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Synagogue

ecclesia personification symbolized christian

Synagogues are buildings used by Jewish communities for religious gatherings, prayer, and reading of scripture. In medieval art, the religion of Judaism was often symbolized by the personified female figure of Synagogue, ( Synagoga ) often paired with the personification of the Christian *church (Ecclesia) in images of the *Crucifixion. While some few early (e.g., Carolingian) examples present both as equals (or with the old law symbolized by the *prophet *Hosea or a personification of the city of Jerusalem), the triumph of Ecclesia over Synagogue is emphasized from the mid-ninth century following. Synagogue is stripped of her authority (crown, globe, sceptre) by Ecclesia or depicted in a tattered robe, blindfolded, with a broken lance, torn banner, and with the Tablets of the Law slipping from her grasp. She may also hold a knife and be accompanied by a goat (symbolizing Old Testament sacrifice) or carry the *Instruments of the Passion (signifying responsibility for the *death of Jesus). The antithesis of old and new covenants was explicated in the writings of early Christian theologians such as Saint *Augustine, and the representation of Synagogue in negative pictorial forms is reflective of the growing and pervasive anti-Judaism of the medieval period.
[back] Sylvester, James Joseph

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