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Review of Biblical Literature Blog

Jeremiah, Zedekiah, and the Fall of Jerusalem
Roncace, Mark

New York: T&T Clark, 2005 pp. vii + 193. $130.00

Series Information
Library of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Studies, 423

Description: This book offers a narratological and intertextual reading of Jeremiah 37:1-40:6, a text that features the dynamic interaction between the prophet Jeremiah and King Zedekiah in the context of events surrounding the fall of Jerusalem. While there have been many literary studies of biblical texts, there has been little such work on the narratives in the book of Jeremiah. This fact is surprising since the Jeremianic stories are narrated in a lively and sophisticated manner and contain complex characters and vivid dialogue and action, reminiscent of texts in the Primary History which have received much more literary attention. Roncaceís book begins to uncover the richness of the prophetic narratives in Jeremiah. The study focuses on issues of characterization and point of view as well as the textís connections with other passages in the book of Jeremiah and those beyond it, particularly the Deuteronomistic History. Roncace argues that the text develops complex images of both Zedekiah and Jeremiah. It is not a story of the good prophet and the bad king; times as chaotic and confusing as the final days of Jerusalem do not call for a black-and-white story. Rather the text invites both sympathy and criticism for Jeremiah and Zedekiah. Jeremiah is the embattled prophet of God; yet at times he appears deceptive and manipulative, more concerned about his own well-being than that of the people, and his message can be ambiguous and in the end is not fully correct. Zedekiah, for his part, appears receptive to Jeremiahís word and protects the prophet from others who would harm him; yet he is too irresolute to take any action to save the city. The ambiguity in the portrayals of both figures is further developed by intertextual connections. Jeremiah can be compared to Moses, the Rabshakeh, Daniel, Joseph, Samuel, Nathan, and Micaiah, while Zedekiah can be compared to the monarchs that correspond to these figures (Pharaoh, Hezekiah, Saul, David, and Ahab).

Subjects: Bible, Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, Prophetic Literature, Jeremiah, Literature

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Review by Bob Becking
Published 6/2/2007
Citation: Bob Becking, review of Mark Roncace, Jeremiah, Zedekiah, and the Fall of Jerusalem, Review of Biblical Literature [] (2007).

Review by Lester L. Grabbe
Published 4/5/2008
Citation: Lester L. Grabbe, review of Mark Roncace, Jeremiah, Zedekiah, and the Fall of Jerusalem, Review of Biblical Literature [] (2008).

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