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Art and Judaism in the Greco-Roman World
Toward a New Jewish Archaeology


  • Date Published: June 2010
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521145671

£ 34.99

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About the Authors
  • Art and Judaism in the Greco-Roman World explores the Jewish experience with art during the Greco-Roman period - from the Hellenistic period through the rise of Islam. It starts 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.

    • Explains the meaning of art in Judaism during the Greco-Roman period
    • Traces anti-Semitic and other cultural impulses that shaped the study of Jewish art during the 20th century
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    Reviews & endorsements

    '… this is a rich and important work that will be central to all future discussions of ancient Jewish art and Judaism. Fine demonstrates that ancient Jewish art must be understood within the context of the Greco-Roman world as well as from the perspective of the history of art …' Bryn Mawr Classical Review

    'The first section introducing the history of how interest in Jewish art evolved is fascinating, and the author's use of rabbinical texts is authoritative. There is a vast volume of data here, extremely beneficial for students and scholars alike.' Minerva

    'Praiseworthy for its near encyclopedic coverage and its insights into the evolution of late ancient Jewish material culture and theology, the book's supreme virtues reside in its humane and refreshing methodology.' Kalman P. Bland, Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research

    'It is a book which deserves wide readership and debate. … This book is sparky … it is highly intelligent and fizzes with good ideas … it is scholarly - and also pleasingly self-reflexive about its scholarship. It is a book that takes the sword to the idea of Jewish aniconism … and like most slashing swords it doesn't take prisoners. It absolutely should be read by anyone interested in the theology or history of visual representation in the late antique.' Journal of Theological Studies

    '… a landmark book which both signals a fundamental transformation in its field and is at the same time the performer of a great element of the change. The study of Jewish art and archaeology in antiquity will not be the same after it …' Jaś Elsner, Oxford University

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    Product details

    • Date Published: June 2010
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521145671
    • length: 298 pages
    • dimensions: 280 x 216 x 15 mm
    • weight: 0.84kg
    • contains: 19 b/w illus.
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. 'The 'Most Unmonumental People' of the World': Modern Constructions of Ancient Jewish Art:
    1. Building an ancient synagogue on the Delaware: Philadelphia's Henry S. Frank Memorial Synagogue and constructions of Jewish art at the turn of the twentieth century
    2. The old-new land: 'Jewish archaeology' and the Zionist narrative
    3. Archaeology and the search for 'non-Rabbinic Judaism'
    4. Art history: transmitting Jewish artlessness to new generations
    5. Toward a new 'Jewish archaeology': methodological reflections
    Part II. Art and Identity During the Greco-Roman Period:
    6. Art and identity in latter second temple period Judaism: the Hasmonean Roay Tombs at Modi'in
    7. Art and identity in Late Antique Palestine: the Na'aran Synagogue
    8. Art and identity in Diaspora communities in Late Antiquity from Nehardea to Rome
    Part III. Jewish 'Symbols' During the Greco-Roman Period:
    9. Between Rome and Jerusalem: the date palm as a 'Jewish symbol'
    10. 'The lamps of Israel': the Menorah as a Jewish symbol
    Part IV. Reading Holistically: Art and the Liturgy of Late Antique Synagogues:
    11. The Dura Europos Synagogue and its liturgical parchment
    12. Synagogue mosaics and liturgy in the land of Israel
    a. The Sepphoris Synagogue: a liturgical interpretation
    b. The Torah, its shrine, and the decoration of late antique Palestinian synagogues
    c. The zodiac
    13. Concluding comments: sanctity and the art of ancient synagogues

  • Author

    Steven Fine, Yeshiva University, New York
    Steven Fine is Professor of Jewish History at Yeshiva University and director of the Yeshiva University Center for Israel Studies.

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