The ‘I’ and ‘me’ of various prose pieces are assumed by most exegetes to represent Jeremiah as speaker, and the editorial framework frequently attributes prose actions and statements to him. Reading the book at face value and following the dictates of traditional and conventional readings of the text, the bulk of modem scholars have understood Jeremiah to be the book of the life and times of Jeremiah the prophet, with direct access to his words, deeds, innermost thoughts and reflections. Such an approach presupposes so much historical information to which nobody has access and a one-to-one correspondence between text and social reality that it is an extremely problematical reading of the book. The precise relation between the character constructed by the writers of the tradition and a hypothesized ‘historical’ Jeremiah behind the book is a very difficult question to answer, though not acknowledging its existence in the first place does not make it any the less real a problem for interpreting the book. For the purpose of this chapter the character of Jeremiah presented in the book will be treated as the creative fiction of the editors and writers who produced it and the relation between the ‘historical’ Jeremiah and the ‘fictional’ Jeremiah will be left to the speculative sophistications of the reader....The bottom line is that reading any biblical book as if it provides direct historical/biographical information is problematic, especially in light of the clear theological program that motivated the anonymous writers behind the bulk of the historical narrative (the so-called Deuteronomists and the Deuteronomic school). What was their theological program and how did it affect the "spin" they put on the biblical history? Tune in next week...
Although the majority of scholars continue to read Jeremiah as a biographical or autobiographical set of documents, and this ‘compact majority’ must be recognized for whatever value may be attached to such statistical reports, we cannot prejudge the issue as if there were no alternative or more feasible accounts of how the book was put together. Such accounts undergird the logic of the claim that perhaps the figure of Jeremiah is more the creation of the tradition than the creator of it.**
**Quoted from R.P. Carroll, Jeremiah (London; New York: T&T Clark, 2004), 75, 77.
Post a Comment