corner graphic   Hi,    
Finding the new version too difficult to understand? Go to

Bible Encyclopedias

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

Jeremiah, Book of.

Resource Toolbox
Additional Links

Jeremiah was contemporary with Zephaniah, Habakkuk, Ezekiel, and Daniel. No one who compares them can fail to perceive that the mind of Jeremiah was of a softer and more delicate texture than that of his illustrious contemporary Ezekiel, with whose writings his are most nearly parallel. His whole history convinces us that he was by nature mild and retiring (Ewald, Propheten des Alt. Bund. p. 2), highly susceptible and sensitive, especially to sorrowful emotions, and rather inclined, as we should imagine, to shrink from danger than to brave it. Yet, with this acute perception of injury, and natural repugnance from being "a man of strife," he never in the least degree shrinks from publicity; nor is he at all intimidated by reproach or insult, or even by actual punishment and threatened death, when he has the message of God to deliver.

1. The style of Jeremiah corresponds with this view of the character of his mind: though not deficient in power, it is peculiarly marked by pathos. He delights in the expression of the tender emotions, and employs all the resources of his imagination to excite corresponding feelings in his readers. He has an irresistible sympathy with the miserable, which finds utterance in the most touching descriptions of their condition.

The style of Jeremiah is marked by the peculiarities which belong to the later Hebrew and by the introduction of Aramaic forms (Eichhorn, Einleitung, 3, 122; Gesenius, Geschichte der Heb. Spreche, p. 35). It was, we imagine, on this account that Jerome complained of a certain rusticity in Jeremiah's style. Lowth, however, says he can discover no traces of it, and regards Jeremiah as nearly equal in sublimity in many parts to Isaiah (De Sacra Poesi Heb. p. 426).

2. The canonicity of the writings of Jeremiah in general are established both by the testimony of ancient writers and by quotations and references which occur in the New Testament. Thus the son of Sirach refers to him as a prophet consecrated from the womb, and quotes from Jeremiah 1:10 the commission with which he was intrusted (Sirach 49:7). In 2 Maccabees 2:1-8, there is a tradition respecting his hiding the tabernacle and the ark in a rock, in which he is called "Jeremiah the prophet." Philo speaks of him under similar titles, as προφήτης, μύστης, ἱεροφάντης, and calls a passage which he quotes from Jeremiah 3:4 an oracle χρησμόν (Eichhorn, Einleitung, 1, 95). Josephus refers to him by name as the prophet who predicted the evils which were coming on the city and speaks of him as the author of Lamentations (μέλος θρηνητικόν ) which are still existing (Ant. 10, 5, 1). His writings are included. in the list of canonical books given by Melito, Origen (whose words are remarkable: ῾Ιερεμίας σὺν θρήνοις καὶ τῇ ἐν ἑνι ), Jerome, and the Talmud (Eichhorn, Einleitung, 3, 184). In the New Testament Jeremiah is referred to by name in Matthew 2:17, where a passage is quoted from Jeremiah 31:15, and in Matthew 16:14; in Hebrews 8:8-12, a passage is quoted from Jeremiah 31:31-34. There is one other place in which the name of Jeremiah occurs Matthew 27:9 which has occasioned considerable difficulty, because the passage there quoted is not found in the extant writings of the prophet (see Kuinö l, Com. ad loc.). Jerome affirms that he found the exact passage in a Hebrew apocryphal book (Fabricius, Codex Pseudepigraphus, 1, 1103), but there is no proof that that book was in existence before the time of Christ. It is probable that the passage intended by Matthew is Zechariah 11:12-13, which in part corresponds with the quotation he gives, and that the name is a gloss which has found its way into the text (see Olshausen, Commentar ü ber d. N. Test. 2, 493).

3. The genuineness of some portions of the book has of late been disputed by German critics. Movers, whose views have been adopted by De Wette and Hitzig, attributes Jeremiah 10:1-16, and Jeremiah 30, 31,, 32 to the author of the concluding portion of the book of Isaiah. His fundamental argument against the last-named portion is, that the prophet Zechariah (Zechariah 8:7-8) quotes from Jeremiah 31:7-8; Jeremiah 31:33, and in Jeremiah 31:9 speaks of the author as one who lived "in the day that the foundation of the house of the Lord of hosts was laid." But there is nothing in Jeremiah 31:7-8 of Zechariah to prove that it is intended to be a quotation from any written prophecy, much less from this portion of Jeremiah. Hence Hitzig (Jeremia, p. 230) gives up the external evidence on which Movers had relied. The internal evidence arising from the examination of particular words and phrases is so slight, especially when the authenticity of the latter portion of Isaiah is maintained, that even Ewald agrees that the chapters in question, as well as the other passage mentioned (Jeremiah 10:1-16), are the work of Jeremiah. It seems, however, not improbable that the Chaldee of Jeremiah 10:11 is a gloss which has crept into the text, both because it is (apparently without reason) in another language and because it seems to interrupt the progress of thought. The predictions against Babylon in Jeremiah 50, 51 are objected to by Hovers, De Wette, and others on the ground that they contain many interpolations. Ewald attributes them to some unknown prophet, who imitated the style of Jeremiah. Their authenticity is maintained by Hitzig (p. 391) and by Umbreit (p. 290-293), to whom we must refer for an answer to the objections made against them. The last chapter is generally regarded as an appendix added by some later author. It is almost verbally the same as the account in 2 Kings 24:18; 2 Kings 25:30, and it carries the history down to a later period, probably, than that of the death of Jeremiah. That it is not his work seems to be indicated in the last verse of Jeremiah 51. (See generally Hä vernick's Einleitung, 2, 232, etc.)

4. Much difficulty has arisen with respect to the writings of Jeremiah from the apparent disorder in which they stand in our present copies, and from the many disagreements between the Hebrew text and that found in the Septuagint version, and many conjectures have been hazarded respecting the occasion of this disorder. The following are the principal diversities between the two texts:

(a.) The chapters containing prophecies against foreign nations are placed in a different part of the book and the prophecies themselves arranged in a different order, as in the following table:


(b.) Various passages which exist in the Hebrew are not found in the Greek copies (e.g. Jeremiah 27:19-22; Jeremiah 33:14-26; Jeremiah 39:4-14; Jeremiah 48:45-47). Besides these discrepancies, there are numerous omissions and frequent variations of single words and phrases (Movers, De utriusque Vaticiniorum Jeremioe recensionis indole et origine, p. 8-32). To explain these diversities, recourse has been had to the hypothesis of a double recension, a hypothesis which, with various modifications, is held by most modern critics (Movers, ut supra; De Wette, Lehrbuch der Hist.-Crit. Einleit. in d. Alt. Test. p. 303; Ewald, Propheten des Alt. Bund. 2, 23; Keil, Einleit. p. 300 sq.; Wichelhaus, De Jeremioe vers. Alex. Hal. 1847).

Various attempts have been made to account for the present (apparently) disordered arrangement of Jeremiah's predictions. Rejecting those that proceed upon the assumption of accident (Blayney, Notes, p. 3) or the caprice of an amanuensis (Eichhorn, Einl. 3, 134), we notice that of Ewald (with which Umbreit substantially agrees, Praktisch. Comment. ü ber den Jeremia, p. 27), who finds that various portions are prefaced by the same formula, "The word which came to Jeremiah from the Lord" (Jeremiah 7:2; Jeremiah 11:1; Jeremiah 18:1; Jeremiah 21:1; Jeremiah 25:1; Jeremiah 30:1; Jeremiah 32:1; Jeremiah 34:1; Jeremiah 34:8; Jeremiah 35:1; Jeremiah 40:1; Jeremiah 44:1), or by the very similar expression, "The word of the Lord which came to Jeremiah" (Jeremiah 14:1; Jeremiah 46:1; Jeremiah 47:1; Jeremiah 49:34). The notices of time distinctly mark some other divisions which are more or less historical (Jeremiah 26:1; Jeremiah 27:1; Jeremiah 36:1; Jeremiah 37:1). Two other portions are in themselves sufficiently distinct without such indication (Jeremiah 29:1; Jeremiah 45:1), while the general introduction to the book serves for the section contained in Jeremiah 1. There are left two sections (Jeremiah 2, 3), the former of which has only the shorter introduction, which generally designates the commencement of a strophe; while the latter, as it now stands, seems to be imperfect, having as an introduction merely the word "saying." Thus the book is divided into twenty-three separate and independent sections, which, in the poetical parts, are again divided into strophes of from seven to nine verses, frequently distinguished by such a phrase as "The Lord said also unto me." These separate sections are arranged by Ewald so as to form five distinct books:

I. The introduction, Jeremiah 1.

II. Reproofs of the sins of the Jews, Jeremiah 2-24, consisting of seven sections, viz.

1. Jeremiah 2;

2. Jeremiah 3-6; Jeremiah 3. Jeremiah 7-10; Jeremiah

4. Jeremiah 11-13; Jeremiah

5. Jeremiah 14-17, 18; Jeremiah

6. Jeremiah 17:19-20; Jeremiah

7. Jeremiah 21-24.

III. A general review of all nations, the heathen as well as the people of Israel, consisting of two sections:

1. Jeremiah 46-49 (in which he thinks have been transposed);

2. Jeremiah 25,

and a historical appendix of three sections:

1. Jeremiah 26;

2. Jeremiah 27;

3. Jeremiah 28, 29.

IV. Two sections picturing the hopes of brighter times:

1. Jeremiah 30, 31;

2. Jeremiah 32, 33;

to which, as in the last book, is added a historical appendix in three sections

1. Jeremiah 34:1-7;

2. Jeremiah 34:8-22;

3. Jeremiah 35.

V. The conclusion, in two sections; 1. Jeremiah 36; Jeremiah 2. Jeremiah 45. All this, he supposes, was arranged in Palestine during the short interval of rest between the taking of the city and the departure of Jeremiah with the remnant of the Jews to Egypt. In Egypt, after some interval, Jeremiah added three sections, viz. Jeremiah 37, 39, 40-43,, 44. At the same time, probably, he added, Jeremiah 46, 13-26, to the previous prophecy respecting Egypt, and, perhaps, made some additions to other parts previously written.

For a purely topical analysis of the book, see Dr. Davidson, in Horne's Introd. new ed. 2, 870 sq. The exact chronological position of some of the prophecies is exceedingly difficult to determine. The principal predictions relating to the Messiah are found in Jeremiah 23:1-8; Jeremiah 30:31-40; Jeremiah 33:14-26 (Hengstenberg's Christologie, 3, 495-619).

5. The following are the special exegetical works on the whole of Jeremiah's prophecies, to a few of the most important of which we prefix an asterisk [*]: Origen, Homilioe (in Opp. 3, 125); also Selecta (ibid. 3, 287); Ephraem Syrus, Explanatio (Syriac and Lat. in Opp. 5, 98); Jerome, In Jeremiah (in Opp. 4, 833); Theodoret, Interpretatio (Greek, in Opp. 2, 1); Rabanus Maurus, Commentarii (in Opp.); Rupertus Tuitiensis, In Hierem. (in. Opp. 1, 466); Thomas Aquinas, Commentarii (in Opp. 2);. Melancthon, Argumentum (in Opp. 2); Arama, אוּרַים, etc. [includ. Isaiah] (Ven. 1608, 4to; also in Frankfü rter's Rabb. Bible); Zuingle, Complanatio (Tiguri, 1531, fol.; also in Opp. 3); (OEcolampadius, Commentarii [includ. Lam.] (Argent. 1533, 4to); Bugenhagen, Adnotationes (Vitemb. 1546, 4to); De Castro, Commentarius [includ. Lam. and Baruch] (Par. 1559, Mogunt. 1616, fol.); Zichemius, Enarrationes (Colon. 1559, 8vo); Pintus, Commentarius [includ. Isaiah and Lam.] (Lugdun. 1561, 1584, 1590, Salmant. 1581, fol.); Calvin, Proelectiones (Genev. 1563, 1576, 1589, fol.; in French, ib. 1565, fol.; trans. in English by Owen, Edinburgh, 1850, 5 vols. 8vo); Strigel, Conciones (Lips. 1566, 8vo); Selnecker, Auslegung (Lpz. 1566, 4to); Bullinger, Conciones (Tigurini, 1575, folio);. Taillepied, Commentarius (Par. 1583, 4to); Heilbrunner, Quoestiones (Lauing. 1586, 8vo); Capella, Commentaria: (Tarracon. 1586, 4to); Figuiero, Paraphrasis (Lugdun. 1596, 8vo); Brenz, Commentaria (in Opp. 4); Broughton, Commentarius [includ. Lam.] (Geneva, 1606, 4to); Polan, Commentarius [includ. Lam.] (Basil. 1608, 8vo) Sanctius, Commentarius [includ. Lam.] (Lugdun. 1618, fol.); A Lapide, In Jerem. etc. (Antw. 1621. fol.); Ghisler, Commentarius (Lugd. 1633, 3 vols. fol.); De Beira, Considerationes (Olyssip. 1633, fol.); Hulsemann, Commentarius [includ. Lam.] (Rudolphop. 1663, Lips. 1696, 4to); Forster, Commentarius (Vitemb. 1672, 1699, 4to); Alting, Commentarius (Amst. 1688, folio; also in Opp. 1, 649); *Seb. Schmidt, Commentarius (Argent. 1685, Fr. ad M. 1697, 1705, 2 vols. 4to); De Sacy, Explication (in French, Paris, 1691, 12mo); Noordbeek, Vitligginge (Franck. 1701, 4to); *Lowth, Commentary [includ. Lam.] (Lond. 1718, 4to; also in the "Commentary of Patrick," etc.); Petersen, Zeugniss (Francf. 1719, 4to); Rapel, Predigten (Lunenb. 1720, 1755, 2 vols. 4to); Ittig, Predigten (Dresden, 1722, 4to); Michaelis, Observationes [on parts, includ. Lam.] (Gotting. 1743, 4to); Burscher, Erlä uterung (Leipzig, 1756, 8vo); Venema, Commnentarius (Leov. 1765, 2 vols. 4to); *Blayney, Notes includ. Lam.] (Oxf. 1784, 4to; 3d ed. Lond. 1836, 8vo); Schnurrer, Observationes [on parts] (Tub. 1793-4, 4 pts. 4to; also in Velthusen et cet. Commment. 2-4); Leiste, Observationes [on parts] (Gotting. 1794, 8vo, and also in Pott. et cet. Comment. 2); Spohn, Notoe (Lips. 1794-1824. 2 vols. 8vo); Volborth, Anmerkungen (Celle, 1795, 8vo); Uhrich, De Vatib. sacris (Dresden, 1797, 4to); Schulz, Scholia (Norimburg, 1797, 8vo); Hensler, Bemerkungen [on parts] (Lpz. 1805, 8vo); Dereser, Erklä rung [includ. Lam. and Baruch] (F. ad M. 1809, 8vo); Shalom-Kohen, Uebersetzung [with Hebrew commentary] (Fü rth, 1810, 8vo); *Horsley, Notes [including Lam.] (in Bibl. Crit. 2,1); Gaab, Erklä rung [on parts] (Tü b. 1824, 8vo); Roorda, Conmmentaria [on parts] (Groning. 1824, 8vo); *Dahler, Notes (in French, Strasb. 1825-30, 2 vols. 8vo); *Rosenmü ller, Scholia [including Lam.] (Lips. 1826-7, 2 vols. 8vo); Movers, Recensiones Jerem. (Hamb. 1827, 8vo); Knobel, De Jerem. Chaldaizante (Vratislav. 1831, 4to); Kü per, Jeremioe interpres (Berlin, 1837, 8vo); *Hitzig, Erklä rung (Leipzig, 1841, 8vo); *Umbreit, Commentar (Hamb. 1842, 8vo); *Henderson, Commentary [includ. Lam.] (London, 1851, 12mo); Neumann, Auslegung [including Lam.] (Lpz. 1856, 8vo); Graf, Erklä rung (Lpz. 1862, 2 vols. 8vo); Cowles, Notes (N. York, 1869, 12mo). (See PROPHETS).

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.

Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Jeremiah, Book of.'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, October 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
Search for…
Enter query in the box:
Choose a letter to browse:
A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M 
N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  Y  Z 

To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology