Seneca, 4 Maccabees and Luke-Acts are united in this treatment of the theme and theology of Christian, Roman and Jewish views on suffering. Tabb presents a close reading of representative texts from Seneca’s essays and letters, Acts, and 4 Maccabees in order to highlight the respective authors’ understanding of suffering, working through their perspectives on God, humanity, the world’s problem and its solution, and the future. All three authors are shown to both expect and accept suffering as a present reality governed by God’s sovereign purposes, however defined.
Strikingly, all three of the authors affirm that suffering is not humanity’s fundamental problem and it instead functions as a cipher for other things to be displayed. For Seneca, this means an opportunity for the sufferer to show virtue. For Luke and the author of 4 Maccabees this means suffering as an indication of the world’s brokenness due to sin, which can then play a role in salvation. Luke presents the creator and covenant God of Israel acting through his suffering to accomplish salvation and restoration for the world marred by sin and suffering.