Eupolemus.

A Jewish historian.


Attributed author(s).
Eupolemus.

Text(s) available.
Fragments (Greek and English).
Online Critical Pseudepigrapha.

Useful links.
Eupolemus in the Jewish Encyclopedia.
EJW (Peter Kirby).

Eupolemus was an ancient Jewish historian. Only fragments of his work are preserved, thanks to Clement of Alexandria and Eusebius.

1 Maccabees 8.17-18:

Και επελεξατο Ιουδας τον Ευπολεμον υιον Ιωαννου του Ακκως και Ιασονα υιον Ελεαζαρου και απεστειλεν αυτους εις Ρωμην στησαι φιλιαν και συμμαχιαν και του αραι τον ζυγον απ αυτων, οτι ειδον την βασιλειαν των Ελληνων καταδουλουμενους τον Ισραηλ δουλεια.

So Judas selected Eupolemus the son of John, the son of Accos, and Jason the son of Eleazar, and he sent them to Rome to establish friendship and alliance, and to rid themselves of the yoke, since they saw that the kingdom of the Greeks was completely enslaving Israel under slavery.

2 Maccabees 4.11:

Και τα κειμενα τοις Ιουδαιοις φιλανθρωπα βασιλικα δια Ιωαννου του πατρος Ευπολεμου του ποιησαμενου την πρεσβειαν υπερ φιλιας και συμμαχιας προς τους Ρωμαιους παρωσας, και τας μεν νομιμους καταλυων πολιτειας παρανομους εθισμους εκαινιζεν.

And [Antiochus] set aside the kingly philanthropies to the Jews made through John the father of Eupolemus, who went on the mission to establish friendship and alliance with the Romans, and he destroyed the lawful ways of living and introduced new customs against the law.


Peter Kirby (Early Jewish Writings).

Eupolemus.
Pseudo-Eupolemus.

Peter Kirby surveys scholars writing on Eupolemus:

Martin McNamara writes: "The writer is probably to be identified with Eupolemus, the son of John, the son of Accos, who according to 1 Macc 8:17 and 2 Macc 4:11 was sent together with Jason son of Eleazar on an embassy to Rome in 161 B.C. to negotiate a treaty between the resurgent Hasmoneans and the Roman Republic. Evidently Eupolemus was a friend of the Jewish ruler Judas Maccabee and a gifted diplomat as well, since he succeeded in his mission. He may have been a priest since he speaks at length in his writing of Solomon's temple. He composed his work in the year 158/157 B.C." (Intertestamental Literature, p. 222)

James Charlesworth writes: "The first fragment states that Moses taught writing to the Jews, who gave it to the Phoenicians, who passed it on to the Greeks. The second, apparently taken from the 'Prophecy of Elijah,' purports to contain letters sent and received by Solomon; these concern the construction of the Temple. It also describes the magnificence of the completed Temple. The third records that Solomon made 1,000 shields of gold and lived 52 years. The fourth contains an account of Jonachim's attempt to burn Jeremiah alive, and of the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar. The fifth shows a concern for the chronology from Adam until the time of Gnaius Dometian and Asinius, the consuls in Rome." (The Pseudepigrapha and Modern Research, p. 108)

Emil Schürer writes: "In place of the dry chronological computations of Demetrius, we find in Eupolemus a chequered narrative which freely handles the scriptural history and further embellishes it with all kinds of additions. Formerly three different works of this writer were spoken of: 1. Περι των της Ασσυριας Ιουδαιων; 2. Περι της Ηλιου προφητειας; and 3. Περι των εν τη Ιουδαια Σασιλεων (so Kuhlmey, p. 3). The first of these falls away, because in the fragment in Euseb. Praep. evang. ix. 17: Ευπολεμος δε εν τω περι Ιουδαιων της Ασσυριας φησι πολιν Βαβυλωνα πρωτον μεν κτισθηναι υπο των κ.τ.λ., the words της Ασσυριας certainly refer to what follows (Rauch, p. 21; Freudenthal, p. 207). The title περι των εν τη Ιουδαια βασιλεων is certified by Clemens. Alex. Strom. i. 23. 153. to this work also undoubtedly belongs the fragment referring to the history of David and Solomon in Euseb. Praep. evang. ix. 30-34, which Alexander Polyhistor asserts that he took from a work περι της Ηλιου προφητειας (Freudenthal, p. 208). Thus we in truth obtain only one work instead of the supposed three. The first fragment (Euseb. Praep. evang. ix. 17) probably does not belong to Eupolemus at all (comp. hereon No. 6 below); a second almost verbally identical in Euseb. Praep. evang. ix. 26, and Clemens Alex. Strom. i. 23. 153, represents Moses as the 'first sage,' who transmitted to the Jews the art of alphabetical writing, which was then handed on by the Jews to the Phoenicians, and by the latter to the Hellenes. The Chronicon paschale, ed. Dindorf, i. 117, also has this fragment from Eusebius, and Cyrillus Alex. adv. Julian. ed. Spanh. p. 231d, has it from Clement. The long passage in Euseb. Praep. evang. ix. 30-34 refers to the history of David and Solomon. It commences with a summary of chronology from Moses to David, then briefly relates the chief events of the history of David (Euseb. ix. 30), and then gives a correspondence between Solomon and the kings Uaphres of Egypt and Suron of Phoenicia about assistance in the building of the temple (Euseb. ix. 31-34; comp. Clemens Alex. Strom. i. 21. 130; Chron. pasch. ed. Dind. i. 168); and lastly describes in detail the building of the temple (Euseb. ix. 34). The correspondence with Suron=Hiram is taken from 2 Chron. ii. 2, 15, comp. 1 Kings v. 15-25; and that with Uaphres freely imitated from this model. Probably the fragment in Euseb. ix. 39, in which it is related how Jeremiah foretold the captivity, and how his prediction was fulfilled by the conquest of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, also belongs to Eupolemus. The fragment is according to the reading of the best manuscripts anonymous, but may on internal grounds be ascribed to Eupolemus (Freudenthal, p. 208 sq.). A chronological fragment in Clemens Alex. Strom. i. 2114. 1, which computes in a summary manner the time from Adam and Moses respectively to the fifth year of Demetrius, or the twelfth of Ptolemy, gives us information concerning the date of Eupolemus.For by this Demetrius we must probably understand Demetrius I. Soter (162-150 B.C.), and hence Eupolemus would have written in the year 158-157 B.C. or shortly afterwards. He may therefore be, as many have supposed, identical with the Eupolemus mentioned 1 Macc. viii. 17. In this case he would be a Palestinian, which is certainly favoured also by the circumstance, that he seems, besides the translation of the LXX, of which the Book of Chronicles was certainly in his hands, to have made use also of the original Hebrew text (Freudenthal, pp. 108, 119). Concerning his nationality, whether Jew or heathen, opinions are, as also in the case of Demetrius, divided; Josephus, c. Apion. i. 23 (=Euseb. Praep. evang. ix. 42), esteemed him a heathen, as do also Hody and Kuhlmey. On the other hand, Eusebius, Hist. eccl. vi. 13. 7, and Jerome, De viris illustr. c. 38, regard him as Jew. And this, as Freudenthal has recently shown, is undoubtedly correct (pp. 83-85)." (The Literature of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus, pp. 203-204)

Martin McNamara writes: "The extant fragments of the book treat of Jewish history from Moses to the fall of Jerusalem. Eupolemus was concerned in his writing to show that the Jewish people went back further in their origins than the Greeks. He was also interested in biblical chronology. He added considerably to the account given in the biblical text. Solomon is said to have sent a pillar of gold to Suron the king of Phoenicia which was set up in Tyre in the temple of Zeus. King Jonachin (Jehoiochin) is presented as having attempted to have Jeremiah burned alive. On the conquest of Jerusalem Nebuchadnezzar is said to have sent the gold, silver and brass of the temple to Babylon; not, however, the ark and the tablets: these Jeremiah retained. The story about Jeremiah and the custody of the ark (contrary to Jer 3:16; 39:14; 40:4) is also found in the roughly contemporary passage 2 Macc 2:4-8." (Intertestamental Literature, pp. 222-223)

Peter Kirby surveys scholars writing on pseudo-Eupolemus:

Martin McNamara writes: "The work entitled On the Jews was excerpted by the Greek historian Alexander Polyhistor and attributed to the Jewish writer Eupolemus, who flourished about 150 B.C. (see no. 9 below). Polyhistor's excerpts were reproduced by Eusebius in Praeparatio Evangelica (book 9, 17; see also 9, 18, 2). It is now recognized that the text is not from the well-known Jewish writer Eupolemus but rather from a Samaritan who wrote about 300 B.C." (Intertestamental Literature, p. 214)

James Charlesworth writes: "Of this text, called by B. Z. Wacholder (no. 547e) and N. Walter (no. 547f) Pseudo-Eupolemus and by P. Riessler (no. 62) simply 'Anonymous,' only sixteen verses are preserved in quotations of Alexander Polyhistor (80-35 B.C.) by Eusebius in his Praeparatio Evangelica (9.17-18), which was translated by E. H. Gifford (Eusebius, Preparation for the Gospel. Oxford: Clarendon, 1903). Alexander Polyhistor mentions two fragments of the Anonymous Samaritan, calling the first 'an anonymous writing' (Pr. ev. 9.18, 2), but incorrectly attributing the second to Eupolemus (Pr. ev. 9.17, 2-9). The Greek text of these two excerpts has been republished by A.-M. Denis in his Fragmenta pseudepigraphorum quae supersunt graeca (no. 23, pp. 197f.). This Samaritan text was probably composed between 200 and 150 B.C., and was written by a Samaritan because Mt. Gerazim is called 'the mountain of the Most High.'" (The Pseudepigrapha and Modern Research, pp. 77-78)

Emil Schürer writes: "Among the extracts of Alexander Polyhistor are found, Euseb. Praep. evang. ix. 17 and 18, two, which to judge by their contents are evidently identical, although the one is much shorter than the other. The longer (Euseb. ix. 17) is given as an extract from Eupolemus, who relates that Abraham descended in the [thir]teenth generation from the race of giants, who after the deluge built the tower of Babel, that he himself emigrated from Chaldaea to Phoenicia and taught the Phoenicians τροπας ηλιου και σεληνης και τα αλλα παντα. He also proved of assistance to them in war. He then departed by reason of a famine to Egypt, where he lived with the priests in Heliopolis and taught them much, instructing them in την αστρολογιαν και τα λοιπα. The real discoverer however of astrology was Enoch, who received it from the angels and imparted it to men. We are told the same virtually, but more briefly, in the second extract, Euseb. ix. 18, which Alexander Polyhistor derived from an anonymous work (εν δε αδεσποτοις ευρομεν). If this parallel narrative is itself striking, it must also be added, that the longer extract can scarcely be from Eupolemus. Eupolemus was a Jew, but in the extract Gerizim is explained by ορος υψιστου. Also according to Eupolemus Moses was the first sage (Euseb. ix. 26), while in the extract Abraham is already glorified as the father of all science. Hence the supposition of Freudenthal, that the original of both extracts was one and the same, viz. the anonymous work of a Samaritan, and that the longer extract of Alexander has been ascribed by an oversight to Eupolemus, is one which commends itself. In this work also, as remains to be mentioned, Greek traditions and Scripture history are again blended." (The Literature of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus, pp. 210-211)

Martin McNamara writes: "The city of Babylon is said to have been first founded by those who escaped the Flood. Enoch, not the Egyptians, is said to have been the first who discovered astrology. Methusaleh, Enoch's son, is said to have learned all things through the angels of God, 'and thus we gained our knowledge.' This is the kind of lore we find in the Enochic writings and is found also in the Genesis Apocryphon found at Qumran (see p. 147 above). Abraham, Pseudo-Eupolemus further tells us, was trained in astrology, which he taught first to the Phoenicians and later to the Egyptians. Abraham is also presented as having lived for some time with the Egyptian priests at Heliopolis." (Intertestamental Literature, pp. 214-215)