IT is well known, that the history of the period intervening between the days of Nehemiah, where the accounts of the Old Testament close, and the birth of Jesus Christ, is very insufficiently attended to by the greater part of our students in theology. For this defect there is indeed some show of reason : for the history of these times is scanty and incomplete ; the narratives themselves being few in number, and moreover lying detached and dispersed in various places, with the single exception of the writings of Josephus.
With a view of removing one cause of this deficiency, I have collected together the writings of some ancient Jewish authors which refer to this period, translating some, and correcting the current versions of the rest : and have endeavoured to 4 viii PREFACE. illustrate or confirm their statements, by noticing accounts of the same transactions, which are to be found in the works of Greek and Roman historians. Of the five books presented in this volume, only two are familiar to the generality of readers, as being found in the editions of our English Bible.
As for the others, scarcely one student in a hundred has heard their names ; and perhaps not one in a thousand may have read a line of their contents. Yet, since they all contain interesting and valuable matter, I have here brought them together in an English dress, arranged in such a form as to be consulted or perused with the greatest ease and best prospect of advantage. The history of each book, and of my labours upon it, will be found detailed in the Introduction. I have merely to add here a few words, on the occasion which has caused their appearance.
Driven from my parish, by the violence of that storm which has suddenly burst upon the heads of the Irish clergy,—at once PREFACE. ix reducing to the verge of ruin a body of men who were peaceably pursuing the duties of their holy calling, under the presumed sanction and protection of the laws, —men, against whom, be it remembered, no charge has been producer!, either of moral or ministerial delinquency;—and thus compelled to seek temporary shelter at a distance from my home :—I judged it right to employ some portion of the leisure thus thrown upon my hands, in an occupation, which, while it was not unsuitable to my profession, might also hereafter have its use.
Doubtless the present work is susceptible of numerous improvements : and even in the same hands its execution might have been less faulty, under more favourable circumstances. Whatever literary aids this city could furnish, I have sought out, and have endeavoured to make available : but we cannot hope to find in every place all the works requisite for pursuing inquiries into points of ancient literature, nor every where to command the ample resources of x PREFACE. the Bodleian Library or the British Museum.
For the omissions and imperfections, arising from this and other causes, I have to entreat the reader’s kind forbearance : and to hope that, even in its present state, this publication may not be wholly unsuccessful, in calling the attention, more especially of students in divinity, to an important supplement to the inspired records of Holy Writ ;—to a very instructive portion of Jewish history ;—to those transactions, in which the Maccabaean family, ” according ” to the prophecies which went before” concerning them, took for some time so distinguished and influential a part, on behalf of the favoured country, the peculiar people of God.
H. C. Dublin, 26th April, 1832.
Original Source: Transcribed from PDF copy of Book "The Five Books of Maccabees in English. With Notes and Illustrations", by HENRY COTTON, D.C.L.(Sir) Archdeacon of Cashel, and Late Student of Christ Church, Oxford. Publication date 1832 | PDF