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The Oxford Bible Commentary Line-by-line commentary for the New Revised Standard Version Bible.

3 Maccabees

Sarah Pearce

A. Text and Title.

1.

Despite its title, the content of 3 Maccabees bears no obvious relation to events surrounding the Maccabean Revolt nor to its heroes. Nor does it pretend to do so, since it describes events affecting an earlier generation of Jews under Ptolemaic rule in Jerusalem and Egypt in 217–216 BCE. The title was no doubt attributed to this work on account of its position in the Greek canon where it lies between 2 and 4 Maccabees. However, its concerns with the defence of the sanctity of the Jerusalem Temple, resistance to idolatry, and belief in divine providence link it firmly with the ideology espoused in the other Maccabean stories.

2.

3 Maccabees survives in Greek, the language of its original composition, in the fifth-century uncial MS Alexandrinus and the eighth-century Codex Venetus as well as in minuscules of varying reliability, though the chief textual witnesses show few substantial variations. Otherwise, some sign of its popularity in the Christian east is reflected in fourth-century translations into Syriac and Armenian.

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