Tuesday, April 21, 2015

How to Maneuver 2 Maccabees and Prayers for the Dead

Here are a few highlights from a blog I just skimmed. Note the clever use of the word "superstitious" (I've placed the word in bold). By the use of one word, "Poof!"mortal sin becomes venial sin.

Shameless Popery says:
The Second Book of Maccabees is completely straightforward about praying for the departed, and praying to the Saints. In 2 Macc. 12:43-46, some of Judas Maccabeus’ soldiers fall in combat. Although they’re fighting for Israel, the Israelites discover superstitious amulets on the fallen soldiers, and realize this is why they were allowed to fall. Maccabeus responds to this by praying for the dead, and offering a sin offering on their behalf:
He also took up a collection, man by man, to the amount of two thousand drachmas of silver, and sent it to Jerusalem to provide for a sin offering. In doing this he acted very well and honorably, taking account of the resurrection. For if he were not expecting that those who had fallen would rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead. But if he was looking to the splendid reward that is laid up for those who fall asleep in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. 
Therefore he made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin. You can’t get much clearer then that. The Bible tells us that he prayed for the dead, praises him for it, and then tells us that he thereby made atonement for them that they might be delivered from their sin. All of this is linked to the resurrection of the dead, which puts the author of 2 Maccabees ahead of the Sadducees when it comes to orthodoxy (cf. Luke 20:27).

Detractor in the comment box:
Concerning 2 Maccabees. It has been a few years since I read this book, but I think even in what you quoted you have a few problems. First, idolatry is a mortal sin and they died in their mortal sin. Prayers cannot avail those who have not done penance for such a sin. So, if you interpret 2 Maccabees as Scriptural proof of prayers for the dead, you just eviscerated your own dogma.

Shameless Popery says:
Underlying your confidence that the fallen are in Hell is the idea that they were idolaters. But it doesn’t actually say that in the Bible. Rather it says that the fallen were wearing the “sacred tokens of the idols of Jam′nia, which the law forbids the Jews to wear” (2 Macc. 12:40). So maybe they were idolaters, or maybe they were just superstitious. But err on the side of praying for them, obviously!

3 comments:

EA said...

"Underlying your confidence that the fallen are in Hell is the idea that they were idolaters. But it doesn’t actually say that in the Bible. Rather it says that the fallen were wearing the “sacred tokens of the idols of Jam′nia, which the law forbids the Jews to wear” (2 Macc. 12:40). So maybe they were idolaters, or maybe they were just superstitious."

Inventive, but nonetheless deceptive. It is true that the passages in question do not actually use the word "idolatry", but let's look at the passages to see what they do say.

40 And they found under the coats of the slain some of the donaries of the idols of Jamnia, which the law forbiddeth to the Jews: so that all plainly saw, that for this cause they were slain.

Note the following:

1) The tokens of the idols of Jamnia were found "under the coats of the slain". There was a deliberate attempt to hide the idolatrous tokens. Why? Because the wearing of the tokens of the IDOLS is FORBIDDEN to the Jews. Isn't it generally the case when things are described as being forbidden to the Jews that those things forbidden carry with them the death penalty when violated?

2) As a RESULT of the wearing of the tokens they were slain and it was plain for all to see that the reason for their being slain was the wearing of the tokens. That seems awfully harsh for "mere superstition".

3) Further, if the motivation was "merely superstition" rather than idolatry, why try to hide it and why were they slain for it in a manner that was plain to all that the reason for their death was the wearing of the tokens which was forbidden?

4) Shameless Popery omits the latter half of verse 40 which does not provide the appearance of frank exegetical effort in attempting to excuse the sin of those slain.

41 Then they all blessed the just judgment of the Lord, who had discovered the things that were hidden.

42 And so betaking themselves to prayers, they besought him, that the sin which had been committed might be forgotten. But the most valiant Judas exhorted the people to keep themselves from sin, forasmuch as they saw before their eyes what had happened, because of the sins of those that were slain.


The people take to prayer, first blessing God for His just judgement who had seen those things that were hidden. Why is God's judgement considered just? Is it because He had seen what was hidden or is it that He had seen the hidden sin and punished the transgressors accordingly?
The people are beseeching God to forget "the sin" which was committed. The prayers in verse 42 may have as a motivation a plea to forgive a degree of culpability in those that were not slain. The slain may be a warning to the "wavering" or the double-minded.


Judas exhorts the people to keep themselves from sin lest they come to the same fate as the sinners that were slain. Does that sound like a "venial sin" to anyone? Is it part of the dogma of Purgatory that "sins be forgotten" or is it that the temporal punishment of sins already forgiven are hastened and the journey to heaven "expedited"?

Shameless Popery is guilty of both spooftexting these passages and of Shameless Popery.

Vincent VAN DER WEERDEN said...

How did Thomas Aquinas interpret this verse?

PeaceByJesus said...

"Poof!"mortal sin becomes venial sin.

And by reducing the charge to merely being "superstitious," they have made that the cause of death, making venial sin "mortal" in a actual sense.

"Now under the coats of every one that was slain they found things consecrated to the idols of the Jamnites, which is forbidden the Jews by the law. Then every man saw that this was the cause wherefore they were slain." (2Ma 12:40)

In addition, that the Second Book of Maccabees is "completely straightforward"...about praying to the Saints," which the shameful popery imagines, is nowhere seen in the text. In fact, the text distinctly says they prayed to the Lord.

"All men therefore praising the Lord, the righteous Judge, who had opened the things that were hid,
2Ma 12:41 Betook themselves unto prayer, and besought him..." (vs. 41,42)

But for RCs, even apocryphal books must be compelled (as an abused servant) to support Cath traditions of men.