Nederlandse Onderzoekschool voor Theologie en Religiewetenschap
Netherlands School for Advanced Studies in Theology and Religion

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UCMS Lecture by prof. dr. Gordon Blennemann

22 Nov 2018

Maccabean references in 5th and early 6th century Gaul

UCMS Lecture by prof. dr. Gordon Blennemann, Université de Montréal
Thursday 22 November 2018, 15.15-17.00, Utrecht,  Kromme Nieuwegracht 80, 0.006

In 448/449 Polemius Silvius, a former official of the Roman chancery, gave as a gift to bishop Eucherius of Lyon a version of the official calendar of common feasts and ludi of the Imperial tradition. In this calendar – transmitted through a single witness from the 12th century (Brussels, Bibliothèque royale, Cod. N. 10615 – 10729, fol. 93–95, 12. Jh.) – we find among a series of civil and religious celebrations on the 1st of August an entry for the commemoration of the martyrdom of the Maccabean brothers and their mother. This entry stands as an example for an intensified interest in the biblical narrative of the Maccabees in Southern Gaul (and the Rhône valley in particular), at least since the middle of the 5th century. On the one hand, sermons, poems, liturgical formulas and theological treaties focused on II Mcc 6-7: the episode of the martyrdom of the priest Eleazar, the seven brothers and their mother, which gave birth to a dense hagiographical tradition. On the other hand, the biblical narrative of the Maccabean resistance against the Seleucids as a whole was in the focus. It seems, for instance, that the Vetus Latina-tradition of Mcc I and II started in the Rhône valley, perhaps in Lyon. This papier proposes to analyse these different textual evidences as parts of a loose intellectual network. This network valorised the ideological openness of the Maccabean narrative as historical and hagiographical reference as it synthesised Roman and Hebrew history as well as old testament tradition with Christian salvation history. The paper will consider in particular how Maccabean references were used to actualize the Roman model of complementarity between two political and social frameworks: the civitas and the patria.

Suggested reading:

  • Gerard Rouwhorst, The Cult of the Seven Maccabean Brothers and Their Mother in Christian Tradition, in Marcel Poorthuis and Joshua Schwartz (eds.), Saints and Role Models in Judaism and Christianity, Leiden 2004, 183-204
  • Françoise Prévot, Le modèle des Maccabées dans la pastorale gauloise au V siècle, in Revue d’histoire de l’église de France 92 (2006), 319-342

Organiser: prof.dr. Els Rose,