Academic journal article Journal of Biblical Literature

Redactional Intentions of MT Jeremiah concerning the Oracles against the Nations

Academic journal article Journal of Biblical Literature

Redactional Intentions of MT Jeremiah concerning the Oracles against the Nations

Article excerpt

Since Sigmund Mowinckel's exclusion of the Oracles against Nations (hereafter OANs; MT Jer 46-51; LXX 25:15-31:44) from his four-source theory, the OANs have been peripheral in the subsequent discussion of the formation of the book of Jeremiah.1 Mowinckel's theory is an outcome of the scholarly atmosphere of the early twentieth century.2 He claimed that Jeremiah prophesied concerning the nations only when they were related to the fate of Judah (e.g., chs. 25, 27, and 43), and therefore the OAN block is simply a collection of anonymous oracles added secondarily to the book of Jeremiah.3 Although scholars came to admit the early dating and possible authenticity of portions of the OANs, the tendency to study the OANs separately from the rest of the book of Jeremiah still remains.4 Observation of the connection between the OANs and the rest of the book of Jeremiah is, however, as important as analytical studies of small blocks of text.

Supplementing the historical-critical approach, recent literary studies have noticed the significant place of the OANs in the book of Jeremiah.5 The synchronic approach, however, has a methodological limit because it begins with a single, final text. In this case, the MT version is usually chosen, and therefore the comparison between MT Jeremiah and LXX Jeremiah remains mostly untouched.6

The comparison between the MT and LXX versions of Jeremiah, however, can greatly contribute to the understanding of the formation and messages of the entire book of MT Jeremiah. The study of the OANs is especially promising, since the location of the OANs is one of the most conspicuous variations between the MT and the LXX. The chart on the next page shows the differences in location of the Jeremian OANs between the LXX and the MT and also considers the relevant material around the OANs.

In this article, I will explore the redactional intentions of MT Jeremiah concerning differences between the OANs in the MT and in the LXX. Since it is impossible to cover all the differences in a limited space, I focus on three significant differences: (1) the different placement of the OAN block, (2) the different ordering of the nations within the OAN block, and (3) the redactional additions related to the OANs in MT Jer 25 (LXX 25:1-13, 32:1-24) and 45 (LXX 51:31-35). By dealing with the three significant redactional elements one by one, this article will illuminate the intentions of the redactor of MT Jeremiah concerning the OAN block and the entire prophetic book.

I. THE REDACTIONAL INTENTION OF MT JEREMIAH

The Priority of the Placement of the OANs in LXX Jeremiah

Before exploring the redactional intentions of MT Jeremiah, it is necessary to consider whether the placement of the OAN block is more original in the MT or the LXX. This question has long been debated. Before the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the majority of scholars accepted the priority of the MT version and believed that the shorter LXX version abbreviates or unintentionally omits what appears in the MT.7 The discovery of fragments of Jeremiah in the Qumran caves drastically changed the scholarly view about the relationship between MT Jeremiah and the LXX. Since the Qumran library verified the coexistence of both versions of Jeremiah, it became clear that the differences between the MT and the LXX versions of Jeremiah are not only a text-critical issue but also a redaction-critical issue.8 These differences resulted not only from translation difficulties but also from the Vorlage of the LXX, which is different from that of the MT of Jeremiah. Through careful analyses, J. Gerald Janzen and Emanuel Tov have demonstrated the expansionistic characteristics of the MT and have argued that the LXX reflects an earlier textual tradition of Jeremiah, although both versions went through their own editorial processes.9

Janzen argues that the oracles initially circulated separately, and that they were first inserted between LXX Jer 25:15 and 32:1 for two reasons. …

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