Jews normally adopted the burial patterns and epitaph types used in the wider society.35 The common artistic styles of tomb decoration were often adopted. Among the more remarkable of the Jewish tombs found in common burial grounds are those of the vast surviving necropolis of Hierapolis in Phrygia, which is still yielding new treasures. Within this general conformity, Jewish group identity was maintained by a range of subtle cultural markers. In a period where incineration was giving way to inhumation among pagans, Jews practised only inhumation. At Rome, this might be coupled with the distinctive practice of secondary burial of the bones in ossuaries, apparently following the practice prevalent in Jerusalem and its environs. The distinctive Jewish catacombs of Rome (such as the Vigna Randinini catacomb, or those under the Villa Torlonia) foreshadow the extensive Christian underground burial systems.36 Here at least, the strictures against elaborate tombs advertised by Josephus (Ap. 2.205) appear to have been consciously regarded.

Epigraphy supplies evidence on participation in city life. The two thousand or so surviving Jewish inscriptions include short honorific texts in which, also, the Jews perhaps show a distinctive restraint.37 From the first century ce, a text from Cyrenaica attests Jewish ephebes associated with the gymnasium. By the third century, Jewish town councillors (bouleutai) appear in Asia Minor. In assessing their significance, however, we should remember that they appear in a period when civic office was becoming burdensome to the old elites. Our finest evidence for this development is the famous inscription from Aphrodisias in Caria which, on one side of the pillar, lists the members of an association of Jews and proselytes, and, on the other, a group of God-fearers, including a number of town councillors; the dating of this text now seems, however, to be later than was first thought.38 We can be sure that the holding of municipal office involved at least passive participation in pagan cultic practices, for these were inseparable from city ceremonial life and part of every civic activity.

Some non-Jews expressed support for the Jewish community by becoming benefactors. Julia Severa, builder of the 'house' where a synagogue was

35 van der Horst, AncientJewish epitaphs; Rutgers, Jews in late ancient Rome, 100-38.

36 Rajak, 'Reading the Jewish catacombs of Rome'; Rutgers, Jews in late ancientRome, 50-67; see also pt iv, ch. 16 and pt vi, ch. 32, below.

37 The older work CII (ed.) Freyis still necessary. More recently, see Horbury andNoy, Jewish inscriptions of Graeco-Roman Egypt; Noy, Jewish inscriptions of Western Europe, vols. i and ii; introduction in Williams, Jews among the Greeks and Romans; studies in van Henten and van der Horst, Studies in early Jewish epigraphy.

38 Reynolds and Tannenbaum, Jews and God-fearers; Chaniotis, 'The Jews of Aphrodisias'. Recent approaches to God-fearers are to be found in Levinskaya, Book of Acts, 51-82 and 117-26; and Lieu, 'Race of the Godfearers'.

Was this article helpful?

0 0

Post a comment