Posted By MSH on August 20, 2008
Ivan has surfaced again!
Ivan emailed me this missive yesterday, so I thought I’d post it. Ivan spotlights some very interesting content in Jeremiah that pertains to our discussion. That book of Jeremiah just seems to play with our minds!
Here’s Ivan, between >>
I never really thought much about this story before, but we know the book of Jeremiah has a pretty tortured textual history, and we know that Baruch had something to do with the production of the text, because the text tells us this repeatedly.
Jeremiah 36:1-2, 4 – 1 In the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 2 “Take a scroll and write on it all the words that I have spoken to you against Israel and Judah and all the nations, from the day I spoke to you, from the days of Josiah until today….” 4 Then Jeremiah called Baruch the son Neriah, and Baruch wrote on a scroll at the dictation of Jeremiah all the words of the LORD that he had spoken to him. (ESV)
- So, is the production of a copy, or the production of an autograph? If a copy, why did Jeremiah have to “dictate” (Heb, DBR)? Why not just copy directly from the scroll? If an autograph, does this mean that Jeremiah had not previously written any of these things down? We’re apparently talking about YEARS worth of oracular material here (“from the days of Josiah until today”). The text just says that Jeremiah spoke (from memory?!) and Baruch wrote; it doesn’t say anything about any filling of the Spirit or any trances. Only Jeremiah is speaking here, not God. Not to mention that in verse 10, they’re called “the words of Jeremiah”, not “the words of God” or “the words that God spoke to Jeremiah”.
Then Baruch goes and reads the scroll in the temple, because Jeremiah is banned from its precincts.
Jeremiah 36:16-18 – 16 When they [various temple officials] heard all the words, they turned one to another in fear. And they said to Baruch, “We must report all these words to the king.” 17 Then they asked Baruch, “Tell us, please, how did you write all these words? Was it at his dictation?” 18 Baruch answered them, “He dictated all these words to me, while I wrote them with ink on the scroll.” (ESV)
- Same questions as above. Particular emphasis is given on Jeremiah speaking and Baruch using “ink” to write on the scroll.
Jeremiah 36:21-23 – 21 Then the king sent Jehudi to get the scroll, and he took it from the chamber of Elishama the secretary. And Jehudi read it to the king and all the officials who stood beside the king. 22 It was the ninth month, and the king was sitting in the winter house, and there was a fire burning in the fire pot before him. 23 As Jehudi read three or four columns, the king would cut them off with a knife and throw them into the fire in the fire pot, until the entire scroll was consumed in the fire that was in the fire pot. (ESV)
- Oops! There goes the autograph, right? Or was it just a copy? But then if it wasn’t the only copy, why do this:
Jeremiah 36:27-28 – 27 Now after the king had burned the scroll with the words that Baruch wrote at Jeremiah’s dictation, the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah: 28 “Take another scroll and write on it all the former words that were in the first scroll, which Jehoiakim the king of Judah has burned. (ESV)
- Then God tells them to add some stuff about Jehoiakim burning the scroll, and a curse against him. Fair enough. But apparently, Jeohoiakim burned the only copy. So what happens the SECOND time they do the whole dictation thing?
Jeremiah 36:32 – 32 Then Jeremiah took another scroll and gave it to Baruch the scribe, the son of Neriah, who wrote on it at the dictation of Jeremiah all the words of the scroll that Jehoiakim king of Judah had burned in the fire. And many similar words were added to them. (ESV)
- Wait? “And many similar words were added to them”? Seriously? So there were two DRAFTS of these oracles? And the second draft not only contained the extra stuff that God TOLD them to add, but other stuff, too? What other stuff? How much longer did it get second time around?
- Not to mention that this is a standard case of Moses writing about his own death: This is the book of Jeremiah, commenting on how (part of) the book of Jeremiah was created. How did that story get in there at all, unless Jeremiah was written in multiple passes? If, that is, the “scroll” in question here has anything to do with the production of Jeremiah the canonical book at all – which would be an interesting theory to say the least.
Let me add just one more. We all know Jeremiah has 52 chapters. Look at how chapter 51 ends (51:63-64):
63 When you finish reading this book, , tie a stone to it and cast it into the midst of the Euphrates, 64 and say, ‘Thus shall Babylon sink, to rise no more, because of the disaster that I am bringing upon her, and they shall become exhausted.’ ”
Thus far are the words of Jeremiah.
Hmmm . . . “To this point, these are the words of Jeremiah” – so what about chapter 52? Who wrote THAT?
Obviously, this is another clear example of editing in the Bible. Frankly, I wish all the scribes that touched the text had been as clear as this guy! Just more data that needs consideration when you try and hammer out a doctrine of inspiration.