Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Being Roofless!

I Found a couple of interesting things out recently to do with synagogues that might be helpful to other Bible artists also.

1). Synagogues in the days of Jesus were often built without roofs!
Coming from Manchester, which is famous for it's rainfall, the concept of a roofless building is a strange one! I don't think I've ever yet seen a Bible illustration that depicts an open-air synagogue, so watch this space!

Speaking of roofs, (or lack of them), Paul Beck left some helpful comments about them on my 'No more Domes'. post. Check it out! (Thanks Paul).

2). Synagogues were built on high ground
Whenever possible, synagogues were built at the highest point of a town or city. So, If you happen to be showing an external view of one, remember to illustrate the buildings around at a lower level.

It was also the practice of those involved in 'Idol worship' to build their temples on high ground, the idea being that they were closer to the false deities that they worshiped, (Sun Gods, Moon gods, etc). These are referred to in the Old Testament as 'The high places'.

Related posts:
What did Herod's Temple look like?
Houses in Bible times
No more Domes!


The Bearded Belgian said...

I think that I've also read somewhere (sorry for lack of reference) that synagogues in Jesus' time weren't religious meetingplaces, because they still had the temple. Once that was gone, they became religious meetingplaces. Before that they were, I think, something like the greek agora. Just some meetingplace, market or whatever...

Bible artist said...

Actually, the synagogues were always used for religious purposes. You may have read that the word 'synagogue' comes from the greek word for 'meeting place.'

Reading from the Torah, prayer, preaching etc, can all be found taking place in the New Testament synagogue. The only thing you couldn't do in a synagogue was offer sacrifices!

Many scholars believe that the very first synagogues came into being during the Babylonian exile in the 6th century BC, after the first Temple had been destroyed. These early synagogues served to keep Judaism alive as they did following the destruction of the second Temple in 70 AD.
After this, many of the Temple customs were transferred to the synagogue, and prayer took the place of sacrifice.

The Bearded Belgian said...

oh, wow. cool! thanks alot for that!