Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Encore Post: Without Hanukkah, No Christianity!

Happy Hanukkah, Everybody! Here is a "best-of-blog" post from this month last year:

In 2006, Newsweek online had a great Hanukkah meditation by Rabbi Marc Gellman, celebrating the Maccabees without apology.

One thing I liked about the piece is Gellman's stress that without the Maccabees, Christianity would never have happened. That's right: We Christians owe this little Jewish family of antiquity a very great deal. Without the Maccabees we would have no Hebrew Bible / Old Testament, and without the Old Testament, there could be no Christianity. In this image, they are first meeting as a family to commit to resisting Antiochus and the Selucids:

Here is a short excerpt from Gellman's piece:

Now imagine if this one man, Mattathias, and his one family, the Macabees, had just gone out and bought togas and said to hell with Judaism. Imagine. If he had done nothing to save Judaism. Then, 167 years later, the baby born in the manger might not have been Jewish. He might not have come to fulfill any biblical prophecies because nobody would have remembered the Hebrew Bible or the prophets or the line of King David. Jesus would have had to fulfill the prophecies of Plato—and Plato had no prophecies. No Judaism would have meant no Christianity.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

for me the Maccabees are a very moving story. i remember when a fellow-novice with me and i were discussing it at the end of year one in the lectionary, where we read the first parts of 1 Maccabees in the lectionary. he didn't get why it was cool. :(

but the Maccabees also are a powerful warning, are they not, about power? without the Maccabees, no Jesus, and no Herod the Great either. the later Maccabees were (as i understand it) power mad and even vicious.

and there are those today who think that enforcing religious law by military force is a great idea, which makes me twinge a little when I read things like 1 Maccabees 2:46. It so bothered the folks who prepared the daily office lectionary that they skip 2:44-48.

there is something deeply ambiguous about it!

Wed Dec 05, 09:20:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hope you don't mind this belated comment. Thanks much for drawing my attention to this. (I remember reading your reference to this Newsweek article a couple of months ago and was very glad to find the quote again here on BA.) I'll be sharing this very thoughtful reflection with my New Testament students this Wednesday--what a wonderful, hopeful followup to last week's gory details about Antiochus IV.

Mon Feb 25, 11:35:00 PM GMT-5  

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