A Rhetorical Analysis Of Jeremiah 7:1-15 -- By: Michael Avioz

Journal: Tyndale Bulletin
Volume: TYNBUL 57:2 (NA 2006)
Article: A Rhetorical Analysis Of Jeremiah 7:1-15
Author: Michael Avioz

A Rhetorical Analysis Of Jeremiah 7:1-151

Michael Avioz


This article is a rhetorical study of Jeremiah 7:1-15. It attempts to show that a rhetorical analysis of Jeremiah helps the reader to understand the different parts of the speech correctly, to discover what was mentioned and what was not mentioned in it, and to identify the target audience and the methods of persuasion used by the prophet. This is not merely a literary analysis of Jeremiah’s speech, but primarily a critical examination of how Jeremiah planned to deliver his words to the audience. My analysis concludes that Jeremiah’s speech is planned and well organised, and that all its parts logically interconnect. Jeremiah uses many traditions from the past, and on the basis of these traditions, presents new arguments.

1. Introduction

Jeremiah’s speech in the temple (Jer. 7:1-15) is one of the most impressive in the Hebrew Bible. However, most studies on the subject deal with the distinction between the redactional layers in the chapter, and its relationship to chapter 26. Only a few pay attention to its rhetorical dimension.2 As a result, the speech becomes a collection of

aphorisms connected only by the act of editing. We follow George Kennedy who analyses the text:

… as we have it, whether the work of a single author or the product of editing, and looks at it from the point of view of the author’s or editor’s intent, the unified results, and how it would be perceived by an audience of near contemporaries.3

In his book, Saviours and Prophets,4 Zeev Weisman writes the following:

The canonical prophets’ charismatic test lay not so much in whether they succeeded in predicting the future, but in whether they possessed the proficiency and power with which to persuade their audience of the truth of their messages.

As a continuation of these words, I will attempt to show in this study that research written on the subject of rhetoric can make a significant contribution to understanding Jeremiah’s speech in the temple.5

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