In honour of Channuka that comes again at the end of the week I will interrupt my posts on biblical morality/immorality and post on a topical issue.
Even during my yeshiva years I found that the Channuka 'Miraculous Oil Story' very very suspicious. The only place one find this story was in a short passage of the Talmud (Shabbos 21b ) but in 'Al Hanissim' (which we say in davening) or 'Haneiros Hollolu' (which we say at candle lighting time) which are both far older (tannaic in origin) than The Talmud we have no mention of such a miracle at all.
Last year while mis-nagid was still posting he did a great article on the matter. Yesterday DovBear
posted on this subject
and mis-nagid reposted his original article in the comments section. You can get to it here
. Please do.
DovBear has another post in a similar vain here
. And a couple of good comments there as well.
UPDATE: B.Spinoza has copied Mis-nagids chanuka divrei torah post here
. Have a look at the comments.
I am pasting one of the comments here because I think it's very pertinant:The Mechilta (excerpted in Megilath Tanith) asks why we light candles and answeres because the Hasmonean made a Menorah out of their spears, so to remember this event we light the menorah. No mention of a miracle of lights.Joshephus writes the story of Channukah and says that this Holiday is for some reason called the Holiday of Lights, he doesn't know why 'maybe because lights symbolize freedom'. now if he knew anything about a miracle of lights then this statement of his sounds quite stupid.The Gemara gives us the Halacha of lighting the candles in a fashion of relating to us a folks tradition, "some light like this, others like that, still others light it another way". It's not something that the Rabbis started, it seems like folklore.In the Hanieros Hallolu and in Al Hanisim there is no mention about the miracle of lights.This miracle story happened in a time where there are many different historical evidence so that we have a clear picture on what really happend.We should assume that the same is true about all other miracle stories even if it purportedly happend in a time where there is no extrabiblical documents etc. to disprove it