Dying for the Faith, Killing for the Faith

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.
Restricted Access


EUR €108.00USD $141.00

Biographical Note

Gabriela Signori, PhD (1991), Habilitation (1999), is Professor of Medieval History in the Department of History and Sociology at the University of Konstanz, Germany, since 2006. From 2001 – 2006 she was Professor at the Westfaelische Wilhelms University of Muenster. Her main area of research is social history of late medieval towns: law, gender, culture and religion. She continuously publishes several monographs, volumes and papers.

Review Quote

''De manière générale, c’est l’histoire de la réception des livres des Maccabées en monde chrétien qui est étudiée ici, et non celle de la réception juive (à une exception près). On ne peut qu’encourager la directrice du volume à envisager une suite à ce bel ouvrage, qui porterait cette fois sur l’histoire de la réception des Maccabées dans le monde juif, de l’Antiquité à nos jours.'' Katell Berthelot, Recherches de Science Religieuse, Avril – Juin 2012, Tome 100/2, section Bulletin de Judaïsme Ancien (2), pp. 292-294. ‘’La miscellanea qui presentata é destinata di certo a porsi come un punto di riferimento per le future ricerche sulla storia e sulle numerose reinterpretazioni dei Maccabei dall’eta antica fino ai giorni nostri.’’ Luigi Russo, Universitá Europea di Roma.

Table of contents

List of illustrations Note on contributors Introduction, Gabriela Signori Antiquity Martyrdom, Violence, and Immortality: The Origins of a Religious Complex, Jan Assmann The War of the Hasmoneans, Kai Trampedach The Veneration of the Maccabean Brothers in Fourth Century Antioch: Religious Competition, Martyrdom, and Innovation, Johannes Hahn The Cult of the Maccabees in the Eastern Orthodox Church, Albrecht Berger Middle Ages The Mother and Seven Sons in Late Antique and Medieval Ashkenazi Judaism: Narrative Transformation and Communal Identity, Daniel Joslyn Siemiatkoski The Maccabees and the Battle of Antioch, Elizabeth Lapina Hate Preachers and Religious Warriors: Violence in the Libelli de lite of the Late Eleventh Century, Oliver Münsch The Maccabees as Role Models in the German Order, Henrike Lähnemann The Reception of the Books of the Maccabees in the Hussite Reformation, Pavlina Rychterova and Pavel Soukup Early Modern Period The Renaissance of the Maccabees: Old Testament Jews, German Humanists, and the Cult of the Saints in Early Modern Cologne, David Collins On the Path of the Maccabees? The Rhetoric of ‘Holy War’ in the Sermons and Pamphlets of ‘Puritans’ in the Run-up to the English Civil War (1620-1642), Andreas Pecar “If to fall, for laws, religion, liberty, we fall”: Georg Frideric Handel’s Maccabees Oratorios, Daniel Weidner The Reception of an Unread Author: Zacharias Werner’s “Mother of the Maccabees”, Gabriel Stoukalov-Pogodin Bibliography Index