Ancient Synagogues and the Early History of Jewish – Christian Relations

  • Date: –16:00
  • Location: SCAS, Thunbergssalen, Linneanum, Thunbergsvägen 2, Uppsala
  • Lecturer: Wally V. Cirafesi, Pro Futura Scientia Fellow, SCAS. Researcher in New Testament Exegesis, Lund University
  • Website
  • Organiser: Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study (SCAS)
  • Contact person: Ellen Werner
  • Seminarium

Wally V. Cirafesi, SCAS & Lund University, gives a seminar on "Ancient Synagogues and the Early History of Jewish – Christian Relations". The talk will be followed by a Q&A session.

By the time of the Byzantine–Islamic transition in Palestine in the seventh century, after hundreds of years of religious rhetoric from the mouths and pens of Christian literary elite, the concept of “the synagogue” had been firmly constructed as an irreconcilable rival to Christianity and “the church.” Although forged in antiquity, this totalizing portrait of “the synagogue” has had remarkable staying power. It has penetrated centuries of modern scholarship, and it continues to this day to function as the basic point of departure in historical research on the New Testament and the so-called “parting of the ways” between Judaism and Christianity. Indeed, despite the recent growth in synagogue studies as an academic discipline, it remains the case that precious little attention has been paid to how the diverse social and material realities of synagogues impacted the formation of Jewish and Christian identities and their interaction in the first seven centuries of the Common Era. In this talk, I will introduce my current research project, which attempts to rethink this so-called “irreconcilable rivals” paradigm by considering the complex role ancient synagogues played as sites, rhetorical and real, of Christian hostility and participation. When we consider a broad range of source material––archaeology, literary texts, law codes, and others—the picture we get of ancient synagogues in this period is far from the ethnically and culturally bound institution that it is often assumed to be. Rather, it is a picture of a diverse institution that remained deeply engaged with its cultural surroundings, underwent a variety of changes, and played an important role in the development of both Judaism and Christianity, from the time of the earliest Jesus movement through Late Antiquity.

This will be a hybrid event.

For more information and the webinar link, please see