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:

Show Summary Details


This learning set out to understand the seemingly paradoxical juxtaposition of history and fiction, combining historical verisimilitude with a remarkable disregard for historical accuracy, characteristic of a wide variety of Jewish Hellenistic texts. The Third Maccabees, a late Hellenistic text often seen as confrontational, was not designed to nurture the Jews of Alexandria to separate themselves from their fundamentally hostile surroundings, for all its awareness that confrontation could occur. On the contrary, through the fictional story of a persecution happily averted, it sought to construct a model of identity allowing the preservation of traditional Jewish piety while at the same time making possible Jewish involvement in the wider Greek world. Historical accuracy is appealed so far as it supports the didactic purpose of the story, but the author does not hesitate to alter the facts if it serves his purpose, or to forge documents in whatever style will best favor the illusion of authenticity.

Keywords: history; fiction; Jews; authencity; Greek world

Chapter.  3010 words. 

Subjects: Classical Literature

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.