Dedicated to the writings of Saint Luke.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Rewriting Sacred History II

In an earlier blog, I discussed Josephus and his rewriting of Pentateuchal material. Josephus also rewrote 1 Maccabees “for the most part as a mere paraphrase of that work.”[i] Josephus used 1 Maccabees as a historical source in Ant. 12-13, paraphrasing 1 Macc 1:11-13:42. It is undisputed that both Josephus and the author of 1 Maccabees were pro-Hasmoneans[ii] and pro-Roman.[iii]

Why then did Josephus alter facts presented in 1 Maccabees?

According to Jonathan Goldstein, “Three factors will account for all Josephus’ departures from I 1:20-64: his belief in the veracity of Daniel 7-12, his belief in the value and efficacy of martrydom, and his intention to write his work in good Greek rhetorical style.”[iv] Goldstein also states that although Josephus follow I Macc. 7-16 very closely but departs from the author’s chronology. Furthermore Josephus was unaware that the author of 1 Macc. utilized sources that used two different forms of the Seleucid.[v] “Repeatedly Josephus gives figures for tenures of the high priesthood and for periods when that office was vacant.”[vi] Goldstein demonstrates numerous changes by Josephus designed to eliminate or conceal the gap. “Josephus seems to have believed that the compilers of the [high priestly] list denied the legitimacy of the appointment of the first Hasmonean high priest.”[vii]

[i] Goldstein, 1 Maccabees, A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary, (Garden City, 1976), 558.
[ii] As to 1 Maccabees: See Collins, First Maccabees, 149; Goldstein, 1 Maccabees, 64ff; and George W. E. Nickelsburg, Jr. “1 and 2 Maccabees—Same Story, Different Meaning,” CTM 42 (1971): 517.
[iii] As to 1 Maccabees: As indicated by favorable comments about the Romans (see chap 8; 12:1-4; 14:24, 40).
[iv] Goldstein, 560.
[v] Goldstein, 569.
[vi] Goldstein, 570.
[vii] Goldstein, 572.

copyrighted 2005


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Quite agreed.

11:43 AM


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