Why don't we accept 3rd and 4th Maccabees?


This has been a question on my mind for a while, I often hear Catholic apologist arguments in favor of the deuterocanonical books fall on the argument that the jews at the time of Jesus used to septuagint and considered those books scripture, but if this is the case, then as a matter of consistency, should we not also accept all of the books i the septuagint…including 3rd and 4th maccabees if the Jews at the time of Jesus used a canon of scripture that contained these books? It just seems contradictory to me, to cite the Jewish use of the septuagint as a point in favor of the deuterocanon and then not accept all of the books that those jews considered scriptural. thoughts?


srry gotz no answer just posting too find out God bless


don't know official reason but IMO when I read through 4Macc, first thought was that it was too gruesome (graphic language of the destruction of Eleazar and the 7 brothers) to be canonized :shrug: (although crucifixion of Christ is graphic too) for example:

ch 9

20 The wheel was completely smeared with blood,
and the heap of coals
was being quenched by the drippings of gore,
and pieces of flesh were falling off the axles of the machine.
21 Although were already severed
the ligaments joining his bones,
the courageous youth, worthy of Abraham,
did not groan...
28 Tore out his sinews with the iron hands,
these leopard-like beasts flayed all his flesh up to his chin,
and tore away his scalp.
But he steadfastly endured this agony and said,

from NWEncylopedia:

While once accepted as a deuterocanonical book by the Orthodox, 4 Macabees is increasingly relegated to an appendix of apocryphal works, one of the pseudepigrapha. The reasons for this include its inclusion of pagan thought and the differences between its version of the dialog of the Maccabean martyrs and that of the similar dialog found in 2 Maccabees. newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/4_Maccabees


One has to view, know Bible History: The Council of Hippo (393 CE), then the Councils of Carthage, Rome Carefully Reviewed the hundreds of new ‘epistles’, gospels’ of the 2nd-4th Century, to Studiously Select Which Books are Authentic. All Books of the Bible were Selected Carefully by Early Church Councils, Used by All Churches without them knowing the history of STUDIOUSLY Chosen by Catholic Councils of 4th, 5th centuries. :bible1: [LIST] Same Bible Books until the Reformation, when Martin Luther Removed 7 books, and changed the wording in Romans to remove “and Works” (to justify his “faith Alone” New Teaching.)
[/LIST] Protestants call the Removed Books as The Apocrypha now. Jews and Catholic Church continue recognizing the same Old Testament books, like Machabees, until recent years controversy among some Jewish Sects now also.


I don’t know much in terms of specific concerns regarding 3rd and 4th Maccabees. However, I did find this post regarding the authenticity of the books in question.

Here’s the link: thesplendorofthechurch.blogspot.com/2010/09/why-did-catholic-church-rejected-3rd.html

The post is from what appears to be a Blog called Slendor of the church and claims to be a Roman Catholic site. I didn’t try and check it out as far as how well or poorly regarded it is amongst Catholics, of which I am one. The post essentially says that 3rd Maccabees is a work of fiction that pertains to the persecution of the Jews. It claims that both books were only included as an appendix to the Greek Bible and finally that the books are expositions of Stoic and Hellenistic philosophy rather than true Catholic philosophy. I use Catholic and Christian interchangebly. I don’t want to offend protestants, but I believe that all “Christains” are Catholic whether they realize it or not. “One true Catholic and apostolic Church” don’t ya know. :wink:

I also have a comment about your description of the Jewish scripture as being “canonical”. My, admittedly, limited understanding of Bible history tells me that the idea of an official canon whether Jewish or Catholic does not come in to being until many hundreds of years after the crucifixtion and arose out of a desire by Jews to discredit the growing Christ movement. It brings up the controversy over the alleged council at Jamnia and other murky circumstances about the development of scripture as we know it today. I do not subcribe to the authoratativeness of the Council and am very skeptical that it even occured. I agree that a school existed at Jamnia and it was held in high regard, but I have yet to find any persusive historical evidence that it ever produced a decree that passed on a Jewish Canon. It is, IMO, an internet rumor. It is oft repeated but rarely supported with actual evidence. So, we don’t have anything that we can point to as an “official” Jewish Canon. This may be an esoteric point, but one worth considering.

Secondly, we should also be careful to remember that there was not complete agreement amongst even Jews that all the books of the so called Septuagint were devinely inspired. There were some who only considered the Pentateuch to be devine but accepted the so called deutero-canonical books to be very good for teaching but not necessarily devine in nature. So, there is not complete agreement even at the time of Christ as to what the “official” scripture might be. What we can say, I think with a degree of certainty, is that the books of the Septugint were in use and widely accepted as scripture. We don’t know exactly what the apsotles and Christ meant, specifically, by the word “scripture”. If I’m not mistaken, some of the quotes from the New Testament are from works that are unkown to us. So it might be possible that their definition of scripture and ours is different. And, again, the idea that there is or should be an "official’ canon is a relatively modern idea and it’s probably not a good idea to assign a similar standard to a time and people that did not appear to have any such standard.

I hope this helps and that I have contributed to your growth and knowledge. To him who much is given much is expected and more will be given. To they who have littel even that will be taken away. God Bless.


I don’t disagree with anything in your post. As always, you are well informed and erudite, but vaguely off point. Maybe it’s just me. Nonetheless AK makes a very good point. The Catholic Bible, as we know it today, was not arrived at capriciously. It comes to us after, literally, hundreds of years of consideration, research, and analysis based on a depth of evidence that is mostly unrivaled in any other work. Furthermore, the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls lends even further creedence to the authenticity, authoratativeness, and completeness of the Catholic bible versus any other. I think we can rely on it.

My apologies AK if I offended.


[quote="AntalKalnoky, post:4, topic:260234"]
[LIST] Same Bible Books until the Reformation, when Martin Luther Removed 7 books, and changed the wording in Romans to remove "and Works" (to justify his "faith Alone" New Teaching.)


Which verses in Romans did Luther alter? I would be much interested to know


On page 172 of Gary Michuta’s book, “Why Catholic Bibles Are Bigger,” there is a table of early copies of the Septuagint and the books they contain. I bring it up because I think it shows, perhaps, that the books you are wondering about are not part of the Septuagint after all.

Based on the information Michuta gives, the earliest copy of the Septuagint in existence is the Vaticanus codex from the 4th century. It contains all of the Old Testament – including the Deuterocanon, except the Maccabees. It does not contain the books you mention.

The next earliest is the 4th century Sinaiticus codex, which is missing Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Ruth, Baruch, Ezekiel, and Daniel, but includes the rest. It does not contain the books you mention.

The next earliest is the fifth century Alexandrinus codex, which lacks 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, and 1 and 2 Chronicles, but contains all the Deuterocanon. It also includes 3-4 Maccabees and 1 Esdras, but not 2 Esdras or the Prayer of Manasseh. (I mention those last three documents because some Orthodox accept them as canonical – but they are not in the oldest copies of the Septuagint that we have.)

The next earliest is the fifth century Ephraemi Rescriptus, which has only Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Canticles, Job, Wisdom, and Sirach. It does not contain the books you mention.

Finally, there is the eighth century Codex Basilano-Vaticanus-Venetus, which lacks only Genesis, Exodus, Psalms, and the last chapter of Baruch. It also adds 3 and 4 Maccabees, but not the Prayer of Manasseh or the two Esdras books.

All of these manuscripts contain books from the Deuterocanon placed among the other Books of Scripture, but the majority of them do not appear to include 3-4 Maccabees, the Prayer of Manasseh, or the two Esdras books. (BTW Ezra and Nehemiah are two books that all Christians accept as canonical, and those are sometimes called 1 and 2 Esdras in older literature. The manuscripts I mentioned above Do contain those. But there are also two other books called 1 and 2 Esdras, which only the Orthodox accept as canonical, and those are the ones I am talking about in this post. As Catholics we count them as apocryphal.)

We can summarize the table this way (assuming I wrote down my notes correctly and Michuta’s table was complete):

There are 5 copies of the Septuagint in Michuta’s table on page 172 of his book.

5 of them contain Wisdom;
5 of them contain Sirach;
4 of them contain Judith; the one that lacks it lacks most of the Old Testament;
4 of them contain Tobit; the one that lacks it lacks most of the Old Testament;
3 of them contain Baruch; those that lack it lack much or most of the Old Testament;
3 of them contain 1 Maccabees; one of those that lacks it lacks most of the Old Testament;
2 of them contain 2 Maccabees; two of those that lack it lack much or most of the Old Testament.

2 of them contain 3 Maccabees;
2 of them contain 4 Maccabees;
1 of them contains 1 Esdras;
0 of them contain 2 Esdras;
0 of them contain the Prayer of Manasseh.

Therefore, I don’t think it’s necessarily true that these books were part of the Septuagint. As Catholics, we call them apocryphal; the Orthodox accept them, and though I’m not entirely sure what their reasons are, I would not want to criticize them for it without knowing.

Anyway, I hope that helps. Please let me know. Perhaps you could get Gary Michuta’s book for more information. It’s available here: amazon.com/Why-Catholic-Bibles-Are-Bigger-ebook/dp/B00E99AU1C/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1410020908&sr=8-1&keywords=michuta+bibles


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.