Fourth Maccabees and the Promotion of the Jewish Philosophy: Rhetoric, Intertexture, and Reception

By David A. deSilva

The fascinating history of this extracanonical text, its background and reception.

ISBN: 9780227177891


Fourth Maccabees is a superbly craft­ed oration that presents a case for the Jewish way of life couched almost entirely in terms of Greek ethical ideals. Using an expansion upon previous scriptural narratives as an opportunity for philosophical exposition, its author delights in the Torah, the Law of Moses, as the divinely given path to becoming our best selves now. Moreover, drawing upon Greek logic tradition, he develops an elaborate rationalisation of that law based upon the promise of eternal life with God.

In this collection of essays spanning two decades of study, David deSilva examines the formative training that produced such an author, the rhetorical craft present in his work, and the author’s creative use of both Jewish and Greek literary resources. Finally, he demonstrates the book’s enduring message and legacy in the Christian church, from theological influence on Origen to textual relations within Codex Sinaiticus.

Additional information

Dimensions 229 × 152 mm
Pages 270

Trade Information JPOD

About the Author

David A. deSilva is Trustees’ Distinguished Professor of New Testament at Ashland Theological Seminary at Ashland, Ohio. He is the author of twenty-five books, including An Introduction to the New Testament (2nd ed., 2018), Introducing the Apocrypha (2nd ed., 2018), Day of Atonement (2015), and Th­e Jewish Teachers of Jesus, James, and Jude (2011).




Part 1: Rhetorical Situation and Strategic Response
1. The Author of 4 Maccabees and Greek Paideia: Facets of the Formation of a Hellenistic Jewish Rhetor
2. Honor and Shame as Argumentative Topoi in 4 Maccabees
3. Fourth Maccabees as Acculturated Resistance Literature

Part 2: The Rhetorical Contributions of Intertexture
4. The Strategic Retelling of Scripture in 4 Maccabees: David’s Thirst (4 Macc 3:6–18)
5. Engagement with Greco-Roman Intertexture: Conversations about Maternal Affections
6. “Father Knew Best”: Intertextuality and Argumentation in 4 Macc 18:6–19

Part 3: The Legacy of 4 Maccabees
7. The Human Ideal, the Problem of Evil, and Moral Responsibility in 4 Maccabees
8. Fourth Maccabees and Early Christian Martyrdom: The Influence of 4 Maccabees on Origen’s Exhortatio ad Martyrium
9. Ambrose’s Use of 4 Maccabees in De Jacob et Vita Beata
10. Beyond the Eclectic Text of 4 Maccabees: Reading 4 Maccabees in Codex Sinaiticus


Author Index
Scripture Index


Endorsements and Reviews

This collection of essays is from a world-leading scholar on 4 Maccabees and the Apocrypha. The contributions represent two decades of deSilva’s research and are essential reading for those interested in Jewish engagement with Greek literary culture, rhetoric, and education. Sean A. Adams, University of Glasgow

In his third major scholarly contribution to 4 Maccabees, deSilva masterfully offers new insights into the study of this literary and philosophical jewel of ancient wisdom. Oft­en overlooked by Christians and Jews, the text comes back to life as a fundamental testimony for understanding the intersection between Hellenistic Judaism and Christian origins.
Gabriele Boccaccini, University of Michigan