Julia Rhyder deposited “Hellenizing Hanukkah: The Commemoration of Military Victory in the Books of the Maccabees.” Pages 92–109 in Collective Violence and Memory in the Ancient Mediterranean. Edited by S. Ammann, H. Bezold, S. Germany, and J. Rhyder. CHANE 135. Leuven: Brill in the group Biblical Studies on Humanities Commons 4 months, 4 weeks ago
Early Jewish writings are replete with narratives of warfare and collective violence. Yet relatively little scholarly attention has been paid to how these accounts of violence affected the way Jews structured their festal calendar. This essay examines the festivals described in 1 and 2 Maccabees that serve to commemorate the most impressive military victories of the Maccabean revolt in the second century BCE—namely, Hanukkah, Nicanor’s Day, and Simon’s Day. Paying attention to the similarities and differences between the festal texts of 1 and 2 Maccabees, I argue that the two books employ a common commemorative strategy to foster a positive collective memory of the violence of the Maccabean revolt that could both legitimize the founding figures of the Hasmonean dynasty and compete with the commemorative cultures of other Hellenistic communities. This evidence of commemorative creativity and cultural adaptation by the authors of 1 and 2 Maccabees sheds valuable light on how the memorialization of violence in the ancient Mediterranean was shaped not simply by the ideologies and institutions of discrete societies but also by their intersections and cross-cultural borrowings.