Page 79 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 5 (1946-1947)

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WISCHNITZER-BERNSTEIN ---- BOOKS ON JEWISH ART
67
broadened enough to call for a comprehensive and popular presen-
tation of the material in English. The book, a volume of 369
pages, is divided into two parts. In the first, the author explains
the ceremonial objects used in synagogue and home, from the
cradle to the grave, in every day life and on holidays. The second
part is composed of a historical survey. While most of the illus-
trations are familiar from previous publication, the reader will
find the selection interesting and stimulating.
The historical survey is carried down to the present time and
attention is given to artists active in the U. S., a point which will
be of particular interest to the American reader. The best section
is the one devoted to artists of the 17th and 18th centuries, based
on Landsberger’s own studies. In the discussion of the ivory
plaques discovered in Samaria, it should have been pointed out
that the Sphinx carved on one of the panels is obviously of Asiatic
origin, not only because of the inscriptions but also because of the
wings. The authors of the book from which the illustrations are
taken are John Winter Crowfoot and Grace M. Crowfoot.
The temple on the coin of Simon Bar Kochba of 132-135 can
hardly give an exact idea of the Herodian Temple destroyed in
70 C.E. The omission of the pediment in the design may be simply
due to the symbolic star for which space had to be provided above
the temple. I wonder whether the synagogue at Delos has been
intentionally omitted by the author. The presence of the word
“proseuche” in one of the inscriptions found in the edifice seems
to attest to its character as this is a familiar designation of the
synagogue in antiquity. The excavators have dated the structure
in the second century B.C., while Landsberger was not able to
trace surviving remains of synagogues farther back than the
second century C.E.
The Ezekiel panel of the synagogue at Dura-Europos is repro-
duced only in part. The author has adopted the controversial
interpretation of the three figures standing in a row as portraying
the prophet himself. However, since the figures are clad in the
short tunics and trousers of the layman, and the prophet Ezekiel
appears in the other part of the scene (not reproduced in the book)
in the long garments of a prophet, the figures could be more
plausibly identified as those of the elders of the tribes of Judah,
Benjamin and Levi. For this interpretation see this reviewer’s
article in the
Journal of Biblical Literature
, LX, 1941.
In discussing the relationship of Christian to Jewish art, the
author shows a tendency to somewhat overstress the point. After
all, the Christian Chapel at Dura was decorated with murals
before the decoration of the Synagogue walls. To say that in
Christian catacomb paintings a cross was merely substituted for