n Journal of Northwest Semitic Languages - Filled with the spirit; or new wine, which cheers both God and men? Analysing the topos of Intoxication in 3 Maccabees

Volume 45 Number 2
  • ISSN : 0259-0131


This paper is an exploration of the topos of intoxication as it applies to a reading of 3 Macc. Here the topos is examined as regards its Hellenistic rhetorical strategy to highlight the differences between Jew and non-Jew; and between righteous and non-righteous actors in the narrative. In the process it becomes evident that the author is concerned with the topos of intoxication to highlight both orthopraxy and heteropraxy. Ultimately, three purposes for the topos are identified: (1) An association purely with Philopater and his friends as adherents of the cult of Dionysus. (2) Alcohol is linked to the irrational behavior of drunken party goers who exhibit qualities that oppose both Dionysian as well as Jewish orthopraxy. (3) Both ironically and antithetically, from 3 Macc 6:30 onwards, alcohol suddenly becomes a symbol of orthopraxy.

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