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II Second Temple Period Synagogues

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Chapter Summary

Archaeological evidence for the existence of synagogues in the Second Temple period is inconclusive. This chapter explains the suggested identification of these Second Temple period structures as synagogues: how they are identified as such; what purposes or tasks they fulfilled; the structure types; were they community, social, or worship centers? What was the role of religious rites and their expression in the function of the structure? The chapter focuses on the archaeological, epigraphic, and literary evidence, to provide answers to these issues. The archaeological evidence suggests that these early structures were places of assembly where the community sat on the benches and watched and participated in activities such as worship, ceremonies of various sorts, and social endeavors, conducted from in the center of the hall.

Keywords:archaeological evidence; Second Temple period; synagogues



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