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Persuasion and Force in 4 Maccabees: Appropriating a Political Dialectic

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The present study explores the themes of persuasion and force in Greco-Roman political thought and their appropriation in 4 Maccabees. I argue that among Greco-Roman political writers, stretching from Plato to Plutarch, the problem of balancing persuasion and force and their relationship to civic virtues cut to the heart of the varied constitutional theories and proposals. While persuasion was preferred in ideal situations, force was recognized to be an important corollary for the masses (§1). Turning to 4 Maccabees, a good example of the Jewish appropriation of the dominant political philosophy, I demonstrate that the political persuasion/force dynamic is foundational both to the philosophical prologue and the martyr narrative (§2).

Affiliations: 1: Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry, Australian Catholic University Locked Bag 4115, Fitzroy mdc, vic 3065Australia


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