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Chapter Summary

This is the introduction chapter of the book, which is the first of its kind, including all available evidence pertaining to the earliest synagogues in the land of Israel and the Diaspora: literary sources, papyri, inscriptions, and archaeological remains. First, there is still an ongoing debate about the significance of the fall of the Jerusalem temple for the early development of the synagogue. Second, while anachronistic readings of earlier material from the perspective of later sources have been especially frequent in synagogue studies, those who are interested in Second Temple synagogues may benefit from knowing what happened during the following century. Finally, an upper limit of 200 c.e. allows to include the earliest rabbinic source, the Mishnah. This evidence, which sometimes purports to describe earlier periods, informs us of how a specific Jewish group related to the synagogue institution and understood its functions.

Keywords: anachronistic readings; Diaspora; Israel; Jerusalem temple; Jewish; Mishnah; rabbinic source; Second Temple; synagogues



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