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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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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 02 August 2021

Historicity and Historical Ambivalence

Historicity and Historical Ambivalence

(p.182) 5 Historicity and Historical Ambivalence
Historical Fictions and Hellenistic Jewish Identity

Sara Raup Johnson

University of California Press

The tale of the Third Maccabees takes place under the reign of a known historical figure, Ptolemy IV Philopator, and the author has gone to some trouble to supply historical details and official documents to add to the verisimilitude of his setting. Moreover, Josephus reports a virtually identical persecution at Alexandria, complete with drunken elephants, which he places under the reign of Ptolemy VIII Eurgetes II Physcon. The Second Maccabees reports an incident very similar to Philopator's experience at the Temple in Jerusalem but substitutes Heliodorus, a minister of Seleucus IV, in Philopator's place. Virtually all scholars, with a few notable exceptions, have rejected Third Maccabees as a legitimate, reliable historical source for an otherwise unknown persecution in the reign of Philopator.

Keywords:   Physcon, Heliodorus, Seleucus IV, Alexandria, Jerusalem

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