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The Catholic Study Bible A special version of the New American Bible, with a wealth of background information useful to Catholics.

First Maccabees in Catholic Tradition

This book is not part of the Hebrew Bible. There is no evidence that it formed part of the Qumran library, and Josephus did not include it on his list of sacred books. The book fared better among Christians. Reverence for the book by the Church's early theologians was perhaps one reason that the Councils of Florence and Trent both affirmed its canonicity. This book, however, has had no real impact on Christian theology. Its use in the liturgy is minimal. The liturgy does not make use of 1 Maccabees during the cycle of Sunday readings but reads portions of chapters 1 through 6 on four successive weekdays in Year II (nos. 497–502). Appropriately enough, the text from chapter 4 about the rededication of the altar in the Temple is a suggested reading for the Mass on the occasion of the dedication of an altar and 2, 49–52; 57–64 is the reading for the votive Mass for Persecuted Christians.

It is important to remember that 1 Maccabees was written to convince Jews that the armed revolution led by the Maccabees and their quest to expand the territory under their control to all of Palestine was ordained of God. This, of course, means that the Jewish community needed some convincing. Wars that seemingly have their basis in religion have caused so much harm that the argument of 1 Maccabees is not at all convincing to most readers today. The author of this book was able to make his argument because the Maccabean revolution succeeded. In contemporary armed conflicts, there are rarely any winners.

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