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The Oxford Study Bible Study Bible supplemented with commentary from scholars of various religions.

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The Second Book of the Maccabees - Introduction

Second Maccabees is a shortened version of a five-volume historical work, now lost, by Jason of Cyrene (2 Macc. 2.19–32 ). To this shortened version, the “abbreviator” prefixed two letters ( 1.1–10a; 1.10b–2.18 ) which Judeans addressed to their Egyptian coreligionists, urging them to observe the feast celebrating the temple's rededication in 164 B.C.E. The abridgment of Jason's work exemplifies “pathetic history,” a genre of writing which seeks not only to tell the story, but to arouse the reader's sympathetic emotions and give pleasure. With invented dialogue, exaggerated numbers, apparitions, and miracles, the “abbreviator” or Epitomist, as such a writer is technically called, traces the decline of the high priesthood ( 3.1–4.50 ), Antiochus Epiphanes’ attempt to impose Hellenism upon the Jews ( 5.1–7.42 ), and Judas Maccabeus’ successful resistance, culminating in his triumphal cleansing of the temple ( 8.1–10.8 ), and his subsequent struggles ( 10.9–15.39 ).

Second Maccabees was written in Greek in Egypt about 124 B.C.E. It covers the period approximately 180–160 B.C.E., and parallels the events narrated in 1 Macc. 1.10–7.50 .

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