Attack on the Deuterocanon

Hi, Someone I know says that the book of 2 Maccabees has Antiochus dying 3 times and is using this to say that the book is bad history. He cites 2 Mac 1:15-16, 2 Mac 9:1-29, and 2 Mac 13:4. Has anybody heart this particular attack before? Do you have the answer?–Thanks in Jesus, Dan

2 Mac 13:4 is speaking of Antiochus V (Eupator “Nobleborn”) who was the son of Antiochus IV (Epiphanes “Illustrious”). This is clear from 2 Mac 13:1

2 Mac 1:13-16 is speaking of Antiochus IV (Epiphanes)

2 Mac 9 relates the same story as 2 Mac 1, except that it has Antiochus IV escaping the Persian temple and returning to Palestine to seek revenge on the Jews there, but dying of disease along the way.

There is yet another account in 1 Mac 6:1-16 of the death of Antiochus Iv, and it matches more closely with 2 Mac 9.

A few points for consideration:

  1. While 1 Maccabees is viewed as a historical account of one period, 2 Maccabees is viewed more of a theological interpretation of events in a different period that so happened to overlap with 1 Maccabees.
  2. Because it is mainly a theological expose doesn’t mean it lacks real historical events. Thing is, it is not meant to be a true history book presenting factual event after factual event in a real chronology.
  3. This is a one-volume summation of a five-volume original work by a different author (Jason of Cyrene). The original is lost, so there is no way to know just how much or how the editing was done. It is clear that the theological aspects are emphasized, with some facts (strength of armies for example) exaggerated, perhaps intentionally, perhaps not.

Because of these, we cannot be certain of the events reported unless they are backed up by other sources. So it would be fair to say at least parts of the book are questionable as a historical account, but then again, it was never really meant to be that.

One of the arguments I would use is that the writing style of that period varies greatly with ours of this age. In this age, we use a linear measurment of one situation after another in a straight time line. That is the way our history books are written. IE, the Civil War is before WW1 and WW2 is after WW1. (Linear time)

The Hebrews did not necessarily write with this style. Many times they wrote in circular patterns and was more interested in content and telling a story instead of getting “facts” all in a time line. This does not make it false, but truth is in the words and meaning and not necessarily in the linear history. The Hebrews of that time would have understood but we have a different perspective on how things SHOULD be written.


The book of Genesis contains two creation accounts, one of which begins with humans while the other culminates with them. Does your antagonist reject Genesis?

I have to disagree with your analysis of Genesis 1 & 2. There are not two different stories. Gen 1:1 - 2:3 is an overview of the creation of the universe. Gen 2:4-25 deal with the creation of humans and goes into details that are not present in the first section. This is quite different from saying that there are two different accounts.

Thank you DOShea and you others. That is helpful.

Good point!

That is a good point and I think Peter Kreeft makes that point in his book “Handbook of Christian apologetics.”

By the way, everybody, the site that was making this argument to me is called TalkJesus. I posted what you told me in answer. I was kicked off last night because “you don’t want the truth” : ) Please pray for them.


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