I believe they are in the Christian canon... why not Jewish?

  • Equivalently one might ask, for instance, how come that the Islamic Qur'an preserves within its text various pious Christian beliefs concerning the infancy of Jesus, which originate in writings that Christians themselves deem non-canonical, and thus not part of what constitutes Christian scripture ?
    – user18041
    Apr 22, 2019 at 0:44

1 Answer 1


As part of the Apocrypha, it's part of the Bible for Catholics, not Protestants.

Try this lecture: http://www.yutorah.org/lectures/lecture.cfm/725302/Dr._Shnayer_Leiman/Inspiration_and_Canonicity:_The_Formation_of_the_Biblical_Text

The simple answer is that Judaism regards the Age of Prophecy as having ended about 2400 years ago, with Israel as a vassal state of Persia -- long before the Chanukah story. Anything after this point was no longer "Divinely inspired" (ruach hakodesh) like the earlier books, and therefore not Bible. (Though still possibly worthwhile, meaningful, valid, and/or wise.)

Professor Leiman suggests that the Tanach ends about 2400 years ago; the Christian New Testament suddenly picks up several centuries later. Hey, what about the time in between?! The Apocrypha conveniently fills in that gap. Further reason why the rabbis wanted that demarcation.

He also adds that a book could be written out if its ideas were contrary to Judaic belief or practice. (The book of Susana involves a.) Judaic courts administering the death penalty while under Babylonian rule b.) the punishment for "eidim zom'min" when the two witnesses conflict with one another.)

Maccabees' problem is most likely timing (and thus Divine inspiration, or lack thereof) and not content, to the best of my knowledge. There is some discussion about the war's precise Halachic status (milchemet mitzva vs milchemet reshut; yachid vs rabim), based on how it's described in Macabees.

While the focus of the Talmudic recounting of Chanukah is different from that of the Book of Maccabees, but that doesn't mean that the two conflict. Just a matter of what elements are emphasized.

  • 8
    In short: It was written too late.
    – Shmuel
    Dec 8, 2011 at 21:55
  • Isn't there also a gemara (can't remember where), or perhaps a commentary to a gemara, that states that even if time permitted canonization of the Book of Maccabbees, the rabbis were so critical that the Hasmonians -- all priests -- assumed the kingship, rather than handing it over to Yehudah, that canonization of the book was out of the question? Dec 31, 2013 at 18:18
  • 1
    I think you are referring to what the chut hamishulosh wrote in the name of his grandfather the chassam soffer, the reason reb yehuda hanasi left chanuka out of mishnayos was because he was upset at the chashmonaim for stealing the malchus from his family. This authenticity of this statement has been questioned by other members of his own family and many have compiled list where rabbi yehuda hannasi does mention chanuka, so the entire premise is faulty.
    – user6591
    Jun 23, 2014 at 23:06
  • Apparently I can't comment on the above reply, but wanted to correct: It is part of the Deuterocanon, which are the books excluded from the Protestant Canon at the Reformation, when the Protestant Canon came into existence. The Catholic Canon, which was the only Canon until the Reformation, was solidified at councils dating back to the 4th century, meaning that Maccabees was in the Christian Canon for over 1,000 years before the Protestant Reformation. It is imprecise to say that it is Apocryphal from a Christian definition, because the Catholic and Orthodox Churches disagree with [cont]
    – RandomGuy
    Dec 5, 2016 at 8:26
  • 1
    @RandomGuy thank you. From J.SE's standpoint, when we say "the Apocrypha", we intend the material that is contained in the Catholic Old Testament but not in the Jewish Tanakh.
    – Shalom
    Dec 6, 2016 at 2:02

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