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Historical Fictions and Hellenistic Jewish IdentityThird Maccabees in Its Cultural Context$
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Sara Raup Johnson

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780520233072

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520233072.001.0001

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Jews at Court

Jews at Court

(p.8) (p.9) 1 Jews at Court
Historical Fictions and Hellenistic Jewish Identity

Sara Raup Johnson

University of California Press

Any study of the Jewish texts that purport to be historical must survive as independent, self-contained narratives in or associated with the manuscripts of the Septuagint. All purport to give an authentic account of some incident in Jewish history, yet are so compounded with elements of the fantastic that the basic historicity of the events they report has been generally rejected. These texts include four composed originally in Hebrew or Aramaic and later translated into Greek—Esther, Daniel, Judith, and Tobit—and three analogous texts originally composed in Greek, the Letter of Aristeas, Second Maccabees, and Third Maccabees. All are in some sense variations on the so-called court narrative—that is, a self-contained narrative focusing on the relationship between at least one prominent Jew and a foreign king, in which the Jewish hero inevitably emerges triumphant and the foreign king is humbled by or is reconciled with the hero, or both.

Keywords:   Septuagint, Hebrew, Aramaic, Daniel, Tobit

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