Many historians of early Judaism continue to generalize the various sources and finds related to the synagogues, as if we may continue to speak of a centralized synagogue institution with standardized traits. This tendency becomes apparent in the secondary literature surrounding Josephus' two narratives regarding the Leontopolis temple from Bellum Judaicum (BJ) and Antiquitates Judaicae (AJ). Many scholars present both with exclusivist ideologies of the Jerusalem Temple, which leads them to treat the in AJ 13.6273 as standardized "synagogues" as we understand them. I will thus argue that Josephus uses this tradition in distinct, if not opposing, ways within his two histories. Whereas the BJ 7 passage is interested in the opposition to the Jerusalem Temple, the focal point of this entire book, the AJ 13 pericope is more concerned with the "ancestral customs" of the Jews and proper worship, as Onias contends with the many, heteropraxic Jewish that existed in Egypt. Antiquitates is interested in showing the honours and rights bestowed upon the Jewish communities by foreign rulers, legitimizing their way of life. Despite some terminological correspondence, we must not theologize these as proper synagogues, even if they were in the synagogue tradition. Instead, we should treat
Journal of Ancient History – de Gruyter
Published: Jun 1, 2016
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