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The Oxford Handbook of Biblical Studies Provides a comprehensive survey of Biblical scholarship in a variety of disciplines.

1 Baruch

Baruch appears in the book of Jeremiah as that prophet's scribe (e.g. Jer. 36), and thus is an intermediary between Jeremiah and the people. As in the case of Ezra, there are other pseudonymous works attributed to him, and this phenomenon may reflect the increasing importance of scribes in Second Temple Judaism. The book of 1 Baruch is a composite work, incorporating three different documents. The first part (1: 1–3: 8) purports to be the words of a book that Baruch wrote in Babylon for the Jewish exiles, who send money to Jerusalem with instructions to make a communal confession and make offerings on the exiles' behalf. This narrative section is followed by a poetic part (3: 9–4: 4) in praise of Wisdom and her identity with ‘the book of the commandments of God’ (1 Baruch 4: 1; cf. Sir. 24: 23; see Harrelson 1992). The final part is also poetic in form, a consolatory exhortation to the people of Israel, placed in the mouth of Zion. Superficially the three different parts have little in common, but they do address the problem of faith in the Jewish diaspora in different ways. However, they are also quite similar to, and even derivative of, other works such as Daniel, Jeremiah, and Sirach.

It is likely that the first part of 1 Baruch was written in Hebrew originally. There is more debate about the original language of the second two parts, though Greek seems most likely (but see Burke 1982). The date of the earliest layer of the book may be as early as the second century BCE, but citations of the book in its present form do not appear until Christian writers of the late second century CE. 1 Baruch 3: 37 was especially popular with Christians, as an allusion to the Incarnation: ‘Afterward she [or, he: gender is not represented in Greek verbs] appeared on earth, and lived with humankind.’ This alone would have ensured the book's preservation in the churches: there are versions in several different languages, all derived from the Greek.

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