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On The ‘Orientation’ Of Ancient Synagoguesand Churches

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Chapter Summary

This chapter is divided in two sections. In the first section, the theological implications for having a direction of prayer are examined in light of the Jewish sources. This evidence is contrasted with what is known about direction of prayer from the Christian sources. In the second section of this chapter, the archaeological evidence is presented for prayer in the Jewish and Christian realms. First, the criteria used by archaeologists to define the functional aspects of rectangular synagogue halls used by Jews are examined. Second, evidence found by archaeological excavation is reassessed to determine the validity of modern assumptions regarding direction of prayer. Finally, the archaeological evidence from Palestine and Syria is presented to show that apses and the raised bema preceding the apse were features of even the earliest churches.

Keywords: archaeological excavation; Christian sources; Jewish sources



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