“Confederates and Friends”: The Religiopolitical Significance of the Maccabean Treaty with Rome

Lively scholarly discussion surrounds the impetus and emergence of the Maccabean Revolt, the nature and extent of Hellenization during the pre-Hasmonean period, with the unique rationales driving the characters of the Maccabean narrative—the Jewish Hellenizers, Antiochus IV, and the rebels led by Judah Maccabeus—to act. These topics themselves suffer re-examination ad infinitum. Of slightly less, though by no means inconsiderable, attention is that which is directed towards the authenticity of this period’s ancient primary sources, from Daniel to the Books of the Maccabees, as well as the documentation quoted therein. Yet, despite repeated, and almost unanimous, conclusions proclaiming (or even assuming) their validity, even if not their originality, there remains an almost disconcerting lack of interest in the precise role such documents may have played in not only in bolstering the authors’ respective purposes, but also in the Maccabean’s own nationalistic struggle for religious and political independence. It may be noted that whatever our interpretation of the exact impetus of the religious reform and subsequent revolt, such questions concerning the documents within the Books of the Maccabees do not evaporate. 

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Blank Page: From Ezra to Alexander

The Old Testament dwindles to silence so innocuously, so subtly, that it almost closes without notice. The year is circa 430 BC and all has been set aright: the children of Israel have begun to return from Persian exile; the Temple has been rebuilt, albeit ingloriously; the Law has been reestablished; and a portion of Jerusalem’s wall has been reconstructed.

Welcome to the Second Temple period, where the Old Testament ends and the blank page begins.

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Blank Page: The Silent Years Between Testaments

**Exciting news! I’m currently in the process of launching an online course exploring the Second Temple Period—including the blank page between Testaments—expected to launch this September. If you’re interested in more information or early registration, please fill out the form at the bottom of this post. (Updated July 24, 2020)**

The tears of Jerusalem and the blood of her liberators stain the pages between Malachi and Matthew. If only there was more than a single page to stain… if only it wasn’t blank. Indeed, what if I told you that this so-called blank page separating the Old from the New Testament spans from the Hellenistic period under the Greeks to the pinnacle of the Roman Empire under Caesar Augustus: four hundred years of absolute silence?

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