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14 The Jews of Ancient Phrygia

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Chapter Summary

This chapter focuses on inscriptions from Phrygia in order to see what this epigraphic material teaches us about the Jewish diaspora in this central Anatolian region in the centuries around the turn of the era. In Ameling's collection one finds 48 Jewish inscriptions from Phrygia of which almost half are from Hierapolis. The chapter begins with the latter and reviews only a limited selection of the rest of the material. Much of the epigraphic evidence points to good relationships with non-Jews of Phrygia: the building of a synagogue by a Roman priestess of emperor cult, Jewish participation in important cultural events, the adoption by Jews of such funerary customs as the rosalia, Jewish involvement in the Phrygian purple industry, probable knowledge of certain biblical texts among non-Jews, local acquaintance with the story of Noah and the ark, and, the strong presence of the mixed Jewish-pagan cult of the Theos Hypsistos.

Keywords: Hierapolis; Jewish diaspora; Jewish inscriptions; Jews; Phrygia; synagogue; Theos Hypsistos



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