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scene are also shown naked.131 The three male figures which decorate the doors of the temple were not only not Jewish, but based on similarities of pose and attributes evident in coins and public statuary, may have represented the emperor Septimius Severus and his two sons.132

For Erwin Goodenough, the adoption of pagan motifs in the synagogue's frescoes signified a mystical approach to Judaism known primarily from the writings of the Alexandrian Jew, Philo, and at odds with the rabbinic and Talmudic tradition of Palestine. According to him, the Durene Jews adopted pagan artistic motifs intentionally in their depictions of biblical scenes, not merely because they were a part of Dura's overarching local artistic canon, but also because the pagan ideology behind these motifs was highly significant to the type of Judaism practiced in the city.133 These included the divinity or semi-divinity of biblical heroes, such as Moses, and the association of David with the Orphic mysteries, for example.134 Goodenough's method and ultimate conclusions about the practice of a sort of mystical Judaism at Dura have been debated by numerous scholars; however, he may have been correct, at least in some respects: the paintings in the synagogue at Dura do seem to reflect a distinctive eschatological theology. Jonathan A. Goldstein has developed quite an elegant and enticing theory that the Dura synagogue's paintings reflected the idea that the Diaspora would ultimately result in the saving of the Jewish populations at the hand of a messiah descended from David.135 This is not so far- fetched since we have already seen that the community was concerned with the messianic claims of the emerging Christian population nearby. By asserting their own brand of messianic theology, the Jews of Dura sought to solidify the legitimacy of their own beliefs. Goldstein points out that the paintings emphasize not only exilic figures, such as Esther and Ezekiel.136 They also represent other themes such as resurrection, the restoration of the temple, and David as a messiah figure.137 By the 1st century C.E., there was a popular Jewish belief in a coming war between foreign powers which would ultimately liberate the Jews permanently from domination.138 Goldstein reads this belief in the paintings which he feels promised a glorious future in the Holy Land for all Jews once all prophecies were fulfilled.139 By the time of the synagogue's redecoration, "programmatic painting" had fully developed; this


131. Moon, 596-597.
132. Moon, 602-603.
133. Bickerman, 135; Neusner, 91.
134. Neusner, 85-86, 88, 91.
135. Goldstein, passim; Weitzmann and Kessler, 180-181. Paul V. M. Flesher has criticized Goldstein's approach by claiming he only found messianic beliefs reflected in the paintings because they were what he was looking for. Goldstein does make some leaps of faith with his ideas, but the majority of his theory is soundly based and should be seriously considered.
136. Goldstein, passim; Moon, 605.
137. Goldstein, passim.
138. Goldstein, 111.
139. Goldstein, 112.

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