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The Access Bible New Revised Standard Bible, written and edited with first-time Bible readers in mind.

Reading Guide

First Maccabees raises fundamental questions about the religious justification of violence and nationalism. Mattathias, father of the Maccabees, invokes the precedent of Phinehas from Num 25 , who showed his zeal for the law by killing an apostate Israelite with a spear. In the case of the Maccabees, militant zeal was successful, and so seemed to win divine approval. Some two centuries later, the same model of zeal was used by Jewish revolutionaries (Zealots * ) against Rome. This time the results were catastrophic. It is clear even from 1 Maccabees that not all Jews supported the tactics of the Maccabees. Yet these tactics have remained an influential model both for the modern state of Israel and for some strands of Christian liberation theology.

First Maccabees provides no easy answers. History is intrinsically ambiguous, and no two situations are exactly alike. Nonetheless, reflection on the past can help us understand the motives for human actions and appreciate their variable results.

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