Passover season may seem like an unlikely time to ponder the origins of Hanukkah.A past post on Tel Kedesh (mentioned later in the article) is here.
But not for a Boston-based team of international scholars participating in a multi-disciplinary research effort called The Maccabees Project.
Inspired by new archaeological findings and ancient Jewish texts, the focus of the project is on the legacy of the Maccabees, the clan of ancient Israelites who waged war against foreign forces and built the Hasmonean dynasty. The Maccabees stand as a complex, ongoing symbol of national identity — so much so that even presidential candidate Ted Cruz evoked them at the end of last year, encouraging Jews to stand against anti-Semitism, defend religious freedom, and be “modern-day Maccabees.”
New scholarship about these key historical figures in the holiday narrative is testing “fundamental claims in the tradition,” according to Yonder Moynihan Gillihan an associate professor of Second Temple Judaism at Boston College.
The goal of this collaboration is to better understand the Maccabees’ impact on Jewish identity. What if they weren’t as triumphant as the Old Testament accounts suggest? What if some of their war stories were made up or borrowed in order to bolster a geopolitical agenda? And were they truly great ancient warriors or has their heroism been exaggerated?
There's more on the Maccabees Project here.