That ancient Jews possessed artistic ability has been firmly established, asserted Carl H. Kraeling, professor in the New Testament at Yale University, in his illustrated slide lecture on the “oldest synagogue in the world.” “It is not the oldest synagogue, but the earliest dated,” said the speaker before a group of more than 300 visitors at the Juilliard School of Music auditorium.
“If there had not been a war between the Persians and the Romans, it is quite likely this temple would have crumbled to ruin centuries ago. In the fortification of the city against the invaders the Romans covered the synagogue with sand, and with this embankment were able to withstand for a time the Persian assault. We were excavating in and around Dura when we happened across this discovery quite by accident.”
Discussing the authenticity of the murals, the Professor said he is convinced that the craftsmanship was decidedly Jewish, although there were definite traces of Hellenic influences. Of the thirty-five slides illustrating his talk, only five or six were in color. Among the more interesting pictures were paintings of “Moses and the Burning Bush,” “Exodus,” “Drowning of the Egyptians” and “Jacob’s Ladder”.
Rabbi Louis Finkelstein, professor of theology and registrar of the Jewish Theological Seminary which sponsored the lecture, introduced Dr. Kraeling.