Excerpt from: Estelle Shohet Brettman, Vaults of Memory: The Roman Jewish Catacombs and their Context in the Ancient Mediterranean World, ed. Amy K. Hirschfeld, Florence Wolsky, & Jessica Dello Russo. Boston: International Catacomb Society, 1991-2017.
"To Stafylus, Archon and Archisynagogos, who performed [his duties] with all honors, Restituta, his wife, set up [this stone] to the well-deserving [one]. In peace your sleep." (1) The epitaph is in Latin, except for the common closing formula, which is in Greek. The expression "well-deserving" (in Latin, benemerenti) was one of the most commonly found descriptions in Jewish, Christian and pagan epitaphs.
The inscriptions found in Rome's ancient Jewish cemeteries have informed us of the names of more than a dozen synagogue offices, most of whose titles are in Greek and similar to titles of equivalent positions in the Hellenistic world, while encompassing the particular requirements of Jewish laws and customs.
The archisynagogos seems to have been the most eminent among the leaders of the congregations. According to some scholars, he was the spiritual leader of the synagogue and supervisor of the ritual; to others, he played a political, administrative, and financial role in the affairs of the congregation, was entrusted with the construction and maintenance of the cult building, and possibly served as a representative of the congregation before Roman officials (2). Some have equated the archisynagogos role with that of the rosh knesset, who is referred to in Hebrew rabbinical literature (3). The holder of this highly prestigious office is thought to have presided over the congregation, directed the services, chose the readers of the Torah, and delivered the sermon: Lee I. Levine also cites a third century source that mentions a rosh knesset in Bostra who “was arranging the seating in the synagogue (lit. dragging a bench) in the presence of R. Jeremiah (4). It is a term not exclusive to Jews, being used as well for other Greek-speaking associations, including cult groups in Egypt (Frey, CIJ 1., p. xcvii, nn. 1-2).
Since the term of office of an archisynagogos is unknown, the holder was probably not elected annually, and the office was not always restricted to one individual at a time (5).
The title of archisynagogos did not exclude the bearer from holding other offices (although perhaps not concurrently) such as that of archon, as was the case with Stafylus (above). Upon retirement, some former officeholders were named "archisynagogos for life", a distinction also accorded to some archons.
Outside of Rome there are examples of the office of archisynagogos being handed down from father to son and even to grandson. A dedicatory inscription, probably of the first century CE, to one Theodotus indicated that, like his father and grandfather, who were both archisynagogoi, he was extremely generous in the building of a synagogue and its well-equipped hostelry in Ophel (6). Affluence was no doubt of as much advantage as heredity in qualifying for appointment or election to this office. Giovanni Battista de Rossi recorded an inscription in a Venosa catacomb of an archisynagogos who was a child of three years and three months. Noy commented that, although this is the "only example of a very young archisynagogos in a Jewish inscription," Jewish children were named to other offices, and Christian children received ecclesiastical titles around this time as well (7).
The gerousiarch held the highly esteemed office of leader of the gerousia, the governing body of the congregation (8). Although the gerousia itself was not specifically mentioned in Roman Jewish inscriptions, the numerous gerousiarchs whose titles are recorded surely indicate the existence of such a body (9). The personal qualities of the men chosen for the office may have been a consideration for their holding this position. Of the gerousiarch Theophilos, his children said their "very sweet" father ... "lived a good life and had a good reputation" (10).
The board over which the gerousiarch presided probably functioned much like that of a modern synagogal governing body, regulating both lay and ritual affairs, including business affairs involving properties, educational institutions, charitable functions, burials, care of the infirm, and possibly the collection of funds for the Patriarch and the Temple at Jerusalem, and, after the destruction of the Temple, for the imperial treasury (11). In addition, the gerousia functioned as a kind of local Sanhedrin, acting as the religious, juridical, and legislative body for the Jewish community, with prototypes in the Sanhedrin of Jerusalem and in Greek and Roman governing councils. It may have possessed a degree of juridical power in some civil cases involving its congregation, possibly representing the congregation before Roman officialdom. (12)
A clue to one of the responsibilities of the gerousiarch and his fellow officers like the pater synagogae may be derived from an inscription on marble found at Castel Porziano, about ten kilometers southeast of Ostia (13). According to this decree, two officials, a "father" and a gerousiarch, along with another whose tile is not preserved, were empowered to request, with the approval, perhaps, of the gerousia, the transferral of a parcel of land, 5.18 m. long and 5.49 m. wide, purchased by the Jewish community for the gerousiarch C. Iulius Iustus to build a family monument (14). The inscription indicates that in this community the gerousiarch and the pater must have had some influence on the disposition of congregational properties, at least in this instance.
The title of archigerousiarch on one Jewish epitaph found in excavations in the Villa Torlonia catacomb in 1973-1974, might allude to a centralized communal gerousia for Rome comprised of delegates from all the city's Jewish congregations, but this is the one piece of evidence to support such a theory (15). The title could also be a honorific one, in recognition of a job well done (16). A centralized governing body is known in other cities of the Roman era, including Alexandria in Egypt, Berenice in Cyrenaica (North Africa), and Antioch in Syria (17).
In the Jewish community, the archon, a Greek term meaning "ruler," was an official of the synagogue elected annually at about the time of the Feast of the Tabernacles (18). The archon probably dealt with the secular business of the synagogue, such as financial agreements and political relations (19). He might have been a member of the local gerousia, if there were one, or a congregational representative to an overall communal council (20). In spite of almost fifty references to the post, making it the most frequently mentioned title in the Jewish epitaphs of ancient Rome, there is no definite description of the job duties (21). Yet, while some archons were full of years and, one presumes, of wisdom to be able to preside as elders, several epitaphs were dedicated to young persons who held the title at a surprisingly early age. There is disagreement about the true meaning of the inscription on the sarcophagus of " ... Caelius Quintus who loved his father, twice an archon, aged 13 (?), a Hebrew boy." Whether it was Caelius or his father who was "twice an archon," there is no doubt that Annianus, " ... archon, child, son of Julianus, Father of the Synagogue of the Campesians... " held the title when he died at the age of eight years and two months (22). It seems obvious that a child honored with the title of archon must have belonged to an illustrious or very wealthy family. Some adults, as well, may have been given the title "Archon" as an honor, or the even more illustrious designation found in some inscriptions, that of "Life Archon" (see below). Archons could be reelected and hold other offices in the congregation as well (23).
VARIOUS LEVELS (?) of ARCHON
The mellarchon was an archon-designate. Alexander, an archon pases times (archon of all honor) raised a monument to "his sweetest child, Alexander, archon-to-be"(24). Depending on the age of Alexander the younger, this epitaph may imply that in certain instances "mellarchon" might also be an honorary title. As Leon pointed out, there was "the surprising case of Siculus Sabinus" who, according to his epitaph, was already mellarchon of the Volumnesians although he was a child of two years and ten months when he died (25). A Latin inscription, recorded in the 18th century but now lost, memorialized twelve-year-old Marcus Quintus Alexus, the scribe and archon-to-be of the Augustesians (26).
Another possible grade of archon is that of the archon altis ordinis, which, like the title of archon pases times, could describe an archon of high rank or honor (27). One of the most elegantly engraved stones found in a Jewish catacomb excavation records: "To Lucius Maecius Constantius, (son of) Lucius, and to Maecia Lucianis, (daughter of) Lucius, and to Lucius Maecius Victorinus and to Lucia Maecia Sabbatis, his children, and to Julia Alexandria, his wife, well-deserving, Lucius Maecius, (son of) Lucius, Archon of High Rank (made this burial place)" (28).
While this Latin epitaph is in finely lettered characters, the non-conforming "S" before alti in the last line poses a problem (For Muller's early dating of this inscription on paleographic grounds, see his Cimitero, p. 30, n. 58). Theories have been advanced that this letter acts as a filter; or is the sign for et (and) which would make L. Maecius an archon as well as a member of the altus ordo (Lifshitz, Prolegomenon to reprint of CIJ ,1, p. 37, n. 470. For other interpretations, see Leon, Jews of Ancient Rome, p. 176, n. 3). Prof. Mason Hammond of Harvard University suggests that it could represent an abbreviated form of the genitive, in the Latin archontis, thus making the donor of this monument, Lucius Maecius, the son of an archon alti ordinis (Communication in letter to Estelle Brettman).
The archon pases times is mentioned in an epitaph of Eupsychos from the Monteverde catacomb which reads: "Eternal home. Here lies Eupsychos twice Archon, archon pases times (Archon of all honors), and Phrontistes. In peace his sleep (aged) 55 years" (CIJ 1.337). As attested to by his epitaph, the recognition accorded to Eupsychos indicates that his congregation regarded him with deep respect (For other allusions to archons of special rank and dignity, see Leon, Jews of Ancient Rome, pp. 176-178). An open Torah shrine, replete with four scrolls on the shelves, is inscribed on the upper right hand corner of the stone. In the Jewish epigraphy of Rome, eternal abodes in hallowed lands were also aspired to by Beturia Paulina and Regina.
A citation of "life archon" is noted in the text of an inscription known in Rome since the mid-eighteenth century which reads" Here lies Flavia Antoninia, wife of Dativus, Life [Archon] of the Synagogue of the Augustesians" (Inscription 416). A lulab, ethrog, menorah, shofar, and amphora decorate the lower part of this stone (Usually the palm, myrtle, and willow branches were bound together for use in cultic practice as in the Feast of Tabernacles, but here only a palm branch is shown).
One example of an exarchon reads: "Here lies Gelasis, Exarchon of the Hebrews. In peace his sleep" (CIJ 1.317). A menorah and a vessel are interposed between the characters of the last word. Muller suggested that the title "exarchon" might refer to a former archon and Frey believed it to be the equivalent of archon, but could not find more grounds for specification (Muller, Il cimitero, pp. 295-296; Frey, CIJ, p. lxxxvix, cvii). The Greek name Gelasi(o)s could correspond to the patriarchal name Isaac.
PATER SYNAGOGAE/MATER SYNAGOGAE
"Here lies Asterias, Father of the Synagogue, pious, irreproachable. In peace your sleep" (CIJ 1.93; JIWE 2.209, pp. 187-188). Greek inscription found in the Vigna Randanini Catacomb in Rome, with many parts today missing.
The office of the pater synagogae (Father of the Synagogue), must have commanded respect in circles outside of the local Jewish community, for the holder of this position, along with the archisynagogos and the hiereis (priest or Hebrew cohen), was exempted by Roman laws from compulsory service of a physical nature (Theodosian Code 16.8.4 and 16.8.13-14, fifth century CE, quoting a constitution from the Constantinian era, ca. 331 CE: Leon, Jews of Ancient Rome, pp. 186-187). In later additions to the Roman law codes, presbyters or elders of the synagogue and Christian clerics were also exempted.
The fact that the counterpart title, mater synagogae, was held by women may indicate that the offices were mostly honorary, conferred on the most highly respected, beneficent, and long-established individuals of the community, and may have been associated with charitable duties. The pater and mater synagogae were usually associated with a specific congregation, as Julianus and Q. Claudius Synesius were with the Campesians, Gadias with the Hebrews, and Menophilus with the Calcaresians. But at least one Father of the Synagogue, Asterias, "pious [and] blameless," was memorialized in the Randanini catacomb without his synagogue being named (Leon, Rome, pp. 186-187. Julianus was the father of the precocious Annuanus, the child archon, to whom he had dedicated JIWE 2.288; Claudius, CIJ 1.319 (JIWE 2.560, pp. 444-445); Gadias, CIJ 1.510 and 543 (JIWE 2.578-578, pp. 459-461; Menophilus, CIJ 1.537 (JIWE 2.584, pp. 464-466).
The epitaph of Beturia Paulina was inscribed on a sarcophagus in Latin, with the final formula in Greek words transliterated into Latin (CIJ 1.523; Noy, JIWE 2.577, pp. 457-459, with note that this is "the only Latin inscription to use a synagogue name, and the only Roman inscription to show someone holding titles in two named synagogues"). It has been translated as follows: "Beturia [Veturia] Paulla [Paulina?] F (?) settled in her eternal home, who lived 86 years, 6 months, a proselyte for 16 years named Sara, Mother of the Synagogues of Campus and Volumnius. In peace her sleep" (Translation is made without complete assurance as to her full name because of the diversity in spelling among sources. Each of the transcribers differ in details. According to A. Ferrua, "Addenda et corrigenda al Corpus Inscriptionum Judaicarum," in Epigraphica 3 (1941), p. 38, De Winghe and Ciacconio were the only ones who copied the actual inscription in the late 16th century, and Claude Menestrier, in turn, copied De Winghe. In an unpublished collection of notes, de Rossi records the name of Beturia Paucla, and also records a shofar, lulab, and menorah inscribed on the epitaph as seen in the 16th century: additional commentary by Noy, JIWE 2, p. 459. Leon transcribes the name as Paulla, saying that Paucla in the oldest version is for Paulla, but acknowledges the difficulty of making a definite determination without an original for comparison: see his Jews of Ancient Rome, p. 254, and pp. 250-256 for a discussion of proselytes. The sarcophagus was originally noted in the house of Bartholomew Bassus, a marble worker near San Marco in Rome).
The woman Beturia Paulla, who converted to Judaism after the age of seventy, at which time she took the traditional biblical name of Sara, must have been highly esteemed to have been honored as Mother of the Synagogue by two congregations (Apparently, respected members and patrons of a congregation could be the mother or father of several synagogues: Mniaseas is recorded as being a Father of Synagogues as well as disciple of the Sages; Leon, Jews of Ancient Rome, p. 188; CIJ 1.508; JIWE 2.544, pp. 427-428).
The title was bestowed upon Jewish women in other parts of Italy, as noted in the epitaph of Caelia Paterna from Brescia in Venetia (CIJ 1.639). There were several references to the titles of mater and patressa in the Jewish catacombs at Venosa. These honorifics might be comparable to Mother of the Synagogue, but it is uncertain whether the Venosa titles are civic or religious, since the term synagogue is not actually used with them (CIJ 1.639; JIWE 1.5, pp. 6-8. In discussing this inscription, Noy reminds his readers that in some cases the word "synagoga" might mean a community rather than a particular congregation and its building).
The titles of pater and mater synagogae had parallels in Greek and Roman religious associations, and that of "father" appeared as well in Oriental mystery religions, being a particularly elevated position in Mithraism, which could have influenced its use in Jewish congregations.
An inscribed sarcophagus fragment, discovered around 1892 in the course of new construction near the Via Portuensis, was dedicated to Domnus, called Father of the Synagogue of the Vernaclians, and three times elected archon, a unique phenomenon in the recorded epigraphy of Rome (CIJ 1.494; JIWE 2.540, pp. 135-136; Leon, Jews of Ancient Rome, pp. 191, 337). He also served twice as phrontistes, an office cited in epigraphic sources from Alexandria, Jaffa, and Side in Pamphylia (CIJ 1., p. xci and n. 365; JIWE 2.170, p. 424, and Leon, Jews of Ancient Rome, p. 191, 337). His duties appear to have been those of overseer and business manager of the properties belonging to the community, such as a synagogue building and burial grounds.
A marble plaque in the Monteverde catacomb was dedicated to "Caelius, prostates of the Agrippesians (CIJ 1.365; JIWE 2.170, pp. 135-136; Leon, Jews of Ancient Rome pp. 191-192, 319)" The duties of the prostates were probably those of a legal representative who, like the patronus, his Roman counterpart, protected the interests of the congregation, particularly in dealing with political authorities.
The grammateus, or scribe, was charged with the secretarial duties of the congregation. This work likely included recording the proceedings of the gerousia and the general assembly, and conserving the official documents. Analogies have been drawn between this post and that of the same official in the Greek boulé (council), as well as in the Sanhedrin (Frey, CIJ 1, p. xxxiii). He was probably elected by the general assembly of the congregation for life.
The subject of a finely-carved epitaph from Father Fasola's excavations in the upper catacomb under the Villa Torlonia was Gaianos, a "grammateus, psalmodist, lover of the Law ". Fasola observed that this stone bears "the only example in Jewish epitaphs of a term relative to the singing of the psalms in synagogal liturgical service" (Fasola, Torlonia, pp. 19-20; JIWE 2.520, p. 399).
Appropriately for a lover of the Law, the Ark is shown at the center of the upper part of Gaianos's stone, its doors open to reveal twelve Torah scrolls, flanked on the left by a shofar and a vessel (probably for oil), and on the right by a menorah.
Found in the Randanini Catacomb, where they are still located, the following epitaphs seem to belong to members of a family in which the title of "grammateus" was conferred upon three generations:
- "Honoratus his father, the scribe, and Petronia his mother, to Petronius the scribe, [dedicate this to] their incomparable son. He lived 24 years, 4 months, 15 days. Here he lies. In peace his sleep") CIJ 1..149; JIWE 2.223, pp. 198-199; Leon, Jews of Ancient Rome, pp. 185-187, fig. 16).
- "Here lies Honoratus, the pious scribe, who lived 70 years, 8 months, 12 days. Rufus, the Archon, to his most sweet father. In peace your sleep"(CIJ 1.145 & 146; JIWE 2.257, pp. 226-227 and Leon, Jews of Ancient Rome, p. 286. It was originally found by R. Garrucci in the same chamber as inscription 266, but the pieces were later separated).
- "Here lies Honoratus, scribe, small son of Rufus, the Archon. He lived 6 years, 28 days. In peace your sleep" (CIJ 1.146; JIWE 2.256, pp. 226-226).
- "M[...] Petronia wife of Honoratus (CIJ 1.150; JIWE 2.329, pp. 276-277. In his comments on inscription 329, p. 199, Noy expresses doubts that the couple were the same Honoratus the scribe and his wife because of the form of Petronia's name, yet, in remarks on inscription n. 223, he states that they might be).
As in the case of child archons and mellarchons, to have bestowed such a title as grammateus on a six-year-old child must have been done to honor a well-respected family and to acknowledge the tradition of the title being passed down in that family. Perhaps, when the child reached a suitable age, he would carry out the duties of the office. In the Christian community as well, there were child officials too young to fulfill the responsibilities suggested by their titles (P. Testini, Archeologia cristiana, p. 389; Leon, Jews of Ancient Rome, p. 180, note 1). The Romans accorded similar recognition to individuals and their families for liberality or civic-minded service. At the age of six, N. Popidius Celsinus of Pompeii was elected a decurion (member of the city council) "for restoring the Temple of Isis from its foundations." Obviously, the benefactor was the child's ambitious, prosperous father, a freedman who had adopted the eminent pre-Roman family name of his former master, Popidius. As a former slave, he himself could not aspire to civic office, but he could start his son's rise to honor (J. Ward-Perkins and A. Claridge, Pompeii A.D. 79: Essays and Catalogue (Boston: Museum of Fine Arts, 1978), p. 42).
The Jewish Cohanim (priests; in Greek, iereus, iereis) were the descendants of the family of Aaron and, by heritage, performed the sacrificial rites in the Jewish Temple. Although that function was eliminated with the fall of the temples at Jerusalem and Leontopolis (Egypt), the esteem bestowed upon the members of this family continued as a tradition, as it does today. In Rome, their main activity, apparently, was to deliver benedictions (Leon, Jews of Ancient Rome, pp. 192-193). The priests also were the first to read from the Torah during the service (M. Git. 5:8).
Of the six stones from the Roman Jewish catacombs which bear references to priests, five came from Monteverde (CIJ 1.315; JIWE 2.11; CIJ 1.346; JIWE 2.80; CIJ 1.375; JIWE 2.109; CIJ 1.347; JIWE 2.124; CIJ 1.355; JIWE 2.125). The sixth, recorded from a sarcophagus front panel built into a fountain near Piazza Navona which is no longer extant, was probably also from Monteverde, since the inscription indicates that the deceased priest was an archon of the Calcaresians, who used that cemetery (CIJ 1.504; JIWE 2.558, pp. 441-443). Since Monteverde seems to have been among the earliest of the Jewish catacombs, Leon suggested that its more conservative user-congregations would be likely to cling to the tradition of honoring the priestly families (Leon, Jews of Ancient Rome, p. 192). One marble plaque memorializes "...Judas and Joses, archons and priests and brothers..."; the only epitaph from Monteverde, according to Noy, which commemorates two siblings together, holding the same titles (CIJ 1.347; JIWE 2.124, pp. 104-105). Evidently, holding the office of priest did not prevent its holder from exercising the functions of other offices such as the archonship, perhaps because the title of priest appears to be the inherited prerogative of certain distinguished families, recalling that the office of priest was traditionally assumed by Aaronites. By the 4th century, also the Christians were using the designation iereus, but in a wider sense, connoting a "religious functionary," such as a deacon, presbyter, or bishop (B. Brooten, Women Leaders in the Ancient Synagogue: Inscriptional Evidence and Background Issues. Brown Judaic Studies 36. Chico, California: Scholars Press, 1982, p. 164).
"Flavius Julianus, hyperetes. Flavia Juliana, his daughter, [dedicated this] for her father. In peace your sleep"(CIJ 1.172; JIWE 2.290, p. 251). This inscription from the Randanini catacomb contains the only mention to date from a Roman Jewish cemetery of a functionary called the hyperetes. Most scholars consider the office to be that of an attendant in the synagogue who brought out the Torah scrolls for the service, led the synagogue in prayers, and returned the scrolls to the Ark afterward. He was also responsible for maintaining the synagogue lamps, announcing the onset of the Sabbath, and generally assisting the archisynagogos in the more routine practices of the service (The archisynagogos and this latter-day shammash appear to be the only officials who regularly performed religious functions in the ancient synagogues at Rome). The synagogue attendant, called a hazzan in rabbinic writings, was described in the New Testament as performing this service in the synagogue at Nazareth (Luke 4:20) (Leon, Jews of Ancient Rome, p. 190; JIWE 2, p. 251). Presumably every synagogue had some one who carried out these duties, and the fact that the office is mentioned in only one Roman Jewish epitaph may imply that no particular honor was attached to it.
In Jewish congregations, eventually the primary role of the hazzan was as a cantor: to lead the chanting of the prayers, as he (and lately, she) does today.
A vestigial inscription on a fragmentary Jewish epitaph from the Monteverde catacomb has been interpreted as a dedication to "Metrodoros, presbyter"(Frey, CIJ 1.378, pp. 293-294). There are many examples of the title in other parts of Italy and the Mediterranean, but this is the only instance in the Jewish catacombs of Rome, to date, of a male holding the title (It was an official title also used in certain Greek religious groups and by village magistrates in sites like Egypt: Interpreter's Dictionary, 11, p. 73). Leon noted that "complete certainty is hardly possible" since so little of the inscription remains (Leon, Jews of Ancient Rome, p. 181, 321). He speculated as to whether such officials would have sat on the governing board or Council of Elders of each congregation (Leon, Jews of Ancient Rome, pp. 181-182). Although Jewish presbyters were given special seating in the synagogue during worship and other assemblies, the single appearance of this title, which could, after all, be applied to many "elders," may indicate that the office of presbyter was another position not significant enough, at least in Rome, to warrant mention on a tombstone (Frey, CIJ 1, pp. lxxxvi-lxxxvii; Leon).
The lack of precise documentary material blurs the distinctions between the various offices. There appear to be overlapping functions among the various synagogue officials; the archons, gerousiarchs, mothers and fathers of the synagogue, phrontistes, and prostates, all seem to have served at times in similar capacities and the term "elders" may have been applied to all of them. It seems likely that important officeholders of the congregations all shared an interest, in some way, in financial responsibility, administrative and judicial issues, and representation of the congregation before non-Jewish authorities, along with their participation in other congregational affairs. The archisynagogos and presbyter apparently filled more of a religious role, while the duties of the other officeholders may have been of a more civic nature. This said, the overlapping of the religious and lay aspects of the ancient congregations and a lack of substantial evidence make it impossible for now to separate the official duties of each on more than a general basis.
- Inscription 322 (=CIJ 1. 265); JIWE 2, pp. 269-270; Leon, Jews of Ancient Rome, p. 303.
- Suggestions have been made that the duties of several lesser officials, such as archons, gerousiarchs, etc., included representing the congregation before Roman officials: Frey, CIJ 1, p. LXXV.
- Leon, Rome, p. 171 and Lee I. Levine, "Synagogue Leadership: The Case of the Archisynagogue," in M. Goodman, ed., Jews in a Greco-Roman World, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998, p. 204.
- Levine, Archisynagogos, op. cit., p. 206.
- Leon, Jews of Ancient Rome, pp. 171-172; Frey, CIJ 1, pp. xcvii-xcix; B. Lifschitz, Donateurs et fondateurs dans les synagogues juives (1967), p. 38.
- Frey, CIJ 1, pp. xcvii-xcix.
- JIWE 2.53, pp. 73-75 (=CIJ 1.587, p. 429): Leon, on his part, is "very dubious" about this reading, claiming that "the inscription, when copied, was in a sadly mutilated condition", and that he could not find it himself in its documented provenance, the Venosa catacomb: Leon, Rome, p. 173, note. 1.
- The title "Archigerouiarch" on an epitaph in the upper Torlonia catacomb invites speculation as to whether there might have been a centralized communal gerousia in Rome with representatives from all the congregations; on the other hand, the title may also have been honorific, bestowed for a job well done. JIWE 2.521, pp. 408-409; Fasola, "Le due catacombe di Villa Torlonia," (1976), pp. 36-37, fig. 15.
- It is not possible based on the state of evidence today to determine whether the gerousia was the governing board of a congregation or the entire community. Overall, the functions of the synagogal offices can only be approximately determined by those which are most likely comparable in Greek and Roman associations or collegia and in some instances the Sanhedrin of Jerusalem.
- JIWE 2.354, pp. 399-300 (=CIJ 1.119); Leon, Jews of Ancient Rome, pp. 129, 281.
- Leon, Jews of Ancient Rome, pp. 180-183.
- Frey, CIJ 1, p. lxxxv.
- There is no mention of a synagogue in this inscription. This official may have been a pater synagogae, as theorized by Frey (CIJ 1, p. 393), or another civic functionary.
- There is a lacuna in the inscription at this point, but it is probable that the missing word would have been gerousia. Frey supplied Ostia without any clues, even before the remains of an ancient synagogue were identified there in 1961
- Fasola, Torlonia, pp. 36-37. Leon, Rome, pp. 180-183.
- Fasola, Torlonia, p. 37.
- Frey, CIJ 1, p. lxxxv; Leon, Rome, p. 175, note 1; Schwabe & Lifschitz, Beth She'arim 2, p. 128 (n. 141, found in catacomb 12 at Beth She'arim).
- As recorded in the Christian homily made in the late third or early fourth century CE: Leon, Rome, p. 174, note 2.
- Leon, Rome, p. 176.
- Leon, Rome, pp. 173-175; Frey, CIJ 1, p. lxxxvii.
- There are instances of this title in many other Mediterranean countries as well, including Spain, Syria, Lycia, Cyrenaica, and other parts of Roman North Africa.
- Leon, Jews of Ancient Rome, pp. 156-157.
- Both Staphylos and Alfius were archons and archisynagogoi (see note 1).
- CIJ 1.85/JIWE 2.85. From the Vigna Randanini catacomb, where it is presently located.
- JIWE 2.284.
- Leon, Jews of Ancient Rome, pp. 176-177 and notes.
Next: The Role of Women in the Congregational Hierarchy