The symbolic universe of the Temple: A case-study of the fifth-century synagogue at Sepphoris with focus on its mosaic

Johanna Bokedal

(Publisert i Nordisk judaistik, nr. 2, 2022)

For Jews, the Jerusalem Temple is the historical focus of ritual practice and pilgrimage. After its destruction in 70 C.E., synagogues gradually became important centres for community and ritual, yet the Temple remained a symbolic site of hope and longing in diasporic Judaism in manifold ways. By means of a case-study of a fifth-century synagogue in the town of Sepphoris, this article examines the synagogue and its mosaic floor to consider the hypothesis that the Jews that commissioned and used this synagogue had a self-categorised religious identity (cf. Turner et al. 1987) which referenced a symbolic universe of the Temple (cf. Berger and Luckmann 1966) and can be studied through visual, material, and ritual symbols. It is further suggested that material and visual evidence must be seen in relation to the rituals performed in the synagogue, and the synagogue itself.

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