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Mother and her Seven Sons

Hasmonean Martyrdom: Between Christian and Jewish Tradition

Eastern Christianity includes prayer and a festival honoring the martyrdom of a woman and her seven sons who, in the time of Antiochus IV, refused to eat pork. The Talmud reimagines their story, depicting the woman and her sons as refusing to worship an idol in Roman times. This change reflects the rabbis’ tendency to downplay martyrdom in favor of a piety model centered on “dying” through exhaustive Torah study.


Malka Z. Simkovich



2 and 4 Maccabees: Evolving Responses to Hellenism

2 Maccabees (ca. 1st cent. B.C.E) presents Judaism as the antithesis to Hellenism. A century or so later, however, 4 Maccabees uses Hellenistic ideas to encourage Jews to hold fast to their ancestral faith.

Dr. Rabba

Lindsey Taylor-Guthartz



Chanukah: The Greek Influence of Martyrdom

On Chanukah we celebrate the miraculous military victories of the “few over the many,” and of Jewish culture over Greek.  Ironically, however, Chanukah has also bequeathed to us a new genre of Jewish literature, one that has been in frequent use ever since: Greek-style stories of bravery in defeat and dying for the cause.

Prof. Rabbi

Marty Lockshin



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