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RE: [XTalk] Kee on Synagogues

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  • Matson, Mark (Academic)
    Jeffrey, and others: Let me now respond a bit to your request to respond to Price s comment that you sent out. Having reviewed both Ed Sanders and van der
    Message 1 of 9 , Dec 3, 2007
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      Jeffrey, and others:

      Let me now respond a bit to your request to respond to Price's comment
      that you sent out.

      Having reviewed both Ed Sanders' and van der Horst's articles in the
      Fine book, I think the evidence is pretty clear that there was some kind
      of regular meeting in places (houses or whatever) on the Sabbath. These
      meetings were either called prosuekteria or, later, synagogue. But it
      appears that early on these places were accorded a special
      significance-- inscriptions indicate that such existed (the Jerusalem
      inscription has been convincingly dated to pre-70). But the existence
      of god-fearers attached to synagogues, and to manumission documents,
      both suggest a place where some "holy" or special significance was
      connected to the assembly of local Jews.

      We may not know that much what happened in these assemblies and assembly
      places, but at least some regular instruction, reading of scripture, and
      some prayer took place. And a focus took place on the Sabbath. To me
      that is a kind of "worship" and it was centered at a place.

      Mark A. Matson
      Academic Dean
      Milligan College
      http://www.milligan.edu/administrative/mmatson/personal.htm


      > I'd also be interested in hearing what List Members think about the
      > cogency of, and the assumptions behind, the claim that Robert Price
      > makes in his _Deconstructing Jesus_ that the stories in the Gospels
      > about Jesus in synagogues cannot be historical since for the gospel
      > authors SUNAGWGE means a building and there's no archaeological
      > evidence for synagogue buildings in Galilee before the second century:
      >
      >
      > Then there are broader historical anachronisms that seem to
      > vitiate the gospel controversy stories: Generally, the whole
      > depiction of Jesus preaching in "their" synagogues is
      > anachronistic, as there were virtually no synagogue buildings
      > in Galilee till late in the first century C.E., after the
      > flight of Pharisees and other refugees into Galilee (which
      > "hated the Torah"). Luke even has a Gentile (a clone of his
      > Cornelius character, Acts 10:1-4ff.) praised for bankrolling
      > the construction of one synagogue (Luke 7:5). Apologist Howard
      > Clark Kee admits this one is a problem but maintains that,
      > otherwise, in gospel usage "synagogue" need mean no more than
      > "assembly" or "meeting." But is this really likely? Mark has
      > Jesus stop preaching "in" synagogues because the crowds are
      > too large, presumably, for buildings to accommodate. Hence he
      > assembles the Jews at the seaside or in the open. Would there
      > be "rulers of the synagogue," like Jairus, if the synagogue in
      > view were merely someone's porch? How about "the seat of
      > Moses" and the "chief seats in the synagogues" in Matt. 23:2,
      > 6? Just someone's Naugahyde couch?
      >
      > (If you are interested in seeing what I make of it -- and how I've
      been
      > dealt with because of what I've noted -- go to the discussion of
      Price's
      > claim on the Internet Infidels Discussion Board of that you'll find
      > here).
      >
    • Jeffrey B. Gibson
      ... But what manumission documents we have are from the Diaspora, yes, not in from Galilee? And doesn t the Theodotus inscription indicate that there was no
      Message 2 of 9 , Dec 3, 2007
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        "Matson, Mark (Academic)" wrote:

        > Jeffrey, and others:
        >
        > Let me now respond a bit to your request to respond to Price's comment
        > that you sent out.
        >
        > Having reviewed both Ed Sanders' and van der Horst's articles in the
        > Fine book, I think the evidence is pretty clear that there was some kind
        > of regular meeting in places (houses or whatever) on the Sabbath. These
        > meetings were either called prosuekteria or, later, synagogue. But it
        > appears that early on these places were accorded a special
        > significance-- inscriptions indicate that such existed (the Jerusalem
        > inscription has been convincingly dated to pre-70). But the existence
        > of god-fearers attached to synagogues, and to manumission documents,
        > both suggest a place where some "holy" or special significance was
        > connected to the assembly of local Jews.

        But what manumission documents we have are from the Diaspora, yes, not in from
        Galilee? And doesn't the Theodotus inscription indicate that there was no
        particular building for "synagogue" gathering in the time of Theodotus' father and
        grandfather or that a building was needed for someone to have the role of "ruler
        of the synagogue"?

        > We may not know that much what happened in these assemblies and assembly
        > places, but at least some regular instruction, reading of scripture, and
        > some prayer took place. And a focus took place on the Sabbath. To me
        > that is a kind of "worship" and it was centered at a place.
        >

        You might be interested in looking at Horsley's discussion (in his recent book on
        Galilee) of what pre-70 Galilean synagogues/meetings entailed and where they took
        place (in the town square).

        Jeffrey

        --
        Jeffrey B. Gibson, D.Phil. (Oxon)
        1500 W. Pratt Blvd.
        Chicago, Illinois
        e-mail jgibson000@...
      • Matson, Mark (Academic)
        Mark A. Matson Academic Dean Milligan College http://www.milligan.edu/administrative/mmatson/personal.htm ... kind ... These ... it ... Jerusalem ... existence
        Message 3 of 9 , Dec 3, 2007
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          Mark A. Matson
          Academic Dean
          Milligan College
          http://www.milligan.edu/administrative/mmatson/personal.htm

          > >
          > > Having reviewed both Ed Sanders' and van der Horst's articles in the
          > > Fine book, I think the evidence is pretty clear that there was some
          kind
          > > of regular meeting in places (houses or whatever) on the Sabbath.
          These
          > > meetings were either called prosuekteria or, later, synagogue. But
          it
          > > appears that early on these places were accorded a special
          > > significance-- inscriptions indicate that such existed (the
          Jerusalem
          > > inscription has been convincingly dated to pre-70). But the
          existence
          > > of god-fearers attached to synagogues, and to manumission documents,
          > > both suggest a place where some "holy" or special significance was
          > > connected to the assembly of local Jews.
          >
          > But what manumission documents we have are from the Diaspora, yes, not
          in
          > from
          > Galilee? And doesn't the Theodotus inscription indicate that there
          was no
          > particular building for "synagogue" gathering in the time of
          Theodotus'
          > father and
          > grandfather or that a building was needed for someone to have the role
          of
          > "ruler
          > of the synagogue"?

          Yes, the manumission documents are from the diaspora - but it does show
          that something like the synagogue had attained "holy" status as a place.
          That we don't have them in Palestine may simply be an absence of
          documentary data, or that economic slaver was not as extensive within
          Palestine.

          On the Theodotus inscription, here is what I have:

          Theodotus, son of Vettenus, priest and head of the synagogue, son of a
          head of the synagogue, grandson of a head of the synagogue, had this
          synagogue built for reading of the Law and instruction in the
          commandments, and also the guest lodgings and the rooms and the water
          systems for the accommodation of those who come from abroad and need
          [accommodation]. [This synagogue] was founded by his ancestors, the
          elders, and Simondes.

          My reading doesn't make it clear that this was only just now built for
          the first time, nor that it was built to provide someone a role as ruler
          of the synagogue. It could equally mean that Theodotus built a new
          building, but that it existed before. But even if it were not a totally
          dedicated building, it seems to suggest that there were "places" (even
          if homes) that served as a special gather place for prayer and
          instruction.

          Note also Josephus in Life: "The next day (a Sabbath) all the people
          assembled in the synagogue (proseuche), a very large building which
          could contain a large crowd." And in War (2:285-90), he refers to a
          synagogue in Caesarea, where they wanted to buy land and expand the
          synagogue. And then in a dispute it sacrilegious acts were done in the
          synagogue. This would suggest synagogue as formal place, and holy as
          well.

          So I think there is evidence of the synagogue as a place, not just in
          open town squares. The problem is that we don't have a lot of evidence.
          But little hard evidence that there weren't synaogues as places in
          Galilee.


          >
          > > We may not know that much what happened in these assemblies and
          assembly
          > > places, but at least some regular instruction, reading of scripture,
          and
          > > some prayer took place. And a focus took place on the Sabbath. To
          me
          > > that is a kind of "worship" and it was centered at a place.
          > >
          >
          > You might be interested in looking at Horsley's discussion (in his
          recent
          > book on
          > Galilee) of what pre-70 Galilean synagogues/meetings entailed and
          where
          > they took
          > place (in the town square).
          >
          > Jeffrey
          >
          > --
          > Jeffrey B. Gibson, D.Phil. (Oxon)
          > 1500 W. Pratt Blvd.
          > Chicago, Illinois
          > e-mail jgibson000@...
          >
        • Mark Goodacre
          See now also Stephen Catto, Reconstructing the first-century synagogue : a critical analysis of current research (Library of New Testament Studies, 363;
          Message 4 of 9 , Dec 3, 2007
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            See now also Stephen Catto, Reconstructing the first-century synagogue : a
            critical analysis of current research (Library of New Testament Studies,
            363; London: T & T Clark, 2007). My copy arrived this morning.
            --
            Mark Goodacre Goodacre@...
            Associate Professor
            Duke University
            Department of Religion
            Gray Building / Box 90964
            Durham, NC 27708-0964 USA
            Phone: 919-660-3503 Fax: 919-660-3530

            http://NTGateway.com/goodacre


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