Jeremiah announces the unleashing of the wrath of God in the final years of the kingdom of Judah. It is a message that is particularly painful to the prophet and he cries out to God against the message he must deliver, meriting for himself the title of “the reluctant prophet.” The intensity and passion of Jeremiah is expressed in the harshness of his message, but also in his longing that the people remember the devotion of their youth and return in faithful love to God. The unrelenting doom that occupies much of the book of Jeremiah is offset by God’s refusal to totally abandon the people of Judah. This refusal to let go of the people is given its greatest expression in a New Covenant which lays the foundation for humanity’s enduring relationship with God.
The book of Baruch presents several ways for the people of Israel to deal with the destruction of their country and exile from their land. They must acknowledge their sinfulness, repent, and seek deliverance (1:1-38). They must recognize the importance of wisdom and that wisdom is accessible to them in obedience to the law which God has given them (3:9-4:4). Grief over their loss must include a longing for restoration and salvation (4:-5:9) and under no circumstances must they return to the worship of other gods (6:1-71).
In Jeremiah, Baruch Pauline A. Viviano insightfully explores and explains these two challenging and important books of scripture.
Pauline A. Viviano is an associate professor of theology at Loyola University, Chicago. She received her doctorate in biblical languages and literature from St. Louis University. Besides articles in academic and popular journals, her publication include reading guides for the books of Joshua, Judges, First and Second Samuel, First and Second Kings, and Ruth for the Catholic Study Bible published by Oxford University Press and Collegeville Commentary Volume 2: Genesis. In addition to university teaching she often lectures at parishes in and around Chicago.