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Synagogue Pillar Front

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Synagogue Pillar Front
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Photo Comments

There are about 121 names on this front side of the marble block.  This main list is divided into two—see the blank space between the upper and lower portions of the list.  First come men who have distinctly Biblical names or names favored by Jews, such as Benjamin, Judas, Joseph, Jacob, Samuel, Zachary and names such as Amantios (loving), Eusabatios (the good Sabbath).

The second portion of the list is headed with the word theosebeis ("god fearers" ΘΕΟΣΕΒΙΣ ) who are gentiles who have a strong chosen affiliation with Judaism but who are not themselves Jews.  They have traditional Greeκ-Roman names such as Alexandros or Eutychos.

Several local councilors head the list of god fearers, and ten of the Jews and seventeen of the god-fearers list their professions.  They are all tradesmen who range from food-providers to painters to leather-workers, to sculptors and builders.  The pillar probably stood outside the local synagogue and is striking testimony to the proud place of the Jewish community in the city, to continuing fluid religious interaction in the fourth century AD, and especially to the high valuation of craft professions among this group of like-minded monotheists.  (from the description in the Aphrodisias' Museum)

This 9 ft. tall marble block was found during the construction of the Aphrodisias Museum.  It is engraved on two sides—both visible in the photo.  It is a list of over 120 donors to a synagogue and is composed of three categories of names—all males: Jews, recent converts to Judaism (proselytes), and unconverted members of the synagogue community ("godfearers;" theosebeis).  It evidently dates to ca. AD 350–500) and probably served as a doorpost in a synagogue.

Chaniotis, Angelos. “Godfearers in the City of Love.” Biblical Archaeology Review 36, no. 3 (May/June 2010): 32–44, 77.