JEREMIAH 2018 SESSION 00 INTRODUCTION

 

JEREMIAH    RESOURCES

 

Allen, Leslie.  Jeremiah: a commentary.  Part of the Old Testament Library commentary series.  (Westminster John Knox Press, Louisville, 2008).   KINDLE EDITION

Boadt, Lawrence  CSP.  Jeremiah 1 -25 – Old Testament Message Vol. 9.  Part of the Old Testament Message series edited by Carroll Stuhlmueller CP and Martin McNamara MSC.  (Michael Glazier Inc./Liturgical Press, Collegeville MN, 1982).

—————————.  Jeremiah 26 -52, Habakuk, Zephaniah, Nahum – Old Testament Message Vol. 10.  Part of the Old Testament Message series edited by Carroll Stuhlmueller CP and Martin McNamara MSC.  (Michael Glazier Inc., Wilmington DE, 1982).

Bright, John.  Jeremiah: A new translation with introduction and commentary.  Part of the Anchor Bible series edited by W. F. Albright and David Noel Freedman.  (Doubleday, New York, 1965).

Brueggemann, Walter.  A Commentary on Jeremiah: Exile and Homecoming.  (Eerdmans Publishing, Grand Rapids MI, 1998).

Clements, R. E.  Jeremiah.  Part of the ‘Interpretation Bible commentary series: a Bible commentary for teaching and preaching’ edited by James Luther Mays (General editor) and Patrick D Miller (OT editor).  (Westminster John Knox press, Louisville KY, 1988).

Freehof, Solomon B.  Book of Jeremiah: A Commentary.  Part of the Jewish Commentary for Bible Readers edited by Daniel B. Syme.  (Union of American Hebrew Congregations, New York, 1977).

Holladay, Willian L.  Jeremiah 1: A Commentary on the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah..  Part of the Hermeneia series ‘A Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible’.  This volume edited by Paul D. Hanson.  (Fortress Press, Philadelphia, 1986).

———————–   Jeremiah 2: A Commentary on the Book of the Prophet Jeremiah  Chapters 26-52   Part of the Hermeneia series ‘A Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible’.  This volume edited by Paul D. Hanson.  (Fortress Press,  Minneapolis, 1989).

Longman III, Tremper.  Jeremiah, Lamentations.  Part of the Understanding the Bible Commentary Series edited by W. Ward Gasque, Robert L. Hubbard Jr., and Robert K Johnston.  (Baker Books, Grand Rapids MI, 2008.

Miller, Patrick.  The Book of Jeremiah.  In Volume VI of The New Interpreter’s Bible: A Commentary in Twelve Volumes convened by Leander Kick.  (Abingdon Press, Nashville, 2001).

 

 

O’Connor, Kathleen.  Jeremiah: Pain and Promise.  (Fortress Press, Minneapolis, 2011)

Stulman, Louis.  Jeremiah.  Part of the Abingdon Old Testament Commentary series Patrick D. Miller, General Editor.  (Abingdon Press, Knoxville, 2005).

Thompson, J. A.  The Book of Jeremiah.  Part of the New International Commentary on the Old Testament edited by R. K. Harrison.  (Eerdmans, Grand Rapids MI, 1980).

Wright, Christopher.  The Message of Jeremiah: Against Wind and Tide.  Part of The Bible Speaks Today edited by Alec Motyer (OT) and John Stott (NT).  (Intervarsity Press, Downers Grove IL, 2014).

 

 

CHRONOLOGY OF THE TIMES OF JEREMIAH  (based on Boadt p. xi)

721            The northern kingdom of Israel revolts against Assyria (Tiglath Pileser III) and is

destroyed by them, 10 tribes carried off far and wide.

687            Manasseh begins 47 year reign as King of Judah

645            Birth of Jeremiah

640            Josiah becomes King of Judah at the age of 8

628            King Josiah begins first reforms

627            Jeremiah begins ministry (receives his call)

626            Babylon revolts against Assyria

622            The ‘Lawbook” is found in the Temple  (probably an early version of

Deuteronomy)

612            Babylon conquers most of Assyria

609            Final collapse of Assyria, Josiah dies in battle, Jehoahaz becomes king for 3

months, then come Jehoiakim

605             Babylon drives Egypt back towards its own territory

601             King Jehoiakim revolts against Babylon

598              Babylon besieges Jerusalem 3 months, city falls in March of 597

597              Zedekiah becomes King of Judah

593              Ezekiel called as a prophet in Babylon

589              Zedekiah revolts against Babylon, Babylon attacks immediately

587              Jerusalem falls again, city and temple are destroyed

583              Jeremiah is forced into exile in Egypt

582              Babylon takes another wave of captives from Judea

581              Jeremiah dies in exile in Egypt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OUTLINE OF (BOOK OF) JEREMIAH  (Patrick Miller p. 571,572)

1.       1:1 to 10:25   The Prophet’s Call and Words of Judgment

2.      11;1 to 20:18   Laments and Prophecies Concerning Judgment

3.      21:1 to 25:38   Against Kings and Prophets

4.      26:11 to 36:32 Conflict and Comfort

5.      37:1 to 45:5     The Last Days of a Kingdom and a Prophet  ****

6.      46:1 to 51:64   Oracles against the Nations  ****

7.      52:1 to 52:34   The Destruction of Jerusalem

**** see outline below, they agree pretty much on this division

 

 

OUTLINE OF JEREMIAH (J. A. Thompson)

1.       1 to 25: Divine Judgment upon Judah and Jerusalem.  Ends with 25:1-13a “all that is written in this book”.  These chapters can be broken down in many smaller pieces.

2.      30 to 33: The Book of Consolation.  Hopes of restoration for Jerusalem.

3.      37 to 45:  Jeremiah’s life from the siege of Jerusalem through exile in Egypt. ****

4.      46 to 51  Oracles Against the Nations  These are in different order in the Septuagint suggesting a different history of transmission prior to incorporation.  ****

 

OUTLINE OF JEREMIAH (Kathleen O’Connor)

Part one: Anticipating and Meeting Disaster (1 – 25)

Prophecies of Coming Disaster (1-20)

Coping with Disaster (21 – 25)

Part two: Living Beyond Disaster (26 – 52)

Jeremiah’s ‘Biography’ (26 – 29, 34 – 45

The Little Book of Consolation (30 – 33)

Oracles against the nations (46 – 51)

Realistic Account of the Disaster (52)

 

 

 

VIDEO NOTES

This talk is by Catherine Upchurch.

 

Jeremiah opens with the call of Jeremiah in the 13th year of the reign of King Josiah.  “to uproot, to tear down, to destroy, to demolish, to build and to plant”

 

Current book is convoluted.

 

Book of Jeremiah

·         40 year ministry

·         Political and geographical chaos

·         Several sources

·         Without apparent logical order

Much of the first half is poetry but not all, much of the second half is prose but not all.

Literary chaos, hopeless hodge-podge

Brueggeman – Fundamental Role of all God’s Prophets

·         To criticize cultural paradigm

·         To energize – to offer a new vision

Equipping God’s people to embrace an adult faith, to be able to live in covenant with God

BE ALERT!

1.      For language and imagery that is critical of the dominant philosophy of his time  and  For language and imagery that is intended to energize God’s people by offering them an alternative view of reality

2.      To the geo-political reality that is the backdrop

·         Jeremiah is called as prophet to the southern kingdom (Judah)

Prophets of God’s Word to Judah in its final days

·         Jeremiah

·         Zephaniah, Habakkuk, Nahum, Ezekiel

 

·         Superpowers shifting all the time.

·         Egypt (Moses to David)

·         Then Assyria

·         Then Babylon

·         Finally Persia

Written to a particular people at a particular time, but also has something to say to us.

3.      The works of prophecy that we receive as a book are the result of a long process.

o   The lived experience of Jeremiah and the people itself

o   The process of recording that experience (during and after Jeremiah)

o   The editorial process

The question that guided the whole process: Why did we end up in Babylon, far from the city of God, Jerusalem?

The Deuteronomists, concerned about rebellion against God’s law … probably had a hand in crafting the final version of Jeremiah.

4.      The person of Jeremiah himself.  His pain and anguish as a prophet revealed in the ‘confession’ in chapters 11, 15, 17, 18, and 20.  An internal dialog about finding a way to be faithful and trust in God despite all of the failure going on.

 

5.      The care for individual spiritual responsibility and the nature of repentance

Jeremiah 7:5-7

5 Only if you thoroughly reform your ways and your deeds; if each of you deals justly with your neighbor; 6 if you no longer oppress the alien, the orphan, and the widow; if you no longer shed innocent blood in this place or follow after other gods to your own harm, 7 only then will I let you continue to dwell in this place, in the land I gave your ancestors long ago and forever.

Jeremiah 17:9-10

9 More tortuous than anything is the human heart,

beyond remedy; who can understand it?

10 I, the LORD, explore the mind

and test the heart,

Giving to all according to their ways,

according to the fruit of their deeds.

 

How Jeremiah speaks of repentance:

Uses the Hebrew verb “shuv” meaning to return

 

Jeremiah 3:12, 13, 14

Go, proclaim these words toward the north, and say:

Return, rebel Israel—oracle of the LORD—

I will not remain angry with you;

For I am merciful, oracle of the LORD,

I will not keep my anger forever.

13 Only admit your guilt:

how you have rebelled against the LORD, your God,

How you ran here and there to strangers

under every green tree

and would not listen to my voice—oracle of the LORD.

14 Return, rebellious children—oracle of the LORD—

for I am your master;

I will take you, one from a city, two from a clan,

and bring you to Zion.

 

So, look for times when Jeremiah turns to the individual.  Similar to Jesus – call both to individuals, the nation as a whole and its leaders

Who were they if they were not God’s people living in the and God had given them?  Who was their God if they had not been protected from destruction?  Where was God now if the temple was in a heap of rubble?  A very disoriented people whose foundations were all destroyed.

Jeremiah 31:3-4

As Israel comes forward to receive rest,

3 from afar the LORD appears:

With age-old love I have loved you;

so I have kept my mercy toward you.

 

4 Again I will build you, and you shall stay built,

virgin Israel;

Carrying your festive tambourines,

you shall go forth dancing with merrymakers.

 

Jeremiah 31:18

You chastised me, and I was chastised;

I was like an untamed calf.

Bring me back, let me come back,

for you are the LORD, my God.

 

Jeremiah 31:33

But this is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after those days—oracle of the LORD. I will place my law within them, and write it upon their hearts; I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

 

 

 

ADDITIONAL NOTES

O’Connor p. 29: “When I was writing my dissertation on Jeremiah, my mother decided to read the biblical book so she could understand what I was doing.  She had the common experience of being thwarted by the effort.   “How can anyone read this book?” she wanted to know.  Jeremiah’s interpreters have long tried to make sense of the book’s complicated structure.  The long, complex book resembles a collage constructed of a motley collection of materials like paper, fabric, paint, photographs, newspaper clippings, feathers, found objects – all glued together by some not entirely clear connections to the prophet Jeremiah.  I am not overstating the problem.”

O’Connor p. 2: “I became interested in how the book addressed its readers as survivors of traumatic and disastrous historical events.  Trauma and disaster studies help me to refocus my attention from questions of the book’s creation – such as which words belonged to Jeremiah, which were words of later writers and editors – to the matter of why these words were kept alive at all. These studies, gathered from an interdisciplinary conversation about the impact of traumatic violence and catastrophe upon individuals and communities, enabled me to ink about how the book may have helped the people of Judah after the Babylonia Empire destroyed the nation in the sixth century B.C.E.”

Thompson p. 9, 10: “The prophets were not merely religious teachers or philosophers in the abstract, but saw themselves as the messengers of God commissioned to convey to the people of their own day the word that God had given them.  They had a specific message to a specific people at a specific point in history.”  Must therefore understand the time in which they preached.  During Jeremiah’s time Judah was controlled by Assyria, was independent, was controlled by Egypt, and then Babylon.

Wright p. 19: “In 687 BC, Manasseh came to the throne of Judah.  He utterly reversed Hezekiah’s policies, submitted fully to Assyrian sovereignty (though he may have had little choice), and enthusiastically embraced Assyrian religion.  His long reign (almost half a century) led Judah into its worst period of religious corruption, apostasy and syncretism.  Along with that went social oppression, injustice, violence and bloodshed.  The biblical historians regarded Manasseh as the most evil king that ever sat on Judah’s throne.”

Thompson p.13 When Manasseh was king in Judah, Judah was under Assyria.  “This involved not merely political subservience but also some recognition of the gods of Assyria.  But he went much further than this and seems to have opened the door to all kinds of religious practices of an irregular kind.  He cancelled the reform measures of Hezekiah, allowed the restoration of local shrines, gave full rein to pagan practices of all kinds, tolerated the fertility cult with its sacred prostitution in the very temple precincts.”  This amounted to abandoning the covenant.

Thompson p.20  “The heart of Deuteronomy was not a completely new law  It was known in Israel for centuries past with roots going back to Moses.  It was the covenant law of Yahweh, who alone was Israel’s sovereign Lord.  Israel must worship him alone and no other.  She must obey his law or face destruction.”

Thompson p. 32: Jeremiah is a collection of collections brought together over a long and complex process.

Allen p. 11 “Bright famously described the book o Jeremiah as giving the impression of ‘a hopeless hodgepodge thrown together without any discernible principle of arrangement at all.’”

O’Connor p. 7: “A disaster is marked by what it takes away.  It takes away nearly everything.  The nation of Judah underwent a series of unfolding disasters in the sixth century B.C.E..  The Babylonian empire (centered in present day Iraq) invaded Judah three times, occupied it for close to fifty years, and with each invasion deported some of the nation’s leading citizens to Babylon.  These events brought Judah to the brink of extinction, a point long embraced by Jeremiah’s interpreters.”  We today greatly underestimate the suffering of hunger and thirst, the disorientation of the loss of traditions, customs, and government, the smell and sight of blood, death, and desperation on the scale that Judah suffered.  OUR TRAUMAS – PERSONAL AND COMMUNAL?  OUR LOSSES – PERSONAL AND COMMUNAL?

O’Connor p. 15: “The Babylonian assaults drained away the population through deaths in battle, starvation, disease, deportation, and by the creation of internal refugees in the wake of warfare.  And even if only a small number of Judean elites were dragged away to Babylon, the exile of political leaders, owners of land and businesses, judges and priests would have caused immense social and economic disruption.  Other citizens who were not deported became internally dislocated, escaping to Benjamin in the north and scattering around the land.”  Syria today?  Much of Central America?  Lots of Africa?

O’Connor p. 31: “Trauma and disaster studies suggest that Jeremiah’s chaotic over-abundance, its “too-muchness,” its very disorder itself turns the book into a helpful text for survivors of disaster.  The book’s competing images, themes, and voices not only mirror the chaos left in the disasters wake, they also invite readers themselves to become interpreters of their own reality.”

Freehof p. 3: there are signs that our current book of Jeremiah is missing a lot of material that at one time was there.  Other books by Jeremiah or attributed to him (sermons dictated to Baruch) may have (probably were) once part of a single work.   The Greek Septuagint translation of the Hebrew bible differs significantly from what we have today.  The Hebrew has 2,700 fewer words as well as different ordering of chapters.

Freehof p. 4: “The somber mood of most of Jeremiah’s preachments made them appropriate readings for times of sorrow.  The book of Lamentations – deemed, of course, to be of Jeremiah’s authorship – was the main reading on the anniversary of the destruction of the Temple (the Ninth of Av), and on that day the Haftarah was also from Jeremiah (8:13-9:23).  Moreover, in times of personal grief, the writings of Jeremiah were deemed to be appropriate for private devotion.”

Freehof p. 4: Jeremiah was the last major prophet before the destruction of Jerusalem and the Kingdom of Judah in 586 BC.  An 18 month long siege of Jerusalem by Babylon.

Verses describing the siege of Jerusalem: 21:1, 2 and more

Jer. 21:1

The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD when King Zedekiah sent Pashhur, son of Malchiah, and the priest Zephaniah, son of Maaseiah, to him with this request: 2 Inquire for us of the LORD, because Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, is attacking us. Perhaps the LORD will act for us in accord with his wonderful works by making him withdraw from us.

Jeremiah in Jerusalem until carried off to Egypt by fellow Jewish refugees

Freehof p. 6: “Whether it was the Egyptians marching north and east (various Egyptian dynasties) or the Mesopotamian armies marching west and south (Babylon, Assyria, Babylon again, Persia) the main line of march crossed the lands of the small Jewish kingdoms, which were weak and fragile compared to the warring giants.  Thus, what happened to the kings of Judea and to Jerusalem was only in a minor degree the result of the political or military actions of the Jewish monarchy.”

For Jeremiah the enemy early in his career was Assyria, later on Babylon.  Assyria destroyed the northern kingdom in 722 B.C.  Assyria then controlled the territory of the former northern kingdom for 100+ years.  Babylon destroyed the southern kingdom in 586

Freehof p. 8: “Of all the prophetic books, the Book of Jeremiah gives the darkest mood of inescapable tragedy.”

Jeremiah has significant amounts of biographical material about Jeremiah – more so than any other prophet.

Boadt p. xx: “Studies of Jeremiah commonly distinguish between the different types of material as simply “A”, “B”, and “C” where “A” represents the poetic oracles spoken by Jeremiah, “B” the narrative biography of the prophet written by Baruch or someone else close to the scene and C” marks the prose sermons that resemble Deuteronomy.”

Wright p. 20: Jeremiah prophesied during the reigns of 3 major Kings of Judah: Josiah, Jehoiakim, and Zedekiah.  2 others ruled so briefly that they don’t count – Jehoahaz and Jehoiachin.

Wright p. 22: “One after another Jeremiah dismantled and demolished in his preaching the great pillars of Israel’s historical faith: election, land, law, covenant, temple and monarchy.  The people had betrayed all of these in their rebellion and perversity, to such an extent that putting faith in them was simply self-deception.   …   It was into that collapsing and collapsed world that Jeremiah was called to speak the words that God would put in his mouth, to weep the tears that flowed from Gods own heart, and to bring the gospel of the inexplicable grace and love with which God would create a very different future.”

Chapter 25 the hinge (middle chapter)

Chapters 1 – 24 a relentless tearing down

Chapter 26 – 52 more judgment but also notes of grace, a new exodus, a new wilderness journey, a new king of righteousness, a new covenant.

Tears, lots of anger.  Wright p 29: “the anger of God is the anger of suffering love.”

Brueggemann p. x:  The Deuteronomists shaped ‘the final form of the text’ and so imposed their particular perception on the Jeremiah tradition.”  Torah-centered, the exile is a consequence of a lack of obedience to the Torah.

Brueggemann p xi: The book of Jeremiah is arranged to speak, in sequence, about the judgment of God who in prophetic tradition, brings Jerusalem to an end, and the deliverance of God who offers to the consequent exilic community an open historical possibility.

Brueggemann  p. 2  All the events of the time can be explained and explored from a historical-political point of view and methodology.  But Jeremiah reads the events differently, has a theological perspective.

Brueggemann p. 3 “When the events of 587 are read from a theological perspective, Judah’s destiny will be shaped finally not by power as the world judges power, but by the covenantal realities of Yahweh’s sovereignty and power.”

·         The covenant between Israel and the LORD required obedience to the memory and mandates of Sinai – especially with regard to social practice and power.

·         In spite of the disobedience the LORD does not abandon Israel

·         The ‘official, state’ interpretation that the Temple was God’s permanent residence and that nothing could change that was totally repudiated by Jeremiah

There is a clear tension between the royal / temple faction and the passionate covenantal faction among others.

Bold metaphors throughout the text

Clements p. 3: “Predominantly, however, Jeremiah’s book contains a message of hope.  This message of hope, set against the background of political disaster and immense human suffering that accompanied it, gives the book its essential character.”

Clements p. 6 “At one stroke the year 587 witnessed the removal of their two institutions – the Temple and the Davidic kingship – which had stood as symbolic assurances of God’s election of Israel.  Their loss was far greater than a loss of national prestige and left the entire understanding of Israel’s special relationship to Yahweh its God in question.”

Thompson p. 68  Jeremiah was not opposed to the Temple as such but only to its misuse.  Sacrifices without obedience worthless.  The Ark was OK as a symbol of God’s presence but God was present without it.  Physical circumcision without circumcision of the heart is worthless.

Thompson p. 71: “What had been provided for Israel as a useful and meaningful apparatus for worship by an obedient people had become a hollow sham which served only as a hindrance to the attainment of true spiritual worship.”

Jeremiah did not marry.  He often used symbolic actions to make his point (clay pot smashed, bought a field at Anathoth).

Allen p. 18: “The overruling message of the book as a whole is that ‘weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning’ (Psalm 30:5, 6), a morning yet to dawn.”

5 Sing praise to the LORD, you faithful;

give thanks to his holy memory.

 

6 For his anger lasts but a moment;

his favor a lifetime.

At dusk weeping comes for the night;

but at dawn there is rejoicing.

 

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