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

Date and Place of Composition.

1.

There are several indications of the date of the Letter in Greek (any Semitic original would of course be rather older than the Greek text). There is an allusion to it in 2 Macc 2:1–3 , a work composed some time in the second century BCE. The language of the Letter is koine Greek, which again supports a date from the second century BCE onwards. Finally, a fragment covering vv. 43–4 was found at Qumran (7Q486: DJD 3:143 and pl. xxx), and dated to c.100 BCE on the basis of the writing.

2.

The work is addressed to the Jewish exiles in Babylon, and this has led some scholars to suggest an eastern provenance such as Mesopotamia. But this is merely a literary device, and it could be aimed at any Jewish community in the Diaspora. Another argument for an origin in the east is the writer's apparent familiarity with Babylonian customs, though this need not have been acquired at first hand. However, if the original language was Hebrew, it would tend to support a Palestinian provenance, and an Aramaic Vorlage would indicate a Palestinian, Mesopotamian, or Babylonian origin.

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Oxford University Press

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