The books of 3 and 4 Maccabees – What are they?

There are five books of the Maccabees. First and Second Maccabees are part of the deuterocanonical books used by the Roman Catholic Church, Orthodox Church, and Anglican Church. The creators of the Septuagint, an early Greek translation of the Old Testament created about 200 to 300 years before Jesus, called 1 and 2 Maccabees "useful writings" but not inspired Scripture.

In 3 Maccabees, the story of Jewish persecution under Ptolemy IV Philopator (222—205 BC) is told. It was probably written between 100 BC and AD 30, though the date of writing and author are uncertain. Contrary to its title, it does not describe the actions of the Maccabees. It is considered canon in the Armenian Bible.

The book of 4 Maccabees is more philosophical rather than historical. In it, the idea that pious reason trumps passion is illustrated by the martyrdom of Eleazer and the Maccabean youths under Antiochus IV Epiphanes. Church historian Eusebius named Jewish historian Josephus as the author, but critics have since disputed that claim. Most agree 4 Maccabees was written prior to AD 70. It is listed as canon in the Georgian Orthodox Bible.

The other Maccabees, 5 Maccabees, is also known as the Arabic 2 Maccabees, and was written much later.

Most Protestant churches and denominations do not consider any of the five Maccabees books to be canon, or part of the inspired Word of God. They hold historical interest, but are not authoritative regarding matters of spirituality.


Related Truth:

The books of 1 and 2 Maccabees – What are they?

What are the Catholic Apocrypha / Deuterocanonical books?

The Pseudepigrapha – What are they?

What is the canon of the Bible and how did we get it?

What determines canonicity or that a particular book is considered scriptural? How do we decide which books belong in the Bible since the Bible doesn't tell us?


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