Institution Granting Degree
Dallas Theological Seminary
The goal of this study is to provide a holistic reading of the largely narrative material in Jeremiah 26-45 that is informed by the disciplines of literary and rhetorical criticism. This study seeks to contribute to the growing trend of reading the book of Jeremiah as a literary entity that possesses an editorial unity in spite of the complex compositional history that appears to stand behind the book.
This study will focus primarily on the overarching plot and structure that emerge from the reading of Jeremiah 26-45. The thesis is that this section of the book of Jeremiah consists of two panels of material, chapters 26-35 and 36-45 that are roughly symmetrical to one another. These two panels of material share four basic features in common with each other: an introduction that details national rejection of the prophetic word at the Jerusalem temple (chs. 26 and 36); narratives dealing with prophetic conflict over the issue of submission to Babylon (27-29 and 37-39); sections dealing with the fate of Israel in the aftermath of exile that contrast the immediate and distant futures (30-33 and 40-43); and a concluding section that focuses on the issue of Judah's covenant infidelity (34-35 and 44-45). The plot of Jeremiah 26-45 revolves around the concept that national destiny is determined by response to the prophetic word, and the central tension in the narrative is created by the contrast between the immediate aftermath of the exile where Judah perpetuates the sins of the past and the promised restoration of the distant future.
The study has six chapters. The first chapter summarizes how the conclusions of modern critical scholarship have impacted reading the book of Jeremiah as a literary entity. The second chapter explores the problems involved in searching for an overarching structure for the book of Jeremiah in general and this section in particular. Chapters three through five are the heart of this study and explore the major parallels that exist between the two panels found in chapters 26-35 and 36-45. The sixth chapter concludes the study by providing a brief summary of the major themes and patterns that emerge from a holistic reading of chapters 26-45.