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August 1, 2016

I & II MACCABEES

by Leslie John

FIRST MACCABEES

A court historian of Hasmoneans is believed to have written the first book of Maccabees that deals primarily with the events of the rise of the Seleucid dynasty, history of the Jews, the desire of Antiochus to conquer Egypt, endeavors to suppress Jewish religion, Jewish rebellion, and many faithful Jews becoming martyrs.  The details in the book were of high accuracy. 

It presents the accurate account of political events and of Antiochus IV Epiphanies, who had set up Greek deity Zeus in the most Holy place of the Herod’s Temple, and desecrated the temple by offering a pig as sacrifice to Zeus. Much later during Pauline times it was thought that Antiochus was the Antichrist, the man of sin, who was to come.

SECOND MACCABEES

Second Maccabees is not a continuation of first Maccabees but had a different account of the history events that happened during 161 B.C.  This book focusses more on Judas Maccabaeus, and prayer for the dead in order that the dead may gain salvation. It was called “Purgatory”. 

According to dictionary purgatory is “(in the belief of Roman Catholics and others) a condition or place in which the souls of those dying penitent are purified from venial sins, or undergo the temporal punishment that, after the guilt of mortal sin has been remitted, still remains to be endured by the sinner”. This is belief is considered by Protestant Christians as heresy.  This book deals mainly with religious aspects of the Jews of Alexandria rather than political.

Such details of one family in large number of chapters, and their base being absent in the Jewish Hebrew Bible, the books of Maccabees were considered as mere historical and uninspired texts, and therefore, they did not find place in the Bible.  Again, it was not human decision, but the decision of God who controlled the minds of the early Church Fathers who were instrumental in canonization of the whole Bible.

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