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Religious Transformation between East and West: Hanukkah in the Babylonian Talmud and Zoroastrianism

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Chapter Summary

This chapter seeks to account for the development of the ritual observance of the festival of Hanukkah, a festival that was brought from Judaea to Babylonia. It pinpoints the holiday's evolution upon its reception in Babylonia. The chapter focuses the evolution of the custom of lighting candles on Hanukkah. It traces how the ritual lighting of candles acquired such a central role in the celebration of this festival. The chapter deals with two arguments: The first argument is that the custom of lighting candles in all its ritual detail is primarily a development that took place in Babylonia. The second argument is that this shift may have been stimulated by the encounter between Babylonian Judaism and Zoroastrian fire veneration. The chapter relates to Babylonian Judaism in the Sasanian era, the prime Jewish source for which is the Babylonian Talmud.

Keywords: Babylonian Talmud; Hanukkah; religious traditions; Sasanian era; Zoroastrianism

10.1163/9789004255302_011
/content/books/b9789004255302_011
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