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Jews, like other early religious communities, were wary of art being used for idolatrous purposes. However, interpretations of the Second Commandment (Ex. 20:4-6: "You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them [...]") changed through the centuries. First-century rabbis in Judea were violently aniconic and objected the depiction of human figures and the placement of statues in temples. While no figural art from first-century Roman Judea exists, the art on the Dura Europos synagogue walls developed with no objection from the rabbis. Byzantine synagogues also frequently featured elaborate mosaic floor tiles. The remains of a sixth-century synagogue were uncovered at Sepphoris, an important center of Jewish culture between the third and seventh centuries, where a mosaic reflects an interesting fusion of Jewish and pagan beliefs. The floor of the Bet Alpha synagogue, built during the reign of Justinian I, also features elaborate nave mosaics. Throughout antiquity, as interpretations of the Second Commandment liberalized, any perceived ban on figurative depiction may not have been taken very seriously.
See: pp. 31-65.
A masterful survey of Jewish visual culture in the Late Roman and Byzantine eras. A new type of Jewish art emerged in Late Antiquity, when artists produced visual depictions that had not existed earlier within a Jewish context--figural images (including pagan motifs), biblical scenes, and religious symbols. Visual Judaism locates this phenomenon in the wider context of Late Antiquity, revealing new insights into the role of visual culture in Jewish society, in which individual communities determined what forms of artistic expression would be displayed in their synagogues. Following introductory chapters surveying Jewish art over fifteen hundred years, down to the third century CE, author Lee I. Levine focuses on the wealth of archaeological, artistic, and textual material from the third to seventh century, demonstrating how this artistic activity responded to new historical circumstances.
Art and Judaism in the Greco-Roman World by Steven Fine
See: pp. 60-81.
Art and Judaism During the Greco-Roman Period explores the Jewish experience with art during the Greco-Roman period--from the Hellenistic period through the rise of Islam. It starts from with the premise that Jewish art in antiquity was a "minority" or "ethnic" art and surveys ways that Jews fully participated in, transformed, and at times rejected the art of their general environment. Art and Judaism focuses upon the politics of identity during the Greco-Roman period, even as it discusses ways that modern identity issues have sometimes distorted and at other times refined scholarly discussion of ancient Jewish material culture. Art and Judaism, the first historical monograph on ancient Jewish art in forty years, evaluates earlier scholarship even as it sets out in new directions. Placing literary sources in careful dialogue with archaeological discoveries, this "New Jewish Archaeology" is an important contribution to Judaic Studies, Religious Studies, Art History, and Classics. The Revised Edition includes a new introduction, additional images, and color plates.
Jewish Art in Its Late Antique Context by Uzi Leibner (Editor); Catherine Hezser (Editor)
The contributions to this volume examine the emergence of ancient Jewish art from the interdisciplinary perspective of Art and Archaeology, Ancient Judaism and Rabbinics, Patristics and Church History. The studies show that an interdisciplinary approach leads to a better understanding not only of ancient Jewish, but also of Graeco-Roman and Christian art. They evaluate how late antique Jewish art was embedded in its Hellenistic, Roman, and Byzantine cultural contexts by, at the same time, evincing specifically Jewish and local Near Eastern idiosyncrasies. Contributors: Roland Deines, Rachel Hachlili, Catherine Hezser, Robin M. Jensen, Sean V. Leatherbury, Uzi Leibner, Lee I. Levine, Orit Peleg-Barkat, Karen B. Stern, Peter Stewart, Rina Talgam, Markus Vinzent, Zeev Weiss, Holger Zellentin
Viewing Ancient Jewish Art and Archaeology by Ann Killebrew (Editor); Gabriele Faßbeck (Editor)
In honor of eminent archaeologist and historian of ancient Jewish art, Rachel Hachlili, friends and colleagues offer contributions in this festschrift which span the world of ancient Judaism both in Palestine and the Diaspora. Hachlili's distinctive research interests: synagogues, burial sites, and Jewish iconography receive particular attention in the volume. Archaeologists and historians present new material evidence from Galilee, Jerusalem, and Transjordan, contributing to the honoree's fields of scholarly study. Fresh analyses of ancient Jewish art, essays on architecture, historical geography, and research history complete the volume and make it an enticing kaleidoscope of the vibrant field of scholarship that owes so much to Rachel.
Ancient Jewish Art and Archaeology in the Land of Israel by Rachel Hachlili
Jewish Diaspora in Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine periods from first to the eighth centuries C.E. is the subject of this work. Hachlili thoroughly investigates origin, symbolism and significance of the mainly synagogal and funerary art forms in the Diaspora. "Ancient Jewish Art and Archaeology in the Diaspora" is the companion volume to the successful "Ancient Jewish Art and Archeaeology in the Land of Israel" (1988) by the same author. The geographical area covered includes Syria, Asia Minor, North Africa and Mediterranean Europe. The first section examines the characteristic features of Diaspora Art synagogue architecture and art (including the Torah shrine and mosaic pavements). Another section deals with burial and funerary practices. Of special importance are the sections on the "Biblical scenes," designs and iconography of the Dura Europos synagogue, and the Jewish symbols such as the Menorah, ritual objects, the Ark, the conch and the "Torah Scrolls," The book is richly illustrated with more than 325 drawings and photographs, some in colour.
Ancient Jewish Art and Archaeology in the Diaspora by Rachel Hachlili
Jewish Diaspora in Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine periods from first to the eighth centuries C.E. is the subject of this work. The author thoroughly investigates origin, symbolism and significance of the mainly synagogal and funerary art forms in the Diaspora.Ancient Jewish Art and Archaeology in the Diaspora is the companion volume to the successful Ancient Jewish Art and Archeaeology in the Land of Israel (1988) by the same author.The geographical area covered includes Syria, Asia Minor, North Africa and Mediterranean Europe.The first section examines the characteristic features of Diaspora Art synagogue architecture and art (including the Torah shrine and mosaic pavements). Another section deals with burial and funerary practices. Of special importance are the sections on the Biblical scenes, designs and iconography of the Dura Europos synagogue, and the Jewish symbols such as the Menorah, ritual objects, the Ark, the conch and the Torah Scrolls.The book is richly illustrated with more than 325 drawings and photographs, some in colour.
Ancient Synagogues - Archaeology and Art: New Discoveries and Current Research by Rachel Hachlili
Ancient Synagogues - Archaeology and Art. New Discoveries and Current Research presents archaeological evidence - the architecture, art, Jewish symbols, zodiac, biblical tales, inscriptions, and coins - which attest to the importance of the synagogue. When considered as a whole, all these pieces of evidence confirm the centrality of the synagogue institution in the life of the Jewish communities all through Israel and in the Diaspora. Most importantly, the synagogue and its art and architecture played a powerful role in the preservation of the fundamental beliefs, customs, and traditions of the Jewish people following the destruction of the Second Temple and the loss of Jewish sovereignty in the Land of Israel. The book also includes a supplement of the report on the Qazion excavation.
Jewish Symbols in the Greco-Roman Period by Jacob Neusner (Translator); Erwin Ramsdell Goodenough
This volume presents the most important portions of Erwin Goodenough's classic thirteen-volume work, a magisterial attempt to encompass human spiritual history in general through the study of Jewish symbols in particular. Revealing that the Jewish religion of the period was much more varied and complex than the extant Talmudic literature would lead us to believe, Goodenough offered evidence for the existence of a Hellenistic-Jewish mystic mythology far closer to the Qabbalah than to rabbinical Judaism. Originally published in 1989. The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback and hardcover editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.