Date, Literary Context, Authorship, and Audience

Sara Raup Johnson

in Historical Fictions and Hellenistic Jewish Identity

Published by University of California Press

Published in print September 2005 | ISBN: 9780520233072
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520928435 | DOI:
Date, Literary Context, Authorship, and Audience

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The unusual historical distortions that abound in Jewish fictions are in no way random but are deliberately employed for rhetorical purposes. Third Maccabees has often been misunderstood. Because it recounts a persecution (albeit one miraculously averted at the last moment), it has been seen primarily as a confrontational text rejecting assimilation and interaction with gentiles. The principal subject of Third Maccabees is a persecution of the Jews of Alexandria that apparently took place under Ptolemy IV Philopator not long after the battle of Raphia in 217 bce However, it has long been recognized that the text as it stands cannot possibly have been composed before the end of the second century bce, nearly a century after the events it purports to describe. The terminus post quem is fixed by a clear allusion in Third Maccabees to the Greek translation of Daniel together with the additions now considered apocryphal.

Keywords: Maccabees; gentiles; Raphia; quem; Philopator

Chapter.  25634 words. 

Subjects: Classical Literature

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