« AnteriorContinuar »
often charged with all the force of a personality penetrated by the Spirit of the Lord. The style, it is true, is not the strong, terse style of an Isaiah; it seldom surprises by bold turns and brief apostrophes, as in the case of Amos, or so frequently in Hosea; the flow of discourse is broad, lucid, uniform, the movement often halting, slow, and monotonous. But this not merely arises from the late, reflective times of Jeremiah, but has its chief ground in the subject of which he has to speak, and in the mood filling him. He is not lacking in poetic inspiration and original talent. In prophecies respecting foreign nations, a bright, vivid, fiery tone often reigns; but where Jeremiah is speaking to his own people, it is as if he were forbidden by deep earnestness, by inevitable melancholy, from adorning himself with gay figures or striking phrases. And like the rhythm of the clauses, so also the language is marked by a certain looseness; to the Aramaisms (cf. Knobel, Jeremias CJutldaizans, 1831; Zimmer, Aramaismi Jeremiani, i., Halle 1880) occasional negligences are to be added. Jerome remarks in Prol. ad Jer.: " Jeremias propheta sermone quidem apud Hebraeos Isaia et Osea et quibusdam aliis prophetis videtur esse rusticior, sed sensibus par est." It is in harmony with the gentleness and flexibleness of this prophet, and also with his task of summing up and closing the whole series of prophets, that Jeremiah is specially fond of resuming former divine messages and blending them with his own words, not without impressing on them also his own individuality. Even where he repeats his own oracles, as is not seldom the case, it is generally done with slight variations.
Thus in Jeremiah's book the impetuous torrents, gushing forth at the bidding of the ancient prophets, have blended into a placid sea crossed only by gentle currents and offering a polished mirror; but from its surface the sad image of his time looks out on us: a devastated land, the heaven above it hung with blackness, through whose murky night only a strange gleam bursts now and then, illumining on the farthest horizon a glorified city, over which is written in letters of flame: The Lord our Eighteousness!
VL JEREMIAH'S BOOK.
The first origin of this book is told in xxxvi. 1 ff. Accordto this account, Jeremiah, in the fourth year of Jehoiakim (i.e. after twenty-three years' labour), at God's bidding wrote down all his previous discourses, or had them written down, in one roll A former recording of the several oracles is not thereby precluded, rather it is quite probable during such a long space of time. Only Jeremiah not merely read such oracles to the scribe Baruch, but gave them a new shape at one stroke. Considering the mode of origin, it cannot seem strange that the division of the several oracles and discourses is not everywhere evident, and they are very differently divided by expositors. After this first roll had been burnt in the fifth year of Jehoiakim, Jeremiah dictated it again, word for word (xxxvi. 28). His remark, ver. 32: "Many similar words were added besides," is perhaps meant to intimate that this collection was gradually enlarged during the further activity of the prophet. Smaller collections with specific contents, received into this main book in the course of time, are seen in the Consolation-book, xxx.-xxxiii. (see xxx. 2), and the oracles against Babylon, l., li. (see li. 60).
By this twofold recording under Jehoiakim, the original matter grew into the present book. The recording undoubtedly followed a chronological order, except, indeed, that at the close (xxxvi. 2) discourses against the heathen also were added, which now, leaving out of sight ch. xxv., come at the close of the whole book. Moreover, in the present book the chronological order has been disturbed. Not only before chs. xxxv., xxxvi., but even before ch xxv. a series of prophecies from Zedekiah's days has been interpolated (xxi. 1 ff., xxiii. 1 ff., xxiv. 1 ff.), which therefore cannot have belonged to the first collection; probably for this reason, that ch. xxv. was regarded as belonging to the conclusion referring to the heathen. The present strange absence of arrangement is to be further explained, partly by the fact that afterwards historical narratives (like those of chs. xxvi., xxxv., xxxvi., etc.) were added, which, as regards their contents, should in part have found their place in the first book of discourses. Such supplements to the proper book of discourses are found from ch. xxvi. onward. Only the special book (chs. xxx.-xxxiii.) gives a connected kernel of discourses proper; then follow oracles bound up with narratives (xxxiv.-xxxvi.), and to these the fortunes of the prophet during the siege and after the fall of Jerusalem join on (xxxvii. ff.). The heading, i. 1-3, applies as far as ch. xxxix. inclusive; in xl. 1 follows a heading answering to the prophet's later work; in xlvi. 1, one that comprises the oracles against the heathen (up to ch. li.). Since Jeremiah, after the great catastrophe in which his prophecy was so terribly fulfilled, enjoyed several years of leisure in Egypt, where also he had the help of Baruch, it is highly probable that he there completed and rounded off his prophetic book. A difference is observable between the sections where the prophet speaks in the first person and those where the writer speaks of him in the third person and with elaborate description. In the former, which are generally the earlier ones, Baruch adhered strictly to the words dictated; in the latter, including principally historical accounts, he moved more freely. In its main part the book seems to have been completed before Jeremiah's death, since this event is neither mentioned nor so much as intimated.
As concerns the genuineness and integrity of the book, it bears almost everywhere the stamp of Jeremiah's literary characteristics to such a degree, that doubt of its authenticity as a whole is out of the question, and at most certain sections may be distinguished as of another class. The sections attacked by criticism are: (1) x. 1-16, where the orginality is in fact doubtful, see on the section; (2) xxv. 11-14, see on the passage; (3) xxvil 7, 16-22, attacked without sufficient reason, mainly on account of the LXX, who have here greatlyabbreviated; (4) xxxiii . 14-26 the same, see on the passage; (5) xxxix. 1, 2, 4-10 have been inserted; (6) xlviii. is said by some critics to be greatly interpolated, see there; (7) chs. L, li., the oracle respecting Babylon, is denied by many to be Jeremiah's; but in our judgment not on conclusive grounds, see after chs. l., li.; (8) ch. lii. is an appendix added by a strange hand, see after ch. lii.
VII. RELATION OF THE HEBREW TO THE ALEXANDRINE TEXT.
The Greek-Alexandrine text differs in a remarkable degree from the Hebrew - Masoretic text of our book. Even the arrangement of the parts and the order of the chapters arc partly different, the LXX inserting the oracles respecting the heathen, which elsewhere form the conclusion, after xxv. 13, and giving them, moreover, in an order altogether different from the Hebrew text (xlix. 35 ff., xlvi., l., li., xlvii. 1-7, xlix. 7-22, xlix. 1-5, 28-33, 23-27, xlviii.). The text of the LXX also corresponds far less to that of the Hebrew codex than is the case in other books (except perhaps Job and Daniel). Generally speaking, the Alexandrine text has a much briefer, conciser recension, some 2700 words (i.e. about one-eighth of the text) fewer than the Masoretic. From this the inference has been drawn that the Greek translators had before them a much more compressed Hebrew form of the book, the original one, out of which the present Hebrew text has grown by interpolation and glosses. Of course on this supposition there would be strong presumption in regard to variations in favour of the originality of the Greek form. A fact alleged in support is, that the prophet spent the evening of his life in Egypt, and perhaps also completed his book there, so that a more original edition of it might be in circulation in that country than among the Palestinian and Babylonian Jews. Thus the Alexandrine version was preferred to the present Hebrew text by J. D. Michaelis, Movers (Be utriusque Recensionis Vaticiniorum Jer. Indole et Origins Comm. 1837), De Wette (Introduction, from the 6th ed. onward, whereas previously he ascribed priority to the Masoretic text in the usual way), Hitzig (it is true with frequent preference for Masor.), Fr. Bleek (EM. ins A. T), A. Scholz (der Mas. Text mid die LXX — Uebersetzung d. B. Jerem. 1875), whereas Ewald, Schrader, Kuenen give the preference to the Masor. recension, while making both say pretty much the same. In opposition thereto the critical inferiority and utter untrustworthiness of the LXX as regards this book have been convincingly proved by Kueper, Havernick, Wichelhaus (de Jeremicc Versione Alexandrina, Halle 1847), Nagelsbach (Jer. und Babylon, p. 86 ff.), Keil, and especially Graf (p. xl. f.). Cf. also Ernst Kiihl, Bos Verhaltniss der Massora zur LXX in Jcremia, Halle 1882.
In comparing the manner of this translator in passages where there can be no serious question of a different reading, we are struck at once with the fact, that on any slight irregularity of the Hebrew text he easily misunderstands it, and where no simple meaning occurs to him he corrects the text without hesitation to get a suitable continuation. In doing so he must either have used a manuscript specially illegible, or have read it in a most cursory and superficial way. Many of his variants are unquestionably to be ascribed to such blunders of a translator little versed in Hebrew, not to the recension of his codex. In confirmation of this opinion we need only compare passages like the following, which might easily be multiplied tenfold, ii. 2, 19, 20, 23, viii. 6, 18, x. 17 f., xii. 13, xv. 10, 16, xviii. 14, xx. 11, xxii. 15 f., 20, etc.
Since the translator shows himself so indifferent about the exact wording of his original, being satisfied with expressing