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The Origins of the Synagogue : A Socio-Historical Study

Runesson, Anders LU (2001) In Coniectanea Biblica, New Testament Series 37.
Abstract
In the first century CE, synagogues existed not only in the land of Israel but in all parts of the Roman Empire where Jews lived. Although incorporating a number of activities, the most characteristic features of this institution were the public reading and teaching of torah, making the synagogue an unparalleled institution in the ancient world. But how, when, where, and why did this unique institution originate? Which historical, social, or political factors determined its rise and development? Since the dawn of modern history writing, scholars have wrestled with these questions, not least since the synagogue informs on the earliest history of two world religions, Judaism and Christianity; in fact, the influence of this ancient... (More)
In the first century CE, synagogues existed not only in the land of Israel but in all parts of the Roman Empire where Jews lived. Although incorporating a number of activities, the most characteristic features of this institution were the public reading and teaching of torah, making the synagogue an unparalleled institution in the ancient world. But how, when, where, and why did this unique institution originate? Which historical, social, or political factors determined its rise and development? Since the dawn of modern history writing, scholars have wrestled with these questions, not least since the synagogue informs on the earliest history of two world religions, Judaism and Christianity; in fact, the influence of this ancient institution is still felt in large parts of the world through the impact of these religions. However, no one solution to the complex problem of its origins has yet been accepted by the majority of scholars. Taking into account literary, epigraphic and archaeological material, and adopting a socio-political perspective towards the sources, the present study constitutes a new approach to an old enigma. The investigation spans from the sixth century BCE to the second century CE and argues that behind the word ‘synagogue’ in the first century, there are concealed two types of institution: the public village assembly and the so-called voluntary association. The former originated as a result of the radical implementation of Persian imperial policy in Yehud, while the latter developed when Hellenistic influence was felt in the region. In the Diaspora, synagogue liturgy gradually replaced Jewish sacrificial cult so that temples eventually were transformed into synagogues. The results of this study not only touch upon questions of how Judaism was formed in the Persian period, but also affect the understanding of the social situation in the first century and the relation between different Jewish groups, such as the Jesus movement and the Pharisees. (Less)
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author
opponent
  • Lektor Bilde, Per, Århus
organization
publishing date
type
Thesis
publication status
published
subject
keywords
ritual, archaeology, city gate, secondary state, Nehemiah, Ezra, Deuteronomy, ideology, Babylonia, Egypt, Palestine, cult centralisation, Artaxerxes I, Darius, Cyrus, administration, Persian imperial politics, origin, church, temple, Synagogue, proseuche, History of the Christian church, Kristna kyrkans historia, Non-Christian religions, Världsreligioner (ej kristendom)
in
Coniectanea Biblica, New Testament Series
volume
37
pages
573 pages
publisher
Almqvist & Wiksell International
defense location
Carolinasalen, Kungshuset, Lundagård
defense date
2001-12-14 10:15
ISSN
0069-8946
ISBN
91-22-01946-4
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
a4a89940-7a94-4abf-a5dd-6332a0c3dfb6 (old id 20095)
date added to LUP
2007-05-25 12:15:53
date last changed
2016-09-19 08:44:58
@phdthesis{a4a89940-7a94-4abf-a5dd-6332a0c3dfb6,
  abstract     = {In the first century CE, synagogues existed not only in the land of Israel but in all parts of the Roman Empire where Jews lived. Although incorporating a number of activities, the most characteristic features of this institution were the public reading and teaching of torah, making the synagogue an unparalleled institution in the ancient world. But how, when, where, and why did this unique institution originate? Which historical, social, or political factors determined its rise and development? Since the dawn of modern history writing, scholars have wrestled with these questions, not least since the synagogue informs on the earliest history of two world religions, Judaism and Christianity; in fact, the influence of this ancient institution is still felt in large parts of the world through the impact of these religions. However, no one solution to the complex problem of its origins has yet been accepted by the majority of scholars. Taking into account literary, epigraphic and archaeological material, and adopting a socio-political perspective towards the sources, the present study constitutes a new approach to an old enigma. The investigation spans from the sixth century BCE to the second century CE and argues that behind the word ‘synagogue’ in the first century, there are concealed two types of institution: the public village assembly and the so-called voluntary association. The former originated as a result of the radical implementation of Persian imperial policy in Yehud, while the latter developed when Hellenistic influence was felt in the region. In the Diaspora, synagogue liturgy gradually replaced Jewish sacrificial cult so that temples eventually were transformed into synagogues. The results of this study not only touch upon questions of how Judaism was formed in the Persian period, but also affect the understanding of the social situation in the first century and the relation between different Jewish groups, such as the Jesus movement and the Pharisees.},
  author       = {Runesson, Anders},
  isbn         = {91-22-01946-4},
  issn         = {0069-8946},
  keyword      = {ritual,archaeology,city gate,secondary state,Nehemiah,Ezra,Deuteronomy,ideology,Babylonia,Egypt,Palestine,cult centralisation,Artaxerxes I,Darius,Cyrus,administration,Persian imperial politics,origin,church,temple,Synagogue,proseuche,History of the Christian church,Kristna kyrkans historia,Non-Christian religions,Världsreligioner (ej kristendom)},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {573},
  publisher    = {Almqvist & Wiksell International},
  school       = {Lund University},
  series       = {Coniectanea Biblica, New Testament Series},
  title        = {The Origins of the Synagogue : A Socio-Historical Study},
  volume       = {37},
  year         = {2001},
}