BARUC IS A COLLABORATOR OR EDITOR OF THE BOOK OF JEREMIAH
In the masoretic text of the Book of Jeremiah that has come to us, a mysterious character appears who, in the text of the LXX, has a book with his own name; Baruch. Surely the Hebrew text they translated for the Israelites of Egypt BC, was different from that of the Masora. But, it is only that mania of absolute fidelity to the “verus textus haebraicus”, which introduced the not always impartial Jerome, which makes today’s Old Testament specialists have reduced the problem only to discover what is in the stories that speak of Jeremiah in the third person in the untouchable nasoretic version.
In that conditioned archeological search ante-textum receptum, biblicals believe that “at first” the Hieremian book was a story, combined with another in the first person, about Jeremiah’s martyrdom because of his sermon in the Topheth: cf. Jer.12-15; 20,1-6.
That doubly groundbreaking story and without a reliable date is followed by the story of c. 26, 24, which takes place at the beginning of Joaquín’s reign. All this is had as a report on the circumstances that accompanied the temple speech (Jer 7,1-8,3); it is followed by the stories of cc. 36 and 45, which also take place in the fourth year of Joachim. Then come the stories of the fourth year of Zedekiah: with the confrontation of Jeremiah with Ananiah (c. 28), letter to Babylon (c. 29), curse ceremony against Babylon entrusted to the head of the mayor of Zedekiah (51, 59-64). Finally, the story, after the siege of Jerusalem, of the breaking of the promise by the Jerusalemans and the threat of punishment (34,8-22).
Those fearful researchers and always subjected to the “veritas haebraica”, have presented a curious hypothesis about the aforementioned pardon and its own text. Baruch’s narrative work would have included the following passages: Jer 20,1-6; 26; 36; 45; 28-29; 51,59-64; 34,8-22; 37-44. Consequently, c. 36, 45, 28 (which now appears as 51,31-35, at the end of Jeremiah’s prophecies and 51,59-64, are now in places that chronologically do not correspond to them.
However, in the case of 51,59-64, there is a fairly logical explanation: these words of Jeremiah against Babylon are related to the threats of 50,1-51,58 and that is why they were placed behind.
The displacement of the c, 45 also has an explanation. C. 44 contains threats against Jews residing in Egypt. As Baruch lived with them (43,5.6), to avoid the possible misunderstanding of considering Baruch under the curse, an editor took this favourable oracle from his primitive place and united it to c. 44, with which Baruc was free from such threats.
Finally, c. 36 could owe its current position to the following reason: its ending, which mentions the addition of many words similar to the primitive roll, was interpreted as containing all the previous words of chapters 1-35.
The attribution to Baruch of the stories I have just mentioned is based on the quite widespread and probable idea that that character so closely linked to the destiny of Jeremiah and mentioned as his secretary in c 36 took part in the book of Jeremiah. Some deny it and consider Baruch a notary public who wrote the original roll to the dictation of Jeremiah, but who is not the author of any part of the book of Jeremiah. However, that scepticism is unjustified at the idea that Baruch has written a life story, or better, of the Passion of his revered teacher, which has been preserved as part of the current book of Jeremiah.
Anyway, both this discussion and the case of the primitive roll, since the stories in question surely formed an independent book at the beginning, coincide with source B that according to some was composed in Egypt between 580 and 480 BC. Therefore, the attribution to Baruch of the biographical work we have just described has many data in his favour.
But some commentators would like to attribute to him a broader collaboration in the composition of Jeremiah’s book. Some attribute to him the basic core of the cc. 1-45 and think that it was Baruch who formed the three parts of the book, different in their form and content: cc. 1-25, keywords cc. 26-36, stories that frame words; cc. 37-45, a story followed by the last years of Jeremiah. Baruch concluded each of these three parts with an According to another, it is possible that the author of the sections that both he and others attribute to source C is the one who made the main wording of the entire book of Jeremiah and strives to show the fundamental criteria by which this editor was governed.
In reality, the process of forming the book must have been much more complicated. It is not possible to determine the number of hands or editorial stages. But we can identify with quite certainty the various parts that at first were independent and then were brought together by an editor. We already know two of them, the autobiographical stories contained in the primitive roll and in its new edition and the stories from Baruch.
Can we add something about the origin of the passages that do not fit into these two collections?
To answer this question we will begin by limiting ourselves to cc. 1-25, that is, to the words of Jeremiah that remain in them after separating the primitive roll and that someone assigns mostly to their source A, emerged, like B, in Egypt between 580 and 480 BC.
In part, these oracles and poems appear in small groups, organised according to their content, and it is possible that they were previously independent. Three of them have title: 14,1-15,4 “regarding drought”; 21,11-23,8 “to the Royal House of Judah”; 23,9-40 “to the prophets.” But it is likely that cc. 1-25 also contain other small collections, although we cannot isolate them safely due to lack of titles.