Posts Tagged ‘Hellenization’
And he hasn’t (or has he) even read my commentary on 1-2 Macc.
The story tweeted includes this sage passage
Read in its historical context … the Hanukkah story is really about a revolt against the Hellenized Jews who had fallen madly in love with the sophisticated, globalizing superculture of their day. The Apocrypha’s texts make it clear that the battle against Hellenization was in fact a kulturkampf among the Jews themselves. Here is how the first Book of the Maccabees describes Jerusalem on the eve of civil war and revolt in the time of Antiochus (translation by Nicholas de Lange):
At that time there were some evil-doers in Israel who tried to win popularity for a policy of integration with the surrounding nations. It was because the Jews had kept themselves aloof for so long, they claimed, that so many hardships had befallen them. They acquired a following and applied to Antiochus, who authorized them to introduce the Greek way of life. They built a Greek gymnasium in Jerusalem and even had themselves uncircumcised.
Uncircumcision as the price of admission to the Jerusalem gym! When they were eight days old, the “sign of the covenant” had been carved in their flesh; now as young men, these Jews risked health and sacrificed sexual pleasure to “become one flesh” with the regnant beauty culture. In Judea, then, there were Jews choosing to die rather than publicly profane Jewish law—and there were Jews risking death to free themselves from the parochial constraints of that law. The historic Jewish passion to merge and disappear confronted the attested Jewish will to stand apart and persist.
That’s the clash of Hanukkah. Armed Hasmonean priests and their comrades from the rural town of Modi’in attacked urban Jews, priests and laity alike, who supported Greek reform, like the gymnasium and new rules for governing commerce. The Hasmoneans imposed, at sword’s edge, traditional observance. After years of protracted warfare, the priests established a Hasmonean state that never ceased fighting Jews who disagreed with its rule.
That’s why I call them the Taliban. I challenge anyone who knows the history of the era to show that the Maccabees of their day were not equivalent to the Taliban of ours. Happy Hanukkah (sanitized).