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The Jewish Study Bible Contextualizes the Hebrew Bible with accompanying scholarly text on Jewish traditions and history.

The Composition of Jeremiah

RABBINIC TRADITION MAINTAINS that Jeremiah wrote his own book as well as the books of Kings and Lamentations (b. B. Bat. 15a). The modern view is that, although the book of Jeremiah contains an extensive collection of the prophet's oracles, the present form of the book is not entirely the work of Jeremiah. The prophet's oracles appear in a narrative biographical framework in which other writers provide information about the prophet, the circumstances in which he spoke, and the major events of his life. Thus, the introduction in 1.1–3 provides basic information concerning Jeremiah's identity, home, and the years of his prophetic career; a series of prophetic word formulas (“the word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD” [ 7.1; 11.1 ; etc.]) introduce each of the major sections of the book. Jeremiah's oracles appear primarily in chs 2–25, 30–31, and 46–51, but they are interspersed with narratives, especially in chs 26–29, 32–45, and 52, that provide important information concerning the circumstances in which he spoke.

The book itself claims that the prophet's companion, the scribe Baruch ben Neriah, wrote several versions of Jeremiah's oracles (see esp. ch 36 ), and this may account for many of the narratives about the prophet. Furthermore, the literary style of the narratives and their overall perspective concerning the relationship between God and Israel correspond markedly to the narrative traditions of the books of Kings. Some modern scholars therefore maintain that Jeremiah and perhaps Baruch are associated with circles that composed the Deuteronomistic History (Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings; see p. 453). Nevertheless, these observations do not account for the full compositional history of the book. Jeremiah appears in two versions: the Hebrew Masoretic Text that appears in all Jewish Bibles and that stands as the basis for the book in Protestant Christian circles, and the Greek Septuagint version that originally served as Scripture in the RomanCatholic and Eastern Orthodox Christian traditions. Although the Greek version contains many of the same oracles and narratives as the Hebrew version, it is approximately one‐eighth shorter and its content appears in a markedly different order; for instance, the oracles concerning the nations appear as chs 46–51 in the Hebrew version, but in the Greek version they appear as chs 25–31 with a different sequence of nations. Because the text of the Greek version corresponds with fragments of a Hebrew version of Jeremiah found among the Dead Sea Scrolls, many interpreters argue that the Greek version of the book represents an early edition of Jeremiah that was later expanded and rearranged to form the present Hebrew edition of the book. Other fragments of Jeremiah that correspond to the Hebrew Masoretic Text also appear among the Dead Sea Scrolls, indicating that the two versions of the book circulated among Jews for several centuries following the lifetime of the prophet. This of course points to the likelihood that writers other than Jeremiah or Baruch had a hand in the book's composition. The fact that 51.64 ends “Thus far the words of Jeremiah,” but the book contains an additional chapter, is but one reflection of its complicated editorial history. Many modern scholars believe that an original Jeremianic core, largely poetic in nature, was supplemented by prose authors from the school of Deuteronomy, who re‐edited the book and brought it more in line with Deuteronomic ideas and terminology. Though this theory has much to commend it, it is very difficult to disentangle the editorial layers of the book.

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