In the 70s there were a number of publications promoting a fragmented provenance for the book of 2 Maccabees (Habicht and Momigliano, primarily). More recently that perspective has been mitigated in favor of a view that sees the text as unified when it first came from the pen of the epitomizer (see van Henten, Doran, and most recently Schwartz). From Doran:
The epitome is a unified piece . . . and not a patchwork quilt of sources.
While I think the narrative is generally a unified text, the martyrs of Eleazar and the mother and her seven sons are, I believe, late interpolations into the narrative. I’d like to present a couple considerations which I believe support this view.
The martyrdoms of Eleazar and the seven sons are often referred to as a turning point within the narrative. Their deaths, acting as expiatory sacrifices, catalyzed the subsequent victories of Judas and his men. Interestingly enough, when Judas gives his intercessory prayer with his men (2 Macc 8:2–4), he fails to mention the martyrdoms. He cites the blasphemies committed prior to the martyrdoms (2 Macc 6:1–11), but he is silent regarding any subsequent improprieties on the part of the king. If these events were really the impetus for Judas’ descent from the mountains and return to battle, he seems rather indifferent to, or even ignorant of, them. Additionally, the text seems to treat the intercessory prayer as the catalyst for the return of God‘s favor. Immediately following the prayer in chapter 8 we are told simply that the Lord’s wrath turned to mercy.
A look at contemporary Jewish literature also shows intercessory prayers are consistently represented as the event that leads to divine intervention. In 1 Maccabees it is Judas’ intercessory prayer alone that restores the Lord’s mercy. The situation is same in Daniel chapter 9, 1 Enoch 47, and Baruch 2–5. Throughout the Maccabean period the prayers of the righteous serve to appease the wrath of God. Martyrdom is conspicuously absent as such a catalyst. Thus 2 Maccabees provides its own turning point independent of chapter 7. The excision of the chapter is further supported by 2 Macc 6:12–17, where the author comforts the reader after having described the brutal improprieties of Antiochus. No explanation or warning accompanies the more grisly deaths of 6:18–7:42, and Judas’ prayer in chapter 8 specifically names only those crimes that precede the martyrological interjection.
In my estimation, there is little reason to reject chapter 7 as a later addition to the narrative. The phrase “King of the Universe” in chapter 7 and the use of the phrase “Judaism” elsewhere in the book (which I discuss here) also support the idea that the addition of chapter 7 and the final redaction of the book occured not in the second century BCE, but in the late first or early second century CE.