Online Encyclopedia

JASON OF CYRENE

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V15, Page 279 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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JASON OF CYRENE, a Hellenistic Jew, who lived about 100 B.C. and wrote a history of the times of the Maccabees down to the victory over Nicanor (175–161 B.c.). This work is said to have been in five books and formed the basis of the present 2 Macc. (see ch. ii. 19–32).
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Additional information and Comments

These five books should have been available to Josephus, but apparently he did not use this source even if he might have done so. In the opening lines of 'War' Josephus even confuses Onias III with his son, who would have become Onias IV if history had taken a different course, and who later set up his own temple in Egypt. With what appears to be a reliable chronicle of the times of Antiochus Epiphanes and the Maccabees, used as the source for the Apocryphal books 1 and 2 Maccabees, it is almost a matter for regret that Josephus has stepped in to sow confusion on so many issues in this connection, and we cannot now be certain whether Onias III was deposed in favour of his Hellenised brother Joshua (who changed his name to Jason) - or whether he died, as Josephus tells us in Antiquities 12. There is even confusion over how many times Antiochus raided Jerusalem on his way home from Egypt. It is probably advisable for historians to relegate Josephus to a back seat when considering this era.
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