Saturday, December 17, 2016

The Scroll of the Hasmoneans

'TIS THE SEASON (HANUKKAH EDITION): A misunderstood holiday with a dark side (Rick Sirvint, Monadnock Ledger-Transcript).
Superficially, Hanukkah is a delightful holiday that coincides with and is influenced by the Christmas season. The second most popular Jewish holiday, it is marked by giving presents, especially to children, lighting of candles, music, joy, eating fried foods, particularly potato pancakes. Many young Jews today marry Christians and, consequently, many households observe both Christmas and Hanukkah.

However, Hanukkah is not a major holiday like Christmas. It is not based on biblical sources, and there are no limitations on work that other Jewish holidays have. It is also a very misunderstood holiday, one with a dark side.

This essay is based on a 1,400-year-old source called the Scroll of the Hasmoneans or the Scroll of Antiochus. It was originally written in Aramaic, which suggests an earlier date for its original composition.

One 10th-century rabbinical source dates its origin to the second century BCE, when events of Hanukkah occurred.

The Scroll of the Hasmoneans is an interesting text that we considered for inclusion in the More Old Testament Pseudepigrapha Project. But we found ourselves unconvinced that it was composed within our target time-frame, i.e., before the rise of Islam in the early seventh century CE. It certainly is not from the second century BCE, and even 1400 years old (i.e., c. 600 CE) sounds generous. If we could be persuaded that it is that old, we would include it in volume 2.