Friday, October 15, 2021

Evidence for Jewish priestesses in antiquity

EPIGRAPHY: Stone epitaphs of Jewish women in ancient Rome. Gaudentia, Eulogia, Besula (Wall Street International, Brenda Lee Bohen).

These inscriptions from Italy point to the existence of ancient Jewish priestesses, elders, and synagogue leaders. The 3rd/4th century CE catacomb inscription in Rome is another early reference to a Jewish priestess. The earliest such reference I have encountered is to a priestess in the Jewish temple at Leontopolis (Egypt) dated to 28 BCE.

The role of Jewish priestess is not found at all in the Bible, but it has been revived in recent years. I discuss the matter here with links. That discussion is now out of date, thanks to the evidence mentioned above.

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