From: The Catholic Biblical Quarterly 54 (1992): 432-47.
© 1992 by the Catholic Biblical Association; reproduced here by permission of the copyright holder.

James W. Watts


    1.1  Critical theories of how the book of Jeremiah was composed have usually left the oracles against the nations (hereafter, OAN; MT chaps. 46-51; LXX chaps. 25:14-31:44) out of account. They are considered a late addition which played no part in the book's primary redaction. The result has been a tendency to interpret them separately from the book in which they are found.

    1.2  Sigmund Mowinckel did not include the OAN when he divided the book between Jeremiah's oracles (source A), Baruch's biographical material (B), Deuteronomistic additions (C), and the positive oracles of chaps. 30-31 (D). He claimed that Jeremiah only addressed foreign nations when their fate was bound up with that of Judah, as in chaps. 25, 27, and 43. It was not Jeremiah's vocation to address the nations apart from such a connection. Thus the OAN are simply an anonymous collection of oracles which only secondarily were associated with Jeremiah and added to the end of his book.1 Mowinckel considered the LXX's version of Jeremiah, which has the OAN in the middle of the book after 25:13 and with a different internal arrangement, an even later development.2

    1.3  Mowinckel's reconstruction of the composition of Jeremiah has dominated subsequent research on the topic. Though various modifications have been proposed, such as the omission of group D, in its essentials the theory is still widely espoused. The OAN remain peripheral to the discussion. Even some scholars who credit the OAN to Jeremiah himself assumed the collection to have circulated independently and to have been added to the book only after it had reached more or less its present shape.3

    1.4  The LXX text of Jeremiah, however, has received closer scrutiny. In the last two centuries, the priority of this version's shorter text over MT has been strongly asserted by many scholars and just as forcibly denied by others. The discovery of a fragment of Jeremiah at Qumran (4QJerb), whose Hebrew text corresponds more closely to the LXX than to the MT, demonstrated that the differences were already in the Greek translation's Vorlage and were not a product of the translation itself.4 J. Gerald Janzen used this new evidence to compare once more the MT and LXX texts of Jeremiah and concluded that the Hebrew Vorlage of the LXX was very conservative and separated by only a few text generations from the original. The longer MT, on the other hand, is expansionistic, the product of many generations and scribes. He concluded therefore that the LXX is not an abridgment of the MT, but rather a better witness to the original text of Jeremiah.5 Janzen agreed that the OAN circulated separately at first. When they were added to the already finished book, they were inserted into chap. 25 on analogy with Isaiah and Ezekiel where OAN appear in the middle of the books, and because this chapter already contained material about foreign nations. At the time of this addition, however, there were already copies of Jeremiah in circulation. Rather than render these copies obsolete, the OAN were simply added at the end.6 (Chapter 52, a quotation from 2 Kgs 25, was a subsequent addition to both versions.) Janzen also argued that the LXX's internal arrangement of the OAN should be preferred as the lectio difficilior. When the oracles were circulating independently, there was no reason for any particular order. The Masoretic order is a subsequent harmonization with the list of nations in chap. 25.7 Janzen's discussion of the OAN, however, did not form an integral part of his study but was an excursus relating his conclusions regarding the rest of the text of Jeremiah to the OAN. He thus continued the convention of treating the OAN as a secondary problem in the textual and redactional history of Jeremiah.

    1.5  Janzen's conclusions have generally been well received, but two recent critiques of his conclusions on the OAN must be noted. Sven Soderlund agreed that "evidence of various kinds, both direct and indirect, do point to the existence at one time of a Hebrew text shorter than the MT," but argued that the shorter text is not always the better text.8 He did not offer an alternative theory of the relation between the two versions of Jeremiah so much as fault Janzen for overgeneralizing his findings. Though Soderlund focused on a chapter within the OAN (MT 47:1-7, 49:7-22; LXX 29), he did not address the larger problem of the placement of the oracles as a group. Christopher R. Seitz did tackle that problem in a study of the redactional shape of Jeremiah, and reasserted the old position that the OAN were added to the end of Jeremiah in a secondary redactional development "with reference to the OAN collections in Isaiah and Ezekiel."9 Their position in the middle of LXX Jeremiah is an even later disturbance of this arrangement "in order to bring the Book of Jeremiah into rough conformity with the other major prophetic books, where the OAN are located in central sections."10 Seitz marshaled observations regarding verbal links between MT chap. 45 and other key chapters in Jeremiah, as well as an interpretation of the book's overall structure, to demonstrate the priority of the Masoretic arrangement, while dismissing Janzen's text-critical arguments as inappropriate in discussions of the macro-structure of a book.11 Bernard Gosse, however, evaluated Seitz's redactional evidence and suggested that it can instead be interpreted to support the priority of the LXX's position and arrangement of the OAN.12

    1.6  On the basis of Janzen's study, several scholars have suggested revising our understanding of the relationship between the MT of Jeremiah and the LXX Vorlage. Emanuel Tov argued that the differences between the two are not textual but redactional. It is therefore a mistake to "correct" one on the basis of the other.13 Tov suggested that the LXX Vorlage attests to the first edition of Jeremiah, which combined Mowinckel's A and B material and added C (he wondered if the first editor wrote C). The second editor (edition II) worked on a text similar but not identical to edition I. Edition II (the basis for MT) rearranged the poetry and prose and added new material to A, B, and C. Both redactors were Deuteronomists, according to Tov.14 Tov did not, however, make the re-positioning and rearrangement of the OAN an integral part of his argument. He noted that "it cannot be determined whether editor II found these differences [in arrangement] in his Vorlage or whether he inserted the changes himself."15 Nevertheless, he argued that the OAN's position in the MT is text-critically "inferior".16

    1.7  Other scholars, however, have not been so reticent about the second editor's arrangement of the OAN. P.-M. Bogaert explained the redactional intention of both arrangements on the basis of the book's depiction of Jeremiah and Baruch. He suggested that edition I (= LXX) is intended to be both a collection of oracles and a defense of Jeremiah as a true prophet. The mention of Baruch at the end of the book (MT chap. 45, LXX 51:31; chap. 52 is a subsequent addition to both editions) serves as the signature of a guarantor or notary who witnessed Jeremiah's words and their realization.17 Bogaert supposed that once Jeremiah's authority was vindicated by the events of the exile, this defense of the prophet was no longer necessary and was in some ways offensive. Therefore the OAN were placed at the end of the book in edition II (= MT) to displace Baruch from his role as witness and elevate Jeremiah not only as the author of the oracles but as the author of the book. Thus the MT describes the book as the "words of Jeremiah" in 1:1 and 51:64 (while the LXX reads in 1:1 "the word of God which was to Jeremiah") and it surrounds the material about Baruch (chaps. 36-45) with Jeremiah's oracles (chaps. 1-26, 46-51).18

    1.8  Bernard Gosse also explored the redactional role of the OAN in edition II's rearrangement of the book, but discovered a slightly different emphasis than Bogaert did. Gosse argued that the conclusion of edition I (MT chap. 45) emphasizes the fulfillment of the threats against Jerusalem, whereas the conclusion of edition II (MT chap. 51) emphasizes the fulfillment of the threats against Babylon.19 He did note, however, that although the arrangement of the MT emphasizes the theme of Babylon's destruction more than the arrangement of the LXX does, the latter does contain the theme. The original text of 25:1-13 probably consisted of only vv 1-3, 5, 7-11, and 13 and dealt with Judah only. But the first editor modified it to serve as an introduction to the OAN and thus caused v 13 to refer to Babylon instead of Judah.20 The second editor merely extended and emphasized a tendency already present in edition I.

    1.9  To summarize this selective survey of scholarship: The conventional theories of Jeremiah's composition considered the OAN secondary and therefore did not consider them redactionally significant either in their LXX or MT position and order. An increased appreciation for the LXX text and its redactional significance did not initially include a greater role for the OAN. Only recently have a few short studies suggested that the positioning and arranging of the OAN may have been a purposeful part of a larger redaction of the book of Jeremiah. The connection between the second editor's treatment of the OAN and that editor's other redactional changes, however, has not been demonstrated conclusively.


    2.1  A crucial step in the argument for the two-edition theory, mounted by Tov and followed by Bogaert and Gosse, is Tov's claim that the differences between the LXX's Vorlage and the MT are redactional, rather than textual, in nature. This distinction between textual/scribal and redactional/editorial requires closer scrutiny before the question of the OAN's place in the second edition of Jeremiah can be pursued further.

    2.2  In Jeremiah, redactional development and textual transmission overlap. One cannot distinguish them diachronically as if redactors first produced the finished text, then copyists corrupted it. This book's textual history began long before its redactional history ended. Tov pointed out this fact,21 but also maintained that "the anonymous editor of edition II was not a scribe, as we are not dealing with scribal phenomena, but he was an editor who produced one of the stages of the literary growth of the book."22 In point of fact, however, redactors are necessarily also scribes if they are working on written texts. They are as capable of mistakes as simple copyists are. Furthermore, they may not notice and correct mistakes that are already present in their copies of a previous edition. The claim that a particular addition is redactional and not scribal does not presuppose a clear-cut distinction between the persons responsible for making changes so much as inherent differences in the nature of the redactional and scribal changes themselves.

    2.3  Descriptions of "scribal phenomena" are commonplace in manuals of textual criticism, and Tov has produced such a list himself.23 The defining characteristics of redactional changes, however, are not as clearly delineated in his or others' interpretations of Jeremiah. In these studies, redactional changes tend to be identified by whether they seem intentional and whether they are part of a larger pattern of changes in the text.24 An addition which is typical of edition II is redactional; one which is unusual is probably scribal. Some intentional changes, however, are usually classed among the "scribal phenomena" (e.g. scribal harmonizations) and typical changes are also sometimes included.25 Thus the confusion between the categories "redactional" and "scribal/textual" remains.

    2.4  The ambiguity stems from the fact that the earliest tradents of these texts do not seem to have distinguished their editorial function from their copying task. Preserving and transmitting texts involved both copying and arranging the material, both reproducing and "correcting" it.26 Of course, as biblical texts became older and more authoritative, they tended to become fixed and less subject to change. There is no evidence, however, to indicate that the editorial and duplicative tasks were sharply distinguished in the early period of textual transmission, much less assigned to different people.27

    2.5  Nevertheless, the distinction between scribal and redactional changes remains important and useful because it serves to distinguish changes which were introduced by a variety of scribes for various reasons at different times ("scribal") from changes which were made intentionally all at one time by a single scribe for identifiable reasons ("redactional"). Because the latter changes seem more "editorial" or "authorial" than the former, the label redactional often raises the value of that form of the text in the eyes of modern critics. A scribal change is usually considered a corruption of the "original" text. A redactional change, however, may be considered an improvement leading up to the "final form" of the text. Of course, such broad generalizations about contemporary biblical criticism should not be allowed to obscure the fact that there are critics who regard scribal additions as further developments of the authentic biblical tradition as well as those who dismiss redactional changes with the same contempt as scribal errors. Nevertheless, it remains a convenient myth of most biblical scholarship that the redaction critic's "final form" is the same as the textual critic's "original text."28 In Jeremiah, and probably in most other biblical books as well, this is not the case. Scribal transmission of the text, including all the accidental and intentional changes to which this process is prone, began when the earliest part of the book was first written down and continued throughout all of Jeremiah's subsequent redactions.

    2.6  The different internal order of the OAN in the LXX and the MT serves as an illustration of the way the distinction between scribal and redactional operates in contemporary criticism. Not only does the internal arrangement of the OAN differ in the MT and LXX, but the list of nations in MT 25:18-26 / LXX 32:4-12 differs from both, though it is closer to the MT.

LXX OAN MT OAN MT 25:18-26 / LXX 32:4-12
Elam Egypt Judah
Egypt Philistia Egypt
Babylon Moab [MT adds Uz]
Philistia Ammon Philistia
Edom Edom Edom
Ammon Damascus Moab
Kedar Kedar Ammon
Damascus Elam Tyre
Moab Babylon Sidon
[MT reads Arabia]
[MT adds Zimri]
rest of the nations
[MT adds Babylon]

   2.7  Various suggestions have been put forward to explain these arrangements and the relationships between them. The order of the OAN in the MT has been explained on geographical or chronological grounds, though no system seems to work perfectly.29 Holladay considered the order of the list in chap. 25 to be a result of gradual growth during Jeremiah's lifetime.30 McKane simply pointed out its role in the LXX as the conclusion to the OAN, though he thought it would serve better as an introduction than as a conclusion.31 Regarding the arrangement of the OAN in the LXX, Carroll's comment summarizes the situation succinctly: "no discernible order can be detected in G."32

    2.8  It is in discussions regarding the relative value of one list over another, however, that the distinction between textual and redactional changes comes into play. Janzen, for example, argued that the internal order of the OAN in the LXX is original and should be preferred on the grounds of lectio difficilior. He suggested that the order in the MT is a subsequent harmonization with the list of nations in chap. 25.33 In this argument, Janzen cited a text-critical rule--that one should prefer the more difficult reading--and applied it to the arrangement of six chapters of oracles, which implies that he regarded the difference in arrangement as a scribal phenomenon. Gosse, on the other hand, concluded that the internal arrangement of the MT's OAN is the result of redactional interests. Like Janzen, Gosse defended the priority of the LXX order, not however on text-critical but on redactional grounds, such as the presence of a comment in MT 48:47 which seems to mark the original, and in the LXX actual, end of the OAN.34 He combined the parallel between the order of the OAN in the MT and the list of nations in chap. 25 with other observations to suggest that the book has been intentionally shaped by a second editor to achieve certain ends.35 Both Janzen and Gosse agreed that the LXX order makes no sense and the MT order does. They differed only in the significance which they attached to this observation, significance which is epitomized in the distinction between "textual" and "redactional." The implications were not spelled out, but are nevertheless clear: the result of using the "scribal" label is that an "original" text is freed from subsequent accretions; the result of using the "redactional" label is that a later form of the text is elevated to equal standing with the earlier form as a second "edition."

    2.9  The value judgments implied in the application of the labels "redactional" and "scribal" persist because of the contemporary need to establish a single text as a basis for translation, commentary and interpretation. This need is not itself the product of text- or redaction-critical interpretation, whose results tend rather to depict a plurality of editions and text traditions.36 It is rather produced by the contemporary requirements of faith communities and publishers for one text. Interpreters feel the need to produce a single final text because their task usually involves not only the description of the biblical tradition but its transmission as well. And while their descriptions may highlight the pluralistic nature of both traditions and text, the task of transmission usually requires a single end product. The value judgments attached to the scribal label are a means by which multiple traditions can be reduced to a single "best" text.

    2.10  In other words, the application of the labels "redactional" and "scribal" is often motivated by contemporary considerations which are best described as editorial in nature, rather than purely descriptive. They are applied in the process of preparing biblical literature for contemporary transmission via translation and commentary. The role of modern biblical scholars is, in this regard, quite similar to that of ancient scribes: both then and now the task of transmitting the text involves making redactional/editorial decisions about the "best" text, decisions which because of the multiform biblical tradition inevitably call for changes to be made through addition, subtraction, and rearrangement. And like ancient scribes, modern scholars are reluctant to acknowledge the editorial nature of this work because of their desire and effort to preserve the biblical tradition unchanged.37 When, however, that tradition has preserved two editions of the same work, the editorial choice of which edition to transmit in commentaries and translations cannot be avoided and should not be denied.38

    2.11  Thus the distinction between scribal and redactional changes is both descriptive and evaluative. It is descriptive of the origins of textual differences as the work of a single scribe or of many scribes, at one time or at many different times. It is evaluative of the degree to which such changes should or should not be taken seriously in commentary and translation.


    3.1  The descriptive and evaluative dimensions of the labels come into play in studying the relationship between the OAN and edition II of Jeremiah. To demonstrate that the arrangement and position of the OAN in the MT are the work of the second editor, one needs to show that the same concerns are reflected in the editing of the OAN and of MT chaps. 1-45. Bogaert and Gosse have made a few observations to this end, for example, regarding MT 1:1 and 51:64 and the position of Jeremiah's oracles in edition II, or the parallel between Seraiah in MT 51:59-64 and Baruch in chap. 36. The issue is obscured, however, by the fact that some of these tendencies are found in both editions while others are unique to the second. In order to settle the problem of whether the position and order of the OAN are part of these redactions or not, the following question must be answered: does the position and arrangement of the OAN in edition II (= MT) reflect the same editorial concerns as other redactional additions in edition II? If not, the OAN may have been inserted earlier or later and their different location and order in the LXX and the MT, though perhaps the product of yet another broad redaction, could also be explained as the result of an isolated scribal change, perhaps along the lines that Janzen suggested.

    3.2  In what follows, I will address this question by comparing the significant additions in the MT of the OAN (chaps. 46-51; LXX 25:14-31:44) with their counterparts in MT chap. 25 (= LXX 25:1-13 and chap. 32). By "additions" I mean words or phrases not represented in the LXX.39 By "significant" I mean additions which contribute new information rather than simply the substitution of proper names for pronouns, the amplification of titles, stereotypical formulas, and so on. The comparison is limited to a single chapter because an exhaustive survey of the additions in MT chaps. 1-45 is far beyond the limits of this study. MT chapter 25 (LXX 25:1-13, chap. 32) is chosen for this comparison because 1) if the OAN were originally placed here, as in the LXX, one would expect to find signs of the redactor's work at the point where they were deleted (MT vv 13-15), and 2) the chapter's contents are similar to those of the OAN, and if the same redactor was at work in both, one would expect the same concerns to show up in both places.

    3.3  When the MT's significant additions to chap. 25 are isolated, the heavy emphasis on Babylon is immediately apparent.

25:1 MT adds that was the first year of Nebuchadrezzar, King of Babylon."
25:9 MT adds "and for Nebuchadrezzar King of Babylon, my servant."
25:11 MT reads "and these nations will serve the king of Babylon"; LXX reads "they will serve among the nations."
25:12 MT adds "the king of Babylon and ... oracle of the LORD, for their iniquity to the land of the Chaldeans."
25:14 MT adds the whole verse: "For many nations and great kings shall make slaves even of them; and I will recompense them according to their deeds and the work of their hands."
25:26 MT adds "and the king of Shishak will drink after them."40
The additions to vv 9, 11, and 12 specify Babylon and Nebuchadrezzar as the foe from the north and the recipient of punishment after seventy years.41 (In the LXX, the "foe from the north" is unspecified, as it is in many other passages in Jeremiah.) The synchronism added to v 1 places the oracle in the context of Babylonian as well as Judean history.42 Verse 14 specifies the nature of the judgment on Babylon, and the addition to v 26 includes Babylon among the nations under judgment. This emphasis in MT chap. 25 corresponds to the rearrangement of the OAN in the MT which places the oracles against Babylon in the climactic final position (chaps. 50-51). The wish to specify Babylon further is also reflected in 50:1, where the MT adds "to the land of the Chaldeans by the hand of Jeremiah the prophet." Thus an emphasis on Babylon is characteristic of the MT's additions both to MT chap. 25 and to the OAN. The tendency towards historical synchronization finds expression in the OAN also (in 47:1), though this time not with reference to Babylon. The LXX (29:1) has only "concerning the Philistines," but the MT reads, "The word of the LORD that came to Jeremiah the prophet concerning the Philistines, before Pharaoh attacked Gaza."

    3.4  25:3 illustrates the tendency of edition II to add phrases on the basis of the immediate context, in this case "and you did not hear" from v 7. The latter verse in turn repeats and adds to a phrase from v 6, "says the LORD, that you might provoke me to anger with the work of your hands to your own harm."43 The same tendency appears in MT 51:64, where the addition of weya'ephu "and they will weary themselves" seems to have been repeated from v 58 (cf. LXX 28:64). Edition II also borrows from the wider contexts of both chap. 25 and the OAN. The addition of "a curse" in 25:18 (cf. LXX 32:4) is probably influenced by 24:9. In the OAN, the additions MT 48:40b ("Behold one shall fly swiftly like an eagle, and spread his wings against Moab") and MT 48:41b ("The heart of the warriors of Moab shall be in that day like the heart of a woman in her pangs"; cf. LXX 31:40-41) copy with only small changes MT 49:22, part of the oracle against Edom. Additions are made in edition II on the basis of analogous passages from anywhere in Jeremiah, as Tov illustrated with examples from MT chap. 25 and the OAN: MT 25:33 "they will not be lamented and they will not be gathered" is added on the basis of 8:2 and 16:4; MT 46:8 adds "cities and" (cf. LXX 26:8) on the basis of MT 43:6; and MT 46:14 adds "in Egypt and proclaim ... and in Tahpanhes" (cf. LXX 26:14) from MT 44:1.44 The additions in chap. 25, however, cannot match the reach of MT 48:45-46, which are copied from Num 21:28-29, 24:17b. Nevertheless, the parallels are sufficient to show that similar editorial techniques were used in the MT of chap. 25 and of the OAN.

    3.5  The reasons for the addition of "as at this day" in MT 25:18 (cf. LXX 32:4) are not obvious. McKane suggested that it may be a recognition of the temporally uneven fulfillment of the judgment on Judah and on the rest of the nations.45 Perhaps subsequent history also accounts for the addition in MT 48:47 of "Yet I will restore the fortunes of Moab in the latter days, says the LORD."46 If so, then edition II shows in both places a concern to relate the oracles to later events.

    3.6  Chapter 25 of the MT also contains signs of editorial adjustments intended to compensate for the deletion of the OAN after v 13. The addition of v 14 not only expounds on Babylon's fate, but also provides a new conclusion to the first half of the chapter, which diverts attention away from v 13's "this book" (which no longer introduces the OAN). The addition of Babylon ("Shishak") at the end of MT v 26 not only harmonizes the list with the OAN but also with the prophecy of Babylon's judgment in the first half of chap. 25, as McKane pointed out.47 Edition II also adjusts the OAN to their new position and internal order. The LXX introduces the OAN with the last clause of 25:13: "what Jeremiah prophesied against the nations." When placed at the end of the book, they require a new introduction, so the MT adds in 46:1 "What the word of the LORD was to Jeremiah the prophet against the nations." Since MT chap. 45 no longer concludes the book, a new conclusion is also needed, so the MT adds in 51:64 "Thus far the words of Jeremiah" to match its modification of 1:1, "The words of Jeremiah."48 A similar addition appears at the end of the oracle against Moab (MT 48:47), "Thus far the judgment on Moab." The purpose of this notice is not readily apparent.49 But the parallel with MT 51:64 and its place within a particular edition (II) suggests a redactional role, namely to mark the original conclusion of the OAN in edition I.50

    3.7  It would be remarkable if all of the MT's additions to chap. 25 found parallels in the OAN and vice versa, and they do not. The desire to change Jeremiah's direct proclamation into a reminiscence caused the MT to add "the word of the LORD came to me" in 25:3 and to change the first person address contained in the LXX to a 3rd person address in vv 4-5.51 A tendency to amplify lists is reflected in the addition of "all the kings of the land of Uz" in 25:20, of "and all the kings of the Arabs" in 25:24,52 and of "and all the kings of Zimri" in 25:25 (cf. LXX 32:6, 10, 11).53

    3.8  The comparison of the MT additions to chap. 25 and the OAN shows that they share many interests and editorial devices. These do not prove beyond doubt that they stem from the same hand, since edition I (= LXX) also shares these same interests and devices (e.g., a concern with Babylon). It is also probable that some of these additions are the product of the subsequent textual history of the MT and are therefore not part of a single redaction. Nevertheless, the similar interests and devices discovered among the additions to chap. 25 and the OAN strengthen the possibility that they stem from the same redactor.

    3.9  This possibility becomes even more probable when one recognizes that some additions to both chap. 25 and the OAN are editorial adjustments necessitated by the rearrangement of the material. These changes are similar in kind to those isolated by Tov as characteristic of edition II throughout the book of Jeremiah. The preponderance of evidence therefore indicates that the repositioning and rearrangement of the OAN in the MT was part of a general redaction of Jeremiah, namely edition II.

    3.10  This conclusion contradicts Bright's theory that the OAN were added to both the LXX and the MT textual traditions after they had diverged,54 Seitz's view of the OAN as redactional addition to the MT which was subsequently disturbed by rearrangements in the LXX,55 and Janzen's opinion that their position at the end of the MT is due to their being added to already finished manuscripts.56 It also rules out the possibility raised by Tov that the second editor already found them in their new order and position in his copy of edition I.57 The redactional evidence from the MT suggests that the second editor moved the OAN from after 25:13 to the end of the book and rearranged their internal order. Gosse's contention that the new position of the OAN is intended to emphasize the judgment on Babylon, and Carroll's observation that "the different editions point to divergent editorial presentations of the OAN,"58 have been vindicated.

    3.11  We have seen that the evidence of the OAN supports Tov's conclusion that the MT and the LXX are witnesses to two different redactions of Jeremiah. This evidence is also consistent with the view that the LXX's Hebrew Vorlage was derived from the first edition, and the MT from the second. Tov need not have been so reticent about including the changes to the OAN as part of edition II.

    3.12  One could pursue the same question with regard to the OAN in edition I: are they an integral part of the first redaction or a subsequent insertion into the middle of the book prior to its second redaction? If one concludes that the OAN were part of edition I, they would then take their place beside the material which Mowinckel designated A, B, and C (see above) as a block of redacted material. Such an analysis of edition I, however, would be more difficult than the above discussion of edition II, because any prior texts or editions are no longer extant. The results would depend upon a reconstruction of the book's history, a determination of whether Jeremiah was a prophet to the nations, and an explanation for the internal order of the OAN in the LXX, all subjects about which there is little consensus. Such an extensive analysis cannot be attempted here.

    3.13  To summarize: The case has been made that most of the differences between the MT and the LXX's Vorlage of Jeremiah are best explained as the work of a single individual, because they fall into a limited number of categories and are applied with considerable regularity, if not complete consistency.59 This conclusion is supported by the above analysis of the OAN in relation to chap. 25. Since a single scribe with identifiable interests was responsible for the changes, these differences between the LXX's Vorlage and the MT can legitimately be labeled "redactional." This description of the order and position of the MT's OAN as redactional in nature does more than simply require modern scholars to make an editorial choice between rival editions regarding their placement in modern Jeremiah commentaries and translations; it carries with it an enhanced evaluation of the OAN's role within the book. The OAN should no longer be dismissed as a secondary scribal addition, but should be taken into account in descriptions of the composition and editing of Jeremiah as an integral part of the book's second edition, and perhaps its first. This, in turn, means that these oracles should also be integrated into interpretations of the message of the book as a whole and given the attention which their prominent positions in both the LXX and MT suggest they deserve.


1. Sigmund Mowinckel, Zur Komposition des Buches Jeremia (Kristiania: J. Dybwad, 1914) 65-66.

2. Ibid., 14-15.

3. E.g. John Bright, Jeremiah (AB 21; Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1965) lxxviii, 307. But cf. William Holladay's view that the OAN may have found a place in the developing book, in the position as preserved in LXX but with an internal ordering as in MT, within Jeremiah's lifetime (Jeremiah [Hermeneia; 2 vols.; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1986-89] 2. 313).

4. Unfortunately, the fragment does not contain any part of MT chaps. 25 or 46-51.

5. J. Gerald Janzen, Studies in the Text of Jeremiah (HSM 6, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University, 1973).

6. Ibid., 115.

7. Ibid., 116.

8. Sven Soderlund, The Greek Text of Jeremiah: A Revised Hypothesis (JSOTSup 47; Sheffield: JSOT, 1985) 247.

9. Christopher R. Seitz, "The Prophet Moses and the Canonical Shape of Jeremiah," ZAW 101 (1989) 22.

10. Ibid., 24. Seitz denied, however, that the parallel three-part structures of Isaiah, LXX Jeremiah, and Ezekiel should be taken as evidence for the originality of the LXX order. Noting that "the pattern never functioned well in Jeremiah (LXX), by any reckoning," he described the LXX development not as further redactional shaping of the book but as a "disturbance in a sensible MT canonical shape" (ibid., 24-25).

11. "Text-critical arguments . . . overstep their limits when they reach dogmatic conclusions, on text-critical grounds, about the 'original' scope and arrangement of the Book of Jeremiah (at the macro level)" (ibid., 25).  Seitz suggested that the text history of the LXX Vorlage is too obscure and the supporting Qumran texts too fragmentary to allow text-criticism to address anything other than translation problems.

12. Bernard Gosse, "Jérémie XLV et la place du recueil d'oracles contre les nations dans le livre de Jérémie," VT 40 (1990) 145-51.

13. Emanuel Tov, "L'incidence de la critique textuelle sur la critique littéraire dans le livre de Jérémie," RB 79 (1972) 191. See also E. Tov, "Some Aspects of the Textual and Literary History of the Book of Jeremiah," Le Livre de Jérémie (BETL 54; ed. P.-M. Bogaert; Leuven: Leuven University, 1981) 145-67; and idem, "The Literary History of the Book of Jeremiah in the Light of Its Textual History," Empirical Models for Biblical Criticism (ed. J. H. Tigay; Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1985) 211-37.

14. Tov, "L'incidence," 199; Tov compared the redaction of Jeremiah to the double redaction of the deuteronomistic history. He gave examples of edition II's additions of each kind of material in "Some Aspects," 153-55, and "Literary History," 219-20.

15. Tov, "Some Aspects," 151-52. In a later version of this article, however, he added: "It is hard to determine why the collection of oracles was removed in the MT from its proper place to the end of the book . . . . Editor II may have placed the collection at the end of the book because it formed a large separate collection or because he harbored doubts with regard to its authenticity" ("Literary History," 217 n. 23).

16. "Some Aspects," 152 and n. 20, and "Literary History," 217 and n. 23.

17. P.-M. Bogaert, "De Baruch à Jérémie: Les deux rédactions conservées du livre de Jérémie," Le Livre de Jérémie (BETL 54; Leuven: Leuven University, 1981) 169, 172.

18. Ibid., 169-70.

19. Bernard Gosse, "La malédiction contre Babylone de Jérémie 51, 59-64 et les rédactions du livre de Jérémie," ZAW 98 (1986) 396; so also Robert P. Carroll, Jeremiah (OTL; Philadelphia: Westminster, 1986) 757.

20. Ibid., 389-91.

21. "The textual sources of Jeremiah provide data bearing on the textual criticism of that book, but also data which are rare in the biblical realm, viz., evidence relating to the literary history of the book. . . .  Since the written transmission of the biblical books started before the process of literary growth was finished, it is not surprising that some textual sources contain data which derive from the period of the formation of the books, before their final formulation.  Such data bear not only on the textual criticism of the books of the Bible, but also on their literary criticism, as they provide information on different stages in their development" ("Some Aspects," 148-49).

22. Ibid., 151, and "Literary History," 216.

23. Emanuel Tov, The Text-Critical Use of the Septuagint in Biblical Research (Jerusalem Biblical Studies 3; Jerusalem: Simor, 1981) 88-95. Tov's list contains only accidental errors of transmission, such as haplography, parablepsis, etc.

24. See Tov, "Literary History," 214 note 17. Seitz emphasized the issue of size in his criticism of Janzen, arguing that text-critical comparisons of MT with LXX should be limited to the micro-level of translation problems, rather than dealing "with questions regarding the larger shape of the book" ("The Prophet Moses," 25 note 55; see above note ). This restriction, however, ignores the fact that the accidents of transmission can affect large swathes of text just as much as intentional redactions can. Seitz himself crossed the boundary between the redactional and scribal categories (as defined here) when he characterized the LXX arrangement of the OAN as a "disturbance" of the MT shape (ibid., 25).

25. See, for example, Ernst Würthwein's description of "deliberate alterations" (The Text of the Old Testament [tr. E. F. Rhodes; Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1979] 108-10). Würthwein called attention to the ambiguity in classifying these changes, noting that some "are properly the province of higher criticism, whose borders are rather fluid at this point" (p. 109).

26. The scribe's role as both copyist and editor has been clearly demonstrated by Michael Fishbane (Biblical Interpretation in Ancient Israel [Oxford: Clarendon, 1985] 23, 31-32, 37).

27. The later development of the Masorah containing rules for the copying of biblical manuscripts did distinguish scribal comments about the text from the accurate reproduction of the text itself, and in some manuscripts (e.g. the Aleppo Codex) different people were responsible for the consonantal text on the one hand and the voweling and Masorah on the other.

28. Tov implied such a position in describing textual changes as subsequent to and distinct from editorial changes: "We use the terms edition/editor and text/scribe to describe different stages in the development of the book as well as the persons involved. Editions belong to the stages of the growth of the book, up to and including its final formulation, and they involve major changes, additions, and transpositions; the writers who produced them are termed editors. The textual transmission, performed by scribes for each edition, starts after that edition was completed. Scribes involved in this process did insert changes into the text, but to a much smaller degree than editors did" ("Literary History," 214 note 17, Tov's italics). This distinction is undermined by Tov's own observations regarding the intertwining of redactional and textual developments in Jeremiah (see n. 21 above).

29. The geographical option is noted by R. H. Pfeiffer (Introduction to the Old Testament, 2 ed., New York: Harper and Bro., 1941); the chronological reconstruction was advocated by J. P. Hyatt ("The Book of Jeremiah," IB [Nashville: Abingdon, 1956] 5. 1104); Holladay adopted aspects of both (Jeremiah, 2. 5, 313); see the summary of opinions by Carroll (Jeremiah, 759).

30. Holladay, Jeremiah, 1. 672-73.

31. William McKane, Jeremiah (ICC; Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1986) 641-42.

32. Carroll, Jeremiah, 759; though Holladay argued that it was the product of rearrangement in the Maccabean era (Jeremiah, 2. 5, 314).

33. Janzen, Studies, 116.

34. "La malédiction," 386-87.

35. For Gosse, these ends are the emphasis on the judgment of Babylon (ibid., 396).

36. This tendency towards plurality is illustrated by Tov's redaction-critical argument that since the LXX and MT represent different editions of Jeremiah, one should not correct one on the basis of the other ("L'incidence," 191). Within the field of text-criticism, Shemaryahu Talmon has argued that the further back one traces the text types, the greater the number of text types that seem to have been in circulation ("The Textual Study of the Bible - A New Outlook," Qumran and the History of the Biblical Text [ed. F. M. Cross and S. Talmon; Cambridge, MA: Harvard University, 1975] 326-27)

37. Respect for the traditional text often leads critics to preserve the MT's arrangement intact in their commentaries and translations while simultaneously arguing that another arrangement is better or more original. Thus, for example, though Holladay and Carroll both argue that the OAN's original position is preserved by LXX, they follow MT in placing their commentary on the OAN at the end of their books. This practice of suggesting improved readings while transmitting the traditional text is also paralleled by Masoretic scribal practices, e.g. many of the kethib-qere readings.

38. This issue has begun to receive attention. For example, Eugene Ulrich surveyed criteria for choosing the best text to translate when there are double literary editions ("Double Literary Editions of Biblical Narratives and Reflections on Determining the Form to be Translated," PRS 15 [1988] 101-16 = Perspectives on the Hebrew Bible: Essays in Honor of Walter J. Harrelson [ed. J. L. Crenshaw; Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 1988] 101-16), while James A. Sanders suggested printing both editions: "One might ask whether, as we move into the twenty-first century, . . . churches are not ready for a pluriformity of texts where double editions are available, even in translations" ("Hebrew Bible and Old Testament: Textual Criticism in Service of Biblical Studies," Hebrew Bible or Old Testament: Studying the Bible in Judaism and Christianity [ed. R. Brooks, J. J. Collins; Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame, 1990] 64).

39. I.e., Janzen's "zero variants."

40. Sheshak is an athbash for Babylon, made explicit in 51:41. (In an athbash, the letters of a word are exchanged for those in opposite positions in the Hebrew alphabet: the first, aleph, for the last, taw; the second, beth, for the second from last, shin; etc. The term "'athbash" is derived from this example.) See McKane, Jeremiah, 640.

41. These observations are, of course, common knowledge. See McKane, Jeremiah, 626-27; Holladay, Jeremiah, 1. 664; Carroll, Jeremiah, 493.

42. McKane, Jeremiah, 619.

43. This tendency was noted by Tov, who provided a number of illustrations from throughout Jeremiah ("L'incidence," 193).

44. Ibid., 194.

45. McKane, Jeremiah, 637.

46. Carroll, Jeremiah, 796.

47. McKane, Jeremiah, 640. McKane's discussion, however, did not always distinguish levels of redaction. Thus he also attributed features shared by both the LXX and MT texts to a concern for the unity of MT vv 1-29 (pp. 636-37), though in the LXX the two halves of the chapter are separated by the OAN.

48. See Bogaert, "De Baruch," 169, and the discussion above.

49. Carroll summarized the various alternatives, and concluded that the note was due to the "excessive length of the poem about Moab" (Jeremiah, 797).

50. Bogaert, "De Baruch," 170.

51. So McKane, Jeremiah, 621-22. The various explanations that have been offered for this discrepancy are surveyed by McKane.

52. This phrase, however, is part of a doublet (dittography?).

53. Zimri appears as a place name only here in the OT. It is most likely an athbash for Elam in the next phrase (and should therefore be emended to Zimki); see BHS and McKane, Jeremiah, 639-40.

54. Bright, Jeremiah, lxxviii.

55. Seitz, "The Prophet Moses," 22-27.

56. Janzen, Studies, 115.

57. Tov, "Some Aspects," 151-52.

58. Carroll, Jeremiah, 757.

59. On the "inconsistent revisers" of biblical books, see Tov, "Some Aspects," 151.

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