I Maccabees, composed in the second century BCE, chronicles four decades of clashes between Hellenistic Syria and Judea, from Antiochus Epiphanes’s ascent to the throne in 175 BCE to the Hasmoneans’ establishment of an independent Judean state, ruled by Simon and his sons. In this volume, Daniel R. Schwartz provides a new translation of the Greek text and analyzes its historical significance.
In dialogue with contemporary scholarship, the introduction surveys the work’s themes, sources, and transmission. The commentary addresses textual details and issues of historical reconstruction, often devoting special attention to the lost Hebrew original and its associations. Schwartz demonstrates that I Maccabees, despite its Hebraic biblical style and its survival within the Christian canon, deviates from biblical and Judaic works by marginalizing God, evincing scorn for martyrs, and ascribing to human power and valor crucial historical roles. This all fits its mandate: justification of the Hasmonean dynasty, especially the Simonides.