Martha Shamoni: A Jewish Syriac rhymed liturgical poem about the Maccabean martyrdoms (Sixth Maccabees)

2006 2006

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Abstract (summary)

This research investigates a rediscovered Syriac poem ("6 Macc"). Its text was published in 1895; only Witold Witakowski has published on the poem in more than 100 years since. Late manuscripts preserve an early work of Jewish pseudepigrapha predating 4 Macc. We know this because 4 Macc, in elaborate Greek rhetorical style from the second century C.E. at the latest, combines material from 2 Macc 6-7 and from 6 Macc. For the narrative basis to 6 Macc to have come later in time, following 4 Macc, it would have necessitated removing 2 Macc 6-7 material from 4 Macc.

Chapter One introduces 6 Macc, and explores its manuscript history in Christian settings. Chapter Two presents the case that 6 Macc is, nevertheless, a Jewish work, of the kind described as Jewish pseudepigrapha. The chapter reviews and reassesses the style of scholarship that assumes that Syriac is a "Christian" language, to the exclusion of Judaism. This chapter argues for a Jewish community producing the work. The third chapter describes 6 Macc as 'evolved literature', examining its redaction history. Variations in poetic style indicate different editors and viewpoints. The fourth chapter compares the three versions—2 Macc, 6 Macc, and 4 Macc—that consistently present the tale in the order in which Eleazar, priest and/or scribe, is first to face torture to the death, during the persecutions of the Jews by the Greek ruler Antiochus ca. 168 B.C.E. The fifth chapter contains a summary and suggests additional lines of research.

A comparison chart and a separate table are used to present the specifics of the Central Narrative of Torture common to 6 Macc and 4 Macc.

Appendix 1 includes the Bibliography, a brief note about the article that follows, and the original paper "Fourth Maccabees and the Asia Minor Hypothesis." Appendix 2 presents Part 2. Text, Translation, Notes, and Commentary for 6 Macc.

Indexing (details)

Classical studies;
Religious history;
Middle Eastern history
0294: Classical studies
0320: Religious history
0321: Bible
0333: Middle Eastern history
Identifier / keyword
Philosophy, religion and theology; Social sciences; Language, literature and linguistics; Jewish; Maccabees 6; Martyrdoms; Rhymed liturgical poem; Shamoni, Martha; Syriac
Martha Shamoni: A Jewish Syriac rhymed liturgical poem about the Maccabean martyrdoms (Sixth Maccabees)
Peterson, Sigrid
Number of pages
Publication year
Degree date
School code
DAI-A 68/05, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
Kraft, Robert A.
University of Pennsylvania
University location
United States -- Pennsylvania
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
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