Monday, December 30, 2019

Hanukkah and Saturnalia?

BELATEDLY FOR HANUKKAH: Did Ancient Jews Change Hanukkah to One-Up the Competition? New research into the origins of Hanukkah shows that this joyful holiday developed and evolved alongside other gentile light-based festivals like Saturnalia (Candida Moss, The Daily Beast).
At the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature conference held in San Diego last month, Dr. Catherine Bonesho, an assistant professor in Early Judaism at UCLA, presented a paper on religious competition in the ancient world. In her research, Bonesho examined ancient traditions about Hanukkah preserved in the writings of rabbinic authors in order to see what ancient Jews thought the holiday was about. Bonesho told The Daily Beast that our traditions about Hanukkah started much later than most people know. After Josephus, “the ritual of lighting lamps does not appear in textual form until the Mishnah (200 CE), nor does the tradition of the miracle of oil appear until the Babylonian Talmud (edited between 5th-7th centuries CE),” Bonesho said.
For more Hanukkah-related legends, see the immediately preceding post here.

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