Letter of Jeremiah

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The letter of Jeremiah is a script of the Hellenized Palestinian Judaism . It may have originated in the 4th century BC. And was part of some Greek Septuagint manuscripts. It does not belong to the Hebrew Tanakh .

The letter of Jeremiah is contained in Catholic Bibles as Baruch 6 and in Orthodox Bibles as a separate book, but not in Protestant Bibles.


It is not known when and under what circumstances the script was created. She sets texts about the Babylonian captivity from the 5th century. v. BC ahead. and possibly originated in the 4th century. The second Epistle to Maccabees probably refers to them. The oldest surviving manuscript is the papyrus fragment 7Q2 from the Dead Sea from the 1st century BC. Chr.

The text has only survived in Greek. Since it does not contain any references to a Hebrew original, it is possible that it was written in Greek.

In the Greek Septuagint manuscripts, the letter of Jeremiah follows the lamentations of Jeremias Hieronymus put the text in his Latin Vulgate translation from the 4th century as the 6th chapter of the Book of Baruch, to which it has no substantive or historical relationship. Martin Luther did not include the text in his Bible editions because it is not part of the Hebrew Tanakh.


The treatise was written as a pseudo-epigraph for the book of Jeremiah and introduces itself as an instruction from this prophet to the Jews deported to the Babylonian exile in Jerusalem . In this way he formally follows on from the correspondence handed down in Jer 29  EU .

Because of their sins, God led the Jews to Babel, where they would have to stay “for a long time, up to seven generations” (6.2 EU ). There they would see "images of gods made of silver, gold and wood, which are carried on the shoulders and which instill fear in the peoples". But they should not allow themselves to be caught up in it, but obey the 1st commandment (6.5f EU ): “When you see how the crowd prostrates in front of and behind them; rather, say in your heart: Lord, you alone are due worship. For my angel is with you; he will watch over your life. "

The following main section warns the deportees - in fact their descendants who have lived in the Babylonian diaspora community for a good 400 years - against falling away to the brilliant, outwardly superior foreign deities of the Babylonian cult . In ten sections, linked by keywords, he uses sarcastic polemics against the Babylonian gods, whom he mocks as ineffective idols incapable of helping ; In doing so, he repeatedly appeals not to fear them and not to believe their alleged godliness . All these gods, it is argued in detail, are powerless and perishable works of men, which, with their nonexistence, could neither harm nor benefit. The letter closes with a kind of “ morality ” (6,68–72 EU ): “We cannot see in any way that they are gods [...]. So it is better to have a just man who has no idols, because he is safe from mockery. "

In doing so, he updates the biblical prohibition of images against the then acute challenge posed by Hellenism with its cultural pluralism and syncretism . In terms of language and content, it connects to biblical idol polemics, as they are in Isa 44,9–20  EU , 46,5ff EU and Jer 10,1–16  EU , but also in the psalms Ps 115,4–8  EU and 135, 15–18 EU was preformed. This polemic influenced other Jewish writings such as the Letter to Aristeas , the Book of Jubilees , and some New Testament authors . Passages such as Rom 1.23  EU , 1 Thess 1.9  EU , 1 John 5.21  EU and Acts 14.15  EU possibly assume that the letter of Jeremiah was known to the original Christians.


  • Ivo Meyer: The Book of Baruch and the Letter of Jeremiah . In: Erich Zenger u. a. (Ed.): Introduction to the Old Testament . 6th edition. Kohlhammer, Stuttgart 2006, ISBN 978-3-17-019526-4 , p. 488

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