Chiastic Structure in the Book of Jeremiah

This is the place to discuss anything to do with scriptural doctrine. It is the primary purpose of this site, and most discussions will be here.
Forum rules
Matt 18:6; Eccl 7:9; 1 Pet 4:8 (If you're not sure what they say then please hover over them with your mouse or look them up in your own Bible before posting)
Post Reply
Posts: 3439
Joined: 7 years ago

Chiastic Structure in the Book of Jeremiah

#1 Post by Bobcat » 1 year ago

I was eventually going to start this thread. But because of research on a topic related to Jer 31:25 and Mt 11:28-30 I came across this information. So I wanted to put it where it belongs and thus it would be accessible to other threads.

In his book, The Literary Structure of the Old Testament, author David Dorsey (pp. 236-45) has a chiastic/symmetrical structure for Jeremiah chapters 30 thru 33 (indeed, for the whole book of Jeremiah). But here is what he has for chapters 30-33:

A. Restoration of exiled Israel and the New Covenant (Jer 30:1-31:40)
. . . . Date: Not given

. . . B. Symbolic-action message: Purchased field (Jer 32:1-44)
. . . . . . . Date: Tenth year of Zedekiah

A^ Restoration of exiled Israel and the Eternal Covenant (Jer 33:1-26)
. . . . Date: While Jeremiah was still confined in the courtyard of the guard

Commenting on Jeremiah 30-33, Dorsey says:
The fourth and central unit in the book of Jeremiah is his collection of messages of hope, It has long been recognized that chapters 30-33 form a unit of positive messages. The beginning of the unit is well marked: It commences with Yahweh's instructions to "write in a book all the words I have spoken to you; for the days are coming" (Jer 30:2). Shifts in topic and mood also mark the new beginning. The positive tone continues only through chapter 33; chapter 34 introduces the next unit, another collection of condemnatory messages.

The entire collection of messages in chapters 30-33 is tied together by many recurring themes and verbal connections:
1. The promise of a future return from captivity and a restoration of Israel in her land.
2. The reestablishment of the Davidic dynasty. (Jer 30:21; 33:14-17; 20-22, 26)
3. Yahweh's covenant with Israel. (Jer 31:31-33; 32:40; 33:19-22, 25)
4. The statement "they will be my people, and I will be their God" or the like. (Jer 30:22; 31:1, 33; 32:38)
5. The promise "I will restore their fortunes" (wa·hă·ši·ḇō·ṯîm) or the like (Jer 30:3, 18; 31:23; 32:44; 33:7, 11, 26)
6. The frequent phrase "in that day" or the like. (Jer 30:24; 31:1, 6, 13, 27, 29, 31, 38; 33:14, 15, 16)
7. References to rejoicing and celebration (Jer 30:19; 31:7-14; 33:11)
Although an argument could be made for a more complex arrangement scheme [for chapters 30-33], the design apparently intended by the author is a simple threefold symmetry.

When you look at the list of recurring themes, it is apparent that Jesus' words at Mt 11:28-30 captures the idea within all of them, to one extent or another. For example, "2" can be related to, "Come to me", that is to Jesus as the descendant of the Davidic dynasty. (Compare Jer 30:21)

Dorsey lists this section (Jer 30-33) as forming the center portion to the entire book of Jeremiah which he shows like this:
A. Introductory oracles against Judah (Jer 1:1-12:17)

. . . B. Collection of messages about Judah's exile and suffering (Jer 13:1-20:18)

. . . . . . C. Dated messages of judgment (Jer 21:1-29:32)

. . . . . . . . . D. Messages of future hope (Jer 30:1-33:26) (CENTER or PIVOT)

. . . . . . C^ Dated messages of judgment (Jer 34:1-35:19)

. . . B^ Narratives about Jeremiah's suffering (Jer 36:1-45:5)

A^ Oracles against the nations (Jer 46:1-51:64)

Appendix: The fall of Jerusalem (Jer 52:1-34)

Interestingly, each of the individual parts of the above chiasm of the book of Jeremiah has its own chiastic or symmetrical structure (as demonstrated in connection with section "D" further up). I will try to post these in this thread as time permits.

1. For a discussion on Jeremiah chapter 13 and "Parath," see this thread.

2. For a discussion of Ephraim Stern and Jeremiah 29:10 see this thread.

3. On the 70 years of Jer 25:11; 29:10, see this post.


Return to Main Index

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 14 guests