1–4 Maccabees

Jan W. van Henten

in Biblical Studies

ISBN: 9780195393361
Published online August 2011 | | DOI:
1–4 Maccabees

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Several ancient versions of the Old Testament contain four books named after the Maccabees, which are not part of the Hebrew Bible. Hippolytus of Rome mentions for the first time several of these Books of the Maccabees in a reference to 1 Maccabees in his Commentary on Dan (4.3). Manuscripts of the Septuagint include sometimes two and sometimes three or four of these Maccabean books. The Codex Alexandrinus from the 5th century ce is the oldest manuscript that contains all four books. The obvious reason for the development of a cluster of Books of the Maccabees is that three writings are devoted to Maccabean heroes, either the five sons of a priest from Modein called Mattathias or the Maccabean martyrs who died during the persecution of Antiochus IV Epiphanes. The name “Maccabee” itself comes from the surname of Mattathias’s oldest son Judas: the Maccabee (o9 Makkabai = oj) and probably derives from the Hebrew Maqqabi, meaning “Hammer” or “Hammerer.” This may refer to the physical appearance of Judas or to his military success. There is no direct connection between a group of Maccabees and 3 Maccabees, which is sometimes called “About the Ptolemies.” However, the narrative of 3 Maccabees concerns a deliverance from Greek oppression as the other three Maccabean books do, and the related content as well as certain connections with 2 Maccabees explains why the Third Book became part of this small collection of Hellenistic-Jewish writings.

Article.  11830 words. 

Subjects: Biblical Studies

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