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10 Between Liturgy and Social History: Priestly Power in Late Antique Palestinian Synagogues?

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Chapter Summary

Jewish literature and art from Byzantine Palestine suggests a fascination with the priestly. This chapter argues that extant sources for the Byzantine period do not reflect the expansion of the priests as a sociological group, but rather a deepening interest in priesthood and in priestly motifs among Jews in the Byzantine period. Menahem Zulayhy pothesized that piyyutim on the priestly courses "were originally intended for communities in the Land of Israel in which priests were concentrated. Interest in priestly power in Byzantine Palestine is related to a broader theme in Jewish studies during the twentieth century, particularly though certainly not exclusively in North America: the search for "nonrabbinic Judaism". Literary sources that refer to the social settings of Jewish communities during the Byzantine period are in short supply.

Keywords: piyyutim; Byzantine period; Israel; Judaism; Palestine



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