Home » Apocrypha Stuff » Additions to Jeremiah and the Prayer of Manasseh

Additions to Jeremiah and the Prayer of Manasseh


The Book of Baruch as generally seen is actually two different works place together (in the Vulgate, though spate in the LXX), with chapters 1-5 belonging to the book of Baruch and Chapter six being a separate work often called the Letter or Epistle of Jeremiah.[i]The two works have been preserved only in their Greek form, although the majority of scholars see each work as originally Hebrew. [ii] Of the Three sections which Baruch can be split into, the last section is least Hebraic of all, though Scholar’s aren’t unanimous in that thought.[iii]

Baruch seems to be composite work of three different sections that is 1.15-3.8, 3.9-4.4, and 4.5-5.9.[iv] These three sections consist of a prayer of Confession, a petition for help, and a wisdom psalm.[v] The author of the first part attributed his piece to Baruch and the later Editor who combined the other two sections thus links them also to him.[vi] Among the other books which generally included in the Apocrypha, Baruch stands apart for it seems the closest to having an appearance as other prophetic work of the Old Testament.[vii] Indeed some have thought of classifying the work as Hebrew Prophecy, but it in truth its harder to define the genre, which each section of the work being a different genre.[viii]

Besides Genre another reason for seeing the different sections as having different authors is the fact that the sections use different names for God, Lord, God, and the Everlasting.[ix] Baruch seems to have been written in the Post-Exilic period it’s suggested after 300 BC, but before 70 AD.[x] Most scholars tend to prefer a date in either the second or first century BC.[xi] One indication that the work was not written by Baruch is the fact that the writer mentions he is writing from Babylon (Jeremiah 43.1-7 indicates that Baruch followed Jeremiah to Egypt).[xii]

The book of Baruch opens with a sort of prose introduction which gives the setting for the book, namely that Baruch is writing from Babylon to Jerusalem.  The first section details a prayer of confession, which claims that God is just in his actions, that his people broke his covenant, but nevertheless that God might have compassion.  The second section then details a Wisdom poem in which in a way follows Deut 30.11-20, i.e. Obedience equals Blessing while disobedience equals curses.  (cf. Baruch 3.29 Deut 30.12-13).  By following the Torah faithfully, this section claims that the return will more likely come.  In the final section we see Jerusalem personified and her grief at the exile, but also expected hope of their return.  This is followed by Prophet then speaking comfort to her and in essence, saying that Israel’s enemies will be Judge, and her people will return.[xiii]

Letter of Jeremiah

The structure of the letter seems to have been based on Jeremiah 29.1-23.[xiv] The letter after an introduction (1-7) moves into 10 warnings.[xv] In many was as Metzger has said, the letter is a “impassioned sermon,” based on Jeremiah 11.10.[xvi] The author of the letter seems to have been a Jew living in Babylonia (due in part to knowledge of Babylonian worship).[xvii]

Like Baruch, the Letter of Jeremiah too seems to have originally been written in Hebrew.[xviii] And again like Baruch, the letter seems to have been written in the Hellenistic period, perhaps 317 BC (based on 3).[xix] The a fragment of the letter has been found among the DSS, only found in Greek, but it shows the book composition can be no later than 100 BC

The letter opens up with a sort of introduction which sees idolatry as one of hg great temptations during the exile.  From there the author moves into ten different sections which begin basically as “they are not gods so do no fear them,” (15,23, 29, 65, 59 see Jeremiah 11.10).    After proving why they should not follow these false gods, the letter than ends with “positive affirmation” of one who stays away from these false gods.[xx]

Prayer of Manasseh

Taking 2 Chronicles 33.11-13 as its source, the Prayer of Manasseh tries to appear as the prayer in mentioned passage.[xxi] The work seems to have been written early AD.[xxii] The Original language of the work is unknown, although most scholars see that it is likely Greek.[xxiii] Its form is quite similar to that of other Jewish liturgical works.[xxiv]

One of the earliest places that the prayer of Manasseh is found is in a Christian work known as the Didascalia.[xxv] It is also found at times at the end of the psalms in several LXX manuscripts.[xxvi] While in some Latin Bibles it is found at the end of 2 Chronicles.[xxvii] Only the Eastern Orthodox Church accepts this work as canonical.[xxviii]

The prayer opens up with the author praising God, (1-7), follows with a plea for forgiveness (8-18), and ends with a brief doxology.[xxix] The theology of the work reflects largely a form of early Judaism similar to that found in the prayer of Azariah.[xxx] In essence its fits well more in Palestinian Judaism than in Hellenistic. [xxxi]

[i] Hanlon, 628.

[ii] Hanlon, 628.

[iii] Dancy, 172.

[iv] Hanlon, 628.

[v] deSilva, 198.

[vi] Fitzgerald, 563-4

[vii] Metzger, 89.

[viii] deSilva, 205.

[ix] Goff, 1529.

[x] Fitzgerald, 563.

[xi] Goff, 1529.

[xii] Goff, 1530.

[xiii] deSilva 198-9

[xiv] Dancy, 197.

[xv] Goff, 1537.

[xvi] Metzger, 96.

[xvii] Hanlon, 628.

[xviii] Hanlon, 629.

[xix] Goff, 1537.

[xx] deSilva, 214-5

[xxi] Foster, 112.

[xxii] Lambert, 1656.

[xxiii] NJBC, 1062.

[xxiv] Metzger,  125.

[xxv] Dancy, 243.

[xxvi] Lambert, 1656.

[xxvii] NJBC, 1061.

[xxviii] Lambert, 1656.

[xxix] Foster, 112.

[xxx] NJBC, 1062.

[xxxi] Metzger, 125.


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