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Third Century Jews And Judaism At Beth Shearim And Dura Europus

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Chapter Summary

Recently scholars have questioned the role of the rabbis in late antique Palestine, suggesting that their influence was more limited than previously thought. Furthermore, some scholars have suggested that members of the priestly class remained influential in Jewish society after 70 C.E. This chapter examines the catacombs at Beth Shearim in Israel's Lower Galilee and the Dura Europus synagogue for evidence of non-rabbinic Jews or non-rabbinic practices, including priestly presence and influence in the 3rd century. In the 1930s and 1950s, excavations at Beth Shearim conducted by Benjamin Mazar and Nahman Avigad revealed a series of underground tombs cut into the lower slopes of the hill on which the ancient town was built. Excavations at Dura Europus in the early 1930s brought to light the remains of an ancient synagogue decorated with a stunning cycle of wall-paintings.

Keywords: Beth Shearim; catacombs; Dura Europus; third century Jews



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