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The Oxford Bible Commentary Line-by-line commentary for the New Revised Standard Version Bible.

Date and Place of Composition.

1.

The question of the date of Baruch is unusually difficult, partly because it is a compilation of three quite different compositions. However, a time in the second century BCE seems likely for the earliest material, the latest possible date for the work in its present state being within a few years of the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE.

2.

Tov (1976: 165) argues convincingly that the distinctive revision of the Septuagint of Jer 29–52 also covered Bar 1:1–3:8 . Since Sirach's grandson knows the Prophets in Greek in 116 BCE (Sir, Prologue) and quotes from the revised Greek Jeremiah, the first part of Baruch in Greek must have been in existence by that date. The Hebrew original would of course be older.

3.

Baruch's assumption that it was still possible to make offerings at the temple in Jerusalem (Bar 1:8–10 ) may also point to a period before 70 CE, though we cannot be certain to what degree the story reflects the actual historical circumstances of the writer. Another feature which may be consistent with a pre-70 date is the generally positive attitude of the first part towards foreign rulers, especially Nebuchadnezzar, who in rabbinic literature became the archetypal enemy of the Jewish people and was also regarded as the forerunner of the Emperor Vespasian in his destruction of Jerusalem.

4.

The book is not attested until the time of the Church Fathers, being cited first by Irenaeus (Adv. haer. 5. 35), then Athenagoras (Apologia, 69), in the 170s CE.

5.

The provenance of the book is as uncertain as its date (Tov 1976: 160). The first part is written very much from the perspective of the diaspora Jews looking towards Jerusalem, but it is possible that this is a deliberate fiction on the part of the writer in order to encourage exiled Jews to regard Jerusalem as their cultic centre. Certainly, if the original language of Baruch was Hebrew, Judea is the most obvious place of composition.

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