Who Are the Maccabees: Heroes or Fanatics?

Along with a minute long video introducing the Maccabees role in the Hanukkah story, this thought-provoking article by Michele Alperin presents the celebrated Jewish heroes as multi-layered historical figures who acted as both national liberators and violent religious zealots. Referring to the First and Second Books of Maccabees, the political and religious context in which these books were written, and the different ways in which they have been interpreted throughout history, the author discusses the conflict between those Jews who chose to reform Judaism in the spirit of Hellenism and those who chose to revolt against the foreign values for a myriad of reasons.