Books of the Maccabees

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The Books of the Maccabees or the Sefer HaMakabim (the Book of the Maccabees) recount the history of the Maccabees, the leaders of the Jewish rebellion against the Seleucid dynasty.

List of books[edit]

The Books of the Maccabees refers to a series of deuterocanonical books which are contained in various canons of the Bible:

The first two books are considered canonical by the Catholic Church[5] and the first three books are considered canonical by the Eastern Orthodox Church. The Georgian Orthodox Church is the only church which also considers 4 Maccabees canonical. All of the other books are considered biblical apocrypha. The Orthodox Tewahedo biblical canon includes none of the books which are listed above, instead, it includes three books of Ethiopic Maccabees (1 Meqabyan, 2 Meqabyan, and 3 Meqabyan), books which are distinct from those books which are listed above. There is also a non-canonical Jewish work which is titled the Megillat Antiochus ("The Scroll of Antiochus"). This book is read in some synagogues during the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah. The book is unrelated to the "Books of Maccabees" except for the fact that it cites some quotations which are contained in 1 and 2 Maccabees, and it also describes the same events which are described in 1 and 2 Maccabees.[6]

First vs Second Books of Maccabees[edit]

The books of First and Second Maccabees contain similar accounts. Each book was written in a literary style which is noticeably different, but the narratives which are contained in both of the books are similar. In First Maccabees, the author presents a sober historical account of the persecution of the Jews by Antiochus IV. In contrast, the author of the Second Book of Maccabees presents a heavily dramatic and theologically dense account of a period of time which is shorter but overlapping (180-161 BC).

In Second Maccabees, the author portrays Judas Maccabaeus and the martyrs who fight alongside him as champions; they earn divine favor as a result. The author of First Maccabees presents an objective and sobering account, taking influence from the authors of the Hebrew Bible. Second Maccabees is noticeably dramatic and emotional. First Maccabees begins with the rise and legitimacy of the Hasmonean dynasty, originating with an account of the life of the Jewish priest Mattathias, a forefather of the Maccabean revolt. Second Maccabees begins with two letters, Epistle I and Epistle II.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Fairweather, William (1911). "Maccabees, Books of" . In Chisholm, Hugh (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 17 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 198.
  2. ^ a b c "Maccabees, Books of, 3-5.". International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. Retrieved 7 May 2013 – via
  3. ^ a b c d Davila, James R. "The More Old Testament Pseudepigrapha Project" (PDF). University of St. Andrews. Archived from the original (PDF) on 12 October 2013. Retrieved 7 May 2013.
  4. ^ John Malalas, Chronographia. Edited by Ludwig A. Dindorf. Vol. 15 of Corpus Scriptorum Historiae Byzantinae. Bonn: Weber, 1831.
  5. ^ Jerusalem Bible, 1966, "Introduction to the Books of Maccabees", p. 654
  6. ^ "Scroll of Antiochus". Retrieved 2022-09-26.