Between Power and Priestcraft: The Politics of Prayer in 2 Maccabees

Between Power and Priestcraft: The Politics of Prayer in 2 Maccabees Between Power and Priestcraft: Th e Politics of Prayer in 2 Maccabees Chris L. de Wet Department of New Testament and Early Christian Studies, University of South Africa, P.O. Box 392, UNISA 0003, Republic of South Africa dwetcl@unisa.ac.za Abstract Th e aim of this study is to experiment with a prominent feature in religious texts, namely prayers, and aims to look at the political function of prayer. As an example one religious text from the Septuagint (LXX) is taken, namely the Second Book of the Maccabees, and the experiment is conducted with reference to this text. First, a cultural-systems model of Second Temple Judaism is given, and second, the literary accounts of prayers and prayer-narratives are examined. It is shown that the prayers in 2 Maccabees had two distinct functions. It fi rstly promoted group cohesion between Palestinian and Diaspora Jews and, second, it promoted an anti-Hellenistic sentiment and positive temple propaganda. Keywords 2 Maccabees, Septuagint, prayer, politics, cultural systems, temple propaganda, group cohesion, anti-Hellenism 1. Introduction Religion has never been solely about God. Jonathan Z. Smith masterfully illustrates how subtly religion and politics are interwoven in some letters between John Adams and Th omas Jeff erson. 1 http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Religion and Theology Brill

Between Power and Priestcraft: The Politics of Prayer in 2 Maccabees

Religion and Theology, Volume 16 (3-4): 150 – Jan 1, 2009

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Publisher
Brill
Copyright
© 2009 Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
ISSN
1023-0807
eISSN
1574-3012
D.O.I.
10.1163/102308009X12561890523519
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Between Power and Priestcraft: Th e Politics of Prayer in 2 Maccabees Chris L. de Wet Department of New Testament and Early Christian Studies, University of South Africa, P.O. Box 392, UNISA 0003, Republic of South Africa dwetcl@unisa.ac.za Abstract Th e aim of this study is to experiment with a prominent feature in religious texts, namely prayers, and aims to look at the political function of prayer. As an example one religious text from the Septuagint (LXX) is taken, namely the Second Book of the Maccabees, and the experiment is conducted with reference to this text. First, a cultural-systems model of Second Temple Judaism is given, and second, the literary accounts of prayers and prayer-narratives are examined. It is shown that the prayers in 2 Maccabees had two distinct functions. It fi rstly promoted group cohesion between Palestinian and Diaspora Jews and, second, it promoted an anti-Hellenistic sentiment and positive temple propaganda. Keywords 2 Maccabees, Septuagint, prayer, politics, cultural systems, temple propaganda, group cohesion, anti-Hellenism 1. Introduction Religion has never been solely about God. Jonathan Z. Smith masterfully illustrates how subtly religion and politics are interwoven in some letters between John Adams and Th omas Jeff erson. 1

Journal

Religion and TheologyBrill

Published: Jan 1, 2009

Keywords: ANTI-HELLENISM; 2 MACCABEES; GROUP COHESION; POLITICS; PRAYER; SEPTUAGINT; CULTURAL SYSTEMS; TEMPLE PROPAGANDA

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