The Inscription From Aphrodisias And The Problem Of God-Fearers -- By: Irina A. Levinskaya

Journal: Tyndale Bulletin
Volume: TYNBUL 41:2 (NA 1990)
Article: The Inscription From Aphrodisias And The Problem Of God-Fearers
Author: Irina A. Levinskaya

The Inscription From Aphrodisias And The Problem Of God-Fearers1

Irina A. Levinskaya

The problem of God-fearers has once again become a focus of attention following the publication of the Jewish inscription from Aphrodisias.2 In fact, the names of θεοσεβεῖς are not only found in the separate list with a sub-heading καὶ ὅσοι θεοσεβῖς (sic), but also among the members of δεκανία τῶν φιλοματῶ[ν] τῶν κὲ παντευλογ[ούντων]. Does this mean they were members of the community? The first and only parallel that comes to mind is the first century AD Bosporan manumission letter which states:3

- - - - - -κα-
κου ἀφίημι ἐπὶ τῆς προσυ-
χῆς Ἐλπία[ν] - -α τῆς θρεπτ[ῆς]
ὅπως ἐστὶν ἀπαρενόχλητος
καὶ ἀνεπίληπτος ὑπὸ παντὸς
κληρονόμου χωρὶς τοῦ προσ-
τροπευούσης τῆς συναγω·
γῆς τῶν Ἰουδαίων καὶ θεὸν

I free in the prayer-house Elpia...of the household slavegirl so that he will be protected from disturbance or capture by any of my heirs, on condition that he works for the prayer-house under the guardianship of the Jewish community, and honours God.

H. Bellen in 1965 and B. Lifshitz in 1969 independently made the same emendation to this inscription--θεο<ν>σεβῶν.4 This means that the freedman was under the guardianship of the community, which consisted both of Jews and God-fearers. The reason for this correction is quite clearly the grammatical awkwardness of the addition καὶ θεὸν σέβων (Bellen, who, quite rightly, was not satisfied with the poor quality of the published photograph of this inscription,5 asked the Leningrad branch of the Institute of Archaeology, where the photographs of the Bosporan inscriptions are kept, to send him another copy. After receiving the copy he came to the conclusion that the first editor, as well as all those who had discussed this inscription subsequently,6 had read it wrongly: ‘Der auf das A von

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