1st Edition

The Family Romance of Martyrdom in Second Maccabees

By Naomi Janowitz Copyright 2017
    110 Pages
    by Routledge

    110 Pages
    by Routledge

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    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.


    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.