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Mosaics As Midrash: The Zodiacs Of The Ancient Synagogues And The Conflict Between Judaism And Christianity

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Chapter Summary

This chapter suggests a different ideological significance to the zodiac and to the entire iconographic array. The zodiac as represented in the synagogue is unique. The four seasons that appear in the synagogue mosaics as a frame for the zodiac are not mentioned among the witnesses to the validity of the covenant. It was also familiar in the context of the constantly crystallizing midrashic literature, from liturgical poetry, and from what was customary among common people as well as among the Greek and Roman rulers of the land. The purpose of the mosaic floors and the part they played in the life of the community, as well as the significance of the iconographic plan, should apparently be sought in the context of the relations between Judaism and the ever stronger Christianity in the land of Israel.

Keywords: Christianity; Judaism; midrashic literature; synagogue mosaics



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