Memory of the Temple Embodied

Memory of the Temple Embodied

Jerusalem Temple. Reconstruction of Herod the Great.

Memory of the Temple Embodied. Jerusalem

The notion “artistic world” covers the totality of artistic qualities of a work of art. The task of the researcher is to show how the real world becomes transformed in the art of a certain epoch, and to analyse the reasons for the change. By looking closely at a work of art we inevitably begin to understand better the life of the people of the time, thus uncovering not only the tendencies in the artistic development, but the historic tendencies as well.
Due to the efforts of archaeologies, a new phenomenon has been uncovered: the Jewish art of late antiquity. This discovery raised new questions about the possibility of the existence of visual art of the people of the Book, since the)- were seen as people devoid of aesthetic aspirations. This question becomes particularly important in regards to the time when the monuments were created. The period from the 3rd to the centuries is seen as the time of the establishment of the rabbinic Judaism, the key period in the Jewish history. The time is characterised by the existence of a huge number of sacred texts (Jerusalem and Babylonian Talmud) as well as cultural reforms; the appearance of the synagogue with the elements of visual art, such as mosaics and reliefs, dates back to that time.

Memory of the Temple Embodied

Beth Şean. Carded.

Jewish thinkers of antiquity had a keen perception that the ancient plastic art is inseparably connected with the pagan worldview and idolatry. ‘Ihcrcforc, this type of art was unacceptable for the people who were forbidden by the second commandment of the Revelation on Mount Sinai to worship alien gods. At the same time, the territory of the Holy Land becomes part of the huge Roman Empire. As a result, the Umpire’s visual art becomes familiar to the Jewish people. Initially, Roman visual art was part of the Greco-Roman way of life, but later it develops into something different, something connected with the idea of the Temple. Nevertheless the image of a seven-branched candlestick on the coin of the last Hasmonian rider or the picture of the sacrificial alter on the tomb of Jason do not yet signify that it has become part of the life of the Jews. Only the changps in the religious life of the Jews after the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple open some space for the appearance of Jewish visual art.
Roman art started to change beginning with the new era. Purely religious art of early Greeks is replaced by the art serving various needs in life. It is used to decorate houses, to please the eye and show the status of an owner, it becomes a vehicle of propaganda. Art becomes the subject of discussions and its images acquire many meanings which is a new thing in Roman art. Allegory acquires great popularity. One more important aspect to be taken into account is the fact, that during the period of the Second Temple the Jews created many texts which interpreted the Biblical revelation. Each word becomes polyphonic and required some interpretation or deciphering. The new attitude to the text determined the fact that the interpreter sees the text as a form of code. People turned to this method because they attached significance to holy words. The direct meaning of words in the history of the Sacred Text is a thing of the past. If the predictions of Jeremiah and Abacus have already been realised what is the point of studying those dusty pages?” It is this attitude to the interpretation of the Scriptures that will be adopted in the Middle Ages in Europe. Text becomes a metaphorical and allegorical system. The character of the city was determined by the Jerusalem Temple. Feasts turned it into a pilgrimage center where priests and Levites formed the majority of the population. Galilee, which was separated from the Judea by the Judaic desert, had many small centers and Jewish communities in its towns and villages. Some of them were involved in agriculture, others in trade and handicraft. Every Saturday people gathered in the Synagogue, often the biggest building in the place. The Jerusalem Temple was seen by them as a beautiful but unreachable centre of the divine service. The synagogue in Migdal had a relief of a seven branched candlestick, made to remind people of the Temple and the miracle which happened to the Hasmoneans. Little must have changed when the news about the siege of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple reached Galilee. At the same time, the situation must have become different when a flood of refugees went from Judea to the Galilee after the defeat of the revolt of Bar-Kohba. Many of the priests families moved to settle in Galilee, and the centers of learning moved there as well.

Memory of the Temple Embodied

Kether Torah. 1845.

Massive building of the synagogues in the Lower Galilee which started in the 3d century reflects the architects’ search posed by the new tasks. As before, synagogue is the place where the Scriptures are being read, and the order of services, accompanying the reading and the interpretation of the Scriptures, is beginning to get formed around that time. In a way, the synagogue service reproduces the Temple service but with a different focus; the focus is not on the actual sacrifice but on the memory of it, and not on the reading of the Scriptures but on prayer; they become the new focus of the service. Everything connected with the Scriptures acquires the character of a sacred act. The holy presence which dwells in the Jerusalem Temple accompanies now the study of the Scriptures. The need to find a special place for keeping the Torah transforms the architecture of the synagogues. For the first time this solution was found in the Diaspora, in the synagogue of Dura Europos.
There the synagogue is arranged in a private house, and in order to store the Scriptures, a Greco-Roman architectural form of a niche is used. It is borrowed from a Roman house where it was used for statues or depictions of house deities. It took much longer time to appear in the Holy Land. There was a need there to link the attachment to the memory of the destroyed Temple with the realization of the fact that the Jews are no longer in exile like during the first destruction of the Temple. Initially, all synagogues were facing Jerusalem, imitating in this way the prayer of Prophet Daniel who was looking through a window in the direction of
Jerusalem while praying. But the expressiveness of the facade is not visible to those inside and therefore, adds nothing to the worship. This is the reason why bima appears in the Galilean synagogues, and the architects have to decide on its position, at which wall it should be done: if it is done at the wall feeing Jerusalem, the worshipers will have to turn around, as they enter the synagogue; if it is done at a different wall, the question arises about the symbolism of this position. The problem of the meaning of architecture is more and more at the center of architects’ attention, in so far as the “content” of architecture is among the most important problems of the medieval architectural theory, perhaps indeed it was its most important problem”.

Memory of the Temple Embodied

The Church of the Multiplication of Bread in the Tabha. V century. Mosaic of the altar. Fish and a basket of bread.

It seems likely that after Emperor Hadrian forbids Jews to even visit Jerusalem, let alone live there, a certain change occurs. During the III—IV century synagogues are constantly rebuilt. Soon it becomes insufficient to direct the facade towards Jerusalem because the interior acquired a definite centre — a scroll of Scripture; this allowed every synagogue to reproduce symbolically the Temple in Jerusalem. Gradually, the synagogues get saturated with fine art. First, it is carved ceilings and small reliefs depicting the menorah. Then carvers make out the repository for the Torah scroll — Aron Kodesh. The outcome of this process is the new appearance of the internal space of a synagogue with its center or centers — bima and Aron Kodesh. It was the synagogues of the Upper Galilee that were meant to implement the final design and understanding of the internal space.
It was in the synagogue at Dura-Europos that it became clear for the first time that the most important element in the transformation of any space into a room for prayer was to belong to the visual arts. From the terse words of the Talmud we learn that in the IV century two of the great Galilee men of wisdom “did not object” to making of frescoes and mosaics.
At the end of IV century, in a town of Hammath-Tiberias, which was an important center of learning, the synagogue is decorated with mosaics. A totally new mosaic panel is created, whose scope completely covers the central nave of the synagogue and leads directly to the wall with the Aron Kodesh.
The image of Aron Kodesh has many symbolic meanings; it combines the direct depiction of a container for the Torah with the symbolic image of the entrance to the Temple. The combination in the iconography of both images enables the mosaic panel to transform the space of the synagogue. The image of the zodiac in the iconography conveys an overall cosmic significance. Zodiac becomes the image of creation caused by the Divine wisdom; this leads to the possibility to form the liturgical calendar by using the consecutive months.
The tripartite scheme of the decoration of the floors first appears in Hammat-Tiberias. The synagogue in Sepphoris was created in the V century, and the synagogue in Beit Alpha in the VI century. In them the iconographic canon of Galilee is finally made up. The third part of the composition becomes the image of the Sacrifice of Abraham. The tradition connected the place of Sacrifice with the Temple Mount.

Memory of the Temple Embodied

Tiberias Lake

On his way with Isaac Abraham saw a cloud of divine presence surrounding the top of the mountain. The lamb, which was sacrificed, was miraculously transferred from Eden to the place where Abraham was about to sacrifice Isaac. Thus it became the prototype for all subsequent offerings in the Temple. The Midrash Rabbah on the book of Deuteronomy says “The Holy One, blessed be He, showed Abraham the whole zodiac (mazalot), surrounded by the shehittah (Devine glory); and He said: as I am surrounded by the zodiac and My glory is in the centre, so your offsprings would be multiplied and would dwell in many places with my shehittah in the centre”.
It becomes obvious that the zodiac points to the Divine presence, which is now associated not with the daily sacrifice, as it was in the Temple, but with the presence of the Torah and the study of the Scripture (divine Shekinah dwells where the Scripture is studied, that is “in many dwellings”, because the Scripture is taught in the synagogues)
The ability to define the three-part composition of mosaic floors by using the notion of canon is reinforced by comparing the mosaic images in the synagogues with the mosaics of the contemporary churches of the Holy Land. The depictions of animals and country life scenes, as well as hunting scenes with the surround of a geometrical ornament or the ornament filled with figures of animals, birds and people, made by the branches of acanthus and vine, are widely used in these churches. Just as often we see in the churches of Palestine the images of Nile landscapes, architectural landscapes, the images of the personification of months and seasons and the Earth and the Sea, and also the portraits of benefactors”1. Against this background, the mosaics of the IV-VI century’s synagogues can be viewed as having specially selected the images which convey most appropriate meanings.
Whereas the architectural appearance of the synagogue interior was first formed at Dura-Europos, the iconographic canon of the Galilee synagogues, which included the image-symbol of Aron Kodesh, goes back, possibly, to the Jewish community of Rome. In both cases, the sense of identity of the Jews in the Diaspora, who have long lived far from the Temple, became part of the identity of the Jews in the Holy Land during the first centuries after the destruction of the Temple. It turned out that even a seemingly small distance in time from the period of the existence of the Temple in Jerusalem to its destruction, when the Jews were expelled from Jerusalem, enabled the Jews to see the greatness and significance of the Temple. A synagogue which traditionally performed the function of a public center had to form, as it were, new relations with the Temple. It is the Temple that becomes a standard against which all other cultural phenomena of the Holy Land have to measure themselves.
The new permanent iconographic scheme reveals the symbolic nature of Jewish art; its sole purpose is to liken the space of the synagogue to that of the Temple and to bring the spectator and participant of worship to feel “the sacrifice of the heart.” This is the reflection of a much broader cultural process in which the texts replace the action and the inner action replaces the external one. Jewish art as a phenomenon can be understood only when viewed inside the space of the synagogue and in relation to the processes happening within Judaism in general. New Rabbinic type of Judaism which took shape in Palestine after the destruction of the Temple, reflects the shift from the religion of the Jerusalem Temple, with its accent on the dialogue with God through sacrifice, towards a contemplative approach, where synagogue is likened to the Temple and readings of the Scriptures to the daily sacrifice. Rabbinic Judaism, formed during the Byzantine era, became the model for subsequent generations of the Jews in the same way, as the practice of the early Fathers of the Church became an example for subsequent generations of Christians. Iconographic canon of Jewish art, formed in Byzantium, became an inseparable part of Jewish tradition. Images of the ritual objects used in the Temple as well as the images of the zodiacal circle and the sacrifice of Abraham were used in all countries of the Diasporas to decorate ritual objects, used in synagogue worship. The emergence of the permanent iconographic canon is the evidence of the deep change that occurred in the Jewish religious consciousness. This change goes hand in hand with the general processes of the birth of the new aesthetics in Byzantium, which in turn will determine the fate of European culture for many centuries. The art of mosaics flourished during the first centuries of our era. Mosaics decorated bathes, public buildings, homes and synagogues. The biggest amount of mosaics was created during the Byzantine period.

Memory of the Temple Embodied

The synagogue in Bet-Alpha. Codesh from the panel.

It has been noted that there exists a definite pattern in the Holy Land in the way art centers are located: they are usually in towns that were founded or inhabited by Greek colonists in the Hellenistic period or near it. Many synagogues of the Holy Land are decorated with mosaics, which reproduce scenes from the rich repertoire of Greco-Roman heritage. These scenes can depict the images of zodiac, the acanthus branches and the shoots of the vine, as well as the scenes with the flora and fauna of the Nile. The study of the synagogue in the house of Leontis in Bet Shean demonstrates that Jewish artists are always changing and reinterpreting the iconography. Thus, the image of Odysseus, sailing past the sirens, becomes a way of showing wandering souls, and the image of Nile scenery sends the viewer to the common belief that the Nile is one of the four rivers flowing from paradise It turns out that Jewish art reflects a complex dialogue that Christians, Jews and pagans are having with each other. Special role in the formation of the original synagogue space, decorated with mosaics in accordance with the iconographic canon of Galilee, is due to the fact that from the beginning of the IV century Jews had to constantly emphasize (and simultaneously create) their identity in a dialogue with Christians. The IV century must have been a turning point in the cultural life of Jews in the Holy Land. Theological activity of the Jews coincided with a strong Christian influence, which spread to the Holy Land around that time. The fact of the construction of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem around that time, and the propaganda connected with this, must have had a big influence on the Jewish thought and lead to the awareness of the need to work out a relevant expressive artistic language.
Rabbi Abajo, who lived in Kessarii explained to his Christian neighbor why, in contrast to himself, his Babylonian counterpart, Rabbi Safra was so ignorant of the Scripture: “We [in the Holy Land] live among you [Christians], so we see it our duty to teach”.
It is common view that many aspects of the existence of the synagogue in late antiquity can be explained by the external influence. I have already mentioned that the very appearance of fine art in the synagogue has the same explanation. But the same statement applies to other aspects of the existence of the synagogue; for example, it is usually believed that the implementation of the idea of holiness in synagogues is also due to the Christian church influence. However, one must understand that until the IV century archaeological findings related to Christianity are very few, since it is impossible to isolate them from the general archaeological array.

Memory of the Temple Embodied

Monastery of St. Sava the Sanctified. One of the oldest monasteries in the Judean Desert

Stricter legislation on Jews is accompanied by increased activity of the Jews themselves in the fields of theology and arts. It is possible that legislative initiatives and violent anti-Semitism of some Church Fathers can be explained by attempts to bring some order into too close contact between Jews and Christians. Such contact was inevitable and totally natural because the pagans were excluded from the dialogue during the rule of Constantine.
Communication between Jews and Christians reveals knowledge on both sides of theological views of each other, as well as the presence of a common language, a common folklore and general culture. Since the literary genre of Haggadic Midrash emerged exclusively in the Holy Land and has no analogues in the Diaspora, it has been suggested, that it arose precisely due to the dialogue with Christians7. This might explain the fact that throughout late antiquity, there was no fight in the Holy Land for the sacred area between the two religious entities (as is happening now). The reason for the peaceful coexistence of Jews and Christians might lie in the fact that it took the shape of the dialogue between the two sacred narratives. There exist, for example, a legend that the Empress Eudoxia treated the Jews very kindly during her pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 438 A.D. She allegedly even allowed the Jews to settle in Jerusalem. This displeased the bishop Nizibisa of Barsauma, who went along with her to visit the Holy Land. He wrote that the following statement supposedly disseminated among the Jews: «To the Great Nation of the Jews, from priests and leaders of Galilee – peace be with you: you should know that the end of our scattering has come, and the day of the meeting of our tribes is approaching. Kings of Rome announced that our city of Jerusalem will be returned to us. Hurry up to Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles, since our Kingdom shall rise from Jerusalem”9. It follows from this document that the Empress doesn’t mind the presence of Jews in Jerusalem at the time when the population in Galilee is seeking religious change. Before the IV A.D. Jerusalem was the subject of the aspirations of both Jews and Christians: the Temple lay in ruins, and the future site of the Holy Temple, which was behind the Second Wall of the city, became the site of the temple of Aphrodite built by Emperor Hadrian.

Memory of the Temple Embodied

Theater in Bet Shecan. 200 AD

What we know, however, is how Jewish theology which influenced Christian theology was being developed at that time.
For example, everything that has been associated with the sacrifice of Abraham was getting much theological thought. According to G. Vermes, “Targum tradition which started at least in the I A.D., (Josephus), or even earlier, identifies the Mount Moriah as the Mount Temple. Sacrificial animals were killed in the holy of holies, where long before Abraham built his altar. According to Jewish theology, Mount Zion is a cosmic rock which unites heaven and earth, a place where all the great sacrifices of antiquity took place”.
The “dialogue about the Temple” largely follows from and is related to the dialogue about the sacrifice of Abraham. It becomes particularly important for the development of architectural forms after Christianity became the official religion of the empire.
IV century in the history of the Holy Land is, primarily, a century a fundamental change in the status of this imperial province. Let us recall the milestones events of the time. The main source on the history of the early church in the Holy Land is Eusebius of Caesarea. It is believed that the Christians did not take part in the revolt of 66-70 years. They left Jerusalem and returned only later. Eusebius lists the bishops of Jerusalem, the first of which was James, the brother of the Lord (as the tradition calls him). Up until the Bar Kochba revolt bishops were chosen from the Judeo-Christians; however, after the Emperor Hadrian forbade Jews to settle in Jerusalem, the bishops were non-Jews. There are few findings related to pre-4th century Christianity because they are impossible to be identified. After the accession of Emperor Constantine to the throne in 324, Christianity becomes the first officially accepted religion, and later the only one.

Memory of the Temple Embodied

The synagogue in Bet-Alpha. General view of the mosaic panel.

Process of the Christianization of Palestine was very active. It is believed that at the end of the IV century A.D. Jews make up only one-third of the population, and Christian communities appear not only in the Greek settlements but also in the Jewish towns of Galilee. After Constantines Eastern campaign Palestine acquires the name of Holy Land. The fastest spread of Christianity took place in Jerusalem, in Bethlehem, near the Lake Tiberias and in the lower Galilee. The mother of Emperor Constantine, Helena came to Jerusalem in 326 A.D. After her arrival, the churches adorned with mosaics start to be built in the Holy Land. By the VI century A.D. Christian art is flourishing. It is worth noting that our knowledge of the monuments of early Christian art of the Holy Land were first systematized for a landmark exhibition dedicated to 2000 anniversary of Christianity at the Jerusalem Museum.
The Christianization of the Empire was happening in several ways. At the Council of Nicaea, “he announced a grandiose plan of “setting up the holy places” of Palestine and especially Jerusalem”. This resulted in the construction of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the appearance of the building program that covered the entire Holy Land as described in detail in Eusebius’ Life of Constantine. Second, the construction program and the emergence of new churches led to the emergence of the phenomenon of pilgrimages. And finally, the IV century becomes the century of Christian monasticism in the Holy Land. Monasteries are replenished by novices among the pilgrims. Thanks to new pilgrims, the monks always have a job and maintain the monasteries by providing services to the pilgrims, keeping hotels, etc. Streams of people pass through the Holy Land. In the Byzantine period, the Holy Land reaches a peak population, which equals the situation in the first half of the XX century. It was then that monasticism became an integral part of the culture, which it remained throughout the Middle Ages. Even at the time of Constantine the Great, “all of Jerusalem is becoming a relic, and at the same time, a large hospice house, a large hotel and a large hospital. Local people are lost in the world of pilgrims and those pilgrims headed by the Roman and Byzantine emperors do not spare their power or the means the country is covered with hundreds of churches, dozens of monasteries, It becomes a huge museum of religious art”. Immediately, the building of several important Churches starts: the Church on top of Mount of Olives (Eleon Church), the Church above the cave of Nativity, and, what is important for our study, the Church in Mamre, in Hebron, where Abraham received the promise. It is important to notice that the pilgrims tend to visit small towns inhabited by Jews and pagans in order to worship at the burial sites of the Old Testament prophets and patriarchs.

Memory of the Temple Embodied

Reconstruction of the interior of the church in the Holy Land with a marble altar barrier

Construction program that unfolded in Palestine was carried out under the personal supervision of the Emperor Constantine. Thus, the Empress Helena built the church in Bethlehem and the church nearby, in the so-called shepherds’ field in Bethany. Another construction program was launched by the Empress Eudoxia at the beginning of the V A.D. We see that the «Imperial» art executed by the best craftsmen reaches the Holy Land. In the year of 415 A.D. the relics of Protomartyr Stephen near the town of Eleiter- opolis are found. The relics are transferred to Jerusalem and placed in a tomb built by the Empress in 460 A.D., and part of the relics is sent to Constantinople. All the holy objects brought by pilgrims from the Holy Land received proper handling: the manufacturing of vessels for the oil, blessed at the Holy sites, is thriving. They become works of art that demonstrate the development of the language of Christian iconography. Thus, beginning with the IV A.D. the role of the Holy Land in the formation and spread of traditional church architecture, iconography and the applied arts century is getting defined.
In the famous mosaic map in the church in Madaba the artist shows that Jerusalem is the center of the world. The Temple is on the main street. It is bigger than all other buildings and it is faces all the four directions. The areas of north, south, east and west begin with it. The Church is spread-eagle in the space, because it forms its center. It’s the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, which was consecrated in 335 A.D.
Eusebius in his Life of Constantine wrote in detail about the construction of the Church. Constantly comparing the Emperor Constantine to Moses, Eusebius carries an obvious parallel between the Tabernacle (and the Temple) and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre: “So wrote basileuses, and his words come true in deeds: on the spot of the salvation suffering a new Jerusalem (etalics is mine. — L. Ch) is erected, as opposed to the so-called old one, which for the punishment of its wicked people, is prone to utter devastation. In contrast to that Jerusalem basileuses build a temple to commemorate the Saviors victory over death; this may be the same temple, which the prophetic word calls new and young Jerusalem … (italics is mine. — L. Ch) “ B. Kyunel showed in her study that this idea was immediately embodied in the mosaic of the Basilica of Santa Pudenziana, where behind the backs of the Savior and the Apostles, the life of the Heavenly Jerusalem is unfolding; but the Heavenly Jerusalem is shown as the image of the earthly Jerusalem, which has the church of the Holy Sepulcher in it. Gradually, the multiplication of the sacred symbols is happening. Thus, for instance, Calvary is identified as the burial place of Adam and the place of the sacrifice of Isaac. In the VI A.D. pilgrims are believed to have seen the altar on which Abraham was about to sacrifice Isaac and where Melchizedek put the gifts to Abraham.

Memory of the Temple Embodied

The inscription of Theodotus

Memory of the Temple Embodied

Caesarea. The first theater on the holy land, built by the Great Hebrew in the 1st century

With the emergence and development of proper Christian architecture, church buildings do not so much follow the new forms, which do not appear until the Syrian experiments and Constantinople, as develop their own iconographic program, based on an abstract idea. This idea conveys the thought that any church is the image of the new, heavenly Jerusalem Temple, the one that the prophet Ezekiel is writing about, and which is later given a new interpretation in the Revelation of St. John. All the symbolism associated with the image of the Temple in Jerusalem and the Temple Mount, is now transferred to the Christian church.
The internal structure of the basilica could easily be likened to the Jerusalem Temple. As in the Temple, a horizontal division of space into a more sacred area close to the altar, and simply holy area in front of the altar, is present. This division is usually denoted by a step or a barrier. The part of the building closer to the nave signified the earthly world and the one, closer to the altar, – heavenly world. One researcher cites examples of several churches near Jerusalem and Jordan, where the proportion of parts in the Jerusalem Temple was used in the church there.
It is particularly interesting to note, that the beginning of the nave had the rise for the reading of the Scripture (corresponding to the synagogue bimah); this place is symbolically and architecturally connected to the altar. “In this way, the God inspired Scripture extends from the altar to the nave, or, symbolically, from heaven to earth. The church was the embodiment of both the tabernacle and the heavens. It was the epitome of the tabernacle as the Holy of Holies was hidden by a veil, and the altar or civorium replaced the Ark of the Covenant. In later documents from Constantinople, civorium is associated with the Ark, and it is called so in the Ethiopian liturgy”.

Memory of the Temple Embodied

The synagogue in Bet-Alpha.

An important dialogue about the Temple between Jews and Christians takes place in the Holy Land in the IV – VI A.D. Subsequently, it is from this dialogue that European architecture of the Middle Ages was born. For the fate of the synagogue architecture implications of this dialogue were not so obvious but nevertheless, were equally important. On the one hand, there is no consistent development of stylistic forms in synagogue architecture; the synagogues are built in accordance with the prevailing tradition in each country. On the other hand, there are good examples when the architectural forms were brought to life by the reconstructions of the Temple in Jerusalem (as in the case of devyatipolny synagogues). So, it turns out, that «the formation of utopia in the European architectural tradition goes back to the moment when the destruction of the Second Temple of Jerusalem by the Romans, the scattering of the Jews and the spread of Christianity formed the distance between the image and the reality of the Holy City. For the Jews, scattered throughout the world, Jerusalem is gradually transformed into a mystical city, a sacred object of nostalgia and the expected future reconstruction by Messiah. The symbolic image of the Holy City combined the transcendental images of the future Heavenly Jerusalem and its real earthly traces. As it is, the process of the formation of the synagogue space and the emergence of the Christian holy city of Jerusalem, allows us to realize that the culture of Europe arose from conversations and the dialogue between people, some of whom reminisced about great events, while others lived in expectation of great events.

Memory of the Temple Embodied

Synagogue in Horvath Sisia. Mosaic panel.

Christianization put in motion all the provinces of the Roman Empire. Ties that have historically been formed between them served now as “channels” for the transmission of the new Christian experience and the experience of the new Christian art. Extensive interregional relationships inside Galilee contributed to the cultural situation when cultural changes occurred there as quickly as social ones.
Byzantine period is the time of fundamental changes in the culture of the Mediterranean. These changes occurred in the territory of the Roman Empire and in its small province of Palestine. In the history of the Jews this period is characterized by complex and intense change and revision of almost all aspects of the life of the people. Almost simultaneously three areas of the religious life of the people are formed: the synagogue becomes the most important institution of Judaism, the form of synagogue worship is developed and Jewish synagogue art, which includes floor mosaics and wall decorations, reliefs, and decorative objects, is formed. This is the most productive period in the life of this little land; so many ideas live in people’s minds and affect and change their lives that it cannot but be reflected in the art that appeared there. And art speaks to us through ages about the culture of the land of Palestine.

Memory of the Temple Embodied

View of the territory of the Roman military camp with a fortress in Masada. 1st century