Second Maccabees: The Epitomist’s Preface and Conclusion   Leave a comment

Above:  Mina of Antiochus IV Epiphanes

Image in the Public Domain





2 Maccabees 2:19-32; 15:37b-39


As I write this series of blog posts, I follow a spreadsheet I created on July 17, 2020.  That spreadsheet tells me that 2 Maccabees covers only part of the span of time 1 Maccabees does.  I am writing in approximately chronological order, hence my jumping from one Book of the Maccabees to another in the first few posts of this series.  In the next post, for example, I will jump to 4 Maccabees, which terminates prior to the Hasmonean Rebellion.

2 Maccabees 2:21 is the first Biblical reference to Judaism as a way of life, here contrasted with Hellenism.  Here I take my theme.

Faith is a lifestyle.  I am a Christian.  As one, I affirm that Christian doctrine drives Christian faith.  After all, faith, or belief, in God is trust in God.  As we think, we are; human attitudes manifest themselves in actions.  Deeds reveal creeds.  In Jewish terms, as in many of the Psalms, God is like what God has done and does.  Likewise, we human beings are like what we have done and do.  Deeds reveal creeds.

Therefore, O reader, what does your way of life indicate about what your profess?  What does your culture’s way of life indicate about what it professes?

As this point I shall bring my work to an end.  If it is found to be well written and aptly composed, that is what I myself aimed at; if superficial and mediocre, it was the best I could do.  For, just as it is disagreeable to drink wine by itself or water by itself, whereas the mixing of the two produces a pleasant and delightful taste, so too variety of style in a literary work charms the ear of the reader.  Let this, then, be my final word.

–2 Maccabees 15:37b-39, The Revised English Bible (1989)

Did the Epitomist’s condensed version of Jason of Cyrene’s five-volume work satisfy you, O reader, as being “well written and aptly composed”?  Did he successfully “aim at conciseness of expression and renounce an exhaustive treatment of the subject matter” (2 Maccabees 2:31)?  Or did the Epitomist produce an abridgement that proved to be “superficial and mediocre”?  He had some wonderful literary flourishes, at least.





Posted February 4, 2021 by neatnik2009 in 2 Maccabees

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