I am reading 1 Maccabees and understand that these events took place around 150 B.C. In the book, the years progress upwards ex. from 150 to to 160.

What timeline were the authors of this book going by. It seems to me they are writing from a timeline that marks our ~300 B.C. as their ~0?

  • 1
    See Seleucid era.
    – Lucian
    May 11 '19 at 20:14
  • Thank you. The Seleucid era marks the beginning of the Seleucid empire. Our 311 BC is the first year of the Seleucid era. May 11 '19 at 20:25
  • @Lucian if you make an answer I'll accept it May 11 '19 at 21:27

According to the final verses of the book, 1 Maccabees was written sometime before 104 BC:

As concerning the rest of the acts of John, and his wars, and worthy deeds which he did, and the building of the walls which he made, and his doings, Behold, these are written in the chronicles of his priesthood, from the time he was made high priest after his father (1 Maccabees 16:23-24, KJV)

The John in the above passage was John Hyrcanus I, High Priest and ruler of Israel from 134 to 104 BC. According to the preface to the book in the Orthodox Study Bible, the book covers the period from from the reign of Antiochus IV Epiphanes (175–164 BC) to the succession of John Hyrcanus.

The OSB preface continues:

First Maccabees was originally written in Hebrew and was probably called “The Hasmoneans,” after Mattathias of the house of Hashmon (2:1). It was Mattathias who began the Jewish revolt with the help of his five sons. The bulk of the book recounts Judah’s war against Antiochus IV, the Seleucid ruler who tried to force Hellenism upon the Jews.

The following outline of the book is provided:

I. Prologue: The Hellenistic Empire from Alexander to Antiochus IV (1:1–64)
II. The Hasmonean (Maccabean) Revolt (2:1–4:61)
III. Jewish Expeditions against Neighboring Tribes (5:1–68)
IV. Lysias Usurps the Throne (6:1–63)
V. The Reign of Demetrius I Soter (7:1–50)
VI. The Alliance between the Jews and the Romans (8:1–31)
VII. Jonathan Succeeds Judas (9:1–73)
VIII. The Rise and Fall of Alexander Balas (10:1–11:19)
IX. Demetrius II Betrays the Jews (11:20–53)
X. Trypho and the Reign of Antiochus VI (11:54–12:53)
XI. The Emergence of the Jewish Nation under Simon (13:1–16:24)

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