Janus' Home


Roman public baths complex on a major commercial road, which placed it within the thick of urban life.69 However, he neglects the fact that most of the public religious buildings at Dura were erected in residential areas, most likely from converted private homes.70 His implication is that the Durene Jews were an insular group isolated from the larger society of the city and concerned with protecting themselves from any possible ill treatment they may suffer. But let's look more closely at the two communities for a moment.

The Jews at Sardis were wealthy and well-treated by the Roman authorities, and inscriptions from the synagogue tell us that many of the patrons of its renovation and redecoration were prominent city officials.71 But we should remember that Roman forces at Dura were concerned primarily with military readiness, and the nature of the city itself during this period may have precluded real political participation by any resident since the mechanisms for a traditional Latin-based educational system were never installed. This was not a case of the intentional exclusion of a particular sub-population from civic functions. There is also no indication that Dura's Jews were ill-treated by the Romans. In fact, quite the opposite seems to suggest itself, as some Jews were obviously engaged in commercial activities which allowed for the accumulation of considerable resources. Further, though the Sardis synagogue appears to have been located in a very popular commercial and social sector of the city, Dura's residentially based synagogue exhibits greater signs of communal activity. By Seager's own accounting, the Dura synagogue had, besides its largest room for worship, many other subsidiary spaces attached to it, the likes of which have not been discovered at Sardis.72 These included rooms for Jewish officials and visitors, public dining halls and a kitchen, as well as what may have been spaces used for education; in other words, it was obviously a vibrant and active center of Jewish life at Dura.73 Neither is there an indication that the social prominence which the former bath and gymnasium complex at Sardis once enjoyed was still evident after part of the space was given to the Jewish community. Possibly the building had been abandoned by that point, and the Jews worshiped in an area of the city just as ostensibly inconsequential as their brothers at Dura. But even to consider the neighborhood of the synagogue at Dura as inconsequential is a mistake

69. Seager, 151-152.
70. Gates, 169: Kraabel, 81.
71. Seager, 154-155.
72. Seager, 151-152.
73. Kraabel (1998), 100; Seager, 151-152

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20 | 21