Why Maccabees?

The Book of Second Maccabees tells of pious Jews praying for the dead, but did you also know that the book contains the most explicit affirmations in the Old Testament of Creatio ex Nihilo, the Intercession of the Saints and of the Resurrection of the Body?

You might be familiar with the book’s telling of the poignant story of the martyrdom of a mother and her seven sons which is found in chapter 7, or the prayers for the dead soldiers offered in chapter 12, but Second Maccabees goes further in presenting a theology of martyrdom and persecution that prepares one quite well for the fullness of that theology revealed in the person of Jesus Christ.

The Second Book of Maccabees was written in Greek about 124 BC and set from 180 BC to 160 BC during the persecution of the Jews by the Seleucid emperor Antiochus IV Epiphanes and his successors.  The name of the book is derived from the nickname of one of its protagonists, Judas “Maccabeus”, whose name is derived from an Aramaic word meaning “hammer”.

Here is a brief sketch of that theology: