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Saturday, October 25, 2008

Jewish Iconography in Ancient Synagogues

In reading "Signs and Mysteries" by Mike Aquilina & Lea Marie Ravotti, I came across a statement that said:

"The Early Christians kept, more or less, within these limits. Yet, even with these constraints, they found an abundance of images at hand. Their first resource was the Bible, with its rich history and metaphor. The biblical images had for generations been stereotyped in the iconography of the synagogues of the Jews. Though later Judaism came to reject most religious artwork, the synagogues of late antiquity were lavishly decorated." page 15 [1]

They didn't have any pictures of this claim, but I didn't doubt it because I once saw something on TV in where they found evidence of something similar. I also heard a Conservative Jewish Rabbi mention the samething about some synagogues that still have icons in them. But I never really saw any pictures of what he was talking about. I heard the conservative Jewish Rabbi say it on this podcast. Play Online (It's about 40 minutes long and it was said in passing, when asked a question about it)

The pictures shown on this blog came from this Website: I agree with the general drift/ethos of what was said, but I don't agree with every statement said on that site for the issue was a bit more complex than that. There were christians in the church that rejected it, and it took a while for the Church to take a stand on the issue, but I 100%ly agree that images in some form were always present. We can see this with the Fish, the cross, the Shepard and the lamb, along with a host of others......... With that said, here are the Jewish pics.

Judean Synagogue in Dura Europos. According to the website it dates back to about 235 A.D.

This is a close up picture of one of the icons dipicted above.

Now, what I would like to know is when did the Jews start to change their mind about iconography in their Synagogues? Well wait, I heard that even some synagogues today have icons. But I would still like to know when they changed their mind. general.

You can also find this icon at this Site.


[1] page 15, from the book "Signs & Mysteries: Revealing Ancient Christian Symbols" by Mike Aquilina, illustrations by Lea Marie Ravotti, Copyright 2008 by Our Sunday Visitor publishing.


Tony said...

This was the Judaism that Mohammad was familiar with. In fact, Jews in the Middle East at that time had shrines dedicated to historical figures in Judaism, similar to the veneration of saints in Eastern Christianity. This is why the Koran often speaks of criticism against Judaism and Christianity on equal terms, and accuses the Jews of taking up Pagan practices. Remember that Islam is very Nestorian in that it finds ANY image, even that of religious leaders, idolatry.

Jnorm said...

Thanks Tony! I never knew that about Islam and Mohammad.

Thanks for the info!


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