The story of the Maccabees is one of the most electric from antiquity, a heroic pendant to the biblical accounts of the conquests of Joshua and the rise of King David. The recounting of the defiant stand of Mattathias, the valor of Judah Maccabee, and the rise of the Hasmonean dynasty inspired a new sense of national identity that resonated far beyond the small region of Judea. The ancient authors of 1 and 2 Maccabees present their versions as history, narrations of actual events. But a growing body of research casts significant doubt on numerous aspects of these accounts. With this project, we bring together scholars of several disciplines in an effort to get at the realities behind the stories, and to study their effects from antiquity until the present day.

The Maccabees project is a multi-disciplinary research effort across the fields of biblical studies, ancient history, archaeology, and the history of religion. Over the next several years we will sponsor a series of dialogues, presentations, and colloquia devoted to the time and place of the original story—Israel in the second century B.C.E.—as well as later times and places in which people relied on or were affected by those written texts, including the periods of the Jewish Revolt against Rome in 66 C.E., the rabbinic and medieval eras, and the early years of the modern State of Israel.

For more information, contact Professor Berlin (