A Commentary on Jeremiah: Exile and Homecoming

By Walter Brueggemann | Go to book overview

The “Baruch Document”
Jeremiah 36:1–45:5

Chapters 36–45 (or 37–45), in the common judgment of scholars, constitute a peculiar and intentional corpus of materials.1 This corpus may perhaps be intentionally organized; it is expressed almost exclusively in prose, and seems to be preoccupied with the life of the prophet Jeremiah.

The organization of this extended narrative includes the following elements. It begins with ch. 36, which narrates an account of the way in which Baruch wrote and publicly read a scroll of Jeremiah.2 The corpus concludes in ch. 45 with a special promise to Baruch. Thus chs. 36 and 45 provide the brackets and boundaries which contain the entire narrative. Because the beginning and ending chapters both feature Baruch, this entire corpus is conventionally linked to Baruch.3 He is taken

1. The dominant critical judgments of scholarship continue to be those of Bernard Duhm and Sigmund Mowinckel, on which see Childs, Old Testament as Scripture, 342–45. A recent consideration of these materials is offered by William L. Holladay, “A Fresh Look at ‘Source B’ and ‘Source C’ in Jeremiah,” Vetus Testamentum 25 (1975): 394–412. It may well be that ch. 36 should not be grouped with the following materials. On that question, see Carroll, Jeremiah, 509–510.

2. We have already encountered the role of Baruch in ch. 32. That reference, however, is not germane to the role of Baruch in this extended narrative, for no critical judgment groups ch. 32 with this material.

3. Richard E. Friedman, Who Wrote the Bible? (New York: Summit, 1987), 146–49, has rather dramatically suggested Baruch as the author of the book of Jeremiah. Such a claim is a considerable overstatement, but not unrelated to the main tendency of criticism.

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