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refers to the community's treasurer, Abram, and other ceiling tiles bear Greek references to additional leaders of the community.82 The position and function of women in the community is unknown, though it seems clear that they did not worship separately from the men.83 Despite the facts we can surmise from the written material found in the synagogue, the evidence is so limited that our best chances for learning more about Dura's community of Jews lay with the design of the building itself.

Synagogues of the Diaspora tended to employ local architectural and artistic styles in their construction and decoration, suggesting that there was no canonical synagogue design during this period.84 Some early scholars maintained that the construction of a synagogue within a former private residence was unique to Dura, but we now know this is not the case. Jews throughout the Diaspora probably met initially in their own homes, which were then later converted for more general religious use once their communities had raised enough money to fund construction.85 In fact, five extant Diaspora synagogues (including Priene) were constructed from converted homes.86 At Dura, the temples of Bel, Adonis, and Zeus Theos were once all private residences, and other eastern religions exhibited this tendency, as well.87 Just as the origin of Dura's synagogue in a private home was not unusual, neither was its structure or decoration unique for the city.88 In other words, the building's architecture, as well as its painted interior, reflected other religious structures within the city's walls, attesting to a kind of artistic syncretism unique to the city--the "Dura style," as it were.89 The synagogue, the Mithraeum, and the Christian church all resembled one another physically, while Dura's Temple of the Palmyrene Gods and Temple of Zeus Theos, plus other religious buildings at Dura (including the Mithraeum and church), were each decorated with painted schemes similar to those found in the synagogue (i.e., frescoes organized in triple registers).90 Common local motifs even made it into the details of the paintings. A reclining Elijah resembles local relief sculpture, for example, and the "hand of God" motif has been found in presumably pagan homes in the city.91 All of these buildings, collectively, fit within a larger Mesopotamian artistic and architectural tradition, which fervently maintained the ideal that art


82. Hachlili, 405-406.
83. Levine, 175-176; Seager, 156-157
84. Levine, 142, 148. But, according to White, 95, "the plan and outfitting of the assembly hall suggest that some formal notions of synagogue worship were beginning to emerge, though they were by no means normative." He made this statement with respect mainly to the Torah shrine at Dura, an aspect of the synagogue to be addressed later in this paper.
85. Kraabel (1981), 81; White, 93.
86. Levine, 148; White, 62.
87. Jensen, 180; Kraabel (1981), 81.
88. Nor was Dura's architecture unique in the Diaspora. According to Seager, the synagogues at Ostia and Sardis "have shown that the unorthodoxy which Dura exhibits is not so rare" (150). Though Levine claims that the physical structure of Dura's synagogue was "provocative and in many ways unique" (149). 89. Levine, 172; Seager, 151.
90. Gates, 169-170, 172, 176; Matheson, 26.
91. Moon, 608.

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