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Jeremiah 1-20. A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary.

Jeremiah 1-20. A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary. Vol. 1. By Jack R. Lundbom. The Anchor Bible. New York: Doubleday, 1999. xxv and 934 pages. Cloth. $49.00.

This is one of the "second generation" commentaries in the Anchor Bible series. This new, two-volume work (volume 1, reviewed here, covers what Lundbom understands as the "First Edition" [p. 93] of Jeremiah, namely, Jeremiah 1-20) replaces John Bright's 1965 Jeremiah commentary in the same series. Lundbom builds on the work of his predecessors in Jeremiah studies and offers a fresh analysis and interpretation of the "legacy of Jeremiah" (1:1) from the perspective of rhetorical criticism. His aim is to discover the effect of the text's message on the earliest audience at the end of the seventh century B.C.

Toward this end, the parameters (as set off by the paragraph markings in the Hebrew text) and structure of the individual passages, as well as their interconnections with other parts of the text, are of chief interest. Jeremiah 1-20 includes a new translation of the Hebrew text (by the author); an introduction addressing the Book of Jeremiah (including a lengthy and valuable introduction to the method of rhetorical criticism and its application to the text of Jeremiah), the World of Jeremiah, Jeremiah the Prophet (a fine section on rhetoric and preaching introduces the reader to the poetic and rhetorical devices in the text), and Theology; an extensive and up-to-date bibliography; and Notes and Commentary on the biblical text (translation, rhetoric and composition, notes addressing text-critical, grammatical, and historical matters, and message and audience). Three appendixes--Personal Names in the Book of Jeremiah: Inscriptional Evidence (the longest entry is about the 7th/6th century Baruch ben Neriah ben Mahseiah seal impression), the Dramatis Personae in the Book of Jeremiah, and Haplagrophy in Jeremiah 1-20--as well as an Author Index and a Scripture Index round out the readable volume.

Lundbom assumes much previous historical-critical scholarship on Jeremiah, including text-critical matters (where, however, he prefers the longer MT to the shorter LXX, often on rhetorical or literary grounds), the investigation of the formation of the Book of Jeremiah (the so-called three-source theory of composition/redaction [A, B, C material and their respective theologies]), and the career of the prophet. On historical matters, including the biography of Jeremiah, Lundbom takes a rather conservative approach, arguing that Jeremiah began his prophetic ministry in about 622 B.C., thus rejecting any "silent period" during the reign of Josiah (640-609).

This Jeremiah volume is significant primarily for its close reading of the text of Jeremiah. Lundbom's original translation, which intentionally stays close to the word order of the Hebrew text, may strike the reader initially as overly literal and cumbersome (e.g., 6:29-30; 17:18). However, because the text is at the foundation of Lundbom's rhetorical analysis, this is an indispensable part of his overall project. The patient reader will be richly rewarded.

Particularly useful for preachers and teachers are Lundbom's regular trajectories beyond the Old Testament world, noting how first-century and later interpreters may have understood the words of the prophet in their own day, and even into the more contemporary experience of readers around the globe (e.g., pp. 226, 592, 850-51). Today's interpreters in congregations and classrooms, whose task it is to build bridges between ancient religious texts and the present situation of their readers and hearers, will welcome this addition to the Anchor Bible series which points to the continuing relevance of the prophet's message.

Mark W. Bartusch

Valparaiso University
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Author:Bartusch, Mark W.
Publication:Currents in Theology and Mission
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Oct 1, 2004
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