Paper on IV Maccabees: Other Changes in Government

Today, I read Robert Doran’s “Jason’s Gymnasion,” Of Scribes and Scrolls, ed. Harold W. Attridge, John J. Collins, Thomas H. Tobin (Lanham: University Press of America, 1990) 99-109.

Here is a quote about a change in education impacting the politeia:

“The strong connection between education and politeia is particularly well attested for Sparta. When Solon praises Spartan practices, Anacharsis asks why the Athenians have not imitated them. Solon’s reply is interesting: ‘Because we are content, Anacharsis, with these exercises which are our own; we do not much care to copy foreign customs…” (Lucian, Anach. 39) In every discussion of Greek education, Sparta’s system…is given a separate chapter. Sparta had its own way of forming its citizens. Awareness of this deep division between Sparta and other Greek cities is important in understanding what Philopoemen did to Sparta in 188 BCE. Besides demolishing the walls of Sparta, dispersing foreign mercenaries and scattering newly-freed slaves, the Achaeans are said by Livy to have abrogated the laws and customs…of Lycurgus and to have forced the Spartans to adopt the laws and institutions of the Achaeans: ‘so that they would all become one body, and concord would be established among them…The state of Lacedaemon having, by these means, lost the sinews of its strength, remained long in subjection to the Achaeans; but nothing did so much damage as the abolition of the discipline of Lycurgus…in the practice of which they had continued during seven hundred years’ (Livy 38.34)” (104).

Doran then quotes Plutarch, Phil. 16.5-6, which discusses the destruction and later reinstitution of Sparta’s politeia. Doran’s argument is that, by altering Sparta’s notorious educational system, the Achaeans were challenging its ancestral constitution. The same thing is said about Jason’s introduction of the gymnasium in Jerusalem in I Maccabees 1:13-14, II Maccabees 4:9-15, and IV Maccabees 4:19-10: that it challenged Israel’s law.

Now, I wonder about Sparta the same thing that I’m wondering about Jason’s reform of Jerusalem: what exactly changed?

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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