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Hebrew Studies 41 (2000) 306 Reviews has no indexes. An index of biblical citations would have been of great help in a work that has so many cross-references. Rannfrid I. Theile University of Oslo Oslo, Norway r.i.thelle@teologi.uio.no TIDS HOLY PLACE: ON THE SANCTITY OF THE SYNAGOGUE DURING THE GRECO-ROMAN PERIOD. By Steven Fine. Christianity and Judaism in Antiquity Series, 11. Pp. ix + 280. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1997. Cloth, $35.00. The emergence of the synagogue as a sacred institution within Jewish communities of late antiquity has been a recognized phenomenon for quite some time. How it came to achieve this level of sacredness, the various stages in this process, and how this new status found expression in both literary and archeological sources of late antiquity throughout the Jewish world has never been fully analyzed and presented. This is the task addressed by Fine in the present volume, and the result constitutes a scholarly achievement of first rank. Treating the evolution of the synagogue in all its many aspects throughout antiquity is no mean feat. One must command a knowledge of synagogue architecture, art, epigraphic evidence, and, of course, the relevant literary material. This latter category is multifaceted, ranging from pagan and Christian sources, Second Temple works (especially those of Josephus and Philo) to the vast rabbinic corpus of late antiquity. Fine demonstrates a firm control of these various disciplines and the story he tells is as compelling as it is comprehensive. The present monograph consists of five chapters arranged chronologically and prefaced by an extensive introduction. The latter sets out a clear and concise game plan: "In This Holy Place we will trace the development of synagogue holiness from source to source, period to period, and place to place" (p. 2). Further on, in discussing historical sources, the author defmes another dimension of this study: "The construction of the idea of synagogue holiness within the Rabbinic community...is our object as we study this literature" (p. 7). Having briefly reviewed studies of sanctity in late antiquity generally and with regard to the synagogue in particular, Fine devotes the bulk of the Introduction to a wide ranging examination of sanctity in ancient Judaism. He refers to the Tabernacle-Temple, holidays, Hebrew Studies 41 (2000) 307 Reviews concepts of qodesh and hoi generally, and as they relate to Scripture, God, the Jewish people, and the dimension of time in particular. Chapter 1 focuses on the Second Temple period or, as termed in the subtitle, "The Roots of Synagogue Holiness." The first part of this chapter, dealing with the Diaspora and particularly Egypt, claims that the sanctity of Egyptian Jewish proseuche (lit. houses of worship or prostration) was influenced by Ptolemaic practice with regard to local pagan temples (p. 27). Later on, according to Fine, Scriptural readings became the focus of Jewish liturgy, as was the case in most Judaean synagogues as well. Synagogue sacredness in Judaea is clearly attested in the Essene setting (as per Philo), and archeological finds at Masada point to a similar status given the benches on all sides of the room and biblical scrolls found nearby. The holiness of synagogues in tannaitic literature (i.e., the second century C.E.) is the subject of Chapter 2. Fine amasses considerable evidence to demonstrate the centrality of Scriptures in defining synagogue sanctity (p. 39), and later he supplements this by claiming that the "templizing" (the effort to imitate Temple practices) also bestowed holiness on the synagogue (p. 49). Fine deftly points out the ambiguousness of rabbinic thought with regard to ;m;tat;o templi. On the one hand, the sages transferred Templerelated ideas and customs to the synagogue setting; on the other, they strove to differentiate between the two institutions. Chapter 3 is devoted to synagogue sanctity as reflected in amoraic and post-amoraic literature, stretching from the third century through the early Middle Ages. Fine draws on a wide spectrum of literary sources (rabbinic [the Talmuds and midrashim], targum, piyyut, amulets, Geniza remains, and liturgy), in arguing that the holy dimension associated with the synagogue reached its apogee in this era. The two basic ingredients that had...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2158-1681
Print ISSN
0146-4094
Pages
pp. 306-311
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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