greek, meaning an "assembly," has come to mean the Jewish house of worship, evolving into a "sacred realm," in...
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Overview


The rich tradition and profound spirituality of Judaism has touched people the world over for thousands of years. With the arrival in the Near East of Alexander the Great and the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE, the synagogue came to represent a new era of this powerful religion, one which witnessed a greater emphasis on shared religious experience and prayer. In turn, the synagogue, derived from the Greek, meaning an "assembly," has come to mean the Jewish house of worship, evolving into a "sacred realm," in which the Torah came to play a central role linking the biblical past with the messianic future. Of course, the synagogue has been much more that a house of worship--it served the Jewish people as a place of learning, a community center, and often as the official seat of Jewish self-government. Indeed, it is the institution most closely associated with the development of post-biblical Judaism throughout the ages.
Sacred Realm: The Emergence of the Synagogue in the Ancient World offers the first comprehensive history of the architectural and archaeological development of the synagogue from the third century BCE to 700 CE. Telling the story of over one hundred ancient synagogues throughout the world and their place in the history of Judaism and of Western civilization, this book provides a fascinating representation of the cultural, intellectual, and artistic achievements of three thousand years of Jewish experience. Informative essays detail every aspect of the ancient synagogue, while beautiful illustrations and maps take the reader to the actual historic site.
Sacred Realm is an accompaniment to a monumental exhibition organized by the Yeshiva University Museum in New York. Borrowing from museums in North America, Europe, and Israel, the exhibition presents a unique collection of artifacts and manuscripts--including many pieces never before displayed in the United States--and will depict for the first time an in-depth history of the synagogue during the Greco-Roman period. From fourth-century Egyptian incense burners and inscribed bowl fragments to fifth-century Gaza mosaics decorated with Menorah and Shofar, Piyyut (liturgical poetry) manuscripts, and assorted textile, column, and pottery fragments, this collection is the most significant presentation of ancient Jewish religious life ever assembled in the United States.
Lavishly illustrated with both color and black and white photographs of the artifacts, manuscripts, maps, site diagrams, and reconstructions, Sacred Realm is not only a detailed record of this historic exhibit, but a guide to the evolution of Judaism's most sacred institution.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195102253
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 12/5/1996
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 240
  • Lexile: 1380L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.50 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author

About the Editor:
Steve Fine is Assistant Professor at Baltimore Hebrew University.

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Table of Contents

Director's Preface
Editor's Preface
Acknowledgments
Donors
Lenders to the Exhibition
Historical Chronology
Foreword: The Ancient Synagogue and the History of Judaism
1 Ancient Synagogues: An Archaeological Introduction 3
2 From Meeting House to Sacred Realm: Holiness and the Ancient Synagogue 21
3 Diaspora Synagogues: New Light from Inscriptions and Papyri 48
4 Diaspora Synagogues: Synagogue Archaeology in the Greco-Roman World 67
5 Synagogues in the Land of Israel: The Art and Architecture of the Late Antique Synagogues 96
6 Synagogues in the Land of Israel: The Literature of the Ancient Synagogue and Synagogue Archaeology 130
Contributors 153
Catalogue of Objects in the Exhibition 155
Notes 177
Glossary 183
Selected Bibliography 185
Photographic Credits 193
Index 195
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