John T. Willis

Friday, July 23, 2010

How the Book of Jeremiah came into being

The present final form of the Book of Jeremiah was composed after the death of King Jehoiachin of Judah in Babylon--Jeremiah 52:31-34. Various passages in the Book of Jeremiah tell HOW the Book of Jeremiah came into being. Here is a sketch of the history of the GROWTH of the Book of Jeremiah.

I. First Edition: 627-604 B. C.
A. Jeremiah proclaimed several oracles and participated in several events between 627 and 604 B. C. On the one hand, Jeremiah received his prophetic call from God in the thirteenth year of Josiah King of Judah. Josiah ruled from 640 to 609 B. C.
2 Kings 22-23. So the thirteenth year of Josiah was 627 B. C. On the other hand, Jeremiah 36:9-10 says that Jeremiah dictated his oracles and events in the fifth year of King Jehoiakim of Judah. Jehoiakim was king from 609 to 598 B. C., so the fifth year of his reign was 604 B. C.
B. Jeremiah did not write down these oracles and events between 627 and 604 B. C. but preserved them orally.
C. At God's command, Jeremiah told Baruch to write down these oracles and events between 627 and 604 B. C. Hence, the first edition of the Book of Jeremiah was written in 604 B. C. See especially Jeremiah 36:27-32.

II. Second Edition: 627-587 B. C.
A. Jeremiah proclaimed several oracles and participated in several events between 604 and 587 B. C. Jeremiah 1:3 says that Jeremiah continued his prophetic work until the eleventh year of Zedekiah King of Judah until the captivity of Jerusalem, which occurred in 587 B. C.
B. Jeremiah wrote one letter in 598 B. C.--Jeremiah 29. Jeremiah preserved the rest of the material now recorded between 604 and 587 B. C. orally.
C. Jeremiah 1:1-3 states that the material now recorded between 627 and 587 B. C. was written down, apparently by Baruch.

III. Third Edition: 627-550 [540 B. C.].
A. Jeremiah 40-44; 52 report oracles and events which occurred between 587 and 550[540 B. C.]. The latest reference is after the death of Jehoiachin King of Judah in Babylon--Jeremiah 52:31-34.
B. Jeremiah and/or Baruch and/or followers of Jeremiah preserved the additional material largely orally.
C. Someone or a group of people wrote down in the present order of the Book of Jeremiah. Jeremiah 52:31-34 makes this quite clear.

*Based on modern Western thought, some want to "rearrange" or "rewrite" the book of Jeremiah to put the events and oracles recorded here in chronological order. Some even have the tenacity of "rewriting" the entire Bible to put the Bible in "correct" chronological order. HOWEVER, the inspired biblical composers and writers did NOT arrange the Bible in this way.
*Historically, it is always interesting to attempt to discover the historical events related in the Bible. And it IS important to pay attention to the message of God in the context in which people did and said what happened.
*But the Bible is a RELIGIOUS or SPIRITUAL or THEOLOGICAL work. It is extremely important to study each biblical book AS IT STANDS in its PRESENT FINAL FORM.

In the study of the Book of Jeremiah in the following blogs, the intention is to follow the text of the Bible AS IT STANDS.

Share YOUR ideas with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis

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