The First Book of Maccabees in Syriac: Dating and Context

In: Aramaic Studies
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  • 1 Goethe-UniversitätGermanyFrankfurt am Main
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Syriac literature exhibits interest in narratives associated with the Maccabees by the fourth century. Seventh-century manuscripts preserve two different Syriac translations of 1 Maccabees. The translation of this book into Syriac is not part of the Peshitta Old Testament translated from the Hebrew Bible in the second century CE. Its dating and the possible context for its production have not yet been the topic of scholarly investigation. This article examines quotations of and allusions to 1 Maccabees in Aphrahat, Ephrem, and the Martyrdom of Simeon bar Ṣabbāʿē. The last of these texts, likely produced in the early fifth century, offers the earliest evidence for a Syriac translation of 1 Maccabees. The production of a Syriac translation of 1 Maccabees in the fourth or perhaps early fifth century reflects efforts of Christian communities around this time to appropriate the Maccabean narrative for their own interests.

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