New from Brill, and sent for review:
Written by leading experts in the field, The Book of Jeremiah: Composition, Reception, and Interpretation offers a wide-ranging treatment of the main aspects of Jeremiah. Its twenty-four essays fall under four main sections. The first section contains studies of a more general nature, and helps situate Jeremiah in the scribal culture of the ancient world, as well as in relation to the Torah and the Hebrew Prophets. The second section contains commentary on and interpretation of specific passages (or sections) of Jeremiah, as well as essays on its genres and themes. The third section contains essays on the textual history and reception of Jeremiah in Judaism and Christianity. The final section explores various theological aspects of the book of Jeremiah.
The link above allows potential readers to access the front matter of the volume. Having done so, readers will see straightaway that the volume is occupied by some of the leading scholars of the Book of Jeremiah have taken part. Of note are the contributions of Wing So, Lundbom (all of his), Lange, and Fretheim. Shead’s on the text of Jeremiah in the LXX is quite a brave work since the topic he chose is so incredibly difficult. Especially to discuss in so narrow a format as difficult a subject.
But the best contribution of the lot is that of Leuchter, which with the volume commences. He starts out
In 1970, James Muilenburg penned an influential article entitled “Baruch the Scribe.” In that article, Muilenburg emphasized the paramount role played by Baruch b. Neriah in the production of the book of Jeremiah, noting that Baruch lived in what he termed a “scribal age.” That is, the book of Jeremiah (and Baruch’s great contribution to it) emerged from an era when scribes had emerged as figures of tremendous prestige and numinous power. To refer to the late seventh–mid sixth centuries BCE as a “scribal age,” however, is somewhat misleading. Surely it was, but so too was every era among the centers of power in the ancient near east from roughly the mid-third millennium BCE down to the rise of Hellenism in the fourth century BCE and beyond. Archaeology enables the scholar to recover some sense of an ancient society’s economy, population density, and even their ritual world to some degree, but is only through the written artifacts of scribes surviving from these periods that we are privy to the intricacies of their intellectual and social worlds, value systems, religious beliefs, concepts of history, and other traditions enshrined in the textual record. We know what we know of these ages because they were all, in a way, scribal ages.
After setting the stage for his argument to follow, as one must do in such times, Leuchter closely and carefully examines a few relevant texts from the Book of Jeremiah and comes to the conclusion that
The book of Jeremiah itself therefore transforms the scribal artifacts it preserves by reproducing them and calling attention to their place within its own textual boundaries. A scroll submerged in the Euphrates river is also submerged within the text through the process of redaction; the colophon to a transaction document-turned prophetic sign itself becomes a portent for written prophecy; and the Urrolle read in the ears of the scribes and the king in Jerusalem is reproduced within the rhetorical expanse of the written Jeremiah tradition (e.g., the דברי ירמיהו of Jer 1:1/51:64b that must have opened and closed an early version of the book similar to the MT).
While there is little doubt that a robust oral tradition persisted during the era of the Babylonian exile, textual works like the book of Jeremiah became the only material objects that Jewish audiences in exile could approach to encounter the sort of writings that were once so vital to Israelite sanctuary spaces. Entering sacred sanctuary space was replaced by an entry into the texts, where the sources once used by priests to empower their own revelatory proclamations were now embedded in texts that modelled how revelation could be facilitated in the absence of temple structures and faculties.
The book as a whole is technical and demanding, as one would expect from an academically aimed collection of essays. But it is not so technical that graduate students and their Professors will find it incomprehensible. With a little effort, the volume can be absorbed and digested (much like Ezekiel’s famous scroll) but rather than being tasty in the mouth and bitter in the gut, this volume is satisfying throughout. Your research library should obtain a copy for its reference section.