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Old-Testament Faith-Warriors (1 and 2 Maccabees) in Historical Perspective
The message of the old testamentary Maccabees is martial and pernicious as well as already pointed out by Erasmus of Rotterdam. The circumstances in which the Maccabeean literature emerged are complex and have not yet been explored by scholars in all their details; even more complex is the history of its influence, the Wirkungsgeschichte in the sense Hans-Georg Gadamer has given to the term, a history which was to large extent a purely Christian one. The early Christians saw the Maccabees as prototypical martyrs. Later they discovered warrior heroes whose courage was the measure of whoever fought in the name of God or freedom: Saxons, Scots, or citizens of Cologne who rose up against their rulers. This history of influence is the focus of the essays collected in this book, which extend thematically and chronologically from the cult of martyrs in late antiquity to the time of the modern wars of liberation.


During the fifteenth century the number of saints increased dramatically. But most of them had already been dead for centuries and were known only through the pages of their vitae. Living saints became rare, chiefly because of the unwaveringly skeptical approach towards them. Critics were always asking, How does one recognise a saint? What do "real" saints look like? What is the relationship between what is outside and what is inside, between the physical appearance and the inner self of a man? As this paper will demonstrate, it was was not so much these questions as the answers that were new.

In: Church History and Religious Culture