Wednesday, March 04, 2009

The NCAB on Purgatory & 2 Maccabees 12

The New Catholic Answer Bible is an odd mixture of Catholic scholarship and a lack of Catholic scholarship. That is, the actual verse notes appear to have been compiled by educated Catholic scholars. On the other hand, this Bible has colored "inserts" (reminiscent of Watchtower literature) that appear sporadically throughout highlighting a particular Catholic belief. These present the typical popular Catholic apologetics one would find put forth from Catholic Answers.

As I noted previously, insert H2 answers the question "Is Purgatory in the Bible?" by stating, "The writer of 2 Maccabees praises the offering of prayers and sacrifices for the dead (see 12:38-46). Why do the departed need such assistance from us? So that their sins 'might be blotted out' (12:42)." The answer tacitly affirms 2 Maccabees 12 teaches purgatory.

On the other hand, here is the actual verse commentary for 2 Maccabees 12: 42-46-

12, 42-46: This is the earliest statement of the doctrine that prayers (v 42) and sacrifices (v 43) for the dead are beneficial. The statement is made here, however, only for the purpose of proving that Judas believed in the resurrection of the just (2 Mc 7,9. 14. 23. 36). That is, he believed that expiation could be made for certain sins of otherwise good men- soldiers who had given their lives for God's cause. Thus, they could share in the resurrection. His belief was similar to, but not quite the same as, the Catholic doctrine of purgatory.

I think I'm going to start a collection of Catholic commentaries on these verses. I find the range of interpretations quite interesting.


David Waltz said...

Hello James,

Do you have the following yet:

Grace and peace,


EA said...

I cannot fathom how Catholics can use 2 Maccabees 12: 42-46 as prooftexts for Purgatory.

Purgatory is for the payment of temporal punishment not yet made for CONFESSED Mortal Sin and Venial sin. Another way of stating this is that those that die in friendship with God, but still in need of a final cleansing have the remnants of the stain of sin removed in Purgatory.

The dead in 2 Maccabees 12 were guilty of idolatry (Mortal Sin) v. 40: "But under the tunic of each of the dead they found amulets sacred to the idols of Jamnia, which the law forbids the Jews to wear. So it was clear to all that this was why these men had been slain."

Since this idolatry was discovered after the soldiers were slain , it is a certainty that their ("mortal") sin was unconfessed.

So according to the logic that Catholic apologists are using, unconfessed Mortal Sin can be forgiven after death.

Jesse said...


This is quite interesting, as my Roman Catholic New American Bible Saint Jerome edition contains the exact commentary on 2 Maccabees 12:42-46. I think that the quote is injurious to the Roman Catholic case for Purgatory though.