Uncovering Jewish Creativity in Book III of the Sibylline oracles, Ashley L. Bacchi reclaims the importance of the Sibyl as a female voice of prophecy and reveals new layers of intertextual references that address political, cultural, and religious dialogue in second-century Ptolemaic Egypt. This investigation stands apart from prior examinations by reorienting the discussion around the desirability of the pseudonym to an issue of gender. It questions the impact of identifying the author’s message with a female prophetic figure and challenges the previous identification of paraphrased Greek oracles and their function within the text. Verses previously seen as anomalous are transferred from the role of Greek subterfuge of Jewish identity to offering nuanced support of monotheistic themes.
This essay re-evaluates the characterization and function of Ptolemy IV Philopator in 3 Maccabees. God’s role as kingly foil to Ptolemy allows for the propagation and maintenance of Egyptian Jewish identity and cultural practice while acknowledging the earthly social order. I argue the author makes a deliberate choice not to offer a consistent earthly advocate within the narrative while emphasizing God’s direct intervention. This choice can be contextualized as a response to works such as 1 and 2 Maccabees and Greek Esther, which advocate the formation of a nation through military campaigns.