The Jewish Minority of Dura-Europos

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This article accomplishes two goals. The first is to update Carl Kraeling’s seating capacities for the Dura Europos synagogue by applying the methodology from Ancient Synagogue Seating Capacities: Methodology, Analysis and Limits. Using the detailed methodology, this article shows that the synagogue in Dura Europos could have accommodated more worshippers than previously thought. The second goal is to analyze the resulting data in an effort to better locate the Jewish community within the city of Dura. The first part of the analysis focuses internally on the Jewish community, looking at the size of the worship community and the Jewish population of Dura. The second part considers the Jewish community within the wider local context in an effort to test Kraeling’s assertion that it was a “relatively small and unimportant” minority community. Although the updated seating capacities suggest that the Jewish community was only a small percentage of the total population of Dura, by comparing the seating capacity of the synagogue building with the seating capacities of the Christian building and Mithraeum, this article suggests that the Jewish community was more significant in terms of population than other minority religious groups in the city and that it experienced the most growth in the final decades of the city’s existence.




Ferdinand Schöningh

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Journal of Ancient Judaism