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ARCHITECTURE AND RELIGION

contents

Hellenistic architecture and religion

Rome and the East

Politics and culture

Second-Temple Judaism

Judaism

Judaism in the Roman World

Christianity and Judaism

Christian Origins

Jewish revolts and the destruction of Jerusalem

Judaism and Christianity in the second century

Further Christian developments

Architecture and religion in Palestine and Syria

Galilee, Peraea, Gaulanitis and adjacent regions

Syria and Arabia

Synagogues, Churches and Monasteries

Contacts with Judaism and Christianity

Religion and architecture

Some known architects

Glossary--religion and architecture


 

HELLENISTIC ARCHITECTURE AND RELIGION

Peter Richardson

See also Hellenism  and Pergamon

For a variety of other web pages on related topics, see links.

 

1 Following Alexander the Great, the classic Greek city states weakened; the kingdoms of the Hellenistic world attained positions of leadership; wealth flowed to their cities (Pergamon, Ephesos, Miletos, Priene and Antioch), so that the cities east of the Ionian Sea (modern Turkey, to a lesser extent Syria) were bridges between East and West.

2 This was a period of excitement, unrest, conflict, tumult, insecurity (note the frequency of the idea of "fate" or "luck"--tyché), with a turn inward (to individualism (e.g. Cynics' "self-sufficiency" and Epicureans "imperturbability") and a turn outward to the oikoumené (family of mankind, cosmopolitanism; see Pollitt).

3 Hellenism was not merely a degeneration from classical period or a transition to Roman period, but an enlargement of previous styles, with novelty in art, daring experiments in form, new identification with nature (Havelock).

4 Hellenistic architecture fused elements from Europe and Asia; the Classical Greek tradition was becoming formalized, crystallized and sterile, and the new forces injected new ideas of civic design. It broke old rigid forms, though still basically Greek, based on Ionic order.

 5 There was a fusion of architecture and engineering--an interest in solving engineering problems. The arch and vault began to influence architecture.

 6 From its base in Asia Minor new life was brought to the whole Panhellenic world through Hellenistic influences (e.g., Baalbek, Palmyra, Antioch, Aphrodisias, Priene, Miletos, Didyma, Ephesos, Olympia, Alexandria, Rome).

7 There was a new grandeur in city planning, a new luxury in civic decoration, variety in use of orders (Ionic, Doric, and development of a new Corinthian order), including a love of colossal scale, exciting detail (rich moldings and boldly ornamented panels, scenes of frenzied struggle on friezes), with vitality, lack of repose, self-consciousness and theatricality.

8 These features were particularly evident in sculpture, especially in architectural sculpture (e.g., Great Altar of Zeus at Pergamon, 180 BCE). The Nike of Samothrace, Laocon (Rhodes), Belvedere Torso, Venus de Milo (150 BCE) show action and emotion, an interest in psychology, individualism, personality, exaggeration of anatomical detail. A new kind of architecture was needed to contain and frame them.

9 Religion alters in somewhat the same ways. The mystery cults of Asia affected religious structures and practices: simple rituals and outdoor processions were replaced by more hieratic ritual, larger temple interiors, enclosed courtyards with colonnades pierced by a monumental gate.

 10 "External space" was more important than "internal space." The earlier emphasis on the processional way and the relation of buildings to that way was replaced by an emphasis on volumes and the relationship among volumes. Even processional ways were volumetrically defined (e.g. Miletos, Rhodes).

 11 Civic buildings reflected the same drive towards size (Stoa of Attalos, Athens; Jerusalem; Damascus; Palmyra), complexity (early Roman Forum, Corinth, Gerasa, Petra), formality (Miletos, Pergamon, Jerusalem). The centres of cities had connecting series of temples, courtyards, altars, stoas, libraries, palaestrae, theatres, concert halls (Gerasa, Ephesos, Miletos). Since not all could be grouped around Forum, town squares were connected with each other by monumental streets; Greek informality was replaced by Hellenistic formality.

 12 There was a new emphasis on entertainment and its connection with religion (theatre, amphitheatre, stadium, hippodrome, odeion, gymnasium, bath).

 13 Under the Emperors, Rome's imagination was fired by this opulence; many Hellenistic conventions became absorbed into Roman Imperial architecture.

 14 In classical architecture and city planning nature dominates; in Hellenistic architecture the human being dominates. The gods are no longer so closely tied to their natural origins; they have become great urban gods. The siting of temples was calculated to impress a complex and sophisticated urban civilization (Gerasa, Jerusalem, Priene, Pergamum, Ephesus, Rhodes).

 15 Consistent with this is the use of Hippodamos's town planning principles--rectangular or grid-iron plan (c. 500-410). His plan for his native Miletos (and also Rhodes), which predate the Hellenistic period were influential in the east in the Hellenistic period (Gerasa, Jerusalem, Caesarea, Marissa).

 16 New harbours began to be constructed in this period: Rhodes' Colossus (105' high), Alexandria's Pharos (100' square and 400' high), Piraeus, Caesarea Maritima, Ostia. All reflect the wish to beautify the city with civic structures, in a period of growing commercial interests, international trade.

 17 Architecture was cosmopolitan, though it was still essentially Greek in its search for ideal beauty and perfection. Greece came to the Orient (Palmyra, Petra) and Egypt (Alexandria, Philae), but in the process it was transformed by the new oriental context, especially the oriental ability to make formal plans in which every element played its own essential and integrated role, replacing the earlier Greek informal balance created out of historical and topographical accident.

 18 The polis was the major means of spreading Hellenistic ideals and organization in the East (e.g., Decapolis--Gadara, Gerasa, Philadelphia, Scythopolis; also Caesarea, Sebaste, Dor, Ptolemais, Tyre, Sidon, Baalbek).

 19 Phases:

323-275 BCE

Age of Diadochoi

275-150 BCE

Age of Hellenistic Kingdoms

150-31 BCE

Greco-Roman Phase

BRIEF BIBLIOGRAPHY--

Cambridge Ancient History, volume 7.

F.W. Wallbank, The Hellenistic World (London:Fontana,1981)

J.J. Pollitt, Art in the Hellenistic Age (Cambridge:CUP, 1986)

A.W. Lawrence, Greek Architecture (Harmondsworth:Penguin, 1983)

W.D. Dinsmoor, Architecture of Ancient Greece (New York, 1975)

Everett Ferguson, Backgrounds of Early Christianity (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1987).

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 ROME AND THE EAST

 Peter Richardson

 1 Rome began as a small city state in central Italy, but increasingly influenced the eastern part of Mediterranean during late second and early first centuries BCE, as it exercised power, mostly from a distance, through treaties, takeovers and keeping rivals on edge.

 

2 Pompey decisively influenced Rome's involvement in Asia Minor, Syria, Judea, Egypt. Following Pompey's settlement, Syria was created a province (64 BCE), and Judea lost its Hellenistic cities while retaining a semblance of self-rule (63 BCE).

 

3 Julius Caesar was interested in the East (cf. Cleopatra, sons); his assassination (44 BCE) affected eastern areas because the conspirators were strong in east (especially Cassius in Syria) until their defeat.

 

4 Mark Antony's power base was also in the east; his liaison with Cleopatra creating a strong bond with Egypt. By contrast, Octavian (later Augustus) had a power base in the west.

 

5 Rome used client kings during a transitional period, when a local king could act as a buffer between Rome and fractious peoples. Mark Antony, for example, had the Senate declare Herod a client king in 40 BCE.

 

6 Ordinarily client kingdoms would not last long, but would soon be incorporated into the Empire as new provinces (e.g. Galatia, Cappadocia, Judea, Egypt, Arabia/Nabatea).

 

7 Rome relied on the provinces for food, trade, slaves, commerce, wealth, natural resources, protection and power.

 

8 Roman culture pervaded the Empire: the Mediterranean was one world more than at any other time until 20th century (baths at Hamat Gader and at Bath, England). While cities were each distinctive, some features were instantly recognizable wherever one went (theatres, gymnasia, law courts, odeons, circuses, council chambers). Philosophies were spread empire-wide and philosophers moved easily from one area to another (Cynic school at Gadara); architects moved around as well (Apollodorus of Damascus at Rome); travelers wrote about experiences, natural history, myths, practices, wonders of other areas of world (Strabo, Pliny, Pausanias); artistic creations were exported and copied (Aphrodisias school of sculpture); there was an inernational trade in building materials; up-to-date comedies, satires, tragedies played in theatres around empire.

 

9 Roman bureaucracy, law, citizenship and the army encouraged the idea and the reality of one interdependent world.

 

10 The Emperor cult fostered Rome's ideals; devotion to the Emperor drew all citizens together and expressed clearly the importance of the Pax Romana (see especially Augustus's own view of his legacy in his Res Gestae).

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POLITICS AND CULTURE

 Peter Richardson

 The eastern part of the Mediterranean was a rich blend of cultures, giving rise frequently to very complex relationships and politics. Some of the important cultures were the following:

 Nabateans: A nomadic group that moved off the Arabian plateau and settled in the ancient land of Edom, noted for their brilliant architectural blend of late Hellenistic, Roman and indigenous motifs. They were also noted for their brilliance in conserving water and being able to live in conditions most others could not. It was a powerful culture in the first centuries BCE and CE, largely because of their control of east-west and north-south trade routes, giving rise to their reputation as wealthy middle-men. Frequently in conflict with Judea, Nabatea was absorbed into the Roman provincial system in 106 CE.

 Idumeans: Ancient Edomites, they were a Semitic tribe that was gradually pushed off their ancient territory by the Nabateans and came to settle in the south of the Holy Land. They too straddled a couple of important trade routes, but had been absorbed by Israel in the late-second century BCE.

 Judeans and Galileans: Probably of somewhat mixed stock racially, Judeans and Galileans were distinguished by their firm monotheism and their resistance to foreign control. Even when Judeans moved away from their home territories, they continued to retain direct connections with the homeland and to maintain their distinctive customs as "the people of God." Judea lost its independence in 63 BCE, regained independence as a "client kingdom" under Herod the Great in 40 BCE, lost it again in 6 CE when the province of Judea was formed, and rebelled against Rome in 66 CE and again in 132 CE. Galilee formed a geographically separate and somewhat distinct variant, known esp. for farming.

 Samaritans: Samaritans were racially similar to Judeans, tracing their roots back to the northern tribes of Israel. As the northern and southern kingdoms developed independently in the period from the ninth through the sixth centuries BCE, they became increasingly hostile. Samaritan religion focusses on the five books of Moses (Genesis to Deuteronomy) and on a Temple cultus located on Mount Gerizim. From the second century BCE onwards, it had no independent political existence. Like Jews, Samaritans were spread around the Mediterranean and developed synagogues (e.g., Scythopolis, Ptolemais, Delos, Athens, Corinth, have both a Jewish and a Samaritan synagogue).

 Decapolis Cities: A loose league of Hellenistic cities (all but one east of the Rift Valley) that acted as cultural outposts of the Greco-Roman world. Some were of considerable cultural importance (Scythopolis [Beth Shean], Gadara [Umm Qais], Gerasa [Jerash]).

 Itureans: An Arab group that settled in an ever-changing area in the Beka`a Valley, the Anti-Lebanon mountains, Trachonitis, Auranities (the Jebel Druze), and the Jordan Valley around Paneas and the Huleh Valley. They were regularly in conflict with Judea and had a reputation as brigands.

Chalcis and Abila: Two important, small city states, one in the Beka`a Valley, the other in the Anti-Lebanon Mountains, peopled partly by Itureans.

 Palmyra: An important independent city state, centered around an oasis that was an important stop on the Silk Road to China and the east. They were Arabians that settled down and created a brilliant civilization with its high-point in the second and third centuries CE

 Cilicia and Rough Cilicia: The coastal area around Tarsus was quite arable, but immediately behind this arable land was a great mountain barrier that prevented easy traffic; there was only one main pass through the Taurus Mountains, through which trade, conquering armies, the Imperial post, travellers, all passed. To the west the Taurus Mountains come right down to the sea, and the small hidden harbours along this coast (Rough Cilicia) sheltered great numbers of pirates, that had to be put down by Pompey the Great in 75-73 BCE.

 Cappadocia: Like Judea and several other states, Cappadocia was a "client kingdom" for many years under the Romans. It occupied an advantageous location on the east side of the great central plateau of Asia Minor, characterized by good agriculture and an influential location in the power politics of the day. It became an extremely important and influential centre of early Christian spirituality, especially known for its monasteries.

 Galatia: Another influential "client kingdom" until it was absorbed into the Roman provincial system in 25 BCE. The northern part of Galatia was invaded and settled by Celts (or Gauls = Galatians) who came from Western France in the third century BCE. Most thought them a bit wild, unsettled, independent.

 Ionia (Asia): The eastern coast of the Aegean comprised ancient Ionia, one of the great centres of Greek culture (architecture, philosophy, religion). In the Roman period, most of Ionia became the province of Asia, centred around Ephesus as the provincial capital. It continued to be a major centre of influence, though many of the formerly independent cities (Miletus, Priene, Magnesia, Smyrna, etc.) were downgraded or faded away (in some cases, because the harbours became so badly silted up that they were unusable).

 Phrygia: A mountainous region between Asia and Galatia, notable mainly as the home of Cybele, the Great Mother goddess. That cult, very popular and influential in the first couple of centuries CE, used the taurobolium as its rite of entry, a rite somewhat similar to Christianity, where the initiate went down into a pit and was baptized with the blood of a bull that was slaughtered on a grate above the initiate's head.

Pergamum: A independent kingdom of great political and cultural significance in the third and second centuries BCE. It controlled large parts of Asia Minor, but in 133 BCE the last King Attalos willed Pergamum to the Romans (he realized that Rome was eventually going to take it anyway). Pergamum had already developed a form of "ruler worship," and when Rome, during the Imperial period (31 BCE onwards) developed the Imperial cult in the form of worship of Roma and Augustus, Pergamum was the earliest centre of emperor worship. It was also known for its Asklepieion (the cult of Asklepius, god of healing), a huge centre in which modern medicine had its roots.

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SECOND TEMPLE JUDAISM 

Peter Richardson

 

Judaism

 

1 Second Temple (post-exilic) Judaism was the mother of both Judaism and Christianity. That form of Judaism ended, in effect, with the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE.

 2 Second Temple Judaism was dominated by three main issues: the problems consequent upon the return from Exile in Babylon in 538 BCE (rebuilding society and religious life, etc.); the drive towards independence and autonomy (especially the very successful Hasmonean revolt); and the response to external and alien cultures (the conquest of Alexander and the resulting Hellenism; the growth of Roman influence and the imposition of Roman rule from Pompey to Augustus). All three raised very important questions about Israel's understanding of itself.

 3 The crucial period was the late second and first centuries BCE when, as a result of the Hasmoneans' drift back into an accommodating Hellenization, a variety of alternative modes of Judaism developed. These parties represented different responses to a basic pair of issues: who is Israel and how shall Israel institutionalize its religion?

 4 Judaism extended throughout the whole Mediterranean world and into the Middle East. This "Diaspora" developed its own institutions and ways of coping with similar pressures. Jews in the Diaspora gained reasonably secure positions wherever they settled and, especially in the Roman period, won important concessions--all permitting traditional religious practices and attachment to the Holy Land and the Temple.

 5 Two institutions dominated Judaism: the Temple in Jerusalem and, later, the synagogue in the Diaspora. The Temple was one of the most remarkable and beautiful religious precincts in the ancient world, serving the needs of the whole Jewish community--those resident in the Holy Land and those in the Diaspora. Synagogues served only their own community members as a kind of community centre, not unlike a collegia--an officially sanctioned society with a range of responsibilities and functions.

 6 These institutions were served by two kinds of leaders. The Temple was the institutional setting for priests, organized on a hierarchical principle, supported by the laity, and holding most of the levers of official power in their hands. The synagogue was a more democratic and lay institution, with close ties to scribes (educated lay interpreters of scripture and expositors of torah), though it should not be assumed that all scribes operated within a synagogue setting or that they had much power. Subsequently the synagogue became the focus of Rabbinic Judaism.

 7 Some Jewish political leaders (e.g., Herod, Philo, Julius Alexander, Agrippa I, Agrippa II) played important roles in the Roman world. As Israel became immersed in the politics of the Roman world, it had increasingly to define itself as over against its neighbours and other internal groups, raising fundamental issues: Israel, the covenant, the Temple cult, torah, justice, attitudes to Gentiles. Different groups dealt with these issues differently: Baptists, Essenes, Sadducees, Pharisees, Therapeutae, Leontopolitans, Zealots, Herodians and eventually Christians, to name the obvious.

 

Judaism in the Roman world

 

1 Many features of Judaism were well known to the Romans (Sabbath, dietary regulations, circumcision, exclusiveness of worship of Yahweh, Temple in Jerusalem, temple tax, law, synagogue); they were respected by many but objects of satire or ridicule to others.

2 "Official" Rome supported Judaism and its distinctives; in the late Republic and early Empire (e.g., Pompey, M. Antony, Julius Caesar, Augustus, M. Agrippa) decrees granted exemptions and permitted Jewish customs.

3 Judaism attracted many non-Jews for various reasons: historic origins, monotheism, high ethics, community and family orientation. Most of those attracted had only a loose attachment (=Godfearers), but some formally embraced Judaism (=Proselytes). This tendency reached into Imperial family: Nero/Poppaea, Titus/Berenice, Domitian/Flavius Clemens/Domitilla/children.

4 The Temple in Jerusalem was exclusive (though there were other temples in Samaria, Leontopolis, Elephantine); it was the formal centre, supported by all Jews everywhere (half-shekel temple tax). Its massive reconstruction by King Herod made it one of the most famous temples of the world, visited by dignitaries and travelers, who expressed surprise at its aniconic character.

5 Synagogues developed alongside the Temple as social, community and religious centres in the local town. Its roots are shrouded in mystery, though it seems likely that "prayer houses" first began in the Diaspora: in Egypt, then in the Greek world, and only later in Palestine and Babylon. Some Diaspora Jewish communities were very large and influential (Alexandria, Antioch, Aphrodisias, Sardis, Rome), some had several synagogues (Rome), some had large and well decorated synagogues (Sardis). The synagogue of Dura Europus on the Euphrates (now in Damascus) is the most impressive and one of the earliest ones in a good state of preservation.

6 There was some "anti-Judaism" or "anti-Semitism" in the ancient world, reinforced by Jewish separateness and exclusiveness.

7 Judaism was important for the spread of Christianity, as a shelter of the early Christian movement and the foil against which it defined itself.

8 Jews were seen by Romans as difficult to govern: the revolts of 66-74, 115-17 and 132-35 reinforced these attitudes and changed both the nature of Judaism and its relationship with Rome. Yet there were remarkably few reprisals against Jews and Judaism in the wake of the revolts. The revolt of 66-74 was especially traumatic for the Roman world.

9 Judaism was influenced by Rome architecturally in the form of synagogues (the basilica), decorative motifs (eagles, wreaths, zodiacs), nomenclature (bema); in its theology (fate, wisdom, skepticism); in its social-political arrangements (indrawn as a result of revolts).

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CHRISTIANITY AND JUDAISM 

Peter Richardson

 

Christian Origins

 

1 When Christianity arose as a specifically messianic sect within Israel it too had to define itself, responding to the same general issues: is Jesus Messiah, and how large a role shall be attributed to him? how urgent is it to go to Gentiles? to what extent can torah be reinterpreted? what is the relation of the church and Israel? what is one's relation to the synagogue?

 2 The developments associated with Paul were of great importance. He pursued a Gentile-oriented missionary activity that eventually coalesced into an identifiably separate wing of the church. Though Paul's views were relatively weak in his own lifetime, they soon dominated the church.

 3 This Christian messianic movement spread through Syria, Egypt, Asia Minor, Cappadocia, Greece and Macedonia, Italy and western Europe, North Africa--roughly the areas of the Diaspora. As it did, it developed a wide range of literature, initially of mostly local (eventually general) interest.

 4 Christianity developed leadership roles and a hierarchical structure that provided an organization for the long haul.

 5 Just as had happened in Judaism, external challenges and internal needs led to considerable variety in Christian belief and behaviour.

 

Jewish Revolts and the Destruction of Jerusalem

 

1 During the middle of the first century revolutionary fervour grew in Judea and Galilee. The Revolt of 66-74 CE, unexpectedly successful for several years, eventually collapsed under the weight of Roman arms and the infighting among various "zealot" groups. Representatives of both the Jewish scribal community and the Christian church fled Jerusalem in 68 CE and established new centres, in the one case at Yavneh and in the other, it seems, at Pella. These flights in different directions are almost a parable of the future.

2 The destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE created a crisis of unprecedented proportions: loss of the Temple cult, destruction of the various groups, loss of authority structures and national leadership, obliteration of any semblance of self-government, destruction of social and economic infrastructures, loss of trade and international contacts.

3 The shattered Jewish community needed rebuilding, leading to a new inwardness, an emphasis on exposition of scripture and torah, development of the synagogue as a religious building focussed on worship, use of Temple symbols in synagogue architecture, a new emphasis on lay scribal leaders, purity and deeds of loving kindness as keys to Jewish life.

4 A series of Diaspora Revolts (115-117 CE)--in Egypt, Cyrene, Cyprus, Babylon, possibly Asia Minor and possibly Judea--resulted in considerable loss of life and led to considerable hostility against Jews.

5 The Second (Bar Kokhba) Revolt (132-135 CE) was in certain respects more destructive and devastating, though less successful and widespread. Some hoped that the Temple would be rebuilt and that Judaism, under its new Messiah, would regain its original prosperity. Instead, the Revolt resulted in Rome's prohibition against Jews living in Jerusalem and further economic devastation.

6 Though Christians did not participate in the Revolts, the Revolts influenced Christian attitudes, particularly its growing tendency to prefer to be separate from Judaism. Christians claimed that God was punishing Jews.

 

Judaism and Christianity in the second century

 

1 Both Judaism and Christianity were diverse communities: neither "rabbinic Judaism" nor "orthodox (catholic) Christianity" gained ascendancy without a struggle with rival tendencies. Both tended to downgrade or ignore these varieties. During the second century the communities continued to interact.

2 At the same time, both Judaism and Christianity struggled to establish boundaries, thereby creating distinct identities for each.

3 Both were reform movements, arising in a period of challenge and change. Rabbinic Judaism reformed Jewish communities in Mesopotamia, Palestine and the wider Roman world. Orthodox Christianity "reformed" gentile (i.e., pagan) religion, becoming a separate religion in the process.

4 Both shared a common Bible, the Hebrew Bible or its Greek translation. And both developed a supplementary "canon" in the second century: Judaism gathered the oral traditions of the pharisaic school of exegesis and created ultimately the Mishnah; Christianity gathered the apostolic writings of the mid- and late-first century and gradually created the New Testament.

5 Both amplified their patterns of worship so that they better served the needs of their communities: prayers, liturgies, entry rites, rites of adult responsibility, professional leadership, study, exegesis, etc.

6 Judaism and Christianity in the post-70 period came into conflict, from the Jewish side prompted by Jewish resistance to Christian claims about Jesus (paternity, virgin birth, etc.), Christian participation in the synagogue, questions about various Christian beliefs. From the Christian side the questions were more hostile: Jewish responsibility for the death of Jesus; Christian claims to take over Israel's prerogatives; radical reinterpretation of the Hebrew Bible; accommodation to Gentile concerns and practices.

7 Jews could ignore Christians, but Christians could not ignore Jews. Christians developed different "solutions" to the question of the relationship of Christianity and Israel (e.g., Barnabas, Marcion, Justin, Melito). Most had an anti-Jewish strain, strongly reinforced by the "gentilizing" of the church and by an increased attention to external concerns, including church/state matters. In the long run these led to a (still) resilient anti-Semitism.

8 The Jewish line of interpretation was less varied. As Christianity became more dominant and self-confident, Judaism turned inward, focusing on piety, holiness and study.

9 Despite these developments, there was still a sense of relationship and permeable boundaries, with conversions in both directions. In some areas there was, surprisingly, amicable co-existence, especially around the Sea of Galilee (Capernaum [a main pilgrimage centre of Christianity], Tiberias [the centre of Rabbinic Judaism], Beth Yerah, Beth Shean). In foreign cities, of course, they had to attempt to keep the peace and avoid civil disturbances.

10 Judaism and Christianity were twin children with a common heritage, common theological ideas, common ethics, common aspirations. They were not the same, but in understanding them and their relationship today one needs to understand these common features against the background of their developing differences, especially in the period from 70 to 200 CE. They are, as Wilson says, "related strangers" or, as Perelmuter prefers, "siblings," both of whom, as Segal points out, are "Rebecca's children."

 

Further Christian developments

 

1 By the end of the second century Christianity had become more self-confident, with considerable growth and a quite varied literature.

2 Throughout the second and third centuries there was sporadic persecution, initially as a result of local actions. In some cases Christians sought martyrdom. Martyrs and their "relics" came to be venerated in churches. Literary evidence for such veneration can be found as early as the second century; archeological evidence goes back to the fourth century.

3 From the beginning, Christianity was not a unified movement. Variety in belief and behaviour and authoritative writings increased through the second to the fourth centuries, some with strong support (e.g., Marcionism, Gnosticism of several kinds, Ebionitism, Nazoreans, Docetics, Montanists).

6 "Catholic" or orthodox Christianity polemicized against heterodox versions and tried to limit the spread of unorthodox literature, so that much of the literature of early Christianity either has not survived or has only recently been discovered, as in the library from Nag Hammadi in Egypt.

7 At the same time, Christianity slowly created a "canon" of orthodox writings that would be authoritative for future generations--the New Testament--and excluded others (Council of Carthage in 397).

8 Beginning in the third century, and developing strongly in the fourth and succeeding centuries (following Constantine's adoption of Christianity in 312 and making it official in 321), monasticism became a major factor in the piety and organization of the church, first in Egypt and Palestine, then throughout the Christian world (Syria, Asia Minor, Greece, Italy and so on).

9 Like the development of synagogues, churches were initially located in houses (="house churches"; the earliest known one is at Dura Europus). The conversion of Constantine led to an immediate surge of purpose-built churches (Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Mount Gerizim, Damascus, Rome, Constantinople, etc.) in the fourth century. Thus churches and monasteries develop contemporaneously.

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ARCHITECTURE AND RELIGION

IN PALESTINE AND SYRIA 

Peter Richardson

 

1 Hellenistic cities in the east exhibited the same exuberant character as the cities of the Ionian coast; this was as true of the Decapolis (Philadelphia [Amman], Gerasa [Jerash], Gadara [Umm Qais], Hippos, Scythopolis [Beth Shean], etc.) as it was of various coastal cities (Tyre [Sour], Sidon [Saida], Ptolemais [Acco], Dor, Caesarea [Qaisariyeh]).

 2 Alongside a Hellenistic influence was a strong Roman influence, seen especially clearly in King Herod's structures. During the first centuries BCE and CE Rome's influence extended vigorously into the region, followed by all the usual cultural and artistic influences.

 3 Alongside both Roman and Hellenistic influences was an oriental factor, especially indigenous Arabian influences. Part of Israel's inheritance in architecture and the arts was oriental; these influences continued to be felt strongly in Nabatea (e.g., Si`a), which in turn influenced Jewish canons of taste, especially in religious architecture in projects such as the Temple in Jerusalem, the Haram el-Khalil in Hebron and in burial monuments and tombs.

 4 Basically urban design in Palestine and Syria is Roman (e.g., Petra, Jerusalem, Caesarea Maritima, Sebaste, Tiberias, Bostra, Damascus, etc.): a Hippodamian plan, with some (but in Judea fewer) civic structures typical of Roman cities. Missing in Judea especially is the proliferation of temples and other religious structures that one would find in other parts of the Empire (but note Temples to Roma and Augustus at Panias, Sebaste, Caesarea). In Jerusalem no shrine competed with the Jewish Temple, a unique phenomenon.

 5 The Jewish Revolts affected the religious-cultural situation substantially. After the First Revolt (66-74 CE) Judea's economy, trading patterns, urban life, religious institutions were devastated. The Diaspora Revolts (115-117 CE) affected relations in Egypt, North Africa, Cyprus, Babylon and perhaps the Holy Land. The situation changed again following the Second Revolt (132-35 CE), with the creation of Aelia Capitolina on the ruins of Jerusalem. It was a fully Roman city, with a variety of temples, some on sites previously associated with Judaism or Christianity.

 6 During the post-destruction period synagogue-building experienced a boom. The roots of the synagogue were in the Diaspora, initially in Egypt with houses of prayer (proseuchai), the earliest evidence available for such community worship spaces. Other early synagogues are found in Delos, Aegina, Cos, Ostia, etc. In Palestine the earliest synagogues are at Gamla (possibly 1 c. BCE), Masada and Herodium (both during the Revolt of 66-74 CE); traces might be found at Capernaum and possibly Caesarea Maritima. There is epigraphic evidence of a synagogue in Jerusalem before 70 CE. But in general synagogue building proliferates only from the third century onwards.

 7 The challenge of an aggressive Hellenism and Romanism was countered by three forces: before 70 CE by a firmly rooted priestly aristocracy centered in the Temple cultus, but often itself Hellenized; by a lay piety concerned for practice and behaviour, often associated with Pharisaism and developing Rabbinism (the latter after 70 CE); splinter groups that developed their own forms of piety and practice, sometimes focused on a vision of a new or rebuilt Temple (Qumran, Leontopolis, to some extent early Christianity).

 8 Samaritan religion was directly related to Judaism and maintained its own separate worship centered on Mount Gerizim. Like Judaism, and at almost exactly the same time, synagogues developed within Samaritanism (e.g., Delos and Scythopolis have both a Jewish and a Samaritan synagogue).

 9 Popular religion also survived, as at Panias, where the major architectural evidence for such cults is to be found.

 

Galilee, Peraea, Gaulanitis and adjacent regions

 

10 In Judea lines were relatively clearly drawn between Judaism and everything else; a large majority of the population was Jewish, traditions of Jewish worship and piety were more or less continuous. In these other regions, however, there was a more diverse and fluctuating mix. Judaism was one important element, but it did not have the same hegemony as in Judea.

 11 There is evidence in some of these regions of the presence and influence of paganism, indigenous religions and the Imperial cult, alongside Judaism, but in most cases the evidence is not as strong as one might have expected.

 12 In some cases strong connections can be drawn between particular Jewish and "pagan" buildings: the facade of Baram's synagogue and the facade of the Temple of Apollo at Kedesh is a good example; the presence of zodiacs in the synagogues of Hamath Tiberias and Beth Alpha and in the Temple of Bel at Palmyra; the widespread use of decorative motifs such as eagles, bulls, Roman wreaths, winged victories and so on.

 

Syria and Arabia

 

13 Relatively little is known about religious life in the Decapolis, in particular of in Syria and Arabia, in general. Local religions often derived from a common Arabian background, knowledge of which is limited because there are hardly any literary sources (Arabian, Nabatean, Idumean, Iturean, Palmyrene, etc.). Archeologically, however, the picture is very rich; places such as Nabatea, Palmyra and Baalbek experienced a flowering of religious architecture that had a distinctively "baroque" character, especially in the late-first and second century CE.

14 The whole region was of great importance politically because it formed a buffer zone between Rome and Partia--Rome's great rival in the first century BCE. It was of great importance economically, not only for reasons of agricultural production but more because these areas straddled the great trading routes between the Mediterranean and the Far East, with whom there was considerable trade.

15 Syria and Arabia were culturally diffuse, with numerous influences and contacts not only to the west but to north and east as well, and to some extent to the south. Syria and Palestine form a hinge between Europe, Asia and Africa; this hinge is crucial to the geopolitical stability of the region.

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SYNAGOGUES, CHURCHES AND MONASTERIES 

Peter Richardson

 

1 Though synagogues obviously developed earlier than churches, it appears that in both religious traditions (as in some others also such as Mithraism) the earliest use of buildings for meetings of religious communities were to be found in houses. Members met regularly in the community's largest house, usually in the triclinium ("dining room") because it was the largest room and fronted on an open courtyard which gave extra crush space.

 2 This meant, in both traditions, that the owner of that house would have extra responsibility, and probably more power and authority. Synagogue inscriptions and snippets in the New Testament alike testify to the importance of patrons--both male and female--in the early periods of development, around whom churches or synagogues coalesced. Wealth mattered.

 3 The developments would often have been phased. (1) The religious community met informally but regularly in one place; (2) as the physical needs increased small alterations might be made to suit the space better for community worship; (3) then the patron might deed or bequeath it to the community, at which point major renovations might be needed to adapt it for a more varied set of uses. In one well known case of a synagogue (in Stobi) an inscription attests to the owner requiring that he be allowed to live on the second floor. Provision would be made for visitors, community needs, school.

 4 Some of the earliest known synagogues are of this kind (Herodium, Stobi, Delos, Ostia, Dura Europus; some are first century CE). Some of the earliest churches are also of this type (Capernaum, Dura), though later.

 5 Dura Europus offers a particularly important case study, with four exactly contemporaneous buildings (early-third century in all cases), all of which were adaptations of wealthy houses serving the needs of four religious communities (synagogue, church, Mithraeum, Temple of Gadde). Several had the same kinds of renovations and the artistic decoration (frescoes).

 6 As to monasteries, again both Judaism and Christianity developed alike, though at different periods. The attraction of an ascetic way of life was deeply embedded in both, especially as the surrounding "world" became looser in its ethics and patterns of belief. So Jewish monsteries can be found in Palestine at Qumran and in Egypt among the Therapeutae (see Philo). In Christianity, monasteries develop first in the very same areas, in Egypt (both upper and lower) and in Palestine, particularly in the Judean wilderness.

 7 Monasteries are of two kinds: cenobitic (i.e., communal) and eremitic (i.e., solitary). A mix of the two--quasi-eremitic--is also found. Qumran would be classified as a cenobitic monastery, the Therapeutae as a quasi-eremitic; among Christian communities Mar Saba is quasi-eremitic, St. Thekla is cenobitic. The buildings reflect the different needs and organizations.

 8 Monasteries and churches were often sponsored by wealthy patrons, and typically were associated with a local "saint" or martyr or holy person (e.g., St Mary Theotokos, St Thekla, St Simeon Stylites, Sts Peter and Paul).

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CONTACTS WITH JUDAISM

AND CHRISTIANITY 

Peter Richardson

 

The table displays known contacts between Judaism and Christianity in various places in Syria and Asia Minor. Column 1 identifies places where synagogues are known to have been located. Column 2 shows where Herod (King of Judea, 40-4 BCE) is known either to have visited or to have endowed with money or buildings. Column 3 lists places Paul is known to have visited or written. Column 4 lists the seven churches of the Revelation, to which letters were written (Rev. 2 and 3). Column 5 shows the places associated with Ignatius, an early Christian martyr, including letters he wrote. Column 6 identifies some places associated with Peter, especially the areas noted in 1 Peter 1:1. The table makes two important points: first, the spread Judaism in the region (more synagogues than those listed are known) and its contacts with Judea; second, the intensity and variety of Christian efforts in the area and the overlap with Judaism.

1

2

3

4

5

6

Synagogues

Herod

Paul

John/Revelation

Ignatius

Peter

.

.

.

.

.

.

Damascus

built there

yes

.

.

probably

Palmyra?

.

?

.

.

.

Emesa

.

.

.

.

.

Apamea

yes

probably

.

.

probably

Antioch

built there

debate/base church

.

Bisho[

debate

Tarsus

yes

birthplace

.

probably

probably

Pontus

yes

.

.

.

"1 Peter"

Galatia

yes

"Galatians"

.

probably

"1 Peter"

Cappadocia

yes

probably

.

probably

"1 Peter"

Lystra

.

yes

.

probably

.

Derbe

.

yes

.

probably

.

Iconium

.

yes

.

probably

.

Perge

probably

yes

.

.

.

Attaleia

probably

yes

.

.

.

Asia

endowments

yes

.

yes

"1 Peter"

Miletos

.

yes

.

.

.

Priene

.

?

.

.

.

Ephesus

yes

"Ephesisans?"

Church at Ephesus

"Ephesisans"

.

Magnesia

.

probably

.

"Magnesians"

.

.

.

?

.

"Trallians"

.

Smyrna

yes

?

Church at Smyrna

"Smyrnans"

.

Pergamum

endowments

?

Church at Pergamum

.

.

Thyatira

.

.

Church at Thyatira

.

.

Sardis

.

?

Church at Sardis

.

.

.

.

.

Church at Philadelphia

"Philadelphians"

.

Laodicea

.

"Laodiceans?"

Church at Laodicea

.

.

Hierapolis

probably

"Philemon"

.

.

.

Colosse

.

"Colossians"

.

.

.

Aphrodisias

probably

?

.

.

.

[Assos]

.

yes

.

.

.

[Alexandrian Troy]

?

yes

.

.

.

Bithynia

yes

no

.

.

"1 Peter"

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RELIGION AND ARCHITECTURE

Primary sources: 1 century BCE - 2 century CE

Peter Richardson

 

The following writers have sections bearing on religion and architecture; of these, Vitruvius, Pausanias and the elder Pliny are especially important.

 

Marcus Terrentius Varro (116-27 BCE). Educated at Rome and Athens (by Antiochus of Ascalon, 130/120-68 BCE); wrote on history, geography, philosophy, rhetoric, medicine law, architecture and music.

Marcus Tullius Cicero (104-43 BCE). Educated in Rome and Athens; involved in the disturbances of the Catiline conspiracy and the Civil War; executed at M. Antony's order. Wrote on history, rhetoric, political oratory, philosophy, morality and religion; chiefly known for his voluminous correspondence.

Marcus Vitruvius Pollio (second half of first century BCE). Roman architect and military engineer; his de Architectura, addressed to Augustus (?) and written perhaps between 25 and 1 BCE, is the basic source for knowledge of architectural theory, building practice, use of materials, urban design, interior decoration, machines and technology.

Dionysius of Halicarnasus (lived in Rome after 30 BCE). Greek rhetorician and historian who produced a work on Roman antiquities, of which half survives.

Strabo (c. 64 BCE - 21 CE). Greek-Asiatic historian born in Pontus, who wrote a Geography for administrative officials in the foreign service, with much useful information on the ancient world, including the Middle East.

Heron of Alexandria (fl. 62 CE). Mathematician and inventor, most of whose works were on technical subjects, but some on temples and religion.

Pliny the Elder (Gaius Plinius Secundus), 23-79 CE). Died as a result of his curiosity about the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, near Pompeii and Herculaneum). His Natural History is a basic source of knowledge about Roman science, art and technology; he travelled widely, including in Palestine.

Flavius Josephus (Yoseph ben Matthias, c. 37-93 CE). Born in Jerusalem of an aristocratic and priestly family, he was involved in the Jewish Revolt as patriot, turncoat and eventually protégé of the emperors Vespasian, Titus and Domitian. Antiquities, War and Life provide invaluable knowledge of Palestine with descriptions of many buildings, especially those by Herod the Great.

Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus (c. 69-140 CE). A professional scholar, friend of Pliny the Younger, whose Lives of the Caesars (Augustus to Domitian) is a basic historical source for the period.

Cornelius Tacitus (c. 55-120 CE). A psychologizing and moralizing historian, whose Annals and Histories are basic historical sources for the period.

Pliny the Younger (Gaius Plinius Caecilius Secundus, 61-114 CE). Governor of Bithynia under Trajan and nephew of Pliny the Elder, whose correspondence with the Emperor (perhaps written with a view to publication) is a crucial source for social history.

Herodes Atticus (101-177 CE). A very wealthy Athenian who taught rhetoric in Athens and Rome. Little remains of his writing, but much remains of the buildings with which he endowed those two cities.

Pausanias (mid-second century CE). Greek geographer and natural historian with an obsessive interest in myth and religion; he wrote mainly about Achaia, but travelled widely in Italy, Macedonia and Palestine. His Guide to Greece is an unparalleled, though dull, account of the architecture, art and religion of the Greek world in the Roman period. It is the first travel guide.

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SOME KNOWN ARCHITECTS

 

Name

Origin

Dates

Known works

.

.

.

.

Andronikos

Athens, fr. Syria

1 c. BCE

Tower of the Winds, Athens

Anicetus

Rome

2 c. CE

.

Antistius

Frigentum

1 c. CE

.

Apollodorus of Damascus

Rome

d. 129 CE

.

Artorius Primus

Pompeii

1 c. CE

Theatre

Aurelius Antoninus

Tanais

3 c. CE

.

Auxentius

Adana

2-3 c. CE

.

Celer

Rome

1 c. CE

Golden House of Nero, with Rabirius

Cleander

Rome

2 c. CE

.

Cleodamus

Rome

3 c. CE

.

Decius Cossutius

Athens

2 c. BCE

Olympieion, Athens, for Antiochus IV

Dextrianus

Rome

2 c. CE

.

Gaius Cocceius Auctus

Puteoli/Cumae/Misenum

1 c. BCE

Temple of Augustus, Puteoli

Gaius Julius Lacer

Alcantra

2 c. CE

.

Gaius Postumius Pollio

Formia Terracina

1 c. CE

Temple of Apollo, Terracina

Herakleides

Mons Claudianus, Rome

1-2 c. CE

.

Hermogenes

.

2 c. BCE

Temple of Artemis, Magnesia, see Vitruvius

Hermodorus

Rome

2 c. CE

.

Hippias

Rome

2 c. CE

.

Kyros

Rome

1 c. CE

.

Lucius Vitruvius Cerdo

Verona

1 c. CE

Arch of Gevii

Mustius

Rome

1-2 c. CE

.

Narcissus

Leptis Magna

2 c. CE

.

Nikodemos

Pergamum

2 c. CE

.

Rabirius

Rome

1 c. CE

Imperial Palace of the Flavians, see Martial 7.56

Severus

Rome

1 c. CE

Golden House of Nero, with Celer

Taim (son of Obaisath)

Canatha/Si`a

1 c. BCE

Temple of Dushara, Si`a

Vitruvius Pollio

Rome

1 c. BCE

Basilica, Fano; de Architectura

Zeno

Aspendos

2 c. CE

.

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GLOSSARY--RELIGION AND ARCHITECTURE

 

Agora: in a Greek city the main commercial and cultural centre.

 Amphitheatre: an elliptical or oval structure with tiered seating but with no stage, characteristic of Roman culture (not Greek), usually used for gladiatorial games and other popular entertainments.

 Bouleuterion: like an odeion but used specifically for the town council.

 Cardo maximus: the main street of a Roman city, usually straight and often colonnaded.

 Circus: a long, narrow Roman structure, usually round at one end and square at the other, with tiered seating and a spine down the middle, used for chariot races (in Greece this was called a hippodrome).

 Collegium: a voluntary association that might be for religious or economis purposes.

 Decumanus: the main cross streets of a city, usually two in number.

 Forum: the main market square of a Roman city (see also agora); a Roman forum was more formal than a Greek agora, which had a dynamic spatial character. In both cases, the space was the main market area of the city and around it were often housed the main administrative offices of the city.

 Naos (Greek) or cella (Roman): the sacred building space used to house the cult statue; in effect "the house of the god" (domus dei).

 Nymphaeum: the main public water source in a Roman city, usually on the Cardo maximus at a main intersection. Often elaborate and highly decorated.

 Odeion: a small, roofed, theatre-like structure used for music, speeches, debates and the like.

 Propylon: a formal gateway to a space, whether a public or religious area.

 Stadium: a long, narrow Greek structure, usually round at one end and square at the other, with tiered seating for foot races and other athletic competitions (see also hippodromes and circuses).

 Stoa: a long, narrow, columned structure of one or two floors, usually fronting on an agora and housing various administrative offices.

 Temenos: the sacred precinct of a temple, usually surrounded with stoas.

 Temple: loosely refers either to a building for a god or the whole precinct.

 Tetrakoinon: a columned structure ("four corners") used to mark the intersection of the cardo maximus and the decumanus.

 Theatre: a structure with a stage and backdrop (scaenae frons) with tiered seating, often built into the side of a hill, for dramatic performances. Later some were used to stage mock sea battles and gladiatorial combat. Greek theatres and Roman theatres were distinct, though closely related.

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