Tuesday, February 14, 2017

1 Maccabees and messianism

READING ACTS: Is There a Messiah in 1 Maccabees?
If the writer of 1 Maccabees positioned Judas as David-revisited, it would be unlikely that he would look forward to a future messiah. The book represents a staus quo sort of Judaism, and is “opposed to the Pharisees, the apocalypticists, and the many sectarians in Judea itself” (Fischer, “Maccabees,” 4:442). There is no “return of Judas” theme in 1 Maccabees. His successor Jonathan is enthroned as a king in purple and gold (10:59-66) and as high priest (10:18-21). The writer makes it quite clear that the “yoke of the gentiles was removed” under the leadership of Jonathan (13:41). 1 Maccabees might be described as having a completely realized eschatology because hope for an eschatological age are entirely fulfilled in the Hasmoneans.

That sounds pretty plausible to me. We tend to think of Second Temple Jewish eschatology as involving apocalyptic cataclysms and final judgments, and often it did. But the idea of an earthly paradise in an independent Jewish state goes back to the biblical prophets and remained a possible scenario.

Past posts in Phil Long's series on the Second Temple Period are noted here and links.