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The Catholic Study Bible A special version of the New American Bible, with a wealth of background information useful to Catholics.

The Text of Jeremiah and Its Transmission

There are two versions of the book of Jeremiah. The Masoretic Text (in Hebrew), used by Jews and Christians today and the basis of all modern translations, is one‐eighth longer and has a different organization (after Jer 25, 13a ) than the Greek (Septuagint) version. The oracles concerning the nations appear at the end of the Hebrew text in chapters 46 through 51 , and in the Greek in the middle in chapters 26 through 31 . Prior to the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, it was generally thought that the Hebrew text was original and that the Greek text was an abbreviation. Study of the Dead Sea Scrolls caused a change in that judgment, for among the many biblical manuscripts (dating from the third century BC to the first century ad) were four Hebrew fragments of Jeremiah matching the Greek textual tradition rather than the Hebrew. As a result, scholars now regard the Greek text as a translation of a Hebrew text current in Egypt; the translation was made sometime between 250 and 150 BC. The Greek version seems to preserve the first edition of the book, whereas the Masoretic Text preserves the second edition. Changes in the second edition include duplications (e.g., 8, 10b–13 duplicates 6, 13–15 ), additions (e.g., 33, 14–26 and 51, 44b–49a ), and expansions of proper names and formulas. These facts suggest many stages in the composition of the book. Evidently not only Jeremiah the man but also Jeremiah the book underwent a long and difficult journey before arriving at the present authoritative Scripture.

The Influence of Jeremiah on Other Biblical Literature and the New Testament

In the second century BC, Daniel 9, 22–27 reinterpreted Jeremiah's famous prediction that the exile would last seventy years (Jer 25, 11–12; 29, 10 ); it would last seventy weeks of years, that is, seven times seventy. The apocryphal Letter of Jeremiah of the second century BC ridicules divine images, developing biblical attacks (cf. Dt 4, 27–28; Is 40, 18–20, and Jer 10, 2–16 ). Rabbinic literature remembers Jeremiah as the great prophet of doom. The Talmud evidently places Jeremiah at the beginning of the Latter Prophets.

Christian tradition regards Jeremiah as a type and model of Jesus Christ. Isaiah announces the promised Messiah by words, so to speak, and Jeremiah by his life. So many details parallel the life and ministry of Jesus that one is not surprised to hear the answer to Jesus' question, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” as, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets” (Mt 16, 14 ). With Jeremiah it was more a matter of works than words. God was offering in Jeremiah a model for imitation rather than a message for study. The same event in Jeremiah's career—for instance, called from the mother's womb— applies to others besides Jesus, in this case the suffering servant of Isaiah (Is 49, 1 ) and John the Baptist (Lk 1, 39–45 ). Rather, both Jesus and especially the evangelists turned continually to Jeremiah to contemplate and illuminate the mystery of where God was directing their life and ministry. Jeremiah's prophecy is a rich source for appreciating Jesus' words and actions.

The following points of resemblance, by no means exhaustive, show up between Jesus and Jeremiah: (a) confirmed in grace from the mother's womb (Jer 1, 5; Lk 1, 26–38 ); (b) unmarried (Jer 16, 1–3 ); (c) hounded by hometown citizens and family (Jer 12, 6; Lk 4, 24.29 ); (d) weeping over Jerusalem (Jer 8, 23; Lk 19, 41 ); (e) speaking of the Temple as “a den of thieves” (Jer 7, 11; Mt 21, 13 ); (f) consulted secretly and fearfully by those who believe (Jer 37, 17; Jn 3, 1–21 ); (g) foreseeing a new covenant (Jer 31, 31–34; Lk 22, 20 ).

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