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Art and Judaism in the Greco-Roman World
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  • 19 b/w illus.
  • Page extent: 286 pages
  • Size: 279 x 215 mm
  • Weight: 1.2 kg


 (ISBN-13: 9780521844918 | ISBN-10: 0521844916)

  • Also available in Paperback
  • Published June 2005

Unavailable - out of print March 2010


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.


Introduction; 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; Epilogue.

Prize Winner

2009 Jordan Schnitzer Book Award for Jews and the Arts


"A rich and important work that will be central to all future discussions of ancient Jewish art and Judaism." -- Bryn Mawr Classical Review

"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

"In Art and Judaism in the Greco-Roman World: Today a New Jewish Archaeology, the author takes his readers along on a stimulating intellectual journey revealing that ancient Jewish art does indeed exist and it is as diverse and multivalent as the individuals who made, commissioned, viewed, and, most importantly, have studied it." - Lisa A. Hughs, University of Calgary, The Classical Bulletin

"...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

“Praiseworthy for its near encyclopedic coverage and its insights into the evolution of late antique material culture and theology, the book’s supreme virtues reside in its humane and refreshing methodology….Steven Fine’s Art and Judaism in the Greco-Roman World is both learned and lovable.” -- Kalman Bland, Duke University .

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