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The New Oxford Annotated Bible New Revised Standard Study Bible that provides essential scholarship and guidance for Bible readers.

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Commentary on 4 Maccbees

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1.1–3.18 : A philosophical introduction

states the book's principal thesis, that reason rules over theemotions, and gives a number of basic definitions and descriptions.

1.1–6 :

Statement of the thesis.

1 :

Reason, a major theme of Hellenistic philosophy (e.g., Plutarch, On Moral Virtue 440D), is specified hereas devout (see 6.31; 7.4,16; 8.1; 13.1; 15.23; 16.1,4; 18.2 ), correlating it with devotion to God and God'slaw (see 1.15–17 ).

2–4 :

Rational judgment, self & control, justice, courage, the four cardinal virtues of thePlatonic and Stoic traditions (see 1.18; 5.23–24; 15.10; Wis 8.7 ; Cicero, On Moral Duties 1.5.15–17).

2 :

Praise, anticipating the book's main purpose, to honor virtue, especially as embodied by the martyrs( 1.10; 2.2; 7.9; 13.3,17; 18.13 ).

5 :

The objection is answered in 2.24–3.5 .

7–12 :

The thesis will bedemonstrated principally through the examples of the martyrs.

8 :

The example of Eleazar is elaboratedin chs 5–7 , and that of the seven brothers in chs 8–12 .

10 :

On this anniversary, the phrase (see text noted) has suggested to some that the book was originally an oration meant to be delivered at a festivalcommemorating the martyrs, though it could just as easily be a literary device (see 3.19; 14.9; 17.8–10 ).For the sake of nobility, the martyrs’ character is manifest in their determination to preserve the honorof their country and ancestors ( 6.22; 7.8; 9.24; 10.3,15; 11.22; 12.14; 13.25; 15.9; 16.16 ; cf. Philo, On the Virtues 187–227).

11 :

The downfall of tyranny, through their endurance and deaths the martyrs notonly cause God to deliver the land but also to execute judgment on Antiochus IV Ephiphanes (see 8.15;9.9,24,30; 11.25; 16.14; 17.20; 18.4–5; cf. Rev 12.10–11 ).

13–35 :

The author's analysis of the emotionsappropriates concepts from Greek ethics and psychology (see 6.31–35; 13.1–7 ).

15 :

Sound logic, atechnical term of Greek ethics for the process of rationally choosing virtue over vice (cf. Epictetus,Discourses 4.8.12).

16 :

This definition of wisdom is philosophical in origin (see Seneca, Moral Epistles 89.5 ).

17 :

Education in the law, i.e., the law of Moses, cf. 2.1–23; 5.14–38; 18.1–19; Sir 1.26; 19.20 .

18 :

see 1.2–4n.

20 :

The division of the emotions into two typespleasure and pain—is familiar fromAristotle's Rhetoric 2.1.8.

24 :

This definition of anger is similar to Aristotle's in Rhetoric 2.2.1–2.

25 :

Onthe perils of pleasure, see Prov 21.17; Isa 47.8–9 .

26–27 :

Such catalogs of vices were popular in GrecoRoman moral literature (see 2 Tim 3.2–4; Titus 3.3 ).

28–29 :

The work of reason in the soul wasfrequently likened to that of a gardener, e.g., Philo, The Worse Attacks the Better 105.

30b–31 :

Self&control, see 5.23–24; 13.16; Prov 25.28; Sir 18.30–19.3 .

33–34 :

Forbidden foods, see Lev 11.1–47; Deut14.3–21 .

35 :

Emotions are not to be extirpated but mastered, as Stoics like Posidonius (ca. 135–ca.50 BCE) taught (cf. 2.21n. ; 3.2–5 ).

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