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

Sources.

1.

Two major sources can be cited for the book of 4 Maccabees. The narrative part is clearly an embellishment on 2 Maccabees. 4 Macc 5–7 is an expanded version of 2 Macc 6:18–31 ; the same can be said of 4 Macc 8–12 in relation to 2 Macc 7 , while the historical preamble in 2 Macc 3:6–11 has been expanded in 4 Macc 3:20–4:26 . These transformations have been achieved in two main ways: as Breitenstein (1976 ) has noticed, by means of characterization via the construction of speeches; secondly by didactic insertions to link the main illustrative narrative to the introduction. Without these two devices the narrative in 4 Maccabees would even more closely resemble that of 2 Maccabees.

2.

The second major source is Plato's Gorgias. When 4 Maccabees embroidered the martyrdom of Eleazar he equated it to the death of Socrates. Eleazar, like Socrates, is controlled by his allegiance to his previous career and refuses to be swayed by an ultimate weakness. As in the case of Socrates, there are no supernatural interventions at the end. Both are old men revered as teachers by their followers, and for that reason mistrusted by the authorities who regard their teachings as suspect. They cling to their systems of thought and treat with disdain the option of extending their lives by denying their prior teachings.

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Oxford University Press

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