Friday, December 15, 2017

Hanukkah and early liturgical poetry

'TIS THE SEASON (HANUKKAH EDITION): In Praise of the Hasmoneans: Chanukah Beyond Rabbinic Literature (Prof. Ophir Münz-Manor,
The relative absence of Chanukah from rabbinic literature has been seen by many scholars as evidence that late antique Jews were ambivalent about the holiday and its Hasmonean founders. However, the highly suggestive evidence of piyyut (liturgical poetry), which extensively and creatively thematizes Chanukah and the Hasmoneans, suggests that this apparent ambivalence was not shared across late antique Jewish society.
So Hanukkah and the Hasmoneans were popular in paytanic circles from the fifth century on. This is important to realize, althought it doesn't tell us about the earlier period of the Tannaitic literature. But it does remind us that there is a lot we don't know. The compliers of the Mishnah had their own agenda, and we have few other sources for that period. We need not assume that all Jews shared exactly the same views.

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