In yesterday’s post I discussed the Maccabean revolt, and in today’s I need to summarize our principal sources of information about the revolt, the books of 1 and 2 Maccabees.  My reason for doing so has to do with my topic of the afterlife.  It is in 2 Maccabees that we find a very different view from what can be seen in the Hebrew Bible itself, as I will show in a subsequent post, a view that became popular later among the early Christians.

These two books are not in the Hebrew Bible, and as a result are not accepted as canonical by Jews or Protestants.  They are, however, found in the ancient Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible called the Septuagint, and are accepted as “Deutero-canonical” by both the Roman Orthodox and the Eastern Orthodox traditions.  Protestants consider them to be among the “Apocrypha.”

Like the other Deutero-canonical books, they are Jewish writings that date from the period after the Hebrew Bible.  Here is the brief introduction I give to them in my textbook, The Bible: A Historical and Literary Introduction.




1 Maccabees

With the book of 1 Maccabees we move from the genres of fiction and wisdom to the genre of history.   This is a historical narrative that details the events that led up to the Maccabean Revolt (chs. 1-2) and that transpired during the years of rebellion, for three generations of the family that led the uprising.   It is our principal source of knowledge about the period, and so is of particular interest to historians of this crucial time in ancient Israel.  It was originally written in Hebrew.

I have already …

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