Reclaiming tradition: The Book of Judith and Hasmonean politics

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Abstract

The book of Judith has been designated as anti-Hasmonean counter-propaganda, but the arguments brought forward do not seem to take account of the fact that Judith is a work of fiction. It is argued here that Judith can indeed be read as an anti-Hasmonean text, but that this conclusion can only be reached by relating Judith to the transformation of traditional semantics that served to legitimize Hasmonean rule. Judith employs signifiants that have a key role in Hasmonean propaganda (1 Maccabees), but alters their scriptural foundations so as not to inherit the signifiés. Thus, Judith should be seen as an example of literature subverting legitimizing discourses by creating a fictitious space which allows an alternative usage of politically exploited language. This creation of a `counter-discourse' is not to be confused with `counter-propaganda'.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)243-263
JournalJournal for the Study of the Pseudepigrapha
Volume18
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2009

Keywords

  • Book of Judith
  • 1 Maccabees
  • Hasmoneans
  • political semantics

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