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Judas Maccabeus

Duration:
45 minutes
First broadcast:
Thursday 24 November 2011

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the revolutionary Jewish leader Judas Maccabeus. Born in the second century BC, Judas led his followers, the Maccabees, in a rebellion against the Seleucid Empire, which was attempting to impose the Greek culture and religion on the Jews. After a succession of battles he succeeded and the Seleucid king granted the Jews religious freedom. But even after that freedom was granted the struggle for political independence continued, and it was not until twenty years after Judas's death that Judaea finally became an independent state.

Thanks to an extensive, if often confused, historical record of these events, the story of the Maccabees is well known. Judas Maccabeus has become a celebrated folk hero, and one of his achievements, the restoration and purification of the Temple of Jerusalem after its desecration by the Seleucids, is commemorated every year at the Jewish festival of Hanukkah.

With:

Helen Bond, Senior Lecturer in the New Testament at Edinburgh University

Tessa Rajak, Emeritus Professor of Ancient History at the University of Reading

Philip Alexander, Emeritus Professor of Jewish Studies at the University of Manchester

Producer: Natalia Fernandez.

  • FURTHER READING

    W. D. Davies and Louis Finkelstein (eds), ‘The Cambridge History of Judaism’, vol. 2, ‘The Hellenistic Age’ (Cambridge University Press, 1989)

    Erich Gruen, ‘Heritage and Hellenism’ (University of California Press, 1998)

    Tessa Rajak, ‘The Jewish Dialogue with Greece and Rome’ (Brill, 2001)

    Lester L. Grabbe, ‘Judaism from Cyrus to Hadrian’ (London: SCM, 1994)

    Moshe Pearlman, ‘The Maccabees’ (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1973)

    James VanderKam, ‘An Introduction to Early Judaism’ (Grand Rapids:
    Eermans, 2001)

    Emil Schürer, ‘The History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ’, revised Geza Vermes, Fergus Millar, and Martin Goodman (3 vols; T&T Clark: Edinburgh, 1973-87)

    E. J. Bickerman, ‘The God of the Maccabees: Studies on the Meaning and Origin of the Maccabean Revolt’ (Brill: Leiden, 1979)

    B. Bar-Kokhva, ‘Judas Maccabaeus: The Jewish Struggle against the Seleucids’ (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, 1989)

    V. A. Tcherikover, ‘Hellenistic Civilization and the Jews’ (Jewish Publication Society: New York, 1959)

    Martin Hengel, ‘Judaism and Hellenism: Studies in their Encounter in Palestine during the Early Hellenistic Period’ (2 vols; SCM: London, 1974)

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