The Wednesday evening Bible Study is about to complete the book of Nehemiah. Our next book of study will be First Maccabees. Join us on Wednesday evenings at 7:00 pm.
Background on First Maccabees and the Deuterocanonical books.
The Old Testament was composed between 1000 and 100 BC. It is organized in four parts: The Law (or the first five books of the Old Testament), the Historical Books, the Prophets, and the Writings. First and Second Maccabees belong to the historical section, being written between 150 – 100 BC. In the New Testament we find references to the reading of the Law or from the Prophets (e.g. Luke 4:16-19, Acts 13:15).
After the Fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD, the Jewish rabbis at the Council of Jamnia (90-100 AD) established what books would be considered their Sacred Scripture. At this time, the seven “deuterocanonical books” of Tobit, Judith, Wisdom, Sirach, Baruch, and I & II Maccabees had been incorporated in their entirety or at least partially in versions of the Septuagint, which is the official Greek translation of the Old Testament (100 BC). Part of the reason for the controversy was because these were the latest writings of the Old Testament and were written in Greek rather than Hebrew; where the other books of the Old Testament were older and originally written in Hebrew. The Council of Jamnia did not exclude any books definitively. A final fixing of the Jewish canon does not occur until at least 100 years later, and by then the deuterocanonical books were accepted, read and honored. The early Church accepted the deuterocanonical books as part of its canon of Sacred Scriptures. An example of this is from the writings of Origen (d. 245 AD) who used these books as inspired by God even though some of the Jewish leaders of his day did not officially accept them.
First and Second Maccabees belong to that part of holy Scripture called the Deuterocanonical books. The term “Deuterocanonical” means a “second canon” or list of authorized sacred writings. The Deuterocanonical books were added later to the canon of the Old Testament, both by the Jews and later by the early Church. The complete Deuterocanonical books are Tobit, Judith, Esther, the Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus, Baruch, the Letter of Jeremiah, the Prayer of Azariah and the Song of the Three Young Men, Susanna, Bel and the Dragon, and First and Second Maccabees.
Theme of First Maccabees.
First Maccabees is a historical book that tells of the Jewish struggle for freedom from the Greek culture and influence. First Maccabees was written around 100 BC. The story line shows God’s providence working in and through history. God is is able to hold together His chosen People for they alone are bearers to the whole world of His divine Revelation. From this amazing nation the Messiah would spring from.