The New International Encyclopædia/Jason of Cyrene

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The New International Encyclopædia
Jason of Cyrene
Edition of 1905. See also Jason of Cyrene on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

JASON OF CYRENE, sḯ-rē'nḗ. An author whose history in five books is mentioned in II. Maccabees ii. 23. The original work is lost, and known to us only in the epitome made by the author of II. Maccabees. (See Maccabees, Books of the.) There is some evidence that it was used by Gorionides. It was unquestionably written in Greek. Whether Jason was a Greek or a Hellenistic Jew is not altogether known. Büchler defends the former opinion and ascribes to him those parts of II. Maccabees dealing with the Syrian wars under Antiochus IV., Antiochus V., and Demetrius I. (qq.v.). But there is reason to believe, as Willrich has shown, that the work comprised the whole history of the Asmonean dynasty, and that only the part of it dealing with events that occurred between B.C. 175 and 161 was epitomized. In that case it is more natural to suppose that he was a Jew. He may, however, have had access to written sources not of Jewish origin. This would account for some facts that have recently led Niese to ascribe to II. Maccabees, and consequently to Jason, a higher age and a greater credibility than to I. Maccabees. It is not likely that this view will prevail. But even if preference is given to I. Maccabees, this may not affect Jason so much as the author of II. Maccabees. The latter has confessedly exercised much freedom. Not only has he abridged, but also added to, and probably altered Jason's work. Kosters and Kamphausen have gone so far as to declare Jason a fictitious personage behind whose name the author indulged in polemics against I. Maccabees. There is no convincing evidence, however, of acquaintance with I. Maccabees, and such a fiction seems to most scholars wholly improbable. If Jason's work included the whole dynasty, Willrich is probably right in assuming that he wrote in the reign of Claudius. Others maintain that he lived in the second century B.C. The Ἰάσων κυρήναιος discovered on a temple wall in Egypt (Revue des études grecques, 1894, p. 297), seems to belong to the third century B.C. Consult: Geiger, Urschrift und Uebersetzungen der Bibel (Breslau, 1857); Wellhausen, Pharisäer und Sadducäer (Greifswald, 1874); Kosters, in Theologisch Tijdschrift (Leyden, 1878; pp. 491 sqq.); Trieber, Zur Kritik des Gorionides (Göttingen, 1895); Kamphausen, in Kantzsch's Apokryphen (Tübingen, 1900); Willrich, Judaica (Göttingen, 1900); Schürer, Geschichte des jüdischen Volkes (3d ed., Leipzig, 1901); Büchler, Tobiaden und Oniaden (Vienna, 1899); Niese, Kritik der beiden Makkabäerbücher (Berlin, 1900); Torrey, article “Maccabees,” in Encyclopædia Biblica (London, 1902).