Managing the Ancestral Way of Life in the Roman Diaspora: The Mélange of Philosophical and Scriptural Practice in 4 Maccabees

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

Portrayals of figures of the Israelite narrative are used in 4 Maccabees 1:1-3:18 to discuss the philosophical nature of Judaism. To illustrate the intellectual cultural milieu of the composition, we analyse the notion of (a) ancient philosophy as a way of life and (b) commentary as an intellectual exercise which are part of the author’s lifestyle. He introduces skills of life management into the lives of past figures to promote his notion of virtue. The author (re)casts familiar stories as descriptions of situations in which characters are challenged both rationally and emotionally; thus, he provides the audience with an opportunity for spiritual exercise by means of identification with these characters. This mélange of philosophical and scriptural practice shows that the principles of 4 Maccabees cannot be reduced to either Greek philosophy or Jewish law. Rather, they constitute a philosophical lifestyle which is aligned with both divine law and lived experience.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal for the Study of Judaism
Volume48
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)113-141
Number of pages29
ISSN0047-2212
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 614 Theology

Cite this

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title = "Managing the Ancestral Way of Life in the Roman Diaspora: The M{\'e}lange of Philosophical and Scriptural Practice in 4 Maccabees",
abstract = "Portrayals of figures of the Israelite narrative are used in 4 Maccabees 1:1-3:18 to discuss the philosophical nature of Judaism. To illustrate the intellectual cultural milieu of the composition, we analyse the notion of (a) ancient philosophy as a way of life and (b) commentary as an intellectual exercise which are part of the author’s lifestyle. He introduces skills of life management into the lives of past figures to promote his notion of virtue. The author (re)casts familiar stories as descriptions of situations in which characters are challenged both rationally and emotionally; thus, he provides the audience with an opportunity for spiritual exercise by means of identification with these characters. This m{\'e}lange of philosophical and scriptural practice shows that the principles of 4 Maccabees cannot be reduced to either Greek philosophy or Jewish law. Rather, they constitute a philosophical lifestyle which is aligned with both divine law and lived experience.",
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AB - Portrayals of figures of the Israelite narrative are used in 4 Maccabees 1:1-3:18 to discuss the philosophical nature of Judaism. To illustrate the intellectual cultural milieu of the composition, we analyse the notion of (a) ancient philosophy as a way of life and (b) commentary as an intellectual exercise which are part of the author’s lifestyle. He introduces skills of life management into the lives of past figures to promote his notion of virtue. The author (re)casts familiar stories as descriptions of situations in which characters are challenged both rationally and emotionally; thus, he provides the audience with an opportunity for spiritual exercise by means of identification with these characters. This mélange of philosophical and scriptural practice shows that the principles of 4 Maccabees cannot be reduced to either Greek philosophy or Jewish law. Rather, they constitute a philosophical lifestyle which is aligned with both divine law and lived experience.

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