Details of vocabulary and phrasing point to a Greek text written in a language modeled on the Greek developed through translating the other books in the Septuagint. The extant Hebrew language versions, whether identical to the Greek, or in the shorter Hebrew version, date to the Middle Ages. The Hebrew versions name important figures directly such as the Seleucid king Antiochus IV Epiphanes, thus placing the events in the Hellenistic period when the Maccabees battled the Seleucid monarchs.

The Greek version uses deliberately cryptic and anachronistic references such as “Nebuchadnezzar”, a “King of Assyria”, who “reigns in Nineveh”, for the same king. The adoption of that name, though unhistorical, has been sometimes explained either as a copyist’s addition, or an arbitrary name assigned to the ruler of Babylon.