Texts That Linger, Words That Explode: Listening to Prophetic Voices

By Walter Brueggemann; Patrick D. Miller | Go to book overview

4 The “Baruch Connection”:
Reflections on Jeremiah 43:1-7

WE ARE ONLY AT THE BEGINNING OF OUR ATTEMPT TO UNDERSTAND THE canonical shape of the book of Jeremiah. It is clear that the three-source hypothesis of Mowinckel and Duhm continues to hold scholarship in thrall. Not only has “source analysis” dominated recent discussion, but scholars have most often insisted upon asking not only questions about literary sources, but also questions about the historicity of those who purport to author the sources. Thus the recent comprehensive and impressive commentaries of Holladay and Carroll not only articulate the extreme limits of such source analysis, but they are in fact twinned in their preoccupation with historical questions.1 Whereas Holladay voices a maximalist claim for the historical Jeremiah, Carroll is concerned to deny any claim for the availability of historical Jeremiah in the text, in the interest of his larger concern to establish the Deuteronomic shape of the book.2 While Carroll comes closer to issues of canonical shape than does Holladay, this is largely inadvertent. Carroll has no interest that I can discern in the canonical shape; the reason he comes closer than Holladay is only because of his interest in moving as far away as possible from historical Jeremiah. Thus he draws more and more of the text later, closer in time to the final shapers of the book. To be sure, Carroll and Holladay cannot be faulted for not addressing canonical questions, since that is neither their interest nor intention. I begin here only in order to observe that recent scholarship, dominated as it is by these two commentaries, is of little help for the matter before us.3


I

Concerning the question of canonical shape, I mention four pertinent matters. First, A. R. Diamond, Kathleen O’Connor, and Mark Smith have begun an investigation of the role of the so-called “lamentations of Jeremiah” in the canonical form of the text.4 Unfortunately, they have confined themselves to that part of the book of Jeremiah in which those poems occur, and do not venture into the more comprehensive issues of the canonical shape of the book. Second, I suspect that McKane’s notion of “rolling corpus” is pertinent to our question;5 it is, however not very well developed, and thus far McKane has pursued canonical issues in any intentional way. Third, Childs has provided a rich but inchoate suggestion about “two forms of proclamation” concerning early/late, oral/written, poetry/prose, judgment/promise6 (on which

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