By Daniel R. Schwartz
2 Maccabees is a Jewish paintings composed throughout the second century BCE and preserved by means of the Church. Written in Hellenistic Greek and informed from a Jewish-Hellenistic point of view, 2 Maccabees narrates and translates the ups and downs of occasions that came about in Jerusalem ahead of and through the Maccabean riot: institutionalized Hellenization and the root of Jerusalem as a polis; the persecution of Jews via Antiochus Epiphanes, observed through recognized martyrdoms; and the uprising opposed to Seleucid rule through Judas Maccabaeus. 2 Maccabees is a vital resource either for the occasions it describes and for the values and pursuits of the Judaism of the Hellenistic diaspora that it displays - that are frequently rather diverse from these represented through its competitor, I Maccabees.
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8–9. II. Sources and Development 33 prior to Richard Laqueur (“Griechische Urkunden,” 1927),68 our author thought the only “king” reflected by these documents was Antiochus Eupator. Apparently he found the documents together, and in any case the second is bound up (as he presents them, perhaps also as he received them) with the first; since the second makes it clear at 11:23 that its “king” was Eupator, our author assumed this throughout. But since three of the four documents are dated to 148 SE, and one of them (the second) refers to Antiochus IV’s death, our author concluded that Antiochus Epiphanes must have died by that year, in fact by Xanthicus (spring) of that year – and not by 149 SE.
It does not appear, however, that this difference should be pushed very far, since no attempt is made to use such terms with any precision. See NOTE on 14:30, coarser. 24 Introduction Our conclusion is that the two martyrologies of 6:18–7:42, although originating in a source or sources different from that which supplied the rest of the book, were inserted into it by whoever put the book into its present form – more particularly, by whoever undertook to speak with an authorial first-person voice in the three sets of reflections at 4:16–17, 5:17–20 and 6:12–17.
One way or another, our conclusion goes hand in hand with the fact that despite our book’s general lack of popularity among Jews (see below, pp. 85–88) the martyrdom stories were widely diffused; that is, they had a life of their own. On the Jewish traditions, see Doran, “The Martyr;” Spiegel, Last Trial, 13–16; Gutman, “The Mother;” G. D. ” As to whether one or two sources underlie the story of Eleazar and that of the mother and her seven sons, see Habicht, 2 Macc, 171, n. 19. For Christian life of the martyrologies, see below, pp.