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One of the books of the "Pseudepigrapha", 3 Maccabees has no real connection to the Maccabean episode of Jewish history. Written by a Jew in Hellenistic or early Roman Egypt (c. 1st Century BCE or CE), the plot downplays the role of geography in God’s protection of the Jewish people. Faced with the threat of annihilation by the Hellenistic Egyptian King Ptolemy IV, the sole means of salvation involved acceptance of Alexandrian citizenship with pagan implications. The local Jewish community faced a choice between Egyptian patriotism and Jewish fealty. Amazingly, the author seems to argue that the two are not mutually exclusive.
The Book of Esther is not the only literary reflection on the life and challenges that Jews confronted in the diaspora of the Second Temple Period. Following a general introduction, this series will discuss two less familiar ancient books of that period: Tobit and 3 Maccabees. These works provide insights into Jewish life outside the Land of Israel in this period, but from widely diverse vantage points.