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12 Jews and Judaism under Byzantium and Islam

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Chapter Summary

In his famous compendium of biblical sites in the Holy Land, the great fourth-century church father Eusebius of Caesarea, includes an entry for Naarah. The synagogue of Na'aran is an excellent vantage point from which to view the transition of Jewish culture from the world of Christian Rome to the Islamic empire. This ancient floor epitomizes the ways that this minority culture was transformed by its encounter with Islam yet maintained deep continuities with Jewish culture under Rome and Byzantium. Jews and Samaritans in Palestine were reasonably wealthy in the Christian holy land, benefiting economically from the wealth brought about through the Christian pilgrimage "industry". The transition from Byzantine rule to the world of Islam was indeed monumental for both Jews and Samaritans. While the new construction of synagogues was officially limited, Judaism, and synagogue buildings, often flourished under Islamic rule.

Keywords: Byzantium; Christian pilgrimage; Holy Land; Islam; Jews; Judaism; Palestine; Samaritans



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