A handful of good Religious Tattoos pictures I identified:

The town ‘machers’, c. 500 CE
Religious Tattoos

Image by Anita363
This monument shed a entire new light on the spot of Judaism in Asia Minor, c. 500 CE. And the a lot more items alter, the much more they remain the same: it’s a list of the ‘big machers’ who donated (or belonged) to the neighborhood synagogue. But the fascinating factor is that they are not all Jewish. The interpretive sign reads:


Inscribed pillar with list of members of the Jewish community. Late fourth century.

The pillar is inscribed on two adjacent faces with the names of guys who either belonged to the local synagogue or had donated to it. There are ~110 names on the front and ~25 on the left side. The main list on the front is divided in two. Very first come men who have distinctly Biblical names or names favoured by Jews, such as Benjamin, Judas, Joseph, Jacob, Samuel, Zachary and names such as Amantios (loving), Eusabathios (the very good Sabbath). Beneath them comes a list headed “And the theosebeis” [sic the monument reads &quotΘΕΟΣΕΒΙΣ&quot, or &quottheosebis&quot — possibly just a dfference in declension?]. The theosebeis or ‘godfearers’ are gentiles who have a sturdy selected affiliation with Judaism but who are not themselves Jews. They have traditional Greek-Roman names such as Alexandros or Eutychos.

A number of nearby councillors head the list of the godfearers, and ten of the Jews and seventeen of the godfearers list their professions. They are all tradesmen who variety from food-providers to painters to leather-workers to sculptors and builders. The pillar possibly stood outdoors the nearby synagogue and is striking testimony to the proud place of the Jewish community in the city, to continuing fluid religious interaction in the fourth century, and specially to the higher valuation of craft professions amongst this group of like-minded monotheists.


My take on it is that ‘Jews’ in that time and location were most most likely defined as an ethnic group — a Semitic people who migrated right here, probably the bulk of them at the time of the Diaspora 400 years ahead of, but kept their separate identity — whereas the ‘godfearers’ have been basically religious converts who might have worshipped alongside them. In the modern day era, we carefully define Judaism as a religion, not an ethnicity. But surely that’s a parochial point of view. And in the US, we as a society attempt to downplay the significance of ethnicity, but we’re very atypical in that regard it’s an artifact of our ‘melting pot’ history (and even so, appear at how limited our accomplishment at stamping out ethic prejudice is). Ethnicity is the driving force behind social determine in most occasions and areas, and it has the weight of sociobiological imperative behind it. There’s small cause to believe it would have been otherwise right here. What’s fascinating is the sharing of religion in spite of the clearly drawn ethnic boundary. It seems to go hand in hand with the sharing of civic life across religious and ethnic lines that we see here in Aphrodisias, as at Sardis.

Or, for all I know (and not mutually exclusively), largess towards to one’s constituents’ houses of worship was savvy neighborhood relations for city councilors.

In the HarperCollins Visual Guide to the New Testament, Jonathan L. Reed supports both theses, and also notes that adult circumcision was a correct excellent explanation for male ‘seekers’ not to go all the way to full conversion. Tends to make a lot of sense to me: not only are you speaking about extreme discomfort, but also the danger of infection. Furthermore, circumcision ran counter to Greek theological and philosophical ideals that I picture this population would have been steeped in, which held that, man getting created in the image of the gods, mutilation of the body was a sacrilege. (For that matter, Jewish belief holds a lot the same — tattooing, for instance, is forbidden — but with the single exception that male circumcision is required.)