Fourth Book of Maccabees Chapter 00 Introduction [from The Forgotten Books of Eden, 1926]

Introduction[1]Original Source

(i) A fearful peal of thunder echoing out of the dim horrors of ancient tyranny

p. 177 THIS book is like a fearful peal of thunder echoing out of the dim horrors of ancient tyranny. It is a chapter based on persecution by Antiochus, the tyrant of Syria, whom some called Epiphanes, The Madman. Roman history of the first centuries records two such tyrants–the other, Caligula, the Second Brilliant Madman.

The form of this writing is that of an oration. So carefully timed are the risings and fallings of the speech; so devastating are its arguments; so unfaltering is its logic; so deep its thrusts; so cool its reasoning–that it takes its place as a sample of the sheerest eloquence.

The keynote is–Courage. The writer begins with an impassioned statement of the Philosophy of Inspired Reason. We like to think of this twentieth Century as the Age of Reason and contrast it with the Age of Myths–yet a writing such as this is a challenge to such an assumption. We find a writer who probably belonged to the first century before the Christian Era stating a clear-cut philosophy of Reason that is just as potent today as it was two thousand years ago.

The setting of the observations in the torture chambers is unrelenting. On our modern ears attuned to gentler things it strikes appallingly. The detail’s of the successive tortures (suggesting the instruments of the Spanish Inquisition centuries later) are elaborated in a way shocking to our taste. Even the emergence of the stoical characters of the Old man, the Seven Brothers, and the Mother, does nothing to soften the ferocity with which this orator conjures Courage.

The ancient Fathers of the Christian Church carefully preserved this book (we have it from a Syrian translation) as a work of high moral value and teaching, and it was undoubtedly familiar to many of the early Christian martyrs, who were aroused to the pitch of martyrdom by reading it.


Extract:Maccabees. The book of 4 Maccabees is a homily or philosophic discourse praising the supremacy of pious reason over passion. It is not in the Bible for most churches, but is an appendix to the Greek Bible, and in the canon of the Georgian Orthodox Bible.

Extract: MACCABEES, FOURTH BOOK OF (IV Maccabees), apocryphal book, included in the Septuagint. It presumably dates from the first century C.E., and is erroneously ascribed by Christian tradition to *Josephus. It does not deal with the warriors of the Maccabean revolt, but with the story of the martyrs of the preceding religious persecution, as related in II Maccabees 6–7. It is of special interest as the only surviving major piece of Greek rhetoric in Jewish literature. IV Maccabees is a philosophical sermon on the theme “pious reason masters passion.” This theme, stated at the outset, is frequently repeated in the course of the sermon.

Extract: The Fourth Book of the Maccabees appears in an appendix to the Greek Septuagint. It is considered to be apocrypha by most church traditions. It is preserved here for its supplementary historical value.


Extract: “What are the books of 3 and 4 Maccabees?” The book of 4 Maccabees is a philosophic discourse extoling the supremacy of pious reason over passion. After the prologue, the first section of 4 Maccabees sets forth the philosophical thesis, and the second section illustrates the points made using examples drawn from the Maccabees (principally, the martyrdom of Eleazer and the Maccabean youths) under Antiochus IV Epiphanes.

Original Source: The Fourth Book of Maccabees.[2]Original Source: |


1 Original Source
2 Original Source:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *