Old Testament

Download Christian Memories of the Maccabean Martyrs by D. Joslyn-Siemiatkoski PDF

By D. Joslyn-Siemiatkoski

This publication examines texts and fabrics, starting from the jap Mediterranean to northwestern Europe, regarding the Maccabean martyrs. Joslyn-Siemiatkoski demonstrates that Christian thinkers built stories of the Maccabean martyrs that concurrently appropriated Jewish traditions and obscured the Jewish origins of Christianity.

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Gregory shows himself to have inherited the traditions of the Maccabean martyrs via 4 Maccabees in two respects. 8 Second, like the author of 4 Maccabees, Gregory used the figure of the Maccabean martyrs to critique the unjust exercise of imperial authority. Rather than argue that the Torah was the true paragon of reason, as in 4 Maccabees, Gregory presented these martyrs as paragons of Christian virtue that Julian II opposed. This sermon should be read within the context of the Julianic persecution of Christianity and the emperor’s efforts to restore paganism at the expense of an emerging imperial Christianity.

Such argumentation reveals the hybrid thought patterns of the author and presumably the audience he addressed. Hybridity, or the adaptation and simultaneous refashioning by colonized subjects of productions of imperial power, as a concept helps us understand how 4 Maccabees refashioned the memory of the Maccabean martyrs in the first century of the Common Era. The author and his audience existed in a border zone between Judaism and Hellenism. The language and logic of this text in which Greek language, rhetoric, and philosophy were used to defend the Torah, a document written in Hebrew presenting a vision of Jewish national self-determination, makes this text more than just a philosophical treatise.

The narratives of both 2 Maccabees 7 and 4 Maccabees were read and circulated in early Christian communities. The rhetoric of resistance and fidelity to God framed in ethno-religious language in the Maccabean literature was The Earliest Memories 23 appropriated by early Christian authors engaged in the process of creating and maintaining Christian identity in the context of imperial persecution. The Christian reception of the memory of the Maccabean martyrs as a Christian memory is ambiguous. While the Maccabean martyrs died for Torah, Christian authors held up these martyrs as exemplars for their own communities experiencing persecution and martyrdom.

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