From the pages of the Jerusalem Post, we get an interesting article by Stephen Gabriel Rosenberg, Fellow at the Allbright Institute of Archeological Research in Jerusalem.
Mr. Rosenberg basically reviews for us the plot lines of the First and Second Books of the Maccabees, the historical sources for the Hanukkah story. What's interesting about these stories is the lack of any mention of the "miracle of the oil," which is the reason Hazal gives for celebrating the holiday. In particular, Second Maccabees provides the whole sordid saga of the legitimate hight priest Hanya, the semi-legitimate usurper Jason, and the total sleazeball of the bunch, Menaleus. The real kicker is that it was Menaleus who gave Antiochus IV the ideas about suppressing the Jewish religion, and it was strictly a political tactic, as Jason, the other Hellenizing High Priest never suggested such a thing. But get this, it was also Menalaeus who was the last High Priest to serve before Antiochus defiled the Temple. That means that the "pure" cruse of oil, enough to last only for a day, but which burned for 8, had been certified kosher by none other than the same rasha who caused the whole mess to begin with.
Also makes you wonder about the spiritual value of modern kosher certification.
What were Hazal thinking?
(Hat tip to Shmarya at Failed Messiah)