We use cookies to enhance your experience on our website. By continuing to use our website, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Find out more
Select Bible Use this Lookup to open a specific Bible and passage. Start here to select a Bible.
Make selected Bible the default for Lookup tool.
Book: Ch.V. Select book from A-Z list, enter chapter and verse number, and click "Go."
:
OR
  • Previous Result
  • Results
  • Look It Up Highlight any word or phrase, then click the button to begin a new search.
  • Highlight On / Off
  • Next Result

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

Subject-Matter and Literary Genre.

1.

2 Maccabees is composed of three documents, two letters prefixed to an epitome of a larger historical work. There is no explicit connection between the two prefixed letters and the epitome, although scholars have attempted to show interrelationships (Momigliano 1975; Doran 1981 ). The first letter ( 1:1–10a ) is addressed to Egyptian Jews and exhorts them to celebrate the Feast of Hanukkah. The second ( 1:10b–2:18 ) has a similar addressee and message, but also contains an account of the death of Antiochus IV, and attempts to show the continuity between the first and second temples. The first letter follows the conventions of letters written in Aramaic, while the second does not. The epitome ( 2:19–15:39 ) covers the history of the Maccabean revolt from the reign of Seleucus IV Philopator (187–175 BCE) to Judas's defeat of Nicanor in 161 BCE. The epitome therefore covers a different time-period from that of 1 Maccabees. 1 Maccabees in one verse ( 1:9 ) notes the time between Alexander the Great and Antiochus IV, and in five verses ( 1:11–15 ) the events of Antiochus IV's reign before the persecution of the Jews in Judaea; the epitome, on the other hand, devotes a whole chapter to events under Antiochus IV's predecessor (2 Macc 3 ) and another chapter to events prior to the persecution (2 Macc 4 ). The epitome ends with the defeat of the Seleucid general Nicanor in 161 BCE at the hands of Judas Maccabeus, while 1 Maccabees continues through the death of Judas and the successive leadership of his brothers Jonathan and Simon down to Simon's death in 134 BCE. The two works also differ in style: 1 Maccabees is the translation of an original Hebrew work and its style betrays its translation quality at times; the epitome follows the conventions of Hellenistic historiography, and is written in good Greek style. 1 Maccabees focuses primarily on the heroic exploits of the Hasmoneans: they are the family ‘through whom deliverance was given to Israel’ (1 Macc 5:62 ). 1 Maccabees in fact closes with a refrain which echoes those found about the kings of Judah and Israel in 1–2 Kings, e.g. at 1 Kings 11:41 . Judas is certainly a warrior hero in the epitome, but victory comes from the epiphanies of the God of Israel and God's mercy is gained through the sufferings of the martyrs. The epitome in fact falls within the genre of epiphanic collections which narrate how a god defends his/her temple.

2.

A totally different question is how faithfully the epitomist preserves both the content and the style of the author he is condensing, Jason of Cyrene. The rapid-fire telling of events as at 13:22–6 and 14:25 and the brief mention of characters' names, e.g. Callisthenes at 8:33 , without further introduction suggest a fuller fund of narrative events which Jason would have supplied. Did Jason's five-volume work end where the epitome ends, with the victory over Nicanor? Some scholars suggest so, and even go so far as to identify Jason of Cyrene with Jason son of Eleazar who was sent by Judas Maccabeus on an embassy to Rome after the defeat of Nicanor (1 Macc 8:17 ): Jason therefore would have ended his story with the defeat of Nicanor because that was where his participation in the events ended. Others would argue that the rhetorical style and flourish of the epitome would not have been present in Jason's work. Behind both these suggestions lurks the desire to show that the epitome is based on ‘real’ history, on the word of an eyewitness who wrote in a sober style. Unfortunately, all we have is the epitome and we simply are not able to say anything about what Jason wrote. The epitome ends where it does because it provides a fitting literary and rhetorical flourish as the blaspheming attacker of the temple is appropriately destroyed.

  • Previous Result
  • Results
  • Look It Up Highlight any word or phrase, then click the button to begin a new search.
  • Highlight On / Off
  • Next Result
Oxford University Press

© 2019. All Rights Reserved. Cookie Policy | Privacy Policy | Legal Notice