Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Synagogues and Churches of Ancient Palestine

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Synagogues and Churches of Ancient Palestine

Article excerpt

The Synagogues and Churches of Ancient Palestine. By Leslie J. Hoppe. (Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, A Michael Glazier Book. 1994. Pp. v, 145; 39 illustrations. $11.95 paperback.)

This is a first book in the archaeology of synagogues and churches. As such it is also a brief handbook for understanding Judaism and Christianity from the point of view of ancient architecture. The author has confined archaeological evidences to architectural evidences, and specifically the architecture of holy places in these two religions.

The book is organized into an introduction, ten chapters, and a conclusion, all compressed into 139 pages of text. Thirty-nine illustrations aid the reader. These include two maps of the sites mentioned in the text, photographs and drawings of architectural elements, floor plans, and inscriptions, several perspective or orthogonal drawings of buildings, and mosaic floors. The first four chapters are devoted to the evidence of synagogues,while the last six describe the finds relative to churches. Thus the survey is tipped in favor of church remains. The author explains that the purpose of the book is to fill out the reader's understanding of ancient Judaism and Christianity by showing how Jewish and Christian beliefs came to expression in the construction of places of worship.

Not only does the author lead the reader through the architectural remains of these buildings, but he introduces the reader to preliminary issues in synagogue and church building research. The issues for synagogue research include theories of the origins of the synagogue,"activities" in the sense of worship, and theories of synagogue design. He introduces the reader to recent studies of the effect of"regionalism" on religious practice. …

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