Introduction to the reprint: E. L. Sukenik, ancient synagogues, and the birth of "Jewish Archaeology"
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Book introduction. [This edition is a facsimile reprint of the original edition published by Oxford University Press, London, 1932.]
This brief survey of Sukenik's life as a scholar of synagogues is nothing less than the history of a scholarly discipline. Sukenik's overwhelming significance for synagogue studies is expressed in the fact that in 1979 A. T. Kraabel titled his own comprehensive survey of diaspora synagogues, "The Diaspora Synagogue: Archaeological and Epigraphic Evidence since Sukenik."27 Fifty years since Sukenik's demise, and generations since their original publication, Sukenik's studies of ancient synagogues retain much of their original interest-even as our knowledge has grown exponentially, conceptualizations have developed and theories of dating have changed. The freshness of Sukenik's prose, the excitement that is expressed on almost every page, his clear vision, moderation and careful interpretations are still necessary and exciting reading for all who care about the archaeology and culture of the ancient synagogue. Reading his writings has inspired more than one young student, the present author included, to dream of ancient synagogues, and to build careers studying this fascinating institution. The fact that both the Hebrew and English versions of Sukenik's Beth Alpha are being reprinted together is reason to celebrate. These parallel texts provide rich sources for the development of archaeological terminology in modern Hebrew. This Gorgias Press edition, issued in commemoration the fiftieth anniversary of Sukenik's demise, is testimony to the abiding value of Sukenik's "Jewish Archaeology." May the memory of E. L. Sukenik 'i"T, "discoverer and interpreter of Jewish antiquities," be a blessing for all of us. (from Conclusion)
Fine, S. (2007). Introduction to the reprint: E. L. Sukenik, ancient synagogues, and the birth of "Jewish Archaeology". In E. L. Sukenik, The Ancient Synagogue of Beth Alpha: An account of the excavations conducted on behalf of the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, 1932. Gorgias P.
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