The selection of books for the Bible was a thing that had an enormous influence on history, not only in matters of religion or theology, but also on social and political issues.
The biggest mistake in choosing the books of the Bible was of course the inclusion – and namely in a wholesale manner – of the so-called “Old Testament”.
We’re talking here about an historic error. It’s an error that could have been recognized at the time of commitment. Some did. Perhaps a decision was taken in good faith, without having any idea what negative effects it would bring.
Of course, I agree also that the wholesale take up of the “Old Testament” by the church had its positive side too. There is never a case that something does not bring positive outcomes. One of the positives (in my opinion, by far the greatest one) is that by the massive printing of the Bible together with the “Old Testament” the content of the latter has become better known, and, thus, more obvious for many. Because otherwise it would have to this day remained a mystery like the contents of the Talmud. And even so many Christians today have a poor idea of what is actually the content that the church incorporated into the Bible. Too poor an idea, one might say.
What raises our biggest concerns in the heritage of the “Old Testament” is, of course, a range of moral content completely incompatible with Christianity. We pointed to this already in the “Dialogue between a Marcionite and a Judaizer”. However, the error of incorporation of the “OT” lies also in a number of other factors that we will point out here.
“Testament” of historical untruths
Now, as a result of large-scale archaeological work in Israel launched in the 1960s, and as a result of intensive research work on texts of the “Old Testament”, scientists have concluded that the books, supposedly written by hand of Moses, had no chance of having been written by him. According to popular rumours, Moses had to live and work around the fourteenth century BC. However, according to a fairly unanimous opinion of scientists, including those in Israel, the writings of the “OT” began to appear no earlier than between 10th and 8th centuries BC. According to the myth of the “Old Testament” the Hebrews had run away in great numbers from Egypt to Canaan to conquer it. Whole “OT” books are devoted to those purported “events”. Meanwhile, at a time when the “exodus” was to have taken place, Canaan was just part of the Egyptian empire and the Egyptians had their garrisons located there, the camps of which were later found by archaeologists. Thus, those Hebrews would have been running (as Prof. Shlomo Sand put it) “from Egypt to Egypt.” This would make no sense whatsoever. A colorful story about the sea, which opened up to allow the Jews to pass, and then closed to drown the pursuing Egyptians, thus giving the Jews security, is just hopelessly ridiculous. Even if Jews somehow managed to get rid of the pursuing Egyptian army, they would immediately come face to face with another army, marching straight toward them from the other side – from the Egyptian garrisons in the north east. It would take another “miracle” of a further super-natural intervention by Yahweh. If the story had at least some “grain of truth” in it, undoubtedly the Jewish authors of the “OT” would have told us another “wonderful story” (1). But there is no such other story … Also, the description of the conquest of the “promised land” in this case would have to look very different. We understand therefore, that in this case it becomes fairly insignificant that there is no mention of the mass exodus in the ancient Egyptian sources. Why mention something that never happened? Even the first mention of “Israel” comes from the Egyptian Merneptah stele and we do not know as a matter of fact who it refers to or even how to properly read the hieroglyphs of the name.
There were also no “trumpets of Jericho”. Jericho was once a settlement, which in the days when the Hebrews got there (according to the “OT”), did not have any walls at all.
The “Old Testament” also cannot be relied upon when it comes to numbers. According to the “OT” Moses had to lead a large number of people out of Egypt, including 600 000 soldiers. Together with their families, they would have to have constituted a cavalcade about 3 million people-strong, highly unlikely for any Egyptian chronicle not to have recorded such a huge loss.
With numbers, moreover, there has always been a problem, not just at the time of writing the Bible, but also later, such as when it came to the Jewish uprising and deportations of Jews from Palestine by the Romans, and the number of people who were killed during the conflict (2). There was also no mass genocide of Canaanites, so proudly and vividly described in the Bible. Which means that the Hebrews were in fact better people than the boastful authors of the Old Testament books tried to convince us. A lot of the existing modern aversion to the Jews stems from the boastful descriptions of genocides which lack any historical truth and which the Christian church so uncritically accepted and now seeks to defend and justify with a completely helpless “theology” … And if so many of the “OT” facts turn out to be simply untrue, the more so many of the “historic” characters listed in the “OT” who cannot be traced at all.
Archaeology, which initially gave Israelis so much hope to prove their “biblical” story true and to strengthen their “legitimate claim” to Palestine, brought them, instead, a series of disappointments. It even came to this in the end that one began to doubt the historical existence of King David. Only the accidental discovery of the Tel Dan stele in 1993 confirmed, at least indirectly (depending on how ancient consonants are read) that someone such as this could indeed exist. However, the kingdom of the “house of David” was certainly very small and insignificant.
Tribal and national mythologies have very similar scenarios. This applies both to ancient mythologies as well as to those of the nineteenth century. It’s just that the latter have been helped by a more systematic historiography and archeology. Ancient Jews knew neither archeology nor historiography. They did not even have such historiography as the Romans. Written in the first millennium BC Jewish books are characterized by typical ignorance of what had happened several centuries before – that’s why they are so full of errors, which simply confirms that in absolutely no way could they have been written at the time of the mythical Moses. Precisely as nineteenth-century almost mythological endeavours attempted to reconstruct the ancient history of European nations, so the ancient Jewish narratives attempted to fill the gap of the lack of concrete knowledge of the past centuries with tribal and religious mythology.
And that kind of “history” the Christian church borrowed in a wholesale manner as “truth” and taught according to it…
For most of the time of their existence the Jews were not consistent in their choice of language. They used Hebrew. But at one time the Aramaic language was more prevalent among them, albeit originally it was not their language but the language of the Arameans. The Arameans began to settle en masse in Upper Mesopotamia, hence the Assyrian and Babylonian empires (actually Neo-Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian) used the language as one of their state languages. And since the powers were multi-ethnic, over time different variations of the Aramaic language developed, including the Judeo-Aramaic variation using Hebrew script. Later Aramaic began to be gradually supplanted among the Jews by the Greek language especially since the fourth century BC, that is, since the time of incorporation of those areas into the empire of Alexander the Great.
Alongside linguistic differences, cultural and religious differences were developing. The traditional image of an historical “Jew” as Judaist-Orthodox, as so eagerly presented to us by both the “Old Testament” and contemporary Israeli propaganda to or by our own biblical apologists, is largely a work of fiction and a “trick and photomontage.”
There are even such shameless misstatements and misrepresentations, like the one, according to which in the year 164 BCE the Jews rose up and liberated themselves from the Greek (Seleucid) bondage, restoring the templeof Jerusalem to Judaism, when in fact they remained, even after the uprising, under the rule of the Seleucids. To commemorate that victory and a “miraculous” duration of the light of menorah candles, a festival called “Hanukkah” (also spelled as “Chanukka”) was introduced.
Let us be frank: it is simply a common mythology, easy to expose, as the course of that conflict is known to us today. In order not to get too much into details here ( see the footnote for further details) (3), we will limit ourselves to the fact that that conflict began among the Jews themselves, who were culturally and religiously diverse.
For example, it is known that the Hellenized Jews built a “gymnasion” in Jerusalem, where they cultivated Greek sorts of sports, and even they took part in the All-Greek Olympic Games. The conflict was triggered not so much by religious issues but simply by trivial matters of “mammon” and power.
It is probably only for the sake of explaining the Hanukkah beautifully and its so-called “miracle”, that a make-up version of the whole Maccabean affair is presented in churches and synagogues as a story of “good Jews” and “bad Greeks.”
This conflict dragged on for a long time and originated among the Jews themselves: between Judaist Jews and Hellenistic Jews. Even in the bosom of Judaism itself, and already in ancient times, there were huge differences. Judaists fromBabylon were different from those ofAlexandria, and not only in linguistic terms. There was no shortage in the end of Jewish Hellenists and polytheists, even in Jerusalem during the Hellenistic period,. But all these people were Jews, and were considered to be Jews. It was not so therefore, that only Judaism was able to sustain the Jewish consciousness as a community. At most, it could be said that Judaism has played a role in Jewish history similar to that which Catholicism has played among the Poles.
Crowning of only one of many ancestors
The great misconception is the thesis of the Judaic origins of the Christian religion. It is a misconception, and not a complete untruth. In fact, the sources of the Christian religion were manifold. Even Judaism itself is a conglomeration of beliefs born long before Judaism (Egyptianism, Zoroastrianism, etc.). But Christianity also benefited directly from other sources of inspiration. We have pointed to it already in other texts (see http://www.monio.info/religia/ ). We have pointed also, at yet another occasion, to a possible evolution of Christ himself toward greater universalism. While in the New Testament there are many references to the “OT” (but not exceedingly many, as we stated in “Marcionite’s Dialogue”), it is a simple result of the fact that it was mainly Jewish writers who wrote the New Testament. But we know of other ancient works about Christos, which often do not make any reference at all to the “OT” (such as the “Gospel of Thomas,” which could also at least partly have arisen already in the first century AD).
We pointed out on yet another occasion, that very soon the number of non-Jewish Christians reached a multiple of the number of Jewish Christians, which irrefutably suggests that Christos was more easily accepted among the so-called “Pagans” than among Jews.
There is practically no essential element of Christianity which had not already earlier appeared in other religions, including the so-called “pagan” religions. This is true about Christos himself as well as, for example, about Mary, his mother.
In addition, there is not even a shadow of proof that Judaism was the first monotheistic religion, even though such a myth is often still maintained. Dating the beginnings of Judaism by historians and archaeologists puts Judaism least four centuries (and up to 6 centuries) behind the period in the history of Egypt, known from concrete evidence, not only from legends, namely the reign of Pharaoh Akhenaten (Akhenaten, Echnaton, Khuenaten, Ikhnaton) that is, Amenhotep IV (reigned from about 1353-1351 BC, d. ca 1336-1334 BC).
There were also Jewish religious associations with the Persian religion. Even the Hebrew word “dat”, which means “religion” comes from the Persian language.
If this was not yet enough, most ordinary fiction is the opinion that the belief in one God (monotheism) is historically the most favorable factor for universalism. This view is often assumed, but historically the most universalistic religions were the polytheistic religions. The Greek principle of the “agnosthos theos” (“unknown God”), to whom they were able to devote a separate temple, was also one more piece of evidence of ancient religious tolerance, contrasting the wild excesses of the “holy” inquisition or it’s predecessor, the Jewish “Sanhedrin” based on the “Old Testament”.
But if Christianity on one hand partly owes its existence among others to Judaism, then, on the other hand, Judaism owes much more to Christianity, though it is older.
This is because the Christian church took up the bulk of the book of Judaism, which Christianity has nothing to do with. When you look at the history of the dissemination of the so-called “Old Testament” throughout virtually all continents of the world, it is striking that the main author of this propaganda was just the Christian church, and to an extent to which Judaists themselves could dream at best.
This fact contrasts with the degree of knowledge of the Talmud, which was written starting from the second century AD and which is, after all, several times larger than the entire Bible. The Church has never advocated the Talmud, and even has an unequivocally hostile attitude towards it – and that is from where the difference in the level of knowledge between both these sets of books comes. Israel Shahak even thought that ordinary Jews really know less about Judaism than non-Jews …
The influence of Christianity on Judaism was manifold. For example, relatively few people know that Judaism is pro-monogamy (and against polygamy) because of the influence of Christianity, since before it was as pro-polygamy as Islam. And it was only in the last millennium that Judaism became monogamous. In the eleventh century Rabbi Judah Ben Gershom banned polygamy among Eastern European Jews (Ashkenazim). In Spain polygamy existed even among Judaists at least until the fourteenth century, then only very rarely. Polygamy remained longer among Judaists under Islamic rule, which is undoubtedly connected to the prevalence of polygamy among Muslims.
In the service of “the chosen people ‘…
We know also that if there is a trend within Christianity to critically evaluate many aspects of the past (the pogroms against the Jews, and especially of the “heretics”, recognition of slavery, etc), on the Jewish side such criticism is much rarer, though we are pleased to acknowledge it has been there, especially during the past few decades.
In the past there were many different tribal religions, according to which the tribe was believed to have been “selected” by a deity or an entire pantheon of deities. All those religions disappeared completely in the course of history, with the sole exception of Judaism.
One can probably debate endlessly to what degree the reckless acquisition of the books of the “Old Testament” by the church contributed to the strengthening of the Jewish belief in their so-called “chosenness” by God. However most certainly it contributed to the increase of prestige of these books in Europe, including by upholding their prestige among Jews. Judaists could disagree with the Christian interpretation of these books, but the mere fact that a competitive great religion recognized them, must have bolstered their belief in their divine inspiration. The Church, for its part, believed that the Jews lost their “chosenness” when they did not accept the Christos as their “Messiah”, but to the Jews what could have been much more important might have been that the unfriendly church recognized their primary “chosenness” as an undisputable matter.
Even later, when in the nineteenth century Jewish nationalism was formed, the recognition of the “OT” by Christians was helpful to the development of that nationalism. This is also emphasized by Prof. Shlomo Sand in his book “The Invention of the Jewish People”:
“Mostly products of rabbinical schools, educated Jews, who were feeling the effects of the secular age and whose metaphysical faith was beginning to show a few cracks, longed for another source to reinforce their uncertain, crumbling identity. The religion of history struck them as an appropriate substitute for religious faith, but for those who, sensibly, could not embrace the national mythologies arising before their eyes – mythologies unfortunately bound up with a pagan or Christian past – the only option was to invent and adhere to a parallel national mythology. This was assisted by the fact that the literary source for this mythology, namely the Old Testament, remained an object of adoration even for confirmed haters of contemporary Jews. And since their putative ancient kingdom in its own homeland presented the strongest evidence that Jews were a people or a nation – not merely a religious community that lived in the shadow of other, hegemonic religions – the awkward crawl toward the Book of Books turned into a determined march in the imagining of a Jewish people.” („The Invention of the Jewish People”, London 2010, p. 75)
Thus, if today it happens that we are frustrated by rampant vagaries of Jewish sense of “specialty” or Judaistic and Zionist arrogance, it is good to remember that this is not just the result of intra-Jewish Talmudism “stewing” within “its own juice” , but rather the result of a combined ideological “cooking”, where this annoying “dish” was first “cooked” by the authors of the “OT ” and then incessantly “warmed up” again and again by the theology of Catholicism, Orthodoxy and Evangelicanism. Today, this “dish” is often additionally spiced with a large dose of purely political “seasoning”, where – again, to sustain the myth of the Old Testament – the “exploits” of the Israeli soldateska against Arabs are supported, while more and more evidently the local Middle Eastern Christian communities are gradually being written off. Often an indiscriminate anti-Arab and anti-Islamic campaign is being shamelessly conducted in churches, as long as it is for the sake of the Bible and Israel. It happened to this author on numerous occasions that he heard in his conversations with Evangelical Christians these rants (taking a form of mental aberration) by an excited “faithful” who explicitly expressed their hope that soon there may finally be an earthquake inspired by God, that would at last smash the mosque built on the foundation of the ancient temple in Jerusalem… This is yet another grim legacy of the reckless incorporation of the “OT” by the archaic church of the first centuries of our era.
It is true that the Jews often happened to fall victims to persecution. However, the general attitude towards them by the church was characterized -in the words of Israel Shahak – by “tolerance with limited privileges.” Indeed, because they were not treated in a manner as deadly as the Christian “heretics” such “heretics” as the Paulicians, Bogomils, Cathars and Lollards were almost completely “wiped out” from the earth. Compared to them, the Jews who were in Europe were almost like in a “paradise on earth” – otherwise, after all this, they would not persist is staying there but would rather leave Europe, the further away the better.
Even the Lutherans themselves would have been undoubtedly finished off were it not for the fact that their doctrine has spread extremely quickly. And very quickly they also found the support of many nobles. Luther, himself, survived thanks to the prince who kept him in his own castle…
The Jews often became – in a positive sense for themselves – subject to disputes between Christians of different denominations (4).
Jews were already accustomed to Christians’ admiration for the “Old Testament” to such an extent that when in later times the first works gradually appeared which questioned the historicity of events described in its books, an immediate accusation of anti-Jewishness was the response from the Jewish side. (5)
And when the archaeological work carried out in our time, especially after the 1967 war, their published results were carefully selected so that they confirmed the narrative of the “Old Testament.” As Shlomo Sand writes, “Generally speaking, the last word ” was that of the written text, because it was the point of departure and the raison d’être in every excavation. Needless to say, the long “non –Jewish” periods in the history of “Canaan”, “Judea” and “Palestine” hardly interested the archeologists”. This method was obviously politically motivated, as it had to confirm Israel’s right to the possessed (read: stolen) land.
A desperate attempt to save the myth
But it must be objectively noted that this method of archeology’s not quite fair use for political purposes was not originally initiated by the Jewish Zionists but by Christian scholars who, already in the late nineteenth century, used it also to support the “Old Testament”. Their motivation was less of a political sort, but rather religious, because they believed that in this way they would support the New Testament as well. This was of course unnecessary because the New Testament does not contain the history of ancient Israel but, instead, writings on Christ, on the Apostles, on the first Christian communities, as well as the mythologized and metaphorical description of the “Apocalypse”. The so-called “Old Testament”, if it is quoted there, is not mentioned by way of the description of the “Exodus” and “the conquest of Canaan,” and it generally does not refer to matters that may be verified by archeology. In other words, Christian books do not need any support from the “Old Testament”, and even less is there need for any support for the “Old Testament” from a “doctored” archeology. However, just as centuries before the Christian church decided to take over the Jewish books of the Bible, so also in modern times Christian explorers of the “Holy Land” decided to serve the “Old Testament” at all costs in the naive hope that this would also serve Christianity.
As Shlomo Sand put it: „from the start, their religious motivation made local archeology an adjunct to Bible research”. In other words – to say it directly – archeology was conducted not so much to find the truth but rather in order to support the Bible at any price, as it’s historical value had been put in question since the Enlightenment.
We can imagine a counterattack against our argument (not new, after all) which exposes the negligible historical value of the “OT” narrative: that the value of the Scripture lies not in the accuracy of all the facts, because the Bible is above all The Word which mainly conveys “The Truths of Faith”. So it is not important that all tiny historical details are correct. Yes, we accept this principle. And, as a matter of fact, we accepted it in our teenage years. However, the “Old Testament” contains far too many untruths for any religious system to survive for long – and specifically those untruths which one would otherwise expect to carry these “Truths of Faith”. So, in other words, such a system of beliefs won’t last long. It was no different with the erstwhile Greek mythology. It existed for thousands of years and generated great works of literature, but when one finally began to explore the discrepancy between it and the truth verifiable, it lost its power of religious influence.
The one aspect giving the “Old Testament” the power of influence is Jewish Ethnicism which, since the nineteenth century, draws inspiration from the Old Testament that is less religious and more nationalistic. That inspiration ultimately determined the choice of Palestine by the (largely atheist) Zionists as the place for the new Jewish state, in spite of any common sense. Even if it’s true that the Jewish Zionists themselves have made this choice and established their state there through terror and ethnic cleansing which still continue today, then it is also true, as we mentioned earlier, that their own “infatuation” with the “OT”-narrative was largely rooted in the extensive publicity given to that set of books by the Christian Church over the centuries.
This resembles the analogy told by Gilad Atzmon in his book, “The Wandering Who?” (p. 136):
“Supposedly secular, cosmopolitan Jews often retort, when asked what it is that makes them Jewish, that “Hitler made me a Jew”. Though “cosmopolitans” tend to dismiss other people’s national inclinations, Jewish cosmopolitans, for some reason, insist on maintaining their own right to “self-determination”. It is not really they themselves who stand at the core of this unique demand for national orientation, but the Devil, the master-monster anti-Semite, Adolf Hitler. Apparently, cosmopolitan Jews can celebrate their nationalist entitlement as long as Hitler is there to be blamed. Hitler won, then, after all”.
Being in conflict with the Jews, the Christian church was also winning for a long time – so long as it could turn the “OT”-narrative to its advantage. But the more this narrative is inaccurate and the more it contains simple untruth and falsehood, the more the “Old Testament” becomes a liability. It may however still serve Jewish nationalism for some time because no matter how much truth it contains, and how many lies it holds, it is and remains an inalienable part of Jewish national literature. For Christians it is not. To us its value is merely of a religious nature.
Not so long ago, statistics of participation in the U.S.A. in rites within synagogues, claimed that nearly 50% of Jews visiting synagogues on a regular basis do not even believe in God… When asked why they keep coming, respondents stated that it is so “Jewish”, that thanks to their attendance at the synagogue they feel stronger and more integrated… Needless to say that it would be difficult to gather in the church at least half of such a so-steadily-decreasing number of the faithful, if they were to come for the “Old Testament”… And especially if they were the so-called “Christian atheists”. If the Christian church is going to cling to the “Old Testament” like to “Mum’s skirt,” it will be difficult to say, like Gilad Atzmon, that “the church, then, won after all”…
In the long run, the “Old Testament” is becoming an increasingly obvious burden for the Christian church and the day will come when the books go back, once and for all, to their rightful owners. Christos as an outstanding religious figure does not need any “justification” by the “Old Testament”. Just as the Buddha did not need “support” by the Vedas. Baha’u’llah could have come from Islam, but he did not need the Quran to justify his raison d’etre. “Ill-gotten gains seldom prosper”. Especially if the “ill-gotten” suggest another kind of a “messiah” than the post facto mythology, which tries to “push” the concrete person of Christos into an unnecessary historical fiction and the pride of “chosenness” of any tribe…
Well then – someone may ask – what to do with the records in the form of chariot wheels, and human bones, found on the bed of the Red Sea? Is it not “forensic evidence” of the truth of the Bible?
Well, if there are some wheels and bones on the seabed, it can “only” mean that the tale of the sinking of Pharaoh’s army must be true? Because, of course, there has never been any other army or any other chariots? It was an area where many wars occurred and many times armies traveled across the trail, losing – or just giving up – tons of equipment. Many people died or were killed. They moved along the seabed after the water receded… Not to mention what a sea can do to a shoreline within three thousand years. If anyone has doubts as to what it can do, let him look at photographs of the last remnant of a wall of the church in Trzęsacz (German name: Horst-Seebad) on the Baltic Sea.
And let him remember the fact that nearly 1,000 years ago, this church – which nobody in the meantime moved, but only reconstructed – was at a distance of 1.5 kilometers to 2 kilometers from the shore! If in less than 1,000 years the coastline could change so dramatically, then the faithful OT-man can answer for himself what the sea can do in 3000 years…
2. „Like all ancient historians, Josephus tended to exaggerate his numbers. Today most scholars believe that virtually all demographic figures from antiquity are overstated, and that a good many have numerological significance. Josephus does state that a large number of pilgrims had gathered in Jerusalem before the uprising, but the assumption that more than a million people were killed there is not credible. The population of the city of Rome at the height of the empire in the second century CE might have approached the size of a medium modern conurbation, but there was no such metropolis in the little kingdom of Judea. A cautious estimate suggests that Jerusalem at that time could have had a population of sixty thousand to seventy thousand inhabitants.” (S. Sand, “The Invention…”, p. 131)
3. And it was like this: the Jewish high priest Onias III from an exclusive line of priests, the Levites, was removed from his post after his own brother Jason (Greek name, but a Jewish Levite …) bribed the Seleucid king, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, to appoint him, Jason, the high priest. But another Jew, apparently from the line of Benjamin (according to the Second Book of the Maccabees, though Josephus believed that he was also a Levite, brother of Onias) named Menelaus (again, a Greek name, but a Jew …) went to Antiochus Epiphanes and “trumped” Jason’s bribe with his own. So he was finally the high priest. But as he did not have that much money to pay Epiphanes, he organized – through his brother Lysimachus (another Greek name, but another Jew …)the theft of a number of valuable items from the Jerusalem temple. The theft sparked riots in the city, as a result of which Lysimachus was murdered. Meanwhile, Menelaus also ordered the murder of the former priest, Oniasa III. Why? Because Onias was the one who publicly accused Menelaus of the theft of temple treasures. Menelaus was afraid that Onias may denounce him to Epiphanes.To have his mouth shut in advance, Menelaus ordered the murder of Onias.
At that point, Antiochus Epiphanes finally reacted and ordered the arrest of Menelaus. But the moment of Epiphanes’ clarity of mind was extremely short and lasted only to the next bribe from Menelaus, who consequently regained his freedom. However, Menelaus failed to regain the high priest’s function, because he was driven out militarily by followers of the ousted priest Jason.
With one of its provinces in revolt and in internal conflict, Epiphanes sent troops to Jerusalem – and only from that moment was there a serious intervention by the Greeks in the intrigues and schemes of Jewish affairs… Because up to that point the only “act” on Epiphanes’ part was taking bribes from the successive contenders of the position of the high priest in Jerusalem …
Following the rebellion Epiphanes, having previously shown very little interest in the Jewish religious schemes, changed his policy, introducing (after bringing order in Jerusalem) the prohibition of a number of practices of Orthodox Judaism, including blood sacrifices and circumcision (the latter under the penalty of death). A statue of Zeus was brought into the temple in Jerusalem and radical Jewish Hellenists were supported.
This in turn led to another rebellion, this time not only directed against the Jewish Hellenists and the polytheists, but also against the Seleucid monarchy. It was that rebellion which, in a “flowery” and embellished style, the Hanukkah legend describes… This legend is further embellished by the legend of the “Hanukkah miracle” although neither the two books of the Maccabees (I and II), nor Josephus mention anything about any “miracle”, but only about igniting lamps and about the “festival of lights”. The claimed “miracle” was that the lamps burned for 8 days with olive oil that would normally suffice for 1 day.
The “miracle” is mentioned only in the later texts of the Talmud. Anyway, let’s see – now apart from whether we believe in miracles or not, was there any premise for it to occur at all? There was supposed to be too little oil for burning lamps for 8 days. Let us think for a moment.
There was time to take the statue of Zeus out of the temple. There was time to take the “pagan” altar from there. There was enough time to bring back the Jewish altar. There was time to remodel the interior of the temple literally to the previous state. Only there was no time to bring the oil there … Was there no oil in the whole of Jerusalem? Are we supposed to assume that for three years that have elapsed since December 25, 165 BC (when the “heathens” officially launched – including lights – a new festival of Zeus in the temple) up to 25 December 162 BC (i.e. the first festival of Hanukkah) all the oil inJerusalem had been used? Had the retreating Greeks and Jewish polytheists during the Maccabean rebellion deliberately made sure that all the remaining oil was taken from the city, as if it was the most important thing they could possibly care about? And did they on that occasion strip all the olive groves of olives in all Judea? It seems rather doubtful…
4. Here’s an example: in the early eighteenth century, a book with an incredibly long title, “History of the Jewish religion, from the time of Jesus Christ to the present; A Supplement and Continuation of the history ofJosephus”
(„Histoire de la religion des juifs, depuis Jesus-Christ jusqu’á present: Pour servir de supplément et de continuation á l’ histoire de Joséphe”, Den Haag, 1706-7) was published by Jacques Basnage, a Huguenot who settled in Rotterdam..
Basnage used this work to attack the Catholic Church. According to him, the Jews were the chosen victims of the corrupt Papacy and only Protestant reform could lead them to salvation – read: to conversion to Christianity.
Of course, the attack proved to be ineffective to the extent that it was not a corruption of Rome that was the reason for the reluctance of Jews to be converted (there were particularly corrupt rabbis as well…), but the doctrinal questions, unnecessarily reinforced by the acceptance of Jewish writings of the church and their alleged “choseness”. Hence, proselytizing Protestants scored as much of a “success” as Catholics…
5. An example of this is provided by a furious attack by Heinrich Graetz, author of the first systematic history of Jews in modern times. He directed his attack against Julius Wellhausen (“Prolegomena to the history ofIsrael”, 1882) and Ernest Renan (“History of the People of Israel”, 1887-1893). Graetz even complained that only a Jewish author is able to appreciate the unique importance of Jewish history.