Epistle of Jeremy in the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE

LITERATURE 1. Name: In manuscripts Vaticanus and Alexandrinus the title is simply "An Epistle of Jeremiah." But in Codex Vaticanus, etc., there is a superscription introducing the letter: "Copy of a letter which Jeremiah sent to the captives about to be led to Babylon by (Peshitta adds Nebuchadnezzar) the king of the Babylonians, to make known to them what had been commanded him by God." What follows is a satirical exposure of the folly of idolatry, and not a letter. The idea of introducing this as a letter from Jeremiah was probably suggested by Jer 29:1 ff. 2. Canonicity and Position: The early Greek Fathers were on the whole favorably disposed toward this tract, reckoning it to be a part of the Canon. It is therefore included in the lists of Canonical writings of Origen, Epiphanius, Cyril of Jerusalem and Athanasius, and it was so authoritatively recognized by the Council of Laodicea (360 AD). In most Greek manuscripts of the Septuagint (Codices Alexandrinus and Vaticanus. March, Chisl, in the Syriac Hexateuch), it follows Lamentations as an independent piece, closing the supposed writings of Jeremiah. In the bestknown printed of the Septuagint (Tischendorf, Swete, etc.), the order is Jeremiah, Baruch, Lain, Epistle of Jeremy. In Fritzsche, Lib. Apocrypha VT Graece, Epistle Jeremiah stands between Baruch and Tobit. But in Latin manuscripts, including those of the Vulgate, it is appended to Baruch, of which it forms chapter 6, though it really has nothing to do with that book. This last is the case with Protestant editions (English versions of the Bible, etc.) of the Apocrypha, a more intelligible arrangement, since Jeremiah and Lamentations do not occur in the Apocrypha, and the Biblical Baruch was Jeremiah's amanuensis. 3. Contents: In the so-called letter (see 1, above) the author shows the absurdity and wickedness of heathen worship. The Jews, for their sins, will be removed to Babylon, where they will remain 7 generations. In that land they will be tempted to worship the gods o f the people. The writer's aim is ostensibly to warn them beforehand by showing how helpless and useless the idols worshipped are, and how immoral as well as silly the rites of the Bah religion are. For similar polemics against idolatry, see Isa 44:9-19 (which in its earnestness resembles the Epistle Jeremiah closely); Jer 10:3-9; Ps 115:4-8; 135:15-18; The Wisdom of Solomon 13:10- 19; 15:13-17...

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