Jewish Community List

This remarkable inscribed pillar, 2.80m tall, lists members of the local Jewish community at Aphrodisias in the late fourth century AD. It is inscribed on two adjacent faces, and both bear lists of names, c. 25 on the left side and c. 110 on the front. They are names of men who either belonged to the local synagogue or had donated to it. The main list on the front is divided in two. First come men who have distinctly Biblical names or names favoured by Jews, such as Benjamin, Judas, Joseph, Jacob, Samuel, Zachary and names such as Amantios (loving), Eusabathios (the good Sabbath). Beneath them comes a list headed: And the theosebeis. The theosebeis or ‘godfearers’ are gentiles who have a strong chosen affiliation with Judaism but who are not themselves Jews. They have traditional Greek-Roman names such as Alexandros or Eutychos.

Several local councillors head the list of the godfearers, and ten of the Jews and seventeen of the god-fearers list their professions. They are all tradesmen who range from food-providers to painters to leather-workers, to sculptors and builders. The pillar probably stood outside the local synagogue and is striking testimony to the proud place of the Jewish community in th city, to continuing fluid religious interaction in the fourth century AD, and especially to the high valuation of craft professions among this group of like-minded monotheists.

Found at: North-west of Museum