Newsweek online has just posted a Hanukkah meditation by Rabbi Marc Gellman, celebrating the Maccabees without apology (click here).
One thing I like about the piece is Gellman's stress that without the Maccabees, Christianity would never have happened. That's right: We Christians owe this little Jewish family of antiquity a very great deal. Without the Maccabees we would have no Hebrew Bible / Old Testament, and without the Old Testament, there could be no Christianity. In this image, they are first meeting as a family to commit to resisting Antiochus and the Selucids:
Here is a short excerpt from Gellman's piece:
Now imagine if this one man, Mattathias, and his one family, the Macabees, had just gone out and bought togas and said to hell with Judaism. Imagine. If he had done nothing to save Judaism. Then, 167 years later, the baby born in the manger might not have been Jewish. He might not have come to fulfill any biblical prophecies because nobody would have remembered the Hebrew Bible or the prophets or the line of King David. Jesus would have had to fulfill the prophecies of Plato—and Plato had no prophecies. No Judaism would have meant no Christianity.