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Chapter Summary

This is the introductory chapter of the book Art and Architecture of the Synagogue in Late Antique Palestine re-assesses several aspects of the impact of Church art and architecture on synagogues in Byzantine Palestine from the mid-fourth to the early seventh centuries, when the eastern provinces were lost to the Arab conquest. Hostility toward Jews in Late Antiquity might have been a characteristic of Jewish-Christian relations. Some scholars have seen growing imperial oppression in the early fifth century, epitomised in the abolition of the Jewish patriarchate, as the reason why fewer synagogues might have been built. The chapter determines what can be learned from the archaeological evidence, and suggests some possible motives for the fundamental changes to synagogues. Modern understanding of the development of the synagogue from the first century to the Persian conquest has followed a long and winding path.

Keywords: Jewish-Christian relations; late antiquity; Persian conquest

10.1163/ej.9789004151864.i-580.8
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