Jeremiah, book of the Bible

Jeremiah a book of the Bible, comprising a collection of prophetic oracles attributed to Jeremiah, a prophet who preached (c.628–586 b.c.) in Jerusalem under King Josiah and his successors. His message indicts his contemporaries for social injustice and religious apostasy. Jeremiah realistically opposed resistance to Babylon, and his insistence on speaking unpalatable truths brought him to prison and the stocks. When Jerusalem fell to Babylon (586 b.c.), Jeremiah was allowed to stay with the Jews who remained, who subsequently took him to Egypt. The oracles of the book were preserved by the prophet's secretary, Baruch. They are not in strict chronological order, and there are important differences in the Hebrew and Greek texts. In the Septuagint, chapter 25 is followed by chapters 46–51 of the Hebrew order with some rearrangement and omission of individual oracles. The New Revised Standard Version text follows the ordering of the material found in the Hebrew text. The Dead Sea Scrolls contain Hebrew fragments of Jeremiah that bear witness to both traditions. One analysis of the book would be as follows: introduction; oracles against Judah and Jerusalem denouncing social injustice, immorality, and breaking covenant with God with warnings of imminent destruction of the city—Jehoiakim's reign (609–598) is probably the setting for most of these oracles; oracles dating from the reign of Zedekiah; Babylon as God's agent in the coming destruction; Baruch's memoirs, including Jeremiah's letter to the first group of exiles; the prophecy of a new covenant replacing the one now irreparably broken; oracles against the nations; historical appendix. A series of laments, sometimes known as the confessions of Jeremiah, are interspersed throughout the book. These reveal something of the personal cost to the prophet of his ministry of confrontation. See also Lamentations.

See studies by R. P. Carroll (1986) and R. E. Clements (1988); see also bibliography under Old Testament.

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