I was listening to a podcast about Channukah, he was interviewing an Israeli professor on the subject. The professor was very reluctant to give credence to the ‘Jewish sources’ about Chanukah. Josephus, the book of Maccabees, megillahs taanis, megillahs Antiochus, Mishna, Gemora etc… for argument's sake we will label as ‘Jewish sources'. Are there any non-Jewish sources about any part of the Chanukkah story, if there are where can I find them? Thank you

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    If you're interested specifically in non-Jewish sources, shouldn't your question be posted on History.SE? Dec 13, 2022 at 15:17
  • there is a quick mention in the second to last paragraph here jewishlink.news/features/…
    – rosends
    Dec 13, 2022 at 16:28
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    I don't want to give credence to such sources but the Xtian bible makes a reference to Yoske having been at the Beis Hamakdush in the winter for a holiday widely believed by Xtians to be referring to Chanuka
    – Schmerel
    Dec 13, 2022 at 17:25
  • Ok thank you @Schmerel and rosends will take a look at these Dec 13, 2022 at 18:55
  • BTW, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hasmonean_coinage Dec 13, 2022 at 20:50

2 Answers 2


Josephus, 1 and 2 Maccabees, and LXX are all Jewish sources. Jews don't typically read them because they're in Greek, aren't traditional, etc., but the authors were Jewish. 1 Maccabees was even (probably) originally composed in Hebrew, but that version is now lost.

On the other hand, Josephus and the authors of Maccabees had access to Greek historical documents and certainly give a different perspective. Probably the closest thing to an entirely non-Jewish source is the section in the Chronicle of John Malalas Book 8 which is sometimes called "8 Maccabees." It's pretty short but Malalas was a Christian and doesn't seem to be working from any known Jewish sources. You can read it here pg. 16-18.


I can’t think why any Israeli professor would be reluctant to give credence to Jewish sources about a Jewish festival. After all, it’s Jewish!

One source I found makes reference to the Jewish historian Titus Flavius Josephus who narrates in his book, Jewish Antiquities XII, how the victorious Judas Maccabeus ordered lavish yearly eight-day festivities after rededicating the Temple in Jerusalem that had been profaned by Antiochus IV Epiphanes. Josephus does not say the festival was called Hanukkah but rather the "Festival of Lights". Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanukkah#Historical_sources

Another source confirms that Chanukkah is not mentioned in Jewish scripture but is mentioned in the book of Maccabees (which Jews do not accept as scripture).

On the 25th of Kislev are the days of Chanukkah, which are eight... these were appointed a Festival with Hallel [prayers of praise] and thanksgiving. (Shabbat 21b, Babylonian Talmud) Source: https://www.jewfaq.org/chanukkah

There is another source that confirms the Jewish Festival of Dedication was held in Jerusalem during the first century C.E. but I hesitate to bring it to your attention because the author was Jewish. He was a fisherman, son of Zebedee, and the papyrus fragments date to 135 C.E.

In the New Testament, John 10:22–23 says, "Then came the Festival of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was in the temple courts walking in Solomon’s Colonnade" (NIV). The Greek noun used appears in the neuter plural as "the renewals" or "the consecrations" (Greek: τὰ ἐγκαίνια; ta enkaínia). The same root appears in 2 Esdras 6:16 in the Septuagint to refer specifically to Hanukkah. This Greek word was chosen because the Hebrew word for 'consecration' or 'dedication' is Hanukkah (חנכה). The Aramaic New Testament uses the Aramaic word hawdata (a close synonym), which literally means 'renewal' or 'to make new'. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanukkah#Other_ancient_sources

Additional information on the Septuagint: The Septuagint (also known as the LXX) is a translation of the Hebrew Bible into the Greek language. The name Septuagint comes from the Latin word for “seventy.” The tradition is that 70 (or 72) Jewish scholars were the translators behind the Septuagint. The Septuagint was translated in the third and second centuries BC in Alexandria, Egypt. As Israel was under the authority of Greece for several centuries, the Greek language became more and more common. By the second and first centuries BC, most people in Israel spoke Greek as their primary language. That is why the effort was made to translate the Hebrew Bible into Greek—so that those who did not understand Hebrew could have the Scriptures in a language they could understand. The Septuagint represents the first major effort at translating a significant religious text from one language into another.

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    The first two spurces are mentioned in the OP's quote, so not relevant. The last seems relevant. But I myself am interested in the papyrus. Which one is it?
    – Harel13
    Dec 13, 2022 at 18:15
  • @Harel13 - Will check that out, but not tonight. I have to shut down and prepare our evening meal. I hope to respond on Wednesday.
    – Lesley
    Dec 13, 2022 at 18:22
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    @Lesley He did not want to give credit to Jewish sources for winning the war. He would rather say the story of Chanukkah is just a parable. since there is no greek sources for it... strange... The first 2 sources I mention in the question as being irrelevant. The third I will look into. Thanks Dec 13, 2022 at 18:58
  • @fulltimekollelguy - Another useful article makes this comment: "Note that the holiday commemorates the miracle of the oil, not the military victory: Jews do not glorify war." jewfaq.org/chanukkah
    – Lesley
    Dec 14, 2022 at 8:57
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    Thank you all for the answers. There is a lot of material to go through here. Yet the main question has still not been answered. Are there any sources from the time of the war that wrote down what happened from the greek side of the story? Thank you for the time taken to respond Dec 14, 2022 at 14:21

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