Original Research - Special Collection: Nicholas Allen Festschrift

God in the second book of Maccabees: The connection between words and deeds

Jan W. Van Henten
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 57, No 1 | a2949 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v57i1.2949 | © 2023 Jan W. van Henten | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 22 February 2023 | Published: 19 September 2023

About the author(s)

Jan W. Van Henten, Department of History, Faculty of Humanities, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, and Department of Old and New Testament, Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch, South Africa


This article focuses on God’s image and role in 2 Maccabees. My analysis will build on narratology, especially characterisation, and on the differentiation proposed by Barbara Schmitz in connection with the book of Judith: the distinction between God’s role as a character depicted in the narrative (God’s acts and statements) and references to God in statements about God by other characters in the narrative. How does this differentiation work out for 2 Maccabees? Does the book describe any miracles performed by God, and if so, do these take place within or outside the normal processes of nature, as God, for example, did according to Joshua 10, 11–14, which reports that God made the sun stand still at Gibeon?

Contribution: Firstly, this article presents the results of a narratological analysis of 2 Maccabees. Secondly, since the statements about God and God’s actual role are prominent in the book, this analysis is important for establishing the meaning of the book for the narratees, the intended readers. Thirdly, this reading is relevant for theological studies dealing with the image and role of God in the contexts of early Judaism and early Christianity.


2 Maccabees; God; miracles; narratology; power; words and deeds.

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