2 Maccabees

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2 Maccabees is a deuterocanonical book of the Bible, which focuses on the successful Maccabeeian rebellion (led by Judas Maccabeus) against Seleucid rule.

As with all deuterocanonical books, 2 Maccabees is part of in the Old Testament in the canon of the Bible of the Eastern Orthodox Church and Roman Catholic Church, but it is not accepted as part of the Bible by Protestants or Jews, who include it as part of the Apocrypha instead. As with other deuterocanonical books, 2 Maccabees (unlike 1 Maccabees) was written in Koine Greek, suggesting it was part of an oral tradition of Greek Jews that grew out of the more conservative Hebrew communities.


2 Maccabees is presented within the text as an abridgement of a 5-volumn work by Jason of Cyrene. Nothing in the style or language of the text suggests it was copied from a Hebrew work, meaning it was original theology to the Koine Jewish community. As Jason of Cyrene's work is generally assumed to date from the 100s BCE, it can be assumed that this text is younger still. Because of references to the Jewish feast to celebrate the purification of the Egyptian temple, the date of 2 Maccabees must be after 127 BCE.

Canonization and theological politics[edit]

Part of the reason why Protestants rejected it is that some of the passages in it appear to support the Catholic idea of prayer for the dead, for example 2 Maccabees 12:45 (KJV): For if he had not hoped that they that were slain should have risen again, it had been superfluous and vain to pray for the dead. This is in reference to when, after a battle, they discovered that all of Judas's men who had been slain were in possession of idolatrous amulets; thus, they concluded their death in the battle was punishment by God for sin. So Judas gathered up a collection to be sent to the Temple to offer sacrifices, and arranged prayers, that God would forgive the sins of their comrades who had died. However, others dispute whether this passage really supports the Catholic doctrine of purgatory [note 1]

External links[edit]

Online versions


  1. See for example this blog post