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11 The Menorah and the Cross: Historiographic Reflections on a Recent Discovery from Laodicea on the Lycus

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Chapter Summary

Numerous roughly inscribed menorahs were found in the Sebastion of Aphrodisias from late antiquity, a period during which the erstwhile emperor temple compound was subdivided into shops. For the Jews, a symbol drawn from the Jerusalem Temple cult; for the Christians, a memory of the crucifixion; for both, a simple vertical and highly linear cipher that expresses something about each community in shorthand. The "Late Antiquity", movement, with Peter Brown as pater familias, having developed so recently out of patristic studies, still maintains an astonishing empathy toward the Christianization of the Roman Empire. It seems that the Priene menorah plaque met a similar fate. In fact, the decisions of the mid-fourth-century Council of Laodicea, whose statues are adduced as proof by Murray and by Baron, reflect yet another attempt by a church hierarchy to stem fraternization.

Keywords: Aphrodisias; Christianization; Jews; Laodicea; menorah; Roman Empire



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