Saturday, February 11, 2017

1 Maccabees and Hasmonean ideology

READING ACTS: 1 Maccabees and the Legitimacy of the Hasmoneans.
The book of 1 Maccabees clearly favors the revolution against the Seleucid and the Hasmonean dynasty. In fact, it is “a thoroughgoing pro-Hasmonean . . . perhaps even Sadducean, tendency interpenetrates the entire work” (Fischer, 4:441) and the “author of 1 Maccabees identifies unreservedly with the rebels and their leaders.” (Efron, 47; Sievers, 2).

Yes, both 1 Maccabees and 2 Maccabees are ideologically pro-Hasmonean. (Not sure about "Sadducean," though.) They are our main historical sources for the Maccabean revolt. This makes an objective evaluation of what happened challenging. A recent PaleoJudaica post on a revisionist view of the revolt is here.

It is not well known, but there are other, briefer, ancient accounts of the Maccabean revolt which give somewhat different perspectives on what happened. The two I know of offhand are Diodorus Siculus, Bibliotheca historica, 34-35.1.1 and John Malalas, Chronographia, 206-207. On the latter see also here and here.

It happens that next week I am lecturing on the Old Testament Apocrypha in my Second Temple Jewish Literature class, so I have been thinking about such things.

Past posts in Phil Long's series on the Second Temple Period are noted here and links.