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I. Sources and Their Characteristics

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Chapter Summary

This chapter introduces the principal sources that are directly relevant for the study of the institution of the Hasmonean high priesthood. The literary sources discussed in the chapter are the so-called First and Second Maccabees and Flavius Josephus' works. The First Book of Maccabees is the principal source for the study of the institution of the Hasmonean high priesthood. Most scholars agree that it was originally written in Hebrew. Second Maccabees is important for this study for two main reasons: First, it sheds independent light on the role of Judas during the revolt period. The role of Judas' brothers, most notably Jonathan and Simon, appears to have been purposely diminished. Second, for its constant interest in the pre-Hasmonean high priests, Alcimus included. Second Maccabees was written in Greek. The works of the Jerusalem priest Joseph son of Matthias, better known as Flavius Josephus, are extremely valuable sources for this study.

Keywords: Flavius Josephus; Hasmonean high priesthood; literary characteristics; literary sources; Maccabees



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