Lectionary Year B
January 5, 2003
Jeremiah 31:7-14

Step III: Composition

A. Immediate Context

(JFC) Pre - Jeremiah 31:1-6 hears God promise restoration of the exiled people, "My people", Israel, back home where they will dance and produce healthy fruits.

Post - The last 24 verses of Jeremiah 31 find God again promising good times in the future, even to the extent that the dead children will return home with the returning exiles! God admits to having caused the tears and the weeping and has reversed the sentences to bring back the people to their homeland. New generations will be born and mature to achieve productivity. God's new covenant will assure these goodenesses galore. God will be in their hearts to assure their being blessed beyond any past imaginations. They, without borders, shall never again be uprooted or overthrown.

B. Organization of the Compositional Whole

(JFC) The Book of Jeremiah is made up of both poetry and prose. The poetry, mostly in chapters 1-25 and 46-51 ("oracles against the nations"), conveys prophetic utterances in the forms of complaints, criticisms, accusations, censures, warnings, judgments and laments. Chapters 25-45 record speeches by and stories of Jeremiah and are called, "Baruch's memoirs". Therein, we find chapters 30-33, the "Book of Consolation". Those chapters prophesy restoration of, express comfort and hope for and project the return of, heretofore errant, Judah to faith in and worship of God. Chapter 52 is an historical appendix. Much of the Book's major theme tells of Judah's past sin as rebels having rejected God's Word(s) as her prophets declared it/them. The more recently published commentaries highlight the hope Jeremiah has amidst the admittedly horrendous traumas and tribulations of his beloved country in their difficult days in exile.

C. Issues of Authorship

(JFC) Jeremiah recites messages from God and his scribe, Baruch (36:4 and 32 and 45:1), writes them "around the end of the seventh century", BCE, contends Ronald Clements' Interpretation Commentary. The writing, evidently, began in 605, as 36:32 indicates. Jeremiah prophesied through the reigns of Judah's last five kings, Josiah (627-609), Jehoahaz (609), Jehoiachim (609-598), Jehoiachin (598), and Zedekiah (597-587). The Book of Jeremiah was edited, reworked and expanded until well into the fifth century BCE. See, especially, John Bright's Anchor Bible Commentary on these details.

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