An Introduction to the Study of Jeremiah

9780567665720C. L. Crouch provides a clear and concise introduction to the complex text of Jeremiah. Readers are introduced to the diverse approaches to the book, with attention paid to the way that these approaches differ from but also relate to one another. After a brief introduction, Crouch addresses the formation of the book, especially in relation to its Hebrew and Greek versions; the theological interests of the book and the challenges posed by attempts to link these to an actual man ‘Jeremiah’; and the relationship of Jeremiah to other biblical prophets. Crouch focuses clearly on method and on approaches to the text, as is the mark of this series. This makes the book especially useful for students in the quest to navigate the diverse body of scholarly literature that surrounds this troublesome biblical book.

This volume is part of a quite extensive series, the several volumes of which you can examine here.

Crouch begins her introduction to Jeremiah in the first two chapters of the present book in the way in which students of biblical studies will be most familiar: i.e., by addressing the historical questions.  First she places Jeremiah in its historical setting and then she addresses the question of the two recensions of Jeremiah which we have in its Masoretic and its Greek form, by summarizing the contents of the book.

At this point Crouch abandons the usual introductory questions and turns instead to a reception-historical discussion of Jeremiah as the book has been studied in the 20th century.  The fourth chapter naturally follows from this and is a very fine discussion of Historical Criticism and the methods which have sprung from it and been somewhat hostile to it.

Chapter five is the heart of the book.  In it, Crouch illustrates, by means of the exposition of selected passages, how it is precisely that recent approaches handle the text of Jeremiah.  She analyzes the call of Jeremiah, the laments of Jeremiah, God’s judgement on Judah, Jeremiah’s purchase of a field, and Jeremiah’s friend Baruch and his scroll.

Crouch brings her intro to an end in the usual post-postmodern fashion by expressing the open-endedness of her own conclusions, titling the chapter In(-)Conclusions; thereby opening the door and even inviting both challenge and further work.

Readers will benefit immensely from the two appendices (on versification in the Hebrew and Greek traditions and a list of ancient kings) and even more from the very detailed bibliographies presented.

This is a fine little volume and it fits perfectly in a series which describes itself as ‘approaches to biblical studies’.  Anyone, whether seasoned veteran scholar or graduate student working on Jeremiah or interested layperson, will profit from a reading of it.  I heartily recommend it.