3 and 4 Maccabees?


I recently was reading the NRSV w/ apocrypha which explains different canons in different traditions. What I wonder is why did 1 and 2 Maccabees make the Catholic canon but 3 and 4 were omitted?


The information in 3 and 4 are not the same kind of information. One is a made up story to illustrate a point, the other is a philosophical treatment that draws on 2nd Maccabees to give credence to their own line of thought.

III Mach. is the story of a persecution of the Jews in Egypt under Ptolemy IV Philopator (222-205 B. C.), and therefore has no right to its title. Though the work contains much that is historical, the story is a fiction. IV Mach. is a Jewish-Stoic philosophical treatise on the supremacy of pious reason, that is religious principles, over the passions. The martyrdom of Eleazar and of the seven brothers (2 Maccabees 6:18-7) is introduced to illustrate the author’s thesis. Neither book has any claim to canonicity, though the first for a while received favourable consideration in some Churches. - Catholic Encyclopedia

The real problem becomes that there are many books out there that are not canonical that have titles that make them seem like they should be. After much thought, discussion, and observation of what is being used in churches, the council determined that while these books might contain some good they aren’t inspired.


Not sure if you’re referring to the Council of Trent or earlier councils, but I don’t think the Church has ever determined that biblical books from the canons of other churches are “not inspired.” It has simply declared what our canon of scripture is, technically leaving open the matter of how these other books are to be understood.


Yah what always confused me about it was the Catholic canon of the Old Testament is based off of the Greek Septuagint which was translated into the Latin Vulgate. The Septuagint contains 3 and 4 Maccabees, which is why this question came up. I know 3 Maccabees is canon in nearly all Orthodox churches, 4 Maccabees is in an appendix to the Greek bible. Some other books in the orthodox traditions are 1 and 2 Esdras ( 3 and 4 Ezra in the appendix of the Vulgate) and also the Prayer of Mannesseh, and Psalm 151. I just kind of thought we would have the same bibles as orthodox churches as our bible comes from the same source. I like the Annotated Oxford NRSV w apocrypha because it includes not only the Roman Catholic deuterocanonical books but also the Eastern Orthodox deuterocanonical books. I read them and they seem interesting, in fact I love 2 Esdras also known as the apocolypse of Ezra.


Now that really makes sense.



That’s probably a good point. Something to keep in mind for sure in how the words I use to express this in the future.


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