Jeremiah

Everyone who has read the prophecy of Jeremiah will have realised that the chapters and prophetic oracles are not in chronological order. This has mystified scholars who sometimes give the impression that Jeremiah is hopelessly jumbled. Could a chiastic structure be the answer?

In the Literary Guide to the Bible (Eds. Alter and Kermode) published by Collins in 1987 Rosenberg offers the following outline:

a. Historical headnote (1:1-3)

b. Commission (1:4)

c. “Prophet to the nations” theme introduced (1:5-10)

d. Doom for Israel; poetic oracles predominate ( 1-10)

e. Prophet cut off from Anathoth; focus on prophet’s trials and conflicts; prose predominates (11:1-28:17)

f. Optimistic prophecies; renewal of Israel; prose brackets poetic centre (29-31)

e’. prophet returns to Anathoth; focus on prophet’s trials and conflicts; prose predominates (32:1-45:5)

d’. Doom for the nations; poetc oracles predominate (46-51)

c’. “Prophet to the nations” theme culminates (50-51)

b’. Prophet’s concluding message (51:59-64)

a’. Historical appendix (52)

David Dorsey (The Literary Structure of the Old Testament, 1999). acknowledges this publication but suggests a different division into seven parts:

a. Oracles against Judah: coming invasion and disaster from the north (1:1-12:17)

b. Judah’s exile and suffering predicted (13:1-20:18)

c. dated messages of judgment against specific kings and groups (21:1-29:32)

d. Centre- messages of future hope (30:1-33:26)

c’. dated messages of judgment against specific kings and groups (34:1-35:19)

b’. Judah’s fall and exile (36:1-45:5)

a’. Oracles against the nations: coming invasion and disaster from the north (46:1-51:64)

appendix: fall of Jerusalem (52:1-34)

Reading Jeremiah with the possibility of introverted parallelism may open up new understandings as well as clarify more detailed structural features.

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