Book of Baruch
The Book of Baruch is found in the books of the Septuagint, the Old Testament accepted as inspired and canonical by the Orthodox Church in the Greek Orthodox Bible, and found in the books of the Old Testament of the Vulgate and included in the canon of inspired scripture by the Third Council of Carthage (397). It is included in the canon of the Ethiopian Orthodox Bible. Since the Council of Trent it is dogmatically accepted as inspired and canonical by the Catholic Church in the Catholic Bible—books of the Bible accepted as divinely inspired by the majority of Christian believers in the United States and throughout the world. Baruch is a book of hope which reveals the transformative power of trusting in God with sincere repentance.
The book of Baruch is composed of three basic parts. The first part (chapters 1:1–3:8) is a preface which includes a penitential prayer by the exiles in Babylon. The second part (chapters 3:9–5:9), in two segments, is poetry by Baruch, in which he offers prayers of praise, remembrance and trust, and Jerusalem herself is given voice to speak. The final part (chapter 6) is actually a separate work entitled the Epistle of Jeremiah (Letter of Jeremiah), which in ancient Greek manuscripts was not originally part of the text of Baruch, but was a separate book in the Bible. Ancient Latin versions attached the Letter of Jeremiah to Baruch, making them one book. It was also most likely originally written in Hebrew. Baruch is one of the deutero-canonical books. The Catholic Church uses Baruch as the sixth reading in the Easter Vigil liturgy.
Baruch was first removed from the Old Testament and placed in the Apocrypha by Martin Luther in the 16th century. The Book of Baruch is regarded as an apocryphal book of the Old Testament by less than one-third of Christian believers.
- 1 Content
- 2 Divisions
- 2.1 First part
- 2.2 Second part
- 2.3 Third part: Letter of Jeremiah
- 3 Historical-critical textual analysis
- 4 Martin Luther's judgment of Baruch
- 5 References
- 6 External links
The book of Baruch, according to the text, is a letter from Baruch to his countrymen who still remain in Jerusalem the 5th year of the exile of King Jechoniah in the 5th year of Zedekiah.
The opening verses ascribe the book to the well-known assistant to the prophet Jeremiah (Jer 32:12; 36:4, 32; 45:1). Baruch was Jeremiah's scribe, his “executive assistant”, and is mentioned several times in the book of Jeremiah (chapters 32, 36, 43, 45). Baruch's name means "blessed." They lived at the tumultuous time just before and during the exile to Babylon.
Baruch is a collection of four very different compositions in two parts, beginning with the Letter to Jerusalem (1:1–3:8), which is most of the book, and ending with an appended work entitled “The Letter of Jeremiah”, from the prophet Jeremiah to the exiles, which circulated separately in major manuscripts of the Greek tradition, .
The work offers an explanation of the trauma of the exile in terms of a Deuteronomic cycle: sin (of Israel), punishment, repentance, and return (cf. Jgs 2; also Dt 28–33). The prayer of the exiles (2:11–3:8) is a confession of sin and a request for mercy, and has remarkable similarities to Dn 9 and to parts of Jeremiah.
The poem on personified Wisdom is concerned with three themes: the importance of Wisdom, the elusive character of Wisdom (as seen in Job 28), and the identification of Wisdom with Torah (as seen in Sirach 24:23).
The book can be divided as follows:
The book of Baruch begins with the exiles in Babylon gathering together money to send to Jerusalem for a sacrifice of reparation for sin. This book is sent with the offering.
Letter to Jerusalem
Letter to Jerusalem (1:1–3:8). The first part is basically a "cover letter" for the second part. This letter is most of the book. It narrates how Baruch read his prophecy aloud to the displaced King Jeconiah (Jehoiachin) and the other exiles in Babylon (1:3-4). In response to his prophecy the exiles repent to the Lord and send the priest Jehoiakim, with a large sum of money, and the vessels of the Temple deported by the Babylonians as booty, all back to Jerusalem, presumably by the hand of Baruch (1:7), to offer sacrifices at the Temple, which was still standing in 593 B.C., the 5th year of king Jechoniah in exile. Interestingly, they commission sacrifices to be offered for their Babylonian oppressors Nebuchadnezzer and Belshazzar (called Nabuchodonosor and Balthasar) (1:11). They offer a prayer of repentance and ask God for his deliverance, counting on his mercy and reminding him of his promises. Many commentators see a relationship between this part of Baruch and Daniel 9 (see also Ezra 9).
Historical Setting (1:1–9). The setting is the 5th year (593 B.C.) in Babylon, where Baruch reads his scroll to the exiled King Jechoniah (Jehoiachin) and the other exiles; they respond by sending gifts and the scroll to Jerusalem (1:1–14), asking for prayers and sacrifices offered on the altar.
Confession of Guilt
Confession of Guilt (1:10–2:10). After the prologue with instructions about the people resuming sacrifice and offering prayers for Nebuchadnezzar and his son Belshazzar, Baruch begins confessing the sins of his people–some shocking–which led to their exile.
Prayer for Deliverance
Prayer for Deliverance (2:11–3:8). Baruch acknowledges the righteousness, justice and mercy of the Lord God of Israel, and prays they all be delivered by God.
Praise of Wisdom
Praise of Wisdom (3:9–4:4) The second part begins with a poem about God's divine Wisdom and her wondrous attributes (3:9-4:4). His wisdom is to be preferred over gold and silver and its light is a gift from God (3:17, 27). The Lord's wisdom is the same as the Law of Moses (4:1).
- Importance of Wisdom (3:9–23)
- Inaccessibility of Wisdom (3:24–36)
- Wisdom Contained in the Law (3:37–4:4)
Poem of Consolation
Baruch’s Poem of Consolation (4:5–5:9) The book continues with a poem of consolation to the Jerusalemites, promising them God is coming to their rescue. Baruch’s Poem of Consolation resembles parts of Is 40–66, and it offers encouragement to the exiles in view of their eventual return.
Address to the Diaspora
- Baruch Addresses the Diaspora (4:5–9a). He urges them to have courage, reminding them of their forgetfulness of God who had nurtured them and the grief they had inflicted on the city of Jerusalem.
There are two addresses by personified Zion.
- Jerusalem Addresses Her Neighbors (4:9b–16). This is a poem that gives a voice to Jerusalem herself (4:5-29). The city speaks to her children. Though she is sorrowful over the sins of Israel, she urges the people to call upon God for mercy and deliverance (4:21).
- Jerusalem Addresses the Diaspora (4:17–29)
Baruch Addresses Jerusalem
Baruch Addresses Jerusalem (4:30–5:9) The last section of the second part is a poem about the vindication of Jerusalem, the defeat of Israel's enemies and the joy that God will bring upon Israel (4:30-5:9). Some see similarities between this second part and Job 28, 38, Proverbs 28 and Sirach 24.
Third part: Letter of Jeremiah
Letter of Jeremiah (6:1–72). The third part is the Letter of Jeremiah. In the Epistle of Jeremiah appended to the book, Jeremiah warns his people about the dangers of idolatry and paganism. Jeremiah's authorship of the Letter is disputed, but the prophet was known to be a letter writer (Jer 29). The Letter has many similarities to Jeremiah 10, for example, Jeremiah 10:5 and Baruch 6:69. It is a parody of Babylonian idol worship, which mocks the powerless statues of gold-plated wood. The Letter shows the practice of worshiping powerless man-made idols, items of wood and metal that can do nothing, to be foolish and contrary to reason (they cannot even help themselves! ). The Letter of Jeremiah, unlike the letter in Jeremiah 29, is a polemic against idolatry, a well-known theme (as seen in Jeremiah 10:2–11; Psalms 115:4–8; 135:15–18; Isaiah 44:9–20; Wisdom 13:10–15:17). It contains ten warnings that end in a kind of refrain that the idols are not gods and are not to be feared (vv. 14, 22, 28, 39, 44, 51, 56, 64, 68).
Historical-critical textual analysis
According to the text of the book, Baruch, son of Neriah and Jeremiah, son of Nebat are the authors. Baruch was most likely written in Hebrew, but only the ancient Greek translation survives. The original language may have been Hebrew, but only the Greek and other versions have been preserved. Date written—generally thought to be about 582–550 B.C. after the destruction of the Temple, leading some to conclude that the narrative is fiction. The date and authorship of the book are disputed and there are few pieces of external evidence to help solve the problem. For example, in the 5th year of the exile of Jechoniah, the 5th year of Zedekiah in Jerusalem, the Temple was still standing, although it had been burnt, and sacrifices could still be offered on the altar. See 2 Kings 24:8-17; 2 Chronicles 36:11-14. But many read the statement (1:2) "in the fifth year, on the seventh day of the month, at the time when the Chaldeans took Jerusalem and burned it with fire" as referencing the destruction of Jerusalem in 587 B.C. in the eleventh year, the ninth day of the fourth month. And they read the "exiles" addressed by Baruch as being those exiles removed to Babylon after the destruction of the Temple.
No certain date can be given for the book, but it may have been edited in final form during the last two centuries B.C. Nevertheless, the times when these sections were written were still very challenging, and the temptation to abandon the worship of God was great. Though the book (except the letter of Jeremiah) is assigned to the pen of Baruch, most Bible scholars think it is a combination of much later disparate pieces, all originally written in Hebrew in Palestine, edited together and united by this framework of a letter from Baruch. The Book of Jeremiah relates that Baruch went into exile together with Jeremiah in Egypt.
Baruch reveals part of the Lord's relationship with his people. The exile was necessary to teach Israel to trust in him (chapter 2:5). The nation acknowledges its sin and spiritually returns to the Lord by seeking his wisdom and law. While they praise him in captivity (chapter 3:7), their fear is removed (chapter 4:21) and God leads them in joy (chapter 5:9). They trust in the Lord's promise of deliverance (chapter 2:34) and reject the idol worship of the Babylonians (chapter 6). Baruch is a book of hope which reveals the transformative power of trusting in God with sincere repentance.
Martin Luther's judgment of Baruch
"Of very little worth is the Book of Baruch, whoever the worthy Baruch might be."
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“The Global Catholic Population,” © 2011, Pew Research Center.
The Largest Catholic Communities
The Eastern Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church, and also referred to as the Orthodox Church and Orthodoxy, is the second largest Christian church in the world, with an estimated 225–300 million adherents, most of whom live in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Russia.
The Greek (Eastern) Orthodox Church. Greek Orthodox Archdiocese Of America (1983). Retrieved on 7 May 2014.
Christianity:Basics:Eastern Orthodox Church Denomination. about.com. Retrieved on 22 May 2014.
Christianity. Major Branches of Religions Ranked by Number of Adherents. adherents.com. Retrieved on 22 May 2014.
- See Percentage of Christians in Protestant Denominations (29.5%).
- Martin Luther's Table Talk (1599). page 11
The Truth About Martin Luther (jesus-is-savior.com)
- The Old Testament Text. (wmcarey.edu/browning/Classes)
- Baruch Introduction (usccb.org)
- Busted Halo: Major Prophets: Baruch (bustedhalo.com)
- Catholic News Agency: Baruch (catholicnewsagency.com)
- Septuagint Quotes in the New Testament
- Refuting an Attack on the Deuterocanonicals. A Response to 11 ‘reasons’ that the Deuterocanonicals Should be Thrown Out of the Bible, By Matt1618. Introduction (matt1618.freeyellow.com)
- Roman Catholic and Orthodox Faith Examined, and The Apocrypha: "Reasons why the Apocrypha does NOT belong in the Bible!" (bible.ca)
- CARM Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry: Reasons why the Apocrypha does not belong in the Bible, by Ryan Turner (carm.org)
- Reasoning From the Scriptures with Ron Rhodes Critique of Chapter 2, Does the Apocrypha Belong in the Bible?, by Matt1618
- Greek and English Septuagint
Latin and English Vulgate
Kings James Apocrypha Online