Centering on the first extant martyr story (2 Maccabees 7), this study explores the "autonomous value" of martyrdom. The story of a mother and her seven sons who die under the torture of the Greek king Antiochus displaces the long-problematic Temple sacrificial cult with new cultic practices, and presents a new family romance that encodes unconscious fantasies of child-bearing fathers and eternal mergers with mothers. This study places the martyr story in the historical context of the Hasmonean struggle for legitimacy in the face of Jewish civil wars, and uses psychoanalytic theories to analyze the unconscious meaning of the martyr-family story.
Table of Contents
The Terminology of Martyrdom
The Ancient Theologies of Martyrdom
1: The Psychoanalytic Study of Martyrdom
The Psychoanalytic Analysis of Political Power
The Specific Family Romance of Second Maccabees
2: The Family Romance as Victory Story
Second Maccabees as Triumphalist History
Persecution as a Triumphalist Strategy
3: Theologies of Martyrdom Recast Authority and Cult
The Problem of Too Many Kings
Temple Cult in Second Maccabees: Hierarchies of Sacredness and Power
4: Rereading Sacrifice: Human Blood as a Sign
How Did Blood Become a Sign?
5: The Martyr’s New Sacrifice: Solving the Maccabean Sacrifice Crisis
Killing within the Family: Reworking Priestly Taboos
6: The Happy Ending of Two Wishes Fulfilled
Wish #1: Male Mothers and Child-bearing Fathers
Wish #2: The Family Reunites
Appendix 1: 2 Maccabees 7
Appendix 2: A Speculative Note on Displacing Women in Religious Myths and Rites
Naomi Janowitz is Professor of Religious Studies at the University of California-Davis, USA.