The History of Ancient Synagogue Studies and the Dating of Galilean-Type Synagogues (Schweich Lectures on Biblical Archaeology)

Tue 6 Dec 2022, 18:30 - 19:45

Baby changing facilities
Wheelchair accessible venue
Photograph of ruins of ancient Capernaum synagogue depicting remnants of an ancient building wall
The British Academy

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Since 1968, excavations conducted by Franciscan archaeologists under the floor of the white limestone synagogue at Capernaum have brought to light thousands of coins and potsherds of the late fourth and fifth centuries, sparking an ongoing debate about the chronology of Galilean-type synagogues such as the one at Capernaum, which were assumed to date to the second to third centuries C.E. In this lecture, we review the history of ancient synagogue research in Palestine (modern Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinian Territories). The review indicates that the dating of Galilean-type synagogues to the second and third centuries has deep roots in the early Zionist movement and has been used to construct an historical narrative according to which Jewish settlements in Eastern Galilee flourished in the wake of the Bar-Kokhba Revolt but declined under supposedly oppressive Christian rule.

This lecture is the second of the 2022 Schweich Lectures series:

Lecture one: 'Ancient Synagogues: An Introduction' (5 December)
Lecture two: 'The History of Ancient Synagogue Studies and the Dating of Galilean-Type Synagogues' (6 December)
Lecture three: 'More than Just Mosaics: The Ancient Synagogue at Huqoq in Israel's Galilee'. (8 December)

Professor Jodi Magness

Speaker: Professor Jodi Magness, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Professor Jodi Magness is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (category of Philosophy and Religious Studies). She holds a senior endowed chair in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: the Kenan Distinguished Professor for Teaching Excellence in Early Judaism. From 1992-2002, Magness was Associate/Assistant Professor of Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology in the Departments of Classics and Art History at Tufts University, Medford, MA. She received her B.A. in Archaeology and History from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (1977), and her Ph.D. in Classical Archaeology from the University of Pennsylvania (1989). From 1990-1992, Magness was Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellow in Syro-Palestinian Archaeology at the Centre for Old World Archaeology and Art at Brown University.

This lecture will be chaired by Professor Richard Bauckham FBA, University of St Andrews.

Schweich Lectures on Biblical Archaeology

In 1907, in memory of her father Leopold, Miss Constance Schweich endowed a fund ‘devoted to the furtherance of research in the archaeology, art, history, languages and literature of Ancient Civilisation, with reference to Biblical Study’. One fruit of the fund was the foundation of this lecture series. The lecture was first delivered in 1908.

Papers from each lecture are published together in book form. The Schweich Lectures are a highly regarded forum on Biblical Archaeology: the popularity of these volumes has remained undiminished over the years and there have been many reprintings.

A recording of this event will be added to this page after the event has taken place. If you have any questions about this event, please email [email protected].

Image: Capernaum synagogue. Photograph by Jodi Magness.

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