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Greek Influence on the Composition of 2 Maccabees

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This paper is comprised of three parts. First, I compare festival motifs in 1 and 2 Maccabees to demonstrate that unlike 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees is holiday-centered and that it seems to equate holiday observance with religious piety. Because the abridger and audience of 2 Maccabees are familiar with the festival-centered Greek calendar, the observance of Jewish holidays is offered as an alternative to Hellenism. Second, I examine why prayer plays a more significant role in 2 Maccabees than 1 Maccabees. Although the prominence of prayer in 2 Maccabees might suggest a borrowing from biblical precedent, prayer passages in 2 Maccabees are more likely influenced by Greek drama and the genre of mimos. Finally, I attempt to demonstrate that, unlike 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees is temple-centered but not Judea-centered. This stems from the authors’ and audience’s unfamiliarity with the land of Israel but appreciation of temple-centralized worship. I conclude that 2 Maccabees is not necessarily intended as a refutation of the “Hasmonean propagandist’s” 1 Maccabees, but is a retelling of Hasmonean history which emphasizes religious themes familiar to a diasporan audience.

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