Translation introduction to Psalm 151

The book of Psalms in the Hebrew Bible consists of 150 psalms. These psalms are accepted as canonical Scripture by Jews and all Christians. However, the Greek manuscripts of the book of Psalms contain 151 psalms; this additional psalm is considered part of the canonical book of Psalms by the Orthodox churches. It has not traditionally been included among the apocryphal books of Protestant Bibles, but RSV expanded its Apocrypha in an “expanded edition” in 1977 to include Psalm 151, as well as 3-4 Maccabees, other books valued in the Orthodox tradition. NRSV continued this practice.
Besides the Greek, this psalm is also known in Latin, Syriac, Armenian, Arabic, and Ethiopic. It has been used in the coronation ceremony for the emperors of Ethiopia.

Although this psalm was translated from Hebrew, no Hebrew text was known until it was discovered on a scroll of psalms found at Qumran in 1956. The Hebrew text is longer than the Greek, and is followed by fragments of another psalm that also parallels the Greek Psalm 151. RSV gives a translation of the Hebrew as part of the introduction to the psalm. It is believed that the long-known Greek Psalm 151 is an abbreviation of the two Hebrew psalms noted above. The complete Hebrew psalm deals with David’s selection by God; the fragmentary psalm apparently dealt with the contest between David and Goliath. This Handbook deals with the Greek text only.

Psalm 151 has a superscription. After that the psalm has two parts:

1-5 David tells of his selection by God
6-7 David tells of killing Goliath

Quoted with permission from Bullard, Roger A. and Hatton, Howard A. A Handbook on The Shorter Books of the Deuterocanon. (UBS Helps for Translators). New York: UBS, 2006. For this and other handbooks for translators see

Translation introduction to The Prayer of Manasseh

The Prayer of Manasseh is a little jewel, a treasure of spiritual devotion. In spite of the fact that this prayer has never achieved canonical status or even, for most Christians, deuterocanonical status, it will simply not go away. It is received as canonical Scripture by the Orthodox churches, which place it immediately after 2 Chronicles. Its Greek text is not part of the Septuagint, and it has never been accepted as Scripture in the Catholic Church, although it has long been known and highly valued; in a Latin form (later than Jerome) it appears in an appendix at the end of Vulgate editions of the Bible. Martin Luther treasured it and translated it, making it part of his Apocrypha. As such it found its way into English Bibles, although Wycliffe himself had included it in his translation. In the Geneva Bible of 1560, it appears among the Old Testament books, following 2 Chronicles, but headed “Apocryphe.” The earliest text of The Prayer of Manasseh we possess is in Syriac, where it is incorporated into a Christian document known as Didascalia, dated from the third century A.D. The Greek text, which we are following, is found in two major manuscripts of the Greek Old Testament, but in a supplement to the Book of Psalms called “Odes.” The presence of this poem in this supplement shows that it was known by the Greek church and used liturgically from an early date.

The Manasseh to whom the title refers is the King Manasseh who ruled Judah from 698 to 642 B.C. According to 2 Kgs 21.1-18, Manasseh was the low point of the Judean kings, the worst of them all, but he ruled for 55 years. The account in 2 Chr 33.1-20 is quite different. There too, Manasseh is a wicked king, and is taken captive by the king of Assyria. While in exile, however, he repents of his sin, and God brings him back to Jerusalem. In 2 Chr 33.12-13 his prayer of repentance is mentioned, and in 33.18-19 it is said that his prayer was recorded in two different places. There is no evidence whatever that the poem we call The Prayer of Manasseh was in fact written or spoken by Manasseh, was ever part of the books of 1-2 Chronicles, or was ever contained in the two sources mentioned by the Chronicler. It is so short that it is difficult to speak with any confidence about its origin, but scholars are most comfortable dating it in the last two centuries B.C., although the early part of the first century A.D. is not out of the question. The original language of the poem is very much in doubt, with some scholars favoring a Greek original, others a Semitic language. It could have been written almost anywhere, but Palestine is favored. Claims were made in the past for a Christian author, but opinion today strongly favors a Jewish writer. The writer may have been consciously composing a prayer such as King Manasseh might have prayed in exile, or, since there are a few subtle connections between The Prayer of Manasseh and the language of 2 Chr 33, an anonymous and nameless prayer may have come to be associated with the repentant king, thus receiving its traditional title.

The prayer can be divided into three parts:

1-7 Invocation and praise to God
8-10 Confession of sin
11-15 Petition for mercy

While these phrases could be used as section headings, the prayer is so brief that breaking it into sections may not be seen as necessary. If one heading for the whole prayer is desired, NEB provides a helpful one-word title: “Repentance.” Another possibility is “Manasseh repents.”

Quoted with permission from Bullard, Roger A. and Hatton, Howard A. A Handbook on The Shorter Books of the Deuterocanon. (UBS Helps for Translators). New York: UBS, 2006. For this and other handbooks for translators see

Translation introduction to 2 Esdras

Name of the book

The book known as 2 Esdras in the Protestant Apocrypha is one of a number of books from ancient Jewish and Christian writers associated with the name of Ezra, the Old Testament figure. Besides the canonical books of Ezra and Nehemiah, which are considered as one book in the Jewish tradition, there is the book known in the Protestant Apocrypha as 1 Esdras, which is substantially a repetition of much that is in Ezra, as well as some material from 2 Chronicles and Nehemiah, and the book we are considering here, known as 2 Esdras in the Protestant Apocrypha. There is no relation whatever between the books we know as 1 Esdras and 2 Esdras. (In the Latin Bible, also called the Vulgate, 1 Esdras is the canonical Ezra, 2 Esdras is the canonical Nehemiah, 3 Esdras is the Protestant 1 Esdras, and 4 Esdras is the book we are working with here, 2 Esdras.)

2 Esdras is a composite of three writings. The core of the book, chapters 3–14, is known to scholars, in academic discussion only, as 4 Ezra. This is a book of Jewish origin which probably dates from late in the first century A.D. To this core has been added an introduction by a Christian writer, probably in the mid-second century A.D. This constitutes chapters 1–2 of the book; scholars have come to call these two chapters 5 Ezra. Still later, probably during the third century A.D., another Christian writing was added to the end of the book. This writing composes chapters 15–16 of the book; scholars know these two chapters as 6 Ezra. The scholarly names 4 Ezra, 5 Ezra, and 6 Ezra will not be used in this Handbook, but translators will encounter them in the scholarly literature. We shall refer to the book as 2 Esdras, but its composite character will be made clear in the outline.

The textual history of the book

It is generally agreed that the two Christian additions to the book, chapters 1–2 and 15–16, were written in Greek, while chapters 3–14 were written in Hebrew (perhaps Aramaic), but translated into Greek. Both the Hebrew and the Greek texts have long since disappeared, and scholars know the entire book largely from a Latin version, although there are manuscripts in other ancient languages. All the surviving translations appear to have been made from the now missing Greek. A Syriac translation appears to be closely related to the Latin, while versions in Ethiopic, Georgian, and Coptic represent another tradition, but one that may have as strong a claim to represent at least the Greek, if not the original, as does the Latin. Only the Latin version contains all three sections of the book we know as 2 Esdras. All modern translations are made from the Latin text, with occasional reference to the other ancient versions.

However, there is no standard text of the Latin. For this Handbook we have relied primarily on the Latin text edited by A. Frederik J. Klijn (Der Lateinische Text der Apokalypse des Esra) for chapters 3–14. For chapters 1–2 and 15–16 we have relied primarily on the 1895 edition by Robert Bensly (The Fourth Book of Ezra: The Latin Version Edited from the MSS). Bensly’s text has been frequently consulted for chapters 3–14 as well. We have occasionally referred to the Vulgate edition published by Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft (Biblia Sacra: Iuxta Vulgatam Versionem), as well as Bruno Violet’s 1910 edition of chapters 3–14 (Die Esra-Apokalypse [IV. Esra]: Erster Teil, die Überlieferung).

There is a special textual problem relating to chapter 7. In RSV and many other modern versions there is a section with two sets of verse numbers. RSV presents verses 36-105 with those verse numbers in square brackets, and then it continues with each verse having two numbers, one numbering 36-70 not in brackets, and another numbering 106-140 in brackets. All this material has always been known to exist in the ancient versions except for the Latin. Until 1874 all Latin manuscripts lacked the section numbered verses 36-105, and this led scholars to doubt the authenticity of the material found in the other ancient versions. In 1874 a Latin manuscript was discovered by Robert Bensly which contained this material, and since then it has been accepted as a genuine part of the book produced by the author of chapters 3–14. The double set of numbers is due to the fact that early modern translations, such as KJV, did not contain this extra material, and numbered what they had as verses 1-70. When the new material became known, it was inserted at the proper place, with an alternative system of numbering. Some modern translations, such as GNT, do not bother with the older numbering any longer, since it no longer serves any useful function. In this Handbook we shall use only the longer numbering, with no reference to the shorter one, and we certainly recommend that translators do this also.

The contents of the book

Chapters 1–2: These two chapters are a short apocalypse obviously of Christian origin. (See, for instance, the quotation from the Gospels in 1.30, and reference to “circumcisions of the flesh” in 1.31.) The narrator claims to be the Ezra of the Old Testament, who receives a revelation from God that he will reject the Jews as his chosen people, Jerusalem will be destroyed, Assyria (representing Rome) will be punished, and God will call to himself a new people. The new people are not identified, but Christians are clearly meant. At the end Ezra has a vision of the Son of God, who is obviously Jesus, but not identified as such. Specific mention of Jesus, the Christian movement, or danger from Rome would clash with the picture being presented of the Old Testament Ezra receiving the revelation.

Chapters 3–14: These chapters are the core of the book. It consists of typical Jewish apocalyptic writing, books in which the climax or end of history is foretold by visions that are interpreted for the one receiving the revelation, which in this case is Ezra. This part is divided into seven sections, of unequal length and with no common structure, consisting of seven revelations made to Ezra. The first four revelations begin with Ezra praying to God. After the first three of these prayers, the angel Uriel appears to Ezra and tells him of things that must happen at the end of the world. After the fourth prayer, Ezra has a vision of a weeping woman. Uriel then appears to interpret the vision. After the first three revelations, Ezra is told to observe a week-long fast. After the fourth revelation, he is told only that two nights later he will have a dream. The fifth revelation occurs in the dream. It is of an eagle with three heads and many wings (representing the Roman Empire), which is challenged by a lion (representing the Messiah). Uriel explains the dream to Ezra. At the end of this section Ezra once again fasts (eating only certain plants for seven days). The sixth revelation is also a dream. In it a man comes out of the sea and soars to the top of a mountain. Nations gather to make war against him, but he conquers them by fire from his mouth. Another people, a peaceful people, then gather around the mountain. The angel then interprets the dream to refer to God’s judgment on his sinful people, and to the safety of God’s faithful people, including the people of the northern kingdom of Israel who were conquered by the Assyrians long before Ezra’s time. Three days pass and a seventh revelation occurs. This time there is no angel or introductory prayer. God speaks directly to Ezra from a bush, and tells him to see to it that the books of Holy Scripture are preserved. Ezra selects five scribes, to whom he dictates not only the books of the Jewish canon of Scripture, but seventy additional books. The canonical books are to be made public, but the contents of the seventy others are to be shared only with those wise enough to understand them.

Some passages of this part relate directly to the book of Daniel, which is explicitly mentioned in 12.11. There are also close relationships to a book known as 2 Baruch, but scholars are not certain which writing may have influenced the other or whether the two books draw from the same sources.

Chapters 15–16: This part, added by a Christian writer, never uses the name of Ezra. In it God speaks directly, telling of all sorts of disasters coming on specific countries (representing the full extent of the Roman Empire). It warns that in the end times even God’s people must expect to suffer, but that God will be their guide through the times of suffering.

Date, authorship, and place of writing

The authors of the three parts of 2 Esdras cannot be identified. One can only say that the writer of the first part was Christian, the writer of the third one was almost certainly Christian, and the writer of the second one was Jewish. In the past there was some feeling that chapters 3–14 were themselves composed of sections of older material, but today it is commonly accepted that they are the work of one author. Scholars are in general agreement that the central part, chapters 3–14, was written toward the end of the first century A.D.; the first two chapters were written during the second century; and the last two chapters during the third century. Palestine has been suggested as the place of writing for chapters 3–14 (Rome is mentioned, but thought of as less likely), but for the Christian additions or the editing of the whole book there is really no place we can suggest.

Importance of the book

It seems that 2 Esdras was never considered part of canonical Scripture by Jews or Christians. However, it was regarded highly enough by some Christians for the book to survive in several ancient translations, and to become part of the Apocrypha of the Protestant Bible. In the Armenian Church and the Ethiopic Church it has a semi-canonical status. The book is a major source for scholars investigating the history of the Messianic hope and Messianic titles. It is a prime example of apocalyptic literature.

Problems in translating 2 Esdras

Is the angel speaking or is God speaking?: The most confusing problem the translator will face is the identity of the speaker in certain passages in chapters 3–14. These chapters describe seven revelations made to Ezra. In the first six chapters the account begins with Ezra praying to God. Then comes an answer. On the first occasion an angel, Uriel, appears and talks to Ezra (4.1-2). Uriel reappears in the account of each of the next five revelations and answers Ezra’s prayer, but it is not always clear in the narrative whether Uriel is speaking or God is speaking directly. For instance, in the third vision the angel appears at 7.1 and begins speaking in 7. 2. But at 7.11 God is clearly speaking. At 7.19 the angel speaks of God. At 7.28 God is clearly speaking. At 7.33 the angel is speaking. At 7.44 God is the speaker. At 7.50 the angel speaks of God. At 7.60 God is speaking. At 7.70 the angel speaks. At 7.132 Ezra is clearly speaking to the angel, and at 8.1 the angel is speaking of God. At 8.4 Ezra begins praying to God. At 8.37 we are told simply “He answered,” and at 8.39 it is obvious that God is talking. But at 8.48 Uriel is speaking about God. At 9.8 God is speaking, but at 9.25 the discourse ends with Uriel as the speaker. Only in the last revelation does the angel not appear at all. Instead, God speaks directly to Ezra from a bush, recalling Moses’ encounter with God at the burning bush.

All of this would be less confusing to the ancient Jewish reader than it is to modern readers. The angel (literally “messenger” in Hebrew and Greek) delivers a message from God, and at times the writer does not make a clear distinction between the two. Thus in the third revelation detailed above, the discourse switches back and forth between Uriel and God as the speaker. Ordinarily the advice of the Handbooks, in situations like this, is to make the passage easier for the reader by keeping the speaker consistent. In this case, however, this creates more problems than it is worth. Our advice to the translator will be to translate these passages literally. Where God is clearly speaking, leave God as the speaker; where the angel is speaking, leave the angel as the speaker. We suggest, for the translator’s consideration, the insertion of an occasional footnote, for example, “At times [or, In this passage] the writer makes no distinction between the angel who delivers God’s message and God himself.” We will offer this suggestion at 5.40, but at no other place. Translators who feel such a footnote is helpful may use it in any place where they feel it would be helpful. Those who think it would make reading the book more confusing may certainly ignore the suggestion.

A related problem is how Ezra addresses God or the angel. At times he says “Lord” or “my Lord,” which, if addressed to the angel, may be translated in English as “sir,” an address that would never be used to refer to God. Some languages will have no difficulty here, since a word like señor in Spanish or Herr in German may be freely used of God or of a man. At times, however, Ezra will say “Lord and Master” or “Sovereign Lord,” even in contexts where he seems to be talking to the angel. Once again, our advice will be to make no effort to strive for consistency, but to translate literally, using the above comments if they are felt to be appropriate.

World or age?: The Latin word saeculum, like the Hebrew word ʿolam, may refer to the world or to an age, whether this age or the age to come. Most translators will have to make a choice. At times one is clearly better than the other, and while we will try to point these out, the word occurs too often to point out the ambiguity each time it occurs. Translators should bear in mind while working through the book that this is a frequently recurring problem.

Latin has no articles: Unlike Greek or Hebrew or English, the Latin language has no articles, whether definite (“the”) or indefinite (“a/an”). The natural tendency of scholars working with the text, especially those more accustomed to working with Greek or Hebrew, is to insert the definite article before nouns. There are often places in the book, however, where the meaning seems to become clearer if one translates (in English) with an indefinite article. Some of these will be pointed out in the commentary, but translators should be aware that an indefinite article or no article at all is always an option.

Visions or revelations or auditions: Scholars usually speak of the seven “visions” of Ezra in chapters 3–14, but this is a bit of a problem because in the seventh one, beginning at 13.58b, Ezra sees nothing. Rather, he hears God speaking to him. This is technically an “audition” rather than a “vision,” something heard rather than something seen. We have referred to the seven episodes as “revelations,” occasions on which God reveals something to Ezra. Translators must use their best judgment here.

Outline of the book

I. An introduction by a Christian writer (1.1–2.48)
A. The writer and the book (1.1-3)
B. God’s judgment on his people (1.4–2.9)
1. The Lord complains to Ezra about Israel (1.4-11)
2. The Lord will reject Israel (1.12-32)
3. A new people will take the place of Israel (1.33-40)
4. Israel and Jerusalem will be destroyed (2.1-7)
5. The Lord will punish Assyria (2.8-9)
C. God will choose a new people (2.10-48)
1. Jerusalem will be given to the Lord’s new people (2.10-14)
2. The Lord speaks to the Church (2.15-32)
3. Israel rejects Ezra (2.33-41)
4. Ezra encounters the Son of God (2.42-48)

II. The seven revelations to Ezra (3.1–14.48)
A. The first revelation (3.1–5.20)
1. Ezra speaks to God about Israel’s sinful history (3.1-27)
2. Ezra complains to God (3.28-36)
3. The angel Uriel questions Ezra (4.1-12)
4. A fable about a forest and the sea (4.13-21)
5. Ezra objects again (4.22-25)
6. The end of time (4.26-43)
7. Ezra sees fire and rain (4.44-50)
8. Signs of the end of time (4.51–5.13)
9. Ezra wakes up (5.14-20)
B. The second revelation (5.21–6.34)
1. Ezra complains to God (5.21-30)
2. Uriel answers Ezra (5.31-37)
3. God’s care for every human generation (5.38-55)
4. God will bring the end of the world (5.56–6.10)
5. More signs of the end of time (6.11-34)
C. The third revelation (6.35–9.25)
1. Ezra complains to God (6.35-59)
2. Uriel answers Ezra (7.1-16)
3. People must keep God’s Law (7.17-25)
4. The Messiah will come and the dead will be raised (7.26-44)
5. Only a few will be saved (7.45-61)
6. People must use their minds responsibly (7.62-74)
7. What happens to the wicked after death (7.75-87)
8. What happens to the righteous after death (7.88-101)
9. When the wicked die it is too late to pray for them (7.102-115)
10. Ezra wonders why people were ever created (7.116-131)
11. God’s mercy endures, but few will be saved (7.132–8.3)
12. Ezra determines to pray (8.4-19a)
13. Ezra’s prayer (8.19b-36)
14. God replies to Ezra (8.37-41)
15. Ezra objects to God’s reply (8.42-45)
16. God replies to Ezra again (8.46-62a)
17. More signs of the end of time (8.62b–9.13)
18. Few will be saved (9.14-25)
D. The fourth revelation (9.26–10.59)
1. God’s Law will always exist (9.26-37)
2. Ezra’s vision of a weeping woman (9.38–10.28)
3. Uriel interprets Ezra’s vision (10.29-59)
E. The fifth revelation (11.1–12.51)
1. Ezra’s vision of an eagle with three heads and twelve wings (11.1-35)
2. Ezra sees a lion talking to the eagle (11.36–12.3a)
3. The meaning of the eagle (12.3b-30)
4. The meaning of the lion (12.31-39)
5. The people come to Ezra (12.40-51)
F. The sixth revelation (13.1-58a)
1. Ezra sees a man coming out of the sea (13.1-13a)
2. Uriel explains the vision (13.13b-58a)
G. The seventh revelation (13.58b–14.48)
1. Ezra hears a voice speaking from a bush (13.58b–14.18)
2. Ezra is told to copy the sacred books (14.19-26)
3. Ezra dictates the sacred books (14.27-48)

III. A conclusion by a Christian writer (15.1–16.78)
A. Disasters coming on the world (15.1-27)
B. God’s judgment on Assyria (15.28-33)
C. God’s judgment on Babylon (15.34-45)
D. God’s judgment on Asia (15.46-63)
E. Judgment is certain (16.1-17)
F. The earth will be desolate and its people desperate (16.18-34)
G. God’s people must be prepared (16.35-52)
H. People cannot hide their sins from God (16.53-67)
I. God will rescue his people from persecution (16.68-78)

Quoted with permission from Bullard, Roger A. and Hatton, Howard A. A Handbook on 1-2 Esdras. (UBS Helps for Translators). Miami: UBS, 2019. For this and other handbooks for translators see here.

Translation introduction to 1 Esdras

Name of the book

Ancient Judaism produced a number of books that have been associated in some way with the biblical figure of Ezra. (“Esdras” is simply the Greek form of the Hebrew name “Ezra.”) The names given these books can be very confusing. The book with which we are concerned here is contained in the Apocrypha of Protestant Bibles, where it has been called 1 Esdras in English Bibles since 1560. It is not included in Catholic Bibles, but it is found in the Latin Vulgate, where it is known as 3 Esdras. Orthodox Christianity accepts the book as canonical Scripture, and calls it 1 Esdras. In editions of the Greek Old Testament known as the Septuagint, it is called 1 Esdras, and precedes what it calls “2 Esdras,” which consists of the canonical books of Ezra and Nehemiah, considered as one book.

1 Esdras is sometimes referred to as Greek Ezra, in an effort to be clear.

This book has no connection whatever with the book called “2 Esdras” in the Apocrypha of Protestant Bibles.

Relationship to other books

1 Esdras is essentially a compilation of material from parts of the canonical books of 2 Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah. For convenience, the parallels are given here:

1.1-33 — 2 Chr 35.1-27
1.34-58 — 2 Chr 36.1-21
2.1-15 — Ezra 1.1-11
2.16-30 — Ezra 4.7-24
5.7-46 — Ezra 2.1-70; Neh 7.4-73
5.47-65 — Ezra 3.1-13
5.66-73 — Ezra 4.1-5
6.1-22 — Ezra 5.1-17
6.23-34 — Ezra 6.1-12
7.1-15 — Ezra 6.13-22
8.1-27 — Ezra 7.1-28
8.28-67 — Ezra 8.1-36
8.68-90 — Ezra 9.1-15
8.91-96 — Ezra 10.1-5
9.1-36 — Ezra 10.6-44
9.37-55 — Neh 7.73–8.12

This chart shows that most of 1 Esdras consists of parallels to canonical Ezra. The only original material in 1 Esdras runs from 3.1 to 5.6.

The exact relation between the history told in Ezra-Nehemiah and that told in 1 Esdras is much debated. Some have said that it is a compilation from Ezra-Nehemiah as found in the Septuagint. Some claim it is based on a Greek translation earlier than the Septuagint. Still others have argued that it is a separate translation from the Hebrew and Aramaic of Chronicles-Ezra-Nehemiah. If so, it is certainly a freer translation than the version of those books found in the Septuagint, and in better Greek. We assume 1 Esdras to be a separate translation from the original Hebrew and Aramaic text.

This leads to the question of whether the compiler of the book as we now know it was himself the translator. This cannot be known, partly because the purpose of the book is not really clear (see the comments below). In the commentary we will refer at times to the author or to the author/translator, but without pretending to know if the person responsible for the book as we know it did the actual translation. Fortunately, the translator does not have to be concerned with this.

It is clear that the Jewish historian Josephus of the first century A.D. used 1 Esdras as his source for that part of his Jewish Antiquities which deals with the time of Ezra. The relevant sections of Jewish Antiquities are 10.4.5–5.2 and 11.1.1–5.5.

Subject matter of the book

1 Esdras begins with an account of a Passover celebration held while Josiah was king of Judah (640–609 B.C.) and swiftly passes on to the fall of Jerusalem in 587 B.C. Passing over the time the Jews spent in exile in Babylonia, the history jumps to the decree that Cyrus of Persia issued in 539 B.C., allowing the exiled Jews to return to their homeland. We are very briefly told of the return, after which we are told of interference with the Jews’ attempt to rebuild their Temple during the reign of Artaxerxes I of Persia (465–424 B.C.). At this point the story jumps backward to the reign of Darius (521–486 B.C.), where we are told of a contest held by three of the emperor’s bodyguards, one of whom is the Jew Zerubbabel. Zerubbabel wins the contest, and Darius grants his wish that the Jews be allowed to return to their homeland. We are told of the return, and again of opposition to the work of rebuilding the Temple. Darius verifies that his predecessor Cyrus had granted the Jews freedom to do this, and he allows the work to proceed.

Ezra appears in the narrative for the first time in 1 Esd 8.1, where his return to Judah along with another group of exiles is dated to the reign of Artaxerxes. At 8.25 the narrative shifts into the first person, as Ezra himself tells of his return from Babylonia and how he learned that many Jewish men had married non-Jewish women. At 8.91 the third person narrative resumes, telling of measures that were taken for these women, along with their children, to be separated from the Jewish community. The last scene in the book is that in which Ezra reads the Law of Moses publicly to a large assembly.

While the reading of the Law is the last scene, it does not appear that the book ended there originally. The last sentence in the book is only a fragment, and all scholars assume that additional material existed at one time. Some scholars also believe that the book is missing its original beginning as well. The beginning is not ungrammatical, but it is a bit abrupt.

Date and purpose of the book

The date when 1 Esdras was written is uncertain. It was clearly after the writing of the biblical books of Chronicles-Ezra-Nehemiah, and scholars have noted similarities in style to the rather late books of Esther and Daniel. (It has been suggested that all three of these books were translated by the same person.) If this is valid, we may be justified in saying it could have been written no earlier than around 150 B.C. Since Josephus used it as a source, it clearly had to have been written before his Jewish Antiquities, sometime before 100 A.D. Most scholars are comfortable with saying it dates from the first century B.C.

The purpose of the book is obscure as well. Obviously the author/translator is devoted to the Law and the observance of the sacrificial calendar, the Temple ritual, and the religious calendar, but no convincing argument has been put forward to account for any particular reason the author had for producing the book. While Ezra is obviously the important figure in the book, Nehemiah is mentioned only at 1 Esd 5.8 and 5.40. Clines suggests that the book could be from a Jewish group that honored Ezra over Nehemiah, pointing out that in 2 Macc 1.18–2.13 and Sir 49.13 Ezra is conspicuously absent, while Nehemiah gets the credit. However, this could be due to the strong possibility that we do not possess the entire book, and this in turn, is another reason for our being unable to identify the author’s purpose.

Some discussions of purpose, as well as of composition, center around the story of the three bodyguards in 3.1–5.6, which is the only part of 1 Esdras without parallel in Chronicles-Ezra-Nehemiah. More has been written about this than any other section, and this scholarship identifies the story as arising from a non-Jewish folk tradition and worked into the Israelite Wisdom tradition. Sometimes the existence of this story is assumed to be the only reason for the preservation of 1 Esdras. It is usually taken to be an intrusion into the context with no relation to what goes before or after it. We agree with this scholarship as to the origin of the story, but it is our position that it is definitely an integral part of the narrative that our author/translator wishes to tell.

Clines expresses the situation clearly: “It is hard for even a careful reader to resist the impression that the book has no clear theme. The very reason for its existence is not apparent, and the selection of material from the other biblical books has been carried out on principles no longer evident to us.”

Problems in translating 1 Esdras

History: The narrative does not follow historical reality. This is clear from the fact that it goes from the time of Cyrus (2.1; 549–529 B.C.) to Artaxerxes I (2.16; 465–424 B.C.), backward to Darius (3.1; 521–486 B.C.), and then on again to Artaxerxes (8.1). Translators will find that the material does not follow the sequence of events in the biblical books it parallels. Translators, however, must avoid any temptation to make the narrative in 1 Esdras harmonize with that in Chronicles-Ezra-Nehemiah. 1 Esdras, like any book, must be translated as an entity in its own right.

Relationship to the Hebrew text: We will make no attempt to point out every difference between the narrative of 1 Esdras and that within Chronicles-Ezra-Nehemiah. There are many, and as is said in the paragraph above, the two narratives should not be harmonized. On a few occasions, however, the Greek is ambiguous or vague, and we think it fair enough in these circumstances to take a clue from the original Hebrew to assist in translating the Greek (see, for example, the comments on \jmp 1 Esd 9.6). These are circumstances when we may fairly assume that the author/translator had the Hebrew (or Aramaic) text in front of him and so translated it, rather than circumstances in which our author/translator may have deliberately altered the meaning of the original text, or may have had a somewhat different Hebrew or Aramaic text before him.

Proper names: 1 Esdras contains a huge number of Hebrew personal names, most of which are unknown outside the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, and some are unknown even there. Sometimes in 1 Esdras there are Greek forms of Hebrew names. Whenever names can be clearly identified with names in Ezra or Nehemiah, we suggest that translators use whatever forms of those names were used in their translation of those books. They may simply want to use whatever forms the reader will find easiest to handle. Our practice in this Handbook is to follow the Good News Translation (GNT) for names. The only exception we make to this practice is in chapter 5.

One geographical name calls for attention. We use the country name “Judah” rather than “Judea” (the Greek form), since this name is part of Old Testament history, and we are giving it the same form as in other Old Testament books.

Jews or Israelites: To be perfectly correct, we should refer to “Israelites” or “Judeans” before the Babylonian Exile. Since the religion we today call Judaism took definitive form during and just after the Exile, we are historically justified in using the word “Jews” after that time. However, 1 Esdras uses both “Jews” and “Israelites,” and translators should feel free to use both also, if it will not be confusing to the reader. If consistency on this matter is important, we suggest “Jews” or “Jewish people,” since the book pertains to matters that point forward to rabbinic Judaism more than backward toward Israelite religion as practiced in Old Testament history.

Verse numbers: Translators may be confused at times by variations in verse numbers among translations and editions of the Greek text. This is common in all the apocryphal/deuterocanonical books. If translators have previous versions of 1 Esdras in their language, they should use that system of numbering verses. If not, we suggest they join us in following the verse numbering of the Revised Standard Version (RSV).

Outline of 1 Esdras, giving parallels to Chronicles-Ezra-Nehemiah

1.1-22 Josiah celebrates the Passover (2 Chr 35.1-19)
1.23-33 The end of King Josiah’s reign (2 Chr 35.20-27)
1.34-36 King Jeconiah of Judah (2 Chr 36.1-4)
1.37-42 King Jehoiakim of Judah (2 Chr 36.5-8)
1.43-46a The kingdom of Judah grows weak (2 Chr 36.9-10)
1.46b-58 King Zedekiah and the fall of Jerusalem (2 Chr 36.11-21)
2.1-15 King Cyrus of Persia allows the Jews to return (Ezra 1.1-11)
2.16-30 Opposition to rebuilding Jerusalem (Ezra 4.7-24)
3.1–4.63 A debate on the question: What is the most powerful of all forces?
3.1-17a The king’s bodyguards decide to hold a debate
3.17b-24 The speech about wine
4.1-12 The speech about the king
4.13-32 Zerubbabel speaks about women
4.33-41 Zerubbabel speaks about the power of being reliable
4.42-63 The result of the contest
5.1-46 A list of those who returned from exile (Ezra 2.1-70; Neh 7.4-73)
5.47-53 Worship begins again (Ezra 3.1-6)
5.54-65 The people begin rebuilding the Temple (Ezra 3.7-13)
5.66-73 The people of the land interfere with work on the Temple (Ezra 4.1-5)
6.1-22 The Persian governor interferes with work on the Temple (Ezra 5.1-17)
6.23-26 King Cyrus’ order is found (Ezra 6.1-5)
6.27-34 King Darius orders the work to continue (Ezra 6.6-12)
7.1-9 The Jews dedicate their new Temple (Ezra 6.13-18)
7.10-15 The Passover (Ezra 6.19-22)
8.1-7 Ezra arrives in Jerusalem (Ezra 7.1-10)
8.8-24 Ezra’s letter from the king (Ezra 7.11-26)
8.25-90 The words of Ezra (Ezra 7.27–9.15)
8.25-27 Ezra praises God (Ezra 7.27-28)
8.28-40 A list of people who returned from exile with Ezra (Ezra 8.1-14)
8.41-49 Ezra finds priests and Levites for the Temple (Ezra 8.15-20)
8.50-53 Ezra leads his companions in fasting and prayer (Ezra 8.21-23)
8.54-60 Gifts for the Temple (Ezra 8.24-30)
8.61-67 Ezra’s return to Jerusalem (Ezra 8.31-36)
8.68-90 Ezra learns that Jews have married non-Jews (Ezra 9.1-15)
8.91–9.17 The plan for ending mixed marriages (Ezra 10.1-17)
9.18-37a The men who had foreign wives (Ezra 10.18-44; Neh 7.73a)
9.37b-55 Ezra reads the Law to the people (Neh 7.73b–8.12)

Quoted with permission from Bullard, Roger A. and Hatton, Howard A. A Handbook on 1-2 Esdras. (UBS Helps for Translators). Miami: UBS, 2019. For this and other handbooks for translators see here.

Translation introduction to 3 Maccabees

Name and status of 3 Maccabees

The book known as 3 Maccabees, which was written and preserved in Greek, has nothing to do with the family of the Maccabees, whose story is told in 1-2 Maccabees. This story takes place about fifty years before the incidents in the history of the Maccabean family. Yet the theme of the book is very much like 2 Maccabees, and probably because of its similarity to this book it was placed in manuscripts directly after 2 Maccabees.

This book is not considered canonical scripture by Protestants or Roman Catholics, but it does have deuterocanonical status in the Orthodox Churches.

Protestant practice is to group it among a large group of ancient non-canonical writings known as pseudepigrapha.

Author, date, and place of origin

The author of 3 Maccabees cannot be identified, but he was surely a highly educated Jew living in Alexandria, a large cosmopolitan city on the Mediterra- nean coast of Egypt. For a long time Alexandria had a large and active Jewish community, and the book was almost certainly written there. Scholars disagree about the date of the book. It seems to be familiar with the Greek version of Daniel, which is generally dated about 165 B.C., so it must be dated after that.

The key passage for deciding the date is 3 Macc 2.27-30, which speaks of a registration of Jews. If the historical occasion reflected in that passage had a religious purpose, and pertained to Jewish persecution, the book is probably to be dated sometime while the Ptolemaic dynasty ruled in Egypt, which ended in 30 B.C. If, as many argue, the registration was to gather information for a poll tax, this would place the book in the Roman period; such a registration was conducted in 24 A.D. Rowell makes a strong case for composition during the reign of the Roman emperor Caligula, 37–41 A.D. The exact date cannot be determined, but we may comfortably place it anywhere in the first century B.C. or the first century A.D., without it affecting the translation of the book.


3 Maccabees tells the story of the attempt of King Ptolemy IV Philopator of Egypt (221–203 B.C.) to kill the Jews living in Egypt. There is some initial material dealing with the battle of Raphia (217 B.C.), and indeed, the book gives the impression of beginning in the middle of an account. Some scholars believe the original beginning is missing. The main story in the book begins, however, when Philopator visits Jerusalem, and wishes to enter the sanctuary of the Temple, but is forbidden, since that would violate Jewish law. He decides to do it anyway, and makes his way toward the entrance as the people of Jerusalem experience genuine alarm, and as the High Priest, Simon, prays for God to stop this act.

God answers the prayers. Philopator is miraculously struck to the ground. He leaves Jerusalem determined to punish the Jews. In Alexandria he begins a persecution, decreeing that all Jews must give up their religion and worship the Greek god Dionysus. Some Jews comply, but others defy the king. When the king realizes that his plan is not working, he orders all Jews in Egypt to be brought together in one place, and killed by being trampled by elephants. On the day the massacre is to take place, God causes Philopator to oversleep, so that the order to kill the Jews is not given. He determines that it will be done the next day. On the next day God makes the king forget that he ever gave the orders, and he threatens his advisers for their evil plans to kill the Jews. But later Philopator determines again that the Jews must be killed, and the plan develops. The elephants are led into the racetrack area where the Jews have been brought together. The Jews moan as they prepare to die, but the pious Eleazar prays for God to rescue them, and once again God answers his prayer.

The Jews do not see it, but two angels descend and immobilize the Egyptian soldiers. The elephants turn and trample them instead of the Jews.

Again, God causes Philopator to forget his plans. Moved by what he has seen, he provides food and wine for the Jews to celebrate their deliverance over a period of a week, then they are allowed to return to their homes. Before they leave, however, they take vengeance on the faithless Jews who went along with the king’s demand that they abandon the Jewish religion. After killing these people, the rescued Jews return to their homes, where they are treated with new respect by the Gentiles.

Problems in translating 3 Maccabees

The king’s name: The king of Egypt involved in the story is Ptolemy IV, known as Philopator. Both names are used in the book. In 3 Macc 1.1 he is introduced as Philopator. In 1.2, 6 he is called Ptolemy. At 3.12 and 7.1 he is called King Ptolemy Philopator. Through most of the book he is simply referred to as “the king.” The name Philopator is not used outside 3 Maccabees, but the name Ptolemy is frequent in 1-2 Maccabees. Some translators will want to use at least one of the names at the beginning of new sections, in place of “the king.” Others may feel like the difficult names only cause problems for the reader.

Since no other king is involved in the story, simply using “the king” will be clear to most readers. At any rate, translators should be careful not to give the reader the impression that there are two different kings.

Style: The Greek style of this book is striking. It is flowery and complicated and at a very high level. Many unusual words and phrases are used, and the writer is fond of repetition, using two adjectives when one would do, or two nouns, or two verbs. Some translators may feel that they can imitate this style without sacrificing clarity, but most translators will be well advised not to make the attempt. It would be dealing falsely with the author, however, not to find some way of translating the elaborate references made to God. God is seldom mentioned without being described by an elaborate series of adjectives or phrases (see, for instance, 3 Macc 2.2, 21; 5.7). The phrase “the supreme God” occurs several times. The important thing for the translator here is less translating the exact meaning of the Greek wording, than to convey the impression that the author wants to use all the language at his command to describe God’s greatness.

Outline of 3 Maccabees

1.1-3 Dositheus saves Philopator’s life
1.4-7 The Egyptians defeat the Syrians
1.8-15 Philopator wants to enter the Temple sanctuary
1.16-29 The people of Jerusalem try to stop Philopator
2.1-20 The prayer of Simon the High Priest
2.21-24 God punishes Philopator
2.25-33 Philopator persecutes the Jews in Egypt
3.1-10 Some of the Egyptians sympathize with the Jews
3.11-30 Philopator orders his army to arrest every Jew in the kingdom
4.1-10 The Jews are taken prisoner
4.11-21 The Jews are held prisoner in Alexandria
5.1-9 Philopator orders every Jew to be killed
5.10-22 God rescues the Jews 5.23-35 God rescues the Jews again
5.36-44 Philopator again orders the Jews to be killed
5.45-51 The elephants are led into the stadium
6.1-15 Eleazar prays
6.16-21 God appears and rescues the Jews
6.22-29 Philopator orders the Jews to be released
6.30-40 The Jews celebrate
6.41–7.9 Philopator’s letter to his commanders
7.10-16 The rebellious Jews are punished
7.17-23 The faithful Jews return home

Quoted with permission from Bullard, Roger A. and Hatton, Howard A. A Handbook on 3-4 Maccabees. (UBS Helps for Translators). Miami: UBS, 2018. For this and other handbooks for translators see here.

Translation introduction to 1 and 2 Maccabees

The books called “Maccabees”

There are four books from Jewish antiquity that are known by the name “Maccabees.” These four books are from different authors and have no clear relationship to each other.

The word Maccabees refers to a certain Jewish family of the second century B.C., particularly to Mattathias and his sons John, Simon, Judas, Eleazar, and Jonathan. Of these sons, Judas was the most important and best known. He was given the Aramaic name “Maccabeus” (meaning “the hammer” or “the hammerer”) for his successful military exploits. Technically, the name Maccabee applies only to Judas, but his family is often called the Maccabees. Properly speaking, his family is known as the Hasmoneans. This name is not used in any of the four books known as Maccabees, but it is used in other reliable ancient sources. However, for practical purposes the terms Hasmoneans and Maccabees may be taken to be synonymous. Translators will not have to deal with either of them, except in the titles to the books.

The content and purpose of 1 Maccabees

1 Maccabees is a soberly told, straightforward history of political and military affairs in the Holy Land from 175 B.C. to about 104 B.C. It begins with the rise to power of Antiochus IV Epiphanes, king of Syria. Antiochus began a program to force the Jews to renounce their religion. One of the Jews, Mattathias, began a revolt against the king which his son Judas completed successfully. After Judas’ death, his brother Jonathan became the leader of the Jews and the High Priest. After Jonathan’s death, his brother Simon took over these offices. The book closes with Simon’s death and the succession of his son John Hyrcanus.

The purpose of the book is to record and praise the heroic deeds of these Israelite leaders, who rescued the Jews from their persecutors and reestablished the independence of the Jewish people in their homeland. They are depicted as righteous men, acting under God’s guidance, although the writer places emphasis on their own abilities and accomplishments. God guides them, but the author does not attribute their success to miraculous divine interventions.

The author, date, and place of composition of 1 Maccabees

The author of 1 Maccabees is unknown. The book seems to have been written shortly after the death of John Hyrcanus in 104 B.C., although it is possible that portions of it could have been compiled during John’s lifetime. Many of the events in the book may have occurred during the author’s lifetime. The writer was a serious historian, who apparently had access to official archives.

Numerous diplomatic letters are quoted, and most scholars believe they are authentic.

While there is a genuine Jewish religious faith underlying the book, it is not primarily concerned with promoting a particular theological viewpoint.

However, many scholars believe that it is more closely associated with the Sadducees of the day, rather than the Pharisees. This comes from observing that the heroes do not take a strict attitude to Sabbath observance, that emphasis is placed on the priesthood, and that there is no reference to life after death, even in places where it would have been appropriate to mention it. This is in dramatic contrast to 2 Maccabees.

The author wrote in Hebrew. We do not know when and by whom the book was translated into Greek. No Hebrew text survives, so translations are made from the Greek text. It is safe to assume the book was written in Palestine, but there is no direct evidence for this.

The content and purpose of 2 Maccabees

Unlike the situation with the books of 1-2 Samuel, 1-2 Kings, and 1-2 Chron- icles, 2 Maccabees is not a continuation of 1 Maccabees, but a completely separate work. 2 Maccabees consists largely of a condensation of a five-volume history written by an otherwise unknown Jason of Cyrene. The history concerns events from the time of the High Priest Onias III (about 180 B.C.) to the death of Nicanor (161 B.C.). It begins before the history told in 1 Maccabees begins, and then parallels that history through 1 Macc 7. The opening at 3.1 introduces us to the devout Onias, to whom opposition develops. That opposition grows after Antiochus IV becomes king of Syria. Onias is murdered by his enemies, and Antiochus invades Judea, initiating a time of severe persecution for Jews who will not abandon the traditional Jewish way of life. Judas Maccabeus arises as a leader of the Jews. The book closes with an account of Judas’ victory over Nicanor, the commander of the army of King Demetrius I.

The purpose of the book is to proclaim the holiness of the Temple in Jerusalem, to glorify Judas as its protector and champion, and to honor the memory of the heroic martyrs who died for their faith. Unlike 1 Maccabees, which never mentions God directly, this book has God actively intervening to shape the history of the Jewish people. It also commends the observance of Hanukkah, celebrating the rededication of the Temple, and Nicanor’s Day, celebrating the victory of Judas Maccabeus over Nicanor. The book ends with the Jews free to practice their religion; it has no interest in the struggle for political independence so evident in 1 Maccabees.

The author, date, and place of origin of 2 Maccabees

When referring to 2 Maccabees, the word “author” is a problem, since strictly speaking the only parts of the book from our “author” are 2.19-32 and the closing verses in 15.37-39. The material in 1.1–2.18 consists of two letters that have been prefaced to the book, and the great bulk of the material is a condensed version of the fuller work of Jason of Cyrene. Scholars generally refer to the person responsible for the work as “the epitomist,” that is, the one who has condensed the material. For simplicity’s sake the Handbook will refer to the “author” or the “writer,” meaning the person to whom the actual words can be attributed. This person’s identity is completely unknown. Of course, the prefaced letters have their own authors. The author of the rest of the book may himself have added these, or they may have been added by later editors. The question is not important for translators.

The book was probably compiled during the first century B.C., although this is not certain. Nicanor’s death in 161 B.C. is narrated. There would have to be time for Jason of Cyrene to write a five-volume history (which may or may not have ended with Nicanor’s death), for that history to be copied and become known, before the author could do his work of compilation. If the first letter (1.1-9) is an original part of the book, the earliest possible date is 124 B.C., the date of that letter (1.9). At the other end of the possible time span, 15.37 shows that the book was composed before 63 B.C., when Pompey captured Jerusalem for Rome.

We do not know where the book was written, but most scholars are comfort- able with an origin in Egypt, most likely Alexandria. Antioch in Syria is also suggested.

Problems in translating 1-2 Maccabees

The name of God: The book of 1 Maccabees never refers directly to God, either by the word “God” or “Lord.” This is at least partly due to the contemporary Jewish reluctance to use the name of God, preferring to refer to God indirectly. One such device was the word “Heaven”; in 1 Maccabees this is used in 3.18-19, 50; 4.10, 24, 40, 55; 5.31; 9.46; 12.15; 16.3 (compare Matt 5.34). Also, it was Jewish belief at that time that the age of miracles had passed after Solomon’s Temple was destroyed, and miracles would not resume until God’s final victory. Consequently no miracles are reported in 1 Maccabees, making for less occasion to bring God directly into the narrative. Translators need to make a decision very early in their work concerning how they will handle the problem of referring to God. Ideally, they should follow the wishes of the author, who very clearly did not want to use the words “God” and “Lord.” This gives the book a rather secular character, and the best translations will not make the book more “religious sounding” than it really is. Obviously, a literal translation will have no trouble, since the words “God” and “Lord” do not appear in Greek. But in preparing a dynamic equivalence translation, it is often difficult to avoid these words. This Handbook will attempt to give special guidance and specific suggestions in this matter, since we recommend following the author. Usually we will work with the author’s own term, “Heaven,” which may be rendered “the One in Heaven.” “The Holy One” is another possibility. However, some translators, especially those who have no passive verb forms, may find that avoiding all direct reference to God is too difficult, or even impossible. We will offer guidance on this also, often with reference to theGood News Bible, which uses both “God” and “the Lord.” The book of 2 Maccabees uses both “God” and “the Lord” freely. “Jews” or “Israel”: The Jewish people are referred to in 1 Maccabees both as “the Jews” and “Israel.” The author appears to choose his terms according to context. Virtually all occurrences of the word “Jews” in the Greek text occur in passages where Jews and Gentiles are communicating with each other. These are mostly in the letters that are quoted in the book. “Israel” seems to be the preferred term elsewhere. However, unlike the situation with reference to God, there seems to be no theological significance to this choice. The author seems to have used what was found in his sources, or whatever seemed appropriate in each situation. Problems for translators arise in the many passages where neither of these terms is used, but where a noun needs to be used in translation to clarify a passage with too many unclear pronouns. Even a conservative translation such as the Revised Standard Version feels this need, and it has consistently used “Jews.” Good News Bible does the same, although without footnotes. In current English usage it is proper to refer to the people after the Babylonian exile as “Jews.” This is no doubt the reasoning used by both Revised Standard Version and Good News Bible, and it will be followed in the Handbook. The models presented will vary, depending on what sounds best in context in English. Of course, translators will want to use in any particular passage the term that sounds most natural in their language. This seems to be only what the author was doing—or at least the Greek translator.

In 2 Maccabees “Jews” is by far the preferred term; “Israel” is used only five times. Another term, “Hebrews,” is used three times. “Judah” or “Judea”: 1 Maccabees uses both these terms to refer to the same territory. “Judah” is usually considered an Old Testament term, translating the Hebrew name of the largest of the twelve tribes, and the name of the southern kingdom after the death of Solomon. Approximately the same territory is known as “Judea” in the New Testament, which translates the Greek name. But 1 Maccabees is an Old Testament book in Greek, and it uses both terms. The use of “Judah” is highly traditional. The great majority of occurrences are in the phrase “the land of Judah,” although other traditional phrases occur a few times: “cities of Judah,” “men of Judah,” and “inhabitants of Judah.” Only once is “Judah” used apart from these phrases. On the other hand, “Judea” is used more freely, but without any apparent geographical distinction. The writer’s choice of “Judah” appears to be only stylistic, reflecting a more conservative use of language. In order to avoid confusing the reader, we recommend that only one of these terms be used. Some translators may be fortunate enough to find that in the passages they have already translated in both the Old and New Testaments, they have used the same term throughout. They have no problem.

Translators who find different forms used in the two Testaments must simply choose between “Judah” and “Judea.” Good News Version has chosen the New Testament (Greek) form of “Judea.” 2 Maccabees uses only the form “Judea” in Greek, but translators may wish to use the same form chosen for 1 Maccabees.

Indented texts: Both 1 and 2 Maccabees quote at length a number of documents and official correspondence. Good News Bible has indented these texts from the surrounding matter to help the reader see that it is quoted material. This visual cue is much more obvious than simply using quotations marks, and we strongly urge translators to use some such device as this.

Poetic passages: Passages in 1 Maccabees appearing in poetic form in Revised Standard Version are 1.24b-28, 36-40; 2.7-13; 3.3-9, 45, 50-53; 7.17, 37-38; 9.21; 14.4-15. (Poetic passages in Good News Bible are 1.26-28, 36-40; 2.7-13; 3.3-9, 45; 7.17.) Each translator must decide how these will be handled. Translators who have experience in dealing with extensive poetic material in Old Testament books may feel comfortable handling these few passages as poetry, and should certainly do so if they wish.

We advise other translators to render them as prose.

There are no poetic passages in 2 Maccabees.

Dating: At a number of places in 1-2 Maccabees, the author dates the events he narrates. He uses a system that begins counting from the traditional date of the founding of the city of Antioch and of Seleucid rule in Syria, which was about 312 B.C. There are complicated problems surrounding these dates, but they need not bother anyone but serious historians. The equivalent B.C. dates that Good News Bible and other sources provide are approximate, but certainly very close to being accurate. The first of these dates occurs in 1 Macc 1.10. We suggest that translators give the author’s year in Arabic numerals, and identify the year by its equivalent B.C. in a footnote.

The historical background of 1-2 Maccabees

It may be helpful for translators to make themselves familiar about the history involved in these books. When the Jews returned to their own land from exile in Babylonia, leaders such as Ezra and Nehemiah reestablished a Jewish identity in the land, after Cyrus of Persia, who defeated Babylonia, allowed them to return home. The Jews lived as a subject people of the Persian Empire, but were free to worship their God as they saw fit.

European power first begins to impinge on the biblical history when Alexander the Great, king of Macedonia, defeated Persia in 331 B.C., and expanded his empire over the extent of the biblical world. We are not well informed about conditions among the Jews in the Holy Land during Alexander’s reign, but he appears not to have been a tyrannical ruler. The empire of Alexander and his successors is often called the Greek or Hellenistic Empire.

Alexander died rather suddenly in 323 B.C., still a young man, and with no clear heir to his throne. Four of his generals eventually divided the empire among themselves. Two of these generals were Ptolemy, who established a kingdom of his own in Egypt, and Seleucus, who established a kingdom in Syria.

Later rulers descended from these two individuals are known as the Ptolemies (in Egypt) and the Seleucids (in Syria). Both kingdoms claimed Palestine, and it passed from the control of one to the other several times.

In 175 B.C. a man known as Antiochus IV Epiphanes came to the Seleucid throne of Syria. He became one of the great villains in Jewish history by making a determined effort to stamp out the Jewish religion. To this end, he desecrated the Jerusalem Temple and forced Jews around the land to offer sacrifices to the Greek gods. The alternative was death. While many Jews renounced their faith, there were those who chose to die instead.

On one occasion (1 Macc 2) when Syrian soldiers came to the small town of Modein to force the people to renounce Judaism, a local man named Mattathias killed one of the soldiers. He and his sons then fled to the hills, and began a guerrilla campaign against the army of Antiochus. Mattathias soon died, but his son Judas became the leader of the resistance. Eventually he was successful in expelling the Syrians from Jerusalem. The Temple was rededicated to the worship of God. (This rededication is still commemorated by Jews each year in the feast of Hanukkah.) The military conflict continued, and eventually Judas was killed. The people then gathered around Judas’ brother Jonathan as their leader.

At this point there was a conflict for the succession to the Seleucid throne, and the two contenders tried to win Jonathan’s support. One of them, Alexander Epiphanes, took it upon himself to appoint Jonathan as the Jewish High Priest.

When Jonathan was killed, his brother Simon assumed not only the political leadership of the land but also the high priesthood. Simon was followed by his son John Hyrcanus, who died in 104 B.C. The book of 1 Maccabees, which recounts this narrative in detail, was presumably written shortly after John’s death.

Cast of characters in 1-2 Maccabees (click or tap here to see the list)

Absalom: Father of Mattathias (1 Macc 11.70); father of Jonathan (1 Macc 13.11); Judas Maccabeus’ envoy to Lysias (2 Macc 11.17). It may be that the third person mentioned here is identical with one of the first two.

Abubus: Father of the Ptolemy who ordered the murder of Simon Maccabeus.

Accos: Grandfather of Eupolemus.

Alcimus: Spokesman for a group of pro-Syrian Jews who appealed to King Demetrius I for help against the Maccabees. He was High Priest 161–159 B.C.

Alexander the Great: Son of Philip, king of Macedon. Alexander began a program of world conquest that gave him an empire extending over all the biblical world, and as far east as India. He lived 356–323 B.C. and began his rule in 336, on the death of his father Philip. He admired Greek culture, and attempted to spread it over his empire.

Andronicus (a): A high official in the government of King Antiochus IV. He killed the High Priest Onias.

Andronicus (b): A man stationed at Mount Gerizim by King Antiochus IV to harass the people.

Alexander Epiphanes (Alexander Balas): Ruler of the Seleucid kingdom in Syria, 150–145 B.C. He claimed to be the son of Antiochus IV, but this was, and still is, doubted.

Antiochis: The mistress of King Antiochus IV.

Antiochus the Great (Antiochus III): Ruler of the Seleucid kingdom in Syria, 223–187 B.C.

Antiochus Epiphanes (Antiochus IV): Ruler of the Seleucid kingdom in Syria, 175–164 B.C., son of Antiochus III, and one of the great villains of Jewish history. He attempted to stamp out Judaism by forcing Jews to renounce their faith and worship Greek gods, under pain of death. Much of the narrative of 1 Macc 2–6 is concerned with a Jewish rebellion against Antiochus Epiphanes.

Antiochus Eupator (Antiochus V): Ruler of the Seleucid kingdom in Syria, 164–161 B.C., son of Antiochus IV. He was about nine years old when his father died. Lysias acted as his regent.

Antiochus Epiphanes (Antiochus VI): The young son of Alexander Epiphanes who was installed as ruler of the Seleucid kingdom in Syria by Trypho. As a boy, he began to rule in 145 B.C., but Trypho killed him in 142 B.C. (1 Macc 13.31).

Antiochus Sidetes (Antiochus VII): Son of Demetrius I and brother of Demetrius II. He attempted to seize control of the Seleucid Empire after Deme- trius II was taken captive by the Parthians.

Antipater son of Jason: A Jewish messenger sent by Jonathan Maccabeus on a diplomatic mission to Rome.

Apollonius: There are seven passages that involve someone named Apollonius, and another in which an unnamed man may well have been called Apollonius. Scholars do not agree on how many men there actually were with this name, since one or more of these passages involve a man who could conceivably be identical with the figure in one or more of the other passages.

Apollophanes: One of three Syrians killed by Judas Maccabeus’ forces at Gezer.

Arsaces: King of the Parthians, an Iranian people. He ruled Persia at that time. All Parthian kings took the name Arsaces. This man’s real name was Mithridates I. He ruled 171–138 B.C., leading a successful revolt against the Seleucid Empire, and capturing Demetrius II.

Ariarathes V: King of Cappadocia, a country just north of Syria. He ruled 163–130 B.C.

Aristobulus: A highly regarded Jewish priest in Egypt, who had written a commentary on the Torah and dedicated it to King Ptolemy VI. The letter in 2 Macc 1.10–2.18 is addressed to him.

Arius I: King of Sparta, 309–265 B.C.

Athenobius: A high official of King Antiochus VII, sent by the king to deliver a message to Simon Maccabeus.

Attalus II: King of Pergamum, in what is now the western part of Turkey. He ruled 159–138 B.C.

Auranus: An old man picked by Lysimachus to lead 3,000 armed men against a crowd of people in Jerusalem.

Azariah: A leader in Judas Maccabeus’ fighting force. Judas left Azariah and Joseph in charge of the defense of Judea while he and his brothers were away.

Bacchides: Governor of the Transeuphrates province of the Seleucid Empire, including territory from the Euphrates River to the Nile River, the western half of the empire. King Demetrius I sent him on expeditions to Judea to punish the Maccabees. Judas Maccabeus was killed in a battle against him.

Bacenor: In some manuscripts of 2 Macc 12.35, the commander of Dositheus (b). The Handbook takes the position that the name results from a scribal misunderstanding of how the Greek words were to be divided, and that there was in fact no person by this name.

Cendebeus: A commander of Seleucid forces ordered by Antiochus VII to attack Judea.

Chaereas: One of three Syrians killed by Judas Maccabeus’ forces at Gezer, and brother of the Timothy in 2 Macc 10.24-37.

Cleopatra: Daughter of Ptolemy VI, who married Alexander Epiphanes. This is not the same person as the Queen Cleopatra who was involved with the history of Julius Caesar and Mark Antony.

Crates: Commander of a unit of soldiers from Cyprus that was stationed at the Seleucid fort in Jerusalem. He was left in charge while the fort’s commander Sostratus went to Antioch on official business.

Darius III: Ruler of the Persian Empire, 335–331 B.C. Alexander the Great defeated him in 331 B.C.

Demetrius Soter (Demetrius I): Ruler of the Seleucid kingdom in Syria, 161–150 B.C.; son of Seleucus IV, grandson of Antiochus III, and cousin of Antiochus V.

Demetrius II: Ruler of the Seleucid kingdom in Syria, 145–138 B.C.; son of Demetrius I.

Demophon: A local governor who caused trouble for the Jews.

Dositheus (a): A captain serving in the army of Judas Maccabeus.

Dositheus (b): A Jewish cavalryman who lost an arm trying to capture Gorgias. He is possibly the same man as Dositheus (a).

Eleazar (a): In 1 Macc 8.17, father of Jason.

Eleazar (b): In 2 Macc 6.18-31, an aged scholar of the Jewish Law who chose death rather than violating the Law.

Eleazar Avaran: One of the sons of Mattathias; a brother of Judas Maccabeus. He was crushed to death by an elephant (1 Macc 6.43-46).

Esdris: One of Judas Maccabeus’ soldiers in 2 Macc 12.36. The name is written in some manuscripts as Esdrias or Ezri.

Eumenes: Eumenes II, king of Pergamum, in what is now the western part of Turkey. He ruled 197–158 B.C.

Eupolemus: One of two men appointed by Judas Maccabeus to go to Rome to negotiate a treaty. He may well be the writer Eupolemus who wrote a history of the kings of Judah.

Gorgias: One of the generals whom Antiochus IV sent to put down the Jewish rebellion.

Hasideans: A Jewish sect known for its devotion to the Torah as an authority for Jewish life and practice. They may have given rise later to the Pharisees or Essenes, or both. In 1 Macc 2.42 Good News Bible translates “Hasideans” as “devout and patriotic Jews.” Hasmoneans: The family of Mattathias and his descendants, later applied to a dynasty of rulers. Mattathias and his sons are often referred to as the Maccabees.

Hegemonides: Governor of the region between Ptolemais and Gerar.

Heliodorus: A high official in the government of King Seleucus IV. The king sent him to Jerusalem to confiscate money from the Temple treasury.

Hieronymus: A local governor who caused trouble for the Jews.

Hyrcanus: An important Jewish citizen who left some money on deposit in the Temple.

Imalkue: An Arab to whom Alexander Epiphanes entrusted the upbringing of his son Antiochus. Some think he may have been a son or successor of Zabdiel.

Jason (a): In 1 Macc 8.17, one of two men appointed by Judas Maccabeus to go to Rome to negotiate a treaty.

Jason (b): In 2 Macc, the High Priest during 175–172 B.C. He attained the office by deceit, taking it from his brother Onias III. He favored Greek customs and culture.

Jason of Cyrene: A historian whose five-volume history of the wars of Judas Maccabeus is abbreviated as the book of 2 Maccabees.

John: In 2 Macc 11.17, a messenger sent by Judas Maccabeus to Lysias. Some identify him with John Gaddi.

John son of Accos: Father of Eupolemus.

John Gaddi: One of the sons of Mattathias; a brother of Judas Maccabeus.

John Hyrcanus: One of the sons of Simon Maccabeus, and his successor.

Jonathan Apphus: One of the sons of Mattathias; a brother of Judas Maccabeus.

Jonathan son of Absalom: A soldier serving under Simon Maccabeus. He captured the city of Joppa. He is possibly a brother of Mattathias son of Absalom referred to 1 Macc 11.70.

Joseph son of Zechariah: A leader in Judas Maccabeus’ fighting force. He and Azariah were in charge of the defense of Judea while Judas and his brothers were away.

Judas Maccabeus: One of the sons of Mattathias. After his father’s death he assumed responsibility for military action against the Seleucids as well as retributive action against renegade Jews. It is from his nickname Maccabeus (meaning “hammer” or “hammerer”) that the word “Maccabees” derives, as applied to the whole family (more properly called Hasmoneans).

Judas son of Chalphi: An officer serving with Jonathan Maccabeus at the battle of Hazor (1 Macc 11.67-74), who helped save the day.

Judas son of Simon: One of the sons of Simon Maccabeus; he was wounded in battle and later murdered.

Lucius: A Roman consul. He is sometimes identified with Lucius Caecilius Metellus (142 B.C.), and sometimes with Lucius Calpurnius Piso (140–139 B.C.). Contemporary opinion generally favors the former.

Lysias: A Syrian nobleman to whom Antiochus IV gave the responsibility of putting down the Maccabean revolt while Antiochus attended to affairs in Persia. He also acted as regent to the young King Antiochus V, and remained active in the politics and military affairs of the region until executed by Demetrius I.

Mattathias: A faithful Jewish priest living in Modein, who began the rebellion against Seleucid rule in Palestine. He lived only one year after the revolt began, dying in 166 B.C. His sons, known as the Maccabees, or more accurately, the Hasmoneans, continued the rebellion their father began.

Mattathias son of Absalom: An officer serving with Jonathan Maccabeus at the battle of Hazor (1 Macc 11.67-74), who helped save the day. He is possibly a brother of Jonathan son of Absalom mentioned in 1 Macc 13.11.

Mattathias son of Simon: One of the sons of Simon Maccabeus; he was murdered (1 Macc 16.16).

Menestheus: Father of Apollonius (see Apollonius E and F above).

Nicanor (a): One of the generals whom Antiochus IV and Demetrius I sent to put down the Jewish rebellion. His defeat by Judas Maccabeus is one of the major events in 1-2 Maccabees. (The name Nicanor is used in Acts 6.5, and translators may use the same form used in that passage.) Nicanor (b): Governor of Cyprus in 2 Macc 12.2, who is almost surely distinct from Nicanor (a).

Numenius son of Antiochus: A Jewish messenger sent by Jonathan Maccabeus on a diplomatic mission to Rome. His father Antiochus was not one of the Seleucid kings.

Odomera: Unknown; it is probably the name of an Arab tribe wandering in the Judean desert.

Onias I: High Priest from about 323–300 B.C. He is the Onias of 1 Macc 12, referred to as a figure of the past.

Onias III: High Priest, son of Simon II (Sir 50.1-21). He was a saintly man, who was removed from office in 175 B.C. and later murdered. He is the Onias of 2 Macc 3.1–4.38.

Perseus: The last king of Macedon, who ruled 179–168 B.C. The son of Philip V, he was defeated by the Romans and taken prisoner in 168 B.C.

Macedon then became a Roman province.

Phasiron: Unknown; it is probably the name of an Arab tribe wandering in the Judean desert.

Philip (a): A close associate of King Antiochus IV. Just before the king died, he appointed Philip guardian of his son and named him to rule until the boy was grown. He is sometimes identified as the foster brother of Antiochus IV on the basis of 2 Macc 9.29, but the translation “foster brother” is probably mistaken.

Philip (b): A Phrygian who was stationed in Jerusalem by King Antiochus IV to harass the people. He is the Philip of 2 Macc 5.22; 6.11; and 8.8.

Philip II of Macedon: King of Macedon, 359–336 B.C. Under him Macedon rose to a position of power in the Mediterranean world. When he died, his son Alexander took his place and developed an empire. He is the Philip of 1 Macc 1.1.

Philip V of Macedon: King of Macedon, 220–179 B.C. He was defeated by the Romans at a battle in Thessaly in 197 B.C. He is the Philip of 1 Macc 8.5.

Protarchus: In some translations, governor of Coelesyria and Phoenicia in 2 Macc 10.11. Most translations take this not as a proper name, but as a word meaning “first-ranking” or “chief.” Ptolemy son of Dorymenes: One of three generals sent by King Antiochus IV to put down the Jewish rebellion. He is sometimes identified with the Ptolemy Macron of 2 Macc 10.12-13, but many scholars doubt this.

Ptolemy Philometor (Ptolemy VI): King of Egypt, 180–145 B.C. He was only six years old when he came to the throne, so his mother governed for him at first. His mother, Cleopatra I (see above), was the sister of Antiochus IV, the Seleucid king of Syria. Ptolemy VI was thus the nephew of Antiochus IV. His formal coronation took place in 172 B.C.

Ptolemy Euergetes II Physcon (Ptolemy VIII): King of Egypt, 145–116 B.C., brother and successor of Ptolemy VI. (Ptolemy VII was the son of Ptolemy VI; he briefly shared rule with him but never was king in his own right.)

Ptolemy Macron: A defender of the Jews in the Seleucid government of Antiochus V. He was accused of treason and committed suicide. He is sometimes identified with Ptolemy son of Dorymenes, but most scholars doubt this.

Ptolemy son of Abubus: Treacherous son-in-law of Simon Maccabeus.

Razis: A highly respected Jewish leader who killed himself rather than allowing himself to be taken prisoner by the enemy.

Rhodocus: A Jewish traitor at Beth-zur.

Seleucids: The ruling dynasty in Syria during the Maccabean Period. They are named after the founder of the dynasty, Seleucus I ( ruled 312–281 B.C.), one of the senior officers of Alexander the Great.

Seleucus Philopator (Seleucus IV): Ruler of the Seleucid kingdom in Syria, 187–175 B.C.; son of Antiochus III, brother of Antiochus IV, and father of Demetrius I.

Sennacherib: King of Assyria about 705–681 B.C. He led a campaign against Judah during the reign of Hezekiah. He is referred to in 2 Macc 8.19 as a figure of the distant past.

Seron: Commander of a Seleucid army unit stationed in the vicinity of Judas Maccabeus’ earliest exploits. He tried to put down the rebellion, but was defeated.

Simon: An important Temple official while Onias III was High Priest. He betrayed his people by urging the Syrians to take the wealth of the Temple for themselves.

Simon Thassi: One of the sons of Mattathias; a brother of Judas Maccabeus. His exploits are described in 1 Macc 13.1–16.16.

Sosipater: A captain serving in the army of Judas Maccabeus.

Sostratus: A commander of the Syrian forces stationed at the fort in Jerusalem.

Timothy: In 1-2 Maccabees the name Timothy occurs in a number of passages, and there is considerable uncertainty about how many men there are by that name. Traditionally, all the references are thought to apply to one and the same man, but there are problems, most notably the fact that a Timothy is killed in 2 Macc 10.37, but in 2 Macc 12.24-25 a Timothy is defeated, but survives. Obviously if these are the same person, the accounts are out of order.

Trypho: A professional soldier in the service of Alexander Epiphanes who supported Alexander’s little son Antiochus against the claims of Demetrius II. He later killed Antiochus and made himself king, ruling the Seleucid Empire during 142–138 B.C. He also killed Jonathan Maccabeus (1 Macc 13.23).

Zabdiel: An Arab who killed Alexander Epiphanes and sent his head to King Ptolemy VI. Josephus refers to him as a prince.

List of places in 1-2 Maccabees (click or tap here to see the list)

Adasa: A town about 8 kilometers (5 miles) northwest of Jerusalem, on the road to Beth-horon.

Adora: A town about 13 kilometers (8 miles) southwest of Beth-zur.

Akrabattene: A place of uncertain identity and location. It was probably an area about 15 kilometers (9 miles) southeast of Shechem. Judas defeated some Idumeans there (1 Macc 5.3).

Alema: A fortified town in Gilead, east of Lake Galilee.

Ammon: A country just east of the Jordan River, northeast of the Dead Sea.

Antioch: The capital city of the Seleucid Empire, located in Syria.

Aradus: A small island off the coast of Syria. A city was there. In the Hebrew parts of the Old Testament it is known as Arvad.

Arbatta: A town in Galilee inland from Ptolemais. Its exact location is unknown.

Arbela: A village of uncertain location, either west or east of Lake Galilee.

Askalon (Ascalon): A town on the Palestinian coast, southwest of Jerusalem.

It is called Ashkelon in the Old Testament.

Asphar: A watering hole or oasis somewhere in the open country around Tekoa; its exact identification is unknown.

Assyria: A country in northern Mesopotamia that invaded the kingdoms of Israel and Judah in the eighth and seventh centuries B.C.

Azotus: A town on the Palestinian coast, west of Jerusalem. It is called Ashdod in the Old Testament.

Azotus, Mount: Unknown; it is probably a translational error for a Hebrew word meaning “foothills” (see the comments on 1 Macc 9.15).

Babylonia: The southern region of Mesopotamia. Its chief city was Babylon, quite near to modern-day Baghdad.

Baean: Unknown; it is perhaps the name of a tribe or a place. If a place, the likeliest guess is an area east of the northern reaches of the Dead Sea.

Baskama: The place where Jonathan Maccabeus was put to death (1 Macc 13.23). Its location is unknown, but was probably somewhere in Gilead, perhaps northeast of Lake Galilee.

Berea: An unknown village, thought by some to be either Bereth or Beerzeth. It is not the Berea of the New Testament.

Beroea: A city about 100 kilometers (60 miles) east of Antioch in Syria; the site of modern Aleppo (Halab).

Bethbasi: A village about 2 kilometers (1.25 miles) southeast of Bethlehem, where there was an abandoned fort. It may have been one of the forts built by King Uzziah (see 2 Chr 26.10).

Bethel: An important Judean city about 20 kilometers (12 miles) north of Jerusalem. It was one of the cities fortified by Bacchides.

Beth-horon: A mountain pass about 18 kilometers (11 miles) northwest of Jerusalem. It was on the road from Jerusalem to Modein. Judas Maccabeus defeated Seron there (1 Macc 3.13-26).

Beth-shan: A town not far from the west bank of the Jordan River, about 30 kilometers (18.5 miles) south of Lake Galilee. In Hellenistic times it was also known as Scythopolis.

Beth-zaith: A place between Beth-zachariah and Beth-zur. It was about 6 kilometers (3.5 miles) north of Beth-zur.

Beth-zechariah: A hill overlooking a mountain pass 18 kilometers (11 miles) south of Jerusalem and 10 kilometers (6 miles) north of Beth-zur. Judas Maccabeus’ forces were defeated in a battle that took place there (see 1 Macc 6.32-47).

Beth-zur: A Judean town on the border with Idumea (Edom). It was about 30 kilometers (18.5 miles) southeast of Emmaus, about 28 kilometers (17.5 miles) southwest of Jerusalem.

Bosor: A fortified town in Gilead, east of Lake Galilee.

Bozrah: There are three different places in Scripture with this name. The one mentioned in 1 Macc 5 was a fortified town in Gilead, east of Lake Galilee.

Caria: A region on the southwest coast of Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey).

Carnaim: A fortified town in Gilead, east of Lake Galilee.

Caspin: See Chaspho.

Charax: A place in the territory of the Tobiad Jews. It may not be a place name at all (see the comments on 2 Macc 12.17).

Chaspho: A fortified town in Gilead, east of Lake Galilee. It is also called Caspin in 2 Macc 12.13.

Cilicia: A district on the southeast coast of Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey).

Cnidus: A coastal city of Caria, in southwest Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey).

Coelesyria: An administrative district of the Seleucid Empire consisting of most of the territory along the Mediterranean Sea, with the exception of Phoenicia (Lebanon). GNB calls it “Greater Syria.”

Cos: An island in the Aegean Sea.

Crete: A large island in the Mediterranean Sea, south of Greece. It is approximately 800 kilometers (500 miles) from the coast of Israel.

Cyprus: A large island in the northeast Mediterranean, between Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey) and Syria.

Cyrene: A city on the north coast of Africa, in what is now Libya.

Damascus: The capital city of Syria, about 90 kilometers (56 miles) east of Sidon, on the Mediterranean coast.

Daphne: A park-like area about 8 kilometers (5 miles) from Antioch.

Dathema: A fortified site of undetermined location; possibly a few kilometers (miles) east of Lake Galilee.

Delos: A small island in the Aegean Sea.

Dok: A small fort near Jericho where Simon Maccabeus and two of his sons were killed.

Dor: An old Phoenician city on the coast, about 24 kilometers (15 miles) south of Mount Carmel.

Ekron: A city on the Philistine plain, located between Azotus and Jerusalem, about 15 kilometers (9.5 miles) east of Azotus (Ashdod).

Elasa: An unknown place mentioned in 1 Macc 9.5. It is sometimes identified with a place of similar name near Beth Horon, but that place is too far away from the scene of action in 1 Macc to make sense.

Elymais: A mountainous region just west of Persia, called Elam in the Hebrew Old Testament. Some manuscripts of 1 Macc 6.1 identify it as a city, but no such city is known.

Emmaus: A town in Judah about 35 kilometers (22 miles) west-northwest of Jerusalem. Judas Maccabeus’ victory over the Seleucid army in a battle fought in the nearby plains is told in 1 Macc 4.1-25.

Ephron: A strongly fortified town in Gilead, about 14.5 kilometers (9 miles) east of the Jordan River and south of Lake Galilee.

Euphrates: A river flowing from the mountains of Armenia down to the Persian Gulf through Mesopotamia, which is modern Iraq.

Galilee: The northern part of Palestine.

Gaul: A large area in western Europe, roughly modern France and Belgium.

Gaza: One of the old Philistine cities on the Mediterranean coast, about 20 kilometers (12.5 miles) south of Askalon.

Gazara: A town west of Jerusalem about halfway to the coast. In the Old Testament it is called Gezer.

Gerar: A city on the coastal plain of Palestine south of Gaza.

Gilead: A territory east of the Jordan River.

Gilgal: An unknown area or town in 1 Macc 9.2; possibly a scribal error for Gilead or Galilee.

Gortyna: A city on the Mediterranean island of Crete.

Halicarnassus: A large city in Caria, in southwest Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey).

Hamath: A city in Syria about halfway between Antioch and Lake Galilee. The name is also applied to the surrounding area. It is in modern Syria, not far north of the border with Lebanon.

Hazor: A city about 16 kilometers (10 miles) north of Lake Galilee.

Hebron: An important town 32 kilometers (20 miles) south of Jerusalem. It was once an Israelite city and David’s first capital. The Jews did not reoccupy it after the exile, and in Maccabean times it was a Gentile city.

Idumea: A region south and west of Judah. This form of the name is used in the Greek Old Testament to refer to Edom.

India: The name for territory east of the Indus River, roughly modern India.

Ionia: The territory in western Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey) directly on the Aegean Sea.

Jambri: The name of an Arab tribe living east of the Jordan River.

Jamnia: A town on the coast of Palestine about 50 kilometers (31 miles) west of Jerusalem. In the Old Testment it is called Jabneel (Josh 15.11; 19.33) and Jabneh ( 2 Chr 26.6).

Jazer: A town in Ammon.

Jezreel Valley: A wide plain cutting through the hills of Galilee, reaching from Mount Carmel on the coast to the area around Beth-shan. It is called the “Great Plain” in 1 Macc 12.49.

Joppa: A city on the Mediterranean coast of Palestine, about 55 kilometers (34 miles) northwest of Jerusalem.

Judah or Judea: The region of Palestine, especially its southern area. It is used when the writer wishes to speak of a geographical area. “Israel” or “the Jews” is usually used when referring to the people. For more on this, see page 4.

Kadesh (Kedesh): A town in northern Galilee, about 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) north of Lake Galilee.

Kedron: A town near the Mediterranean coast, about 5 kilometers (3 miles) southeast of Jamnia. It is not to be confused with Kidron, the valley just east of Jerusalem.

Lycia: A region on the southwest coast of Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey), between Caria and Pamphylia.

Lydia: A territory in western Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey).

Macedon: An ancient country on the Balkan peninsula of Europe, roughly comprising what is now the northwestern portion of Greece (Greek Macedonia) as well as the modern state of Macedonia north of Greece. This ancient country is sometimes called Macedonia, but it is more customary to use Macedon to refer to the ancient land, and Macedonia for more recent times.

Maked: A fortified town in Gilead, east of Lake Galilee.

Mallus: A city in Cilicia.

Marisa: A Gentile city about 20 kilometers (12.5 miles) northeast of Hebron, and 37 kilometers (23 miles) southwest of Jerusalem.

Medeba: A town about 10 kilometers (6 miles) east of the northern end of the Dead Sea.

Media: A territory located east of Mesopotamia in what is now northwestern Iran. In earlier times it was a kingdom.

Mesaloth: A Hebrew word that means literally “raised places,” usually in specific reference to “highways.” It can be understood as a place name in 1 Macc 9.2. If it is a place, it is unknown.

Mesopotamia: A vague but convenient term to refer to the area that is broadly equivalent to modern Iraq. So many kingdoms and states have existed there that it is helpful to have a term that can refer to that area at any time in history.

Mizpah: A town in Judah associated in ancient times with holy war. Judas Maccabeus and his army gathered there for prayer (1 Macc 3.46-60) before the battle of Emmaus. It is usually identified with a site about 13 kilometers (8 miles) north of Jerusalem, but its location is uncertain.

Modein: A village in the hill country of Palestine, about 27 kilometers (17 miles) northwest of Jerusalem. It was there that the Maccabean rebellion broke out, with the first defiant act of Mattathias.

Myndos: A small city on the west coast of Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey).

Mysia: An area in the northwestern part of Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey).

Soldiers from Mysia had a reputation as competent mercenaries—soldiers who could be employed by various rulers for military service.

Nabatea: A broad area south and east of Judah, beyond Idumea. It is more common to speak of the Nabateans, who were a nomadic people, than of the land of Nabatea.

Nadabath: An unknown town somewhere east of the Jordan River.

Orthosia: A city on the Phoenician (Lebanese) coast, near modern Tripoli.

Pamphylia: A region about midway along the southern coast of Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey), between Lycia and Cilicia.

Persepolis: A city in southern Persia, 80 kilometers (50 miles) north of modern Shiraz in Iran.

Persia: A large area stretching from the Caspian Sea to the Gulf of Oman in the Indian Ocean. It is roughly the area of modern Iran. It was the seat of the Persian Empire for about 200 years until Alexander the Great conquered it in 331 B.C. In the disturbances following Alexander’s death, it became part of the Seleucid Empire.

Pharathon: A town fortified by Bacchides, probably to be identified with Pirathon (Jdg 12.15). It was about 10 kilometers (6 miles) southwest of Mount Gerizim.

Phaselis: A city on the coast of Lycia, in southwest Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey).

Philistia: The region of Palestine along the southwestern coastal plain, where the Philistines lived in more ancient times.

Phoenicia: A coastal territory north of Palestine and south of Syria. Sidon and Tyre were its principal cities. It consisted of what is now the modern state of Lebanon.

Phrygia: An area in the interior of Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey).

Ptolemais: The ancient port city of Acco (Acre, modern Akko) on the southern coast of Phoenicia, and on the northern coast of modern-day Israel.

Rhodes: An island off the southwest coast of Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey).

Rome: A city in Italy that rose to a position of world power during Hellenistic times. The time of the Maccabees was before the establishment of the Roman Empire, but already Rome was the dominant power in the Mediterranean area.

Samos: An island in the Aegean Sea.

Sampsames: An unknown place. Some manuscripts give the variant Samp- sakes.

Scythopolis: The Greek name of Beth-shan.

Seleucia: A coastal city in Syria near the mouth of the Orontes River. It was the seaport for Antioch, the capital city of the Seleucid Empire, located about 16 kilometers (10 miles) upstream.

Sicyon: A city on the south shore of the Gulf of Corinth in Greece.

Side: A city on the coast of Pamphylia in southern Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey).

Sidon: A coastal city of Phoenicia (Lebanon).

Sparta: A city-state in Greece that was once a world power. At the time of the Maccabees its power was considerably less, but it was still recognized as an important place of power in the Mediterranean.

Syria: A country that is roughly covered by the modern nation of Syria, on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. During the time of the Maccabees Syria was ruled by the Seleucid dynasty of kings.

Tarsus: A city in Cilicia.

Tekoa: A town about 24 kilometers (15 miles) south of Jerusalem. The open country around it is referred to in 1 Macc 9.33 as “the wilderness of Tekoa.” Tephon: A town in Judea fortified by Bacchides. Its location is not definitely known, although some scholars identify it with the Tappuah of Josh 12.17.

Timnath: A town in Judea fortified by Bacchides, also known as Timnah.

This is probably the Timnath where Joshua was buried (Josh 24.30), about 16 kilometers (10 miles) northwest of Bethel.

Tripolis: A city on the coast of Syria about 100 kilometers (60 miles) north of Sidon.

Tyre: A coastal city of Phoenicia (Lebanon).

Outline of 1 Maccabees

A. Mattathias (1.1–2.70)

1. The persecution of the Jews (1.1-64) a. King Alexander and his successors (1.1-10) b. Some unfaithful Jews abandon God’s Law (1.11-15) c. King Antiochus attacks Egypt (1.16-19) d. Antiochus persecutes the Jews (1.20-64)

1) Antiochus robs the Temple (1.20-28)

2) Antiochus takes over Jerusalem (1.29-40)

3) Antiochus prohibits Jewish worship (1.41-64)

2. The revolt of Mattathias (2.1-70) a. The sorrow of the faithful Mattathias (2.1-14) b. Mattathias’ rebellion (2.15-28) c. Mattathias leads a guerrilla war (2.29-48) d. The death of Mattathias (2.49-70)

B. Judas Maccabeus (3.1–9.22)

1. In praise of Judas Maccabeus (3.1-9)

2. The early victories of Judas (3.10-26)

3. The Syrians attack Judas (3.27–4.35) a. The king takes action (3.27-37) b. The Syrians prepare for battle (3.38-41) c. Judas and his men prepare for battle (3.42-60) d. The battle of Emmaus (4.1-25) e. Judas defeats Lysias (4.26-35)

4. The purification of the Temple (4.36-61)

5. Wars with neighboring nations (5.1-68) a. Judas fights enemies near Jerusalem (5.1-8) b. Jews in Gilead and Galilee appeal for help (5.9-15) c. Simon invades Galilee (5.16-23) d. Judas and Jonathan invade Gilead (5.24-36) e. Judas defeats Timothy (5.37-44) f. Judas returns to Jerusalem (5.45-54) g. Joseph and Azariah are defeated (5.55-64) h. Battles in the southwest (5.65-68)

6. The death of King Antiochus IV (6.1-17)

7. Events during the reign of Antiochus V (6.18-63) a. Judas lays siege to the fort in Jerusalem (6.18-31) b. The battle of Beth Zechariah (6.32-47) c. The Temple under siege (6.48-54) d. The Syrian army withdraws from Jerusalem (6.55-63)

8. Further threats to the Jews (7.1-50) a. Demetrius becomes king (7.1-4) b. Alcimus and Bacchides stir up trouble in Judea (7.5-24) c. Nicanor goes to Jerusalem (7.25-32) d. Nicanor threatens the Temple (7.33-38) e. Nicanor is defeated (7.39-50)

9. Jewish relationships with Rome (8.1-32) a. Roman foreign policy (8.1-16) b. The Jewish treaty with Rome (8.17-32)

10. Judas Maccabeus dies in battle (9.1-22)

C. Jonathan (9.23–12.53)

1. Jonathan’s struggles with Demetrius I (9.23-73) a. Jonathan takes Judas’ place as leader (9.23-31) b. Jonathan’s first battles (9.32-49) c. Bacchides and Alcimus continue to harass the Jews (9.50-57) d. The end of the war (9.58-73)

2. Jonathan and Alexander Epiphanes (10.1–11.19) a. Demetrius I tries to win Jonathan’s friendship (10.1-14) b. Alexander Epiphanes appoints Jonathan High Priest (10.15-21) c. The letter of Demetrius I to the Jews (10.22-45) d. Jonathan supports Alexander Epiphanes (10.46-66) e. Jonathan’s victory over Apollonius (10.67-89) f. The fall of Alexander Epiphanes (11.1-19)

3. Jonathan and Demetrius II (11.20-53) a. Demetrius II honors Jonathan (11.20-27) b. Demetrius II grants favors to the Jews (11.28-37) c. Demetrius II betrays Jonathan (11.38-53)

4. Jonathan and Antiochus VI (11.54–12.53) a. Trypho crowns Antiochus VI king (11.54-59) b. Battles fought by Jonathan and Simon (11.60-74) c. Jewish alliances with Rome and Sparta (12.1-23) d. Battles of Jonathan and Simon (12.24-38) e. Trypho captures Jonathan (12.39-53)

D. Simon (13.1–16.24)

1. Simon takes Jonathan’s place (13.1-30) a. Simon becomes the leader (13.1-11) b. The death of Jonathan (13.12-24) c. Jonathan is buried in the family tomb (13.25-30)

2. Simon establishes an independent Jewish state (13.31–14.3) a Judea gains its independence (13.31-42) b. Simon captures Gezer (13.43-48) c. Simon takes complete control of Jerusalem (13.49-53) d. Arsaces captures Demetrius II (14.1-3)

3. In praise of Simon (14.4-49) a. Simon’s glorious accomplishments (14.4-15) b. Rome and Sparta honor Simon (14.16-24) c. An inscription in honor of Simon (14.25-49)

4. Further history (15.1–16.24) a. Antiochus VII writes a letter to Simon (15.1-9) b. Antiochus VII attacks Trypho (15.10-14) c. Rome supports the Jews (15.15-24) d. Antiochus VII quarrels with Simon (15.25-36) e. War with Antiochus VII (15.37–16.10) f. The death of Simon (16.11-17) g. John becomes High Priest (16.18-24)

Outline of 2 Maccabees

A. Letters to the Jews in Egypt (1.1–2.18)

1. A letter to the Jews in Egypt (1.1-9)

2. A letter to Aristobulus (1.10–2.18) a. The death of King Antiochus (1.10-17) b. Fire consumes Nehemiah’s sacrifice (1.18-36) c. Jeremiah hides the Tent of the Lord’s Presence (2.1-8) d. How Solomon dedicated the Temple (2.9-12) e. Nehemiah’s library (2.13-15) f. An invitation to celebrate the festival (2.16-18)

B. The writer’s introduction (2.19-32)

C. Heliodorus threatens the Temple (3.1-40)

1. The argument between Onias and Simon (3.1-6)

2. The king sends Heliodorus to Jerusalem (3.7-14a)

3. The distress of the High Priest and the people (3.14b-21)

4. The Lord protects his Temple from Heliodorus (3.22-28)

5. Onias prays for Heliodorus to recover (3.29-34)

6. Heliodorus praises God (3.35-40) D. Antiochus IV threatens the Temple (4.1–10.8)

1. Antiochus attacks the Jewish religion (4.1–6.17) a. Simon accuses Onias (4.1-6) b. Jason introduces Greek customs (4.7-22) c. Menelaus becomes High Priest (4.23-29) d. The murder of Onias (4.30-35) e. The king punishes Andronicus (4.36-38) f. Lysimachus is killed (4.39-42) g. Menelaus offers a bribe to escape punishment (4.43-50) h. Visions of a battle (5.1-4) i. Jason tries but fails to regain power (5.5-10) j. Antiochus orders a massacre in Jerusalem (5.11-20) k. Antiochus orders another massacre (5.21-27) l. The Jews are persecuted because of their faith (6.1-11) m. God’s punishment and mercy (6.12-17)

2. Faithful Jews suffer death rather than yield to Antiochus (6.18–7.42) a. Eleazar dies for his faith (6.18-31) b. A mother and her seven sons die for their faith (7.1-42)

3. Judas Maccabeus wins his first victories (8.1-36) a. Judas Maccabeus rebels against the king (8.1-7) b. Ptolemy sends Nicanor to attack Judas (8.8-11) c. Judas encourages his troops (8.12-20) d. Judas defeats Nicanor (8.21-29) e. Later victory celebrations (8.30-33) f. Nicanor is humiliated (8.34-36)

4. The death of Antiochus IV (9.1-29) a. God punishes Antiochus (9.1-10) b. Antiochus makes promises to God (9.11-17) c. Antiochus sends a letter to the Jews (9.18-29)

5. The rededication of the Temple (10.1-8)

E. Judas Maccabeus wins more victories (10.9–13.26)

1. Ptolemy Macron kills himself (10.9-13)

2. Judas Maccabeus defeats the Idumeans (10.14-23)

3. Judas defeats Timothy (10.24-38)

4. Judas defeats Lysias (11.1-12)

5. Peace negotiations (11.13-38) a. Lysias makes peace with the Jews (11.13-15) b. The letter of Lysias to the Jews (11.16-21) c. The king’s letter to Lysias (11.22-26) d. The king’s letter to the Jews (11.27-33) e. The letter from Rome to the Jews (11.34-38)

6. The people of Joppa murder the Jews (12.1-9)

7. Judas wins more victories (12.10-16)

8. Judas defeats Timothy’s army (12.17-25)

9. Judas wins other victories (12.26-31)

10. Judas defeats Gorgias (12.32-37)

11. Prayers for those killed in battle (12.38-45)

12. Menelaus is put to death (13.1-8)

13. A battle near the city of Modein (13.9-17)

14. Antiochus V makes a treaty with the Jews (13.18-26)

F. Judas defeats Nicanor (14.1–15.36)

1. Alcimus speaks against Judas (14.1-10)

2. Demetrius sends Nicanor to attack Judas (14.11-25)

3. Nicanor turns against Judas (14.26-36)

4. Razis dies for his country (14.37-46)

5. Nicanor plans to attack on the Sabbath (15.1-5)

6. Judas prepares his troops for battle (15.6-19)

7. The defeat and death of Nicanor (15.20-36)

G. Concluding words (15.37-39)

Quoted with permission from Bullard, Roger A. and Hatton, Howard A. A Handbook on 1-2 Maccabees. (UBS Helps for Translators). New York: UBS, 2011. For this and other handbooks for translators see here.

Translation commentary on Bel and the Dragon

Bel and the Dragon (Bel and the Snake in some translations) is a separate book of the Protestant Apocrypha, but for the Orthodox and Catholics it constitutes part of the canonical book of Daniel. In Catholic Bibles it is chapter 14, the last chapter, of Daniel (see “Translating the Additions to Daniel,” page 183). The main character in the chapter is Daniel, who appears in much the same way as in Susanna (Dan 13), although here perhaps not so much wise as clever. There are obvious parallels between this chapter and chapter 6 of Daniel. The traditional name given to this additional chapter, Bel and the Dragon, is somewhat misleading since it suggests that Bel and the dragon have something to do with each other, while actually there is a story of Daniel and Bel and another about Daniel and the dragon.

There are actually three short tales here, which constitute an easy outline for the book:

1-22 Daniel and the priests of Bel
23-27 Daniel and the snake-god (the dragon)
28-42 Daniel in the pit of lions

The three stories are skillfully woven together into one narrative; they are three steps in a story of how King Cyrus of Persia was converted to believe in the god of Daniel. The episode involving the prophet Habakkuk in verses 33-39 is thought by some scholars to be a later addition, but a good case can be made for its originality.

Most scholars assume that the story was translated into Greek from a Semitic original, although there is not much confidence whether that original was Hebrew or Aramaic. There is no evidence that even as a Semitic original, it ever formed part of the book of Daniel before being placed at the end of the book by the Greek translator. In the 1890s Moses Gaster claimed to have isolated an Aramaic original for the story of Daniel and the dragon, as well as the additions to chapter 3, embodied in the medieval composition Chronicles of Jerahmeel. His thesis was widely ignored until Klaus Koch recently took it seriously enough to call for a renewed investigation, and felt justified in using the Aramaic text as a tool in the textual study of the material. This is noted for information only; this Handbook will make no reference to this Aramaic text.

This book was probably written in the second century B.C. (it is no later), though the story and its parts may be older. It could have been written anywhere Jews lived who knew something of the Babylonian experience. Recent thinking favors Palestine.

Like the other deuterocanonical additions to Daniel, this chapter is found in two forms in the Greek manuscripts: the Septuagint version and that of Theodotion. As in the case of the other two additions, the church tradition has always favored Theodotion’s text. That is the basis of most translations, and it is the text that will be followed here.

The Septuagint version of the story introduces Daniel at the beginning, as if he were unknown to the readers, and identifies him as a priest. This seems to presuppose some other Daniel than the prophet, who was from the tribe of Judah, not Levi (Dan 1.6; a priest named Daniel is mentioned in Ezra 8.2 and Neh 10.6). In Theodotion’s text, which we follow, Daniel is not introduced. It is assumed that the reader will identify him with the Daniel of the book to which this story is appended.

The Septuagint text begins with this superscription: “From the prophecy of Habakkuk son of Joshua of the tribe of Levi.” A prophet named Habakkuk appears in verses 33-39 of Theodotion’s text of Bel and the Dragon, but in the Septuagint text this Habakkuk is not called a prophet. The canonical book of Habakkuk does not identify either the father or the tribe of the prophet. Ever since the fourth century A.D., there has been a question as to whether the Habakkuk of Bel and the Dragon is the well-known Habakkuk or some other figure. It seems certain, however, that the Theodotion text does think of the Habakkuk of verses 33-39 as the same figure as the canonical prophet. There is no evidence, in spite of the Septuagint’s superscription, that this chapter of Daniel ever formed part of a collection of Habakkuk’s prophecy.

Quoted with permission from Bullard, Roger A. and Hatton, Howard A. A Handbook on The Shorter Books of the Deuterocanon. (UBS Helps for Translators). New York: UBS, 2006. For this and other handbooks for translators see here.

Translation introduction to The Prayer of Azariah and the Song of the Three Young Men

In the Catholic and Orthodox Bibles this material has no name to separate it from the rest of Daniel, since it is considered an integral part of the book. Nor does it have a name in Greek manuscripts, where it forms part of Daniel. Names in the Protestant Apocrypha vary. King James Version knew it as “The Song of the Three Holy Children.” New Revised Standard Version calls it “The Prayer of Azariah and the Song of the Three Jews.” New English Bible knows it as “The Song of the Three.” This material is inserted between 3.23 and 3.24 of the Aramaic Daniel text.

In that context three young Jews, named Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah in Hebrew), are ordered to be thrown into a fiery furnace by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia because they have refused to worship his god. The furnace was heated seven times hotter than usual, and the men who tossed these three young men into the flames were themselves burned to death. At this point there is a rather obvious gap in the Hebrew narrative, which the Greek addition fills. This material consists of four parts: TYM 1-22 [Dan 3.24-45] The prayer of Azariah (poetry, with a brief prose introduction) TYM 23-27 [Dan 3.46-51] Prose narrative TYM 28-34 [Dan 3.52-56] Hymn (poetry) TYM 35-68 [Dan 3.57-90] Psalm (poetry) The hymn and the psalm together constitute the “Song of the Three Young Men,” but there is such an obvious difference between these two parts (the hymn is addressed to God; the psalm is a doxology calling on God’s creatures to praise him) that they are treated here separately.

The four parts of this addition probably have separate origins, and there is virtually no evidence to assist the scholar in assigning dates or determining place(s) of origin. A clue may lie in verse 9 [3.32], where the vile king is seemingly Nebuchadnezzar, but could easily reflect the author’s real feelings about Antiochus Epiphanes, the Seleucid king who ruled Palestine from 175 to 164 B.C. Most would agree that Hebrew, rather than Greek or Aramaic, was the original language of all four parts. In the 1890s Moses Gaster claimed to have isolated an Aramaic original for these verses, as well as the story of Daniel and the dragon, embodied in the medieval composition Chronicles of Jerahmeel. His thesis was widely ignored until Klaus Koch recently took it seriously enough to call for a renewed investigation, and felt justified in using the Aramaic text as a tool in the textual study of the material. This is noted for information only; this Handbook will make no appeal to this Aramaic text.

The greatest uncertainty concerns the prose narrative, for some scholars hold that it is an original part of the Aramaic text, filling in the obvious gap between 3.23 and 3.24 of the Aramaic. The problem with this position is that verses 23-25 [3.46-48] contradict 3.22. There, the men who threw the three into the furnace were consumed by the heat, but in the prose addition they were still feeding fuel to the flames, and later perished. If this addition was composed separately as a preface to the hymn and psalm, it too was probably written in Hebrew. If it formed part of the original Daniel, it would have been in Aramaic. It is not a problem that needs to hinder the translator.

A problem the translator will have to face is the matter of verse numbering and the order of certain verses in the psalm (35-68 [3.57-90]). There are several places where the order of verses is a bit different in the Theodotion text from that in the Septuagint and the Vulgate. Both Revised Standard Version and Good News Bible, as versions of Protestant origin, which include this passage as part of the Apocrypha, simply follow the Theodotion text. The Catholic translations New American Bible and New Jerusalem Bible, although they too are translating Theodotion’s Greek text, take the liberty of rearranging the material in these places so as to agree with the traditional order and verse numbering of the Vulgate. This involves no significant change of the meaning of the text at all, and Catholic translators for whom this passage is part of the third chapter of Daniel will probably want to follow the lead of New Jerusalem Bible and New American Bible in these places. This Handbook will carefully note these places.

Quoted with permission from Bullard, Roger A. and Hatton, Howard A. A Handbook on The Shorter Books of the Deuterocanon. (UBS Helps for Translators). New York: UBS, 2006. For this and other handbooks for translators see here.