Shifting images of the Hasmoneans: Second Temple legends and their reception in Josephus and rabbinic literature

Vered Noam, Dena Ordan (Translator)

Research output: Book/ReportBookpeer-review


The shifting image of the Hasmoneans in the eyes of their contemporaries and later generations is a compelling issue in the history of the Maccabean revolt and the Hasmonean commonwealth. Based on a series of six Jewish folktales from the Second Temple-period that describe the Hasmonean dynasty and its history from its legendary founders through achievement of full sovereignty to downfall, the present volume examines the Hasmoneans through the lens of reception history. On the one hand, these brief, colorful legends are embedded in the narrative of the historian of the age, Flavius Josephus On the other hand, they are scattered throughout the extensive halakhic-exegetical compositions known as rabbinic literature, redacted and compiled centuries later. Each set of parallel stories is examined for the motivation underlying its creation, its original message, language, and historical context. This analysis is followed by exploration of the nature of the relationship between the Josephan and the rabbinic versions, in an attempt to reconstruct the adaptation of the putative original traditions in the two corpora, and to decipher the disparities, different emphases, reworking, and unique orientations typical of each. These adaptations reflect the reception of the pristine tales and thus disclose the shifting images of the Hasmoneans in later generations and within distinct contexts. The compilation and characterization of sources which were preserved by means of two such different conduits of transmission brings us closer to reconstruction of a lost literary continent, a hidden Jewish "Atlantis" of early pseudo-historical legends and facilitates examination of the relationship between the substantially different libraries and worlds of Josephus and rabbinic literature.

Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationOxford, United Kingdom
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages262
ISBN (Electronic)0191848417, 0192539396, 019253940X, 0198811381, 9780198811381
ISBN (Print)9780198811381
StatePublished - 2018


  • Dead Sea Scrolls
  • Folktales
  • Hasmoneans
  • Josephus
  • Rabbinic literature
  • Reception history
  • Second Temple history

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities(all)

ULI Keywords

  • uli
  • Asmoneans
  • Eretz Israel -- History -- To 70 A.D
  • Flavio Gioseffo
  • Flavio Giuseppe
  • Flavio Josefo
  • Flavius Iosephus
  • Flavius Josephe
  • Flavius Josephus
  • Flawiusz Jozef
  • Gioseffo, Flavio
  • Giuseppe, Flavio
  • Ha-Hashmonaim
  • Hasmonaeans
  • Hasmoneans
  • Iosephe, Flave
  • Jewish legends -- History and criticism
  • Jews -- History -- 586 B.C.-70 A.D -- Historiography
  • Josefo, Flavio
  • Joseph Ben Matthias
  • Josephe Le Juif
  • Josephus, Flavius
  • Jozef, Flawiusz
  • Macabim
  • Maccabees
  • Makabim
  • Rabbinical literature -- History and criticism
  • Иосиф, Флавий
  • Йосеф, Сын Маттитьяху
  • Флавий, Иосиф
  • אגדות יהודיות -- היסטוריה וביקורת
  • יוזיפוס, פלאוויוס
  • יוסף -- הכהן (פלויוס)
  • יוסף בן מתתיהו
  • יוסף בן מתתיהו -- 37-100
  • יוסף בן מתתיהו -- 38-100
  • יוסף בן מתתיהו -- הכהן
  • יוסף בן מתתיהו -- הכהן -- 37-100
  • יוסף בן מתתיהו הכהן
  • יוסף בן מתתיהו פלביוס
  • יוסף בן מתתיהו פלביוס -- 38-100
  • יוסף בן מתתיהו פלויוס
  • יוסף בן מתתיהו פלויוס -- 37 או 100-38 בערך
  • יוסף בן מתתיהו פלויוס -- 37 או 38-'100 בערך
  • יוסף בן מתתיהו פלויוס -- 38 לספה"נ-100 לספה"נ
  • יוסף בן מתתיהו פלויוס -- 38-100
  • יוספוס פלאוויוס
  • יוספוס פלויוס
  • פלאוויוס, יוספוס
  • פלביוס יוספוס
  • פלויוס, יוסף
  • جوزيف، فلافيوس
  • يوسيفوس، فلافيوس
  • フラウィウス・ヨセフス


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