Fear of Images Iconophobia and Iconoclasm among Jews and Samaritans in Late Antiquity

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Jewish art, from the outset, has been markedly ambivalent towards visual anthropomorphic and zoomorphic depictions. During late antiquity, and particularly following the Muslim conquest of the provinces of Palestine, an emerging conservative trend vis-à-vis figural images became increasingly influential. Manifesting initially as a decrease of figural depictions in mosaic carpets of Byzantine synagogues, it progressed to their complete eschewal. Additionally, the Umayyad period witnessed deliberate effacement of images in stone reliefs and mosaic carpets that adorned the synagogues. This paper suggests the Samaritan art of the Byzantine period - known for its full and strict implementation of the prohibition against figural depictions - as a possible source of influence behind the modified attitude towards figural art in Jewish society.

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In the centuries after his death in 323 bce Alexander the Great became a major character in world literature. By the dissemination of his legendary biography, the Alexander Romance, his fame became part of the world's literary heritage. From the eighth century he also became a prominent figure and a great hero in Arabic literature. In his conquests, quests, and feats presented in epics, poems, narratives, and histories he was a character of authority and great wisdom. Here, a number of lesser known but characteristic cases will be examined, which shed light on his reputation as a warrior, wonder child, missionary explorer, and exemplary king.
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