An Interpretive Survey: Audience Reaction Quotations in Jeremiah -- By: Ronald E. Manahan

Journal: Grace Theological Journal
Volume: GTJ 01:2 (Fall 1980)
Article: An Interpretive Survey: Audience Reaction Quotations in Jeremiah
Author: Ronald E. Manahan


An Interpretive Survey:
Audience Reaction Quotations in Jeremiah

Ronald E. Manahan

A striking feature of the Jeremiah material is the inclusion of numerous quotations attributed to the prophets audience. A survey of these materials shows that these quotations, whether verbatim orconstructed to reflect truthfully the collective expressions and sentiments of the audience, occur in four contexts: (1) accusation, (2) announcement, (3) personal confrontation, and (4) invitation. Study of these contexts demonstrates the degree and longevity of opposition to the prophets ministry. The audience is depicted as overtly emphasizing Zions inviolability and as unduly attached to externals (ark, temple, Law, king, etc.). Quotations of audience reaction in Jeremiah articulate the theological divergency of his audience. In every age the audience speaks its mind, declaring its theological tenets. Jeremiah knew what his audience said and spoke directly to the issues. Similarly the contemporary church must know and speak Gods Word. The question is: What is the audience declaring today?

* * *

In an earlier article this writer studied Jeremiah’s employment of seemingly direct quotations of pseudoprophets.1 In the process of that study, it also became apparent that the text of the book contained an even higher number of quotations, originating with the prophet’s audience. These quotations serve as a major element in the audience reaction to Jeremiah’s ministry. Overholt has recently estimated the number of such quotations to be “approximately 100…

distributed fairly evenly throughout the book.”2 So common a literary feature is deserving of serious study.3

What legitimate expectations might there be for such a study? One matter is certain: placing side by side the contrasting words of Jeremiah and his audience helps to clarify what theological issues were at stake in his era of history.4 Such knowledge helps to sensitize and elucidate nuances of meaning in the Jeremiah material that otherwise might have been unnoticed. This background information itself proves helpful for further study of the book.

Further, such study helps to identify what theological deviations led to the apostasy of Judah in her waning years.5 The audience spoke its mind, and what it said articulated its beliefs. Collation of these findings ought to furnish materials for ...

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