“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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