Composition of the Book of Lamentations


Approximate date: 586-538 B.C.E. (Right, some conservative-moderate); 500s B.C.E. (some conservative-moderate); 500s-300s B.C.E. (Left)

Time period: immediately after the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians

Author(s): Jeremiah and/or Baruch (Right; some conservative-moderate); Baruch (some conservative-moderate); anonymous writers and editors (Left)

Location of author: Land of Israel or Jerusalem (Right, conservative-moderate); Land of Israel, Jerusalem, and/or Babylon (Left)

Target audience and their location: Southern Kingdom Israelites at the beginning of the Babylonian exile (Right, some conservative-moderate, some Left); Southern Kingdom Israelites during the Babylonian exile (some conservative-moderate, some Left); Southern Kingdom Israelites after the Babylonian exile (some Left)

Theological Summary: The traditional Hebrew title of the Book of Lamentation is Eikah, meaning either “how” or “alas” (cf. 1:1; 2:1; 4:1). The Talmud actually refers to the text as qinot, meaning “lamentations” (b.Bava Batra 14b), followed by the Greek Septuagint’s title of Thrēnoi and Latin Vulgate’s Lamentationes. This book is a collection of laments that bewail the fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians. Some believe that the common title “Lamentations” is misleading as the overall theme deals more with grief than laments. Lamentations is placed among the five Megillot of the Tanach Writings in Jewish tradition, but placed immediately after the Book of Jeremiah in the Christian book order of the Old Testament following the Septuagint and Vulgate. Lamentations is specifically placed among the Megillot because of its usage for special occasions in Judaism, but the order of it being placed after Jeremiah was probably present among some First Century Jewish traditions.

The text of Lamentations itself is strictly anonymous and claims no author. Jewish tradition ascribes some level of authorship to Jeremiah, sometimes based on 2 Chronicles 35:25: “Jeremiah chanted a lament for Josiah…they are also written in the Lamentations [Heb. ha’qinot].” There is debate among theologians whether this is a direct reference to the Book of Lamentations, or some other piece. The Septuagint rendering of Lamentations 1:1 specifically names Jeremiah, though, as its author: “And Ieremias lamented over Iosias, and all the leading men and leading women have spoken the lament over Iosias until this very day” (NETS). The authorship of Jeremiah for Lamentations is not impossible as we do see some similarity in style between Lamentations and Jeremiah 7:29; 8:21; 9:1, 10, 20. Jeremiah was an eyewitness to the judgment of God on Jerusalem that is thoroughly described in Lamentations. Jeremianic authorship of Lamentations is attested in the Talmud (b.Bava Batra 15a) and was followed by the Church Fathers.

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reproduced from A Survey of the Tanach for the Practical Messianic

One of the major reasons that today’s Messianic movement has grown in the past decade is a significant interest by Believers in the Torah and the Tanach. In too many cases, the Tanach Scriptures were not probed in that great a detail in a Jewish Believer’s traditional Synagogue upbringing—and perhaps more serious, a non-Jewish Believer’s Christian experience often witnessed the Old Testament taking a back seat to the New Testament in the Church. With many of the ethical and moral controversies the greater Judeo-Christian religious community is experiencing in our age, a need for God’s people to return to a foundational grounding in the Tanach Scriptures is absolutely imperative. The Old Testament cannot simply be disregarded any more.

Many have stayed away from consulting the Tanach not because of a lack of interest, but because few want to have to deal with the controversies it addresses. Unlike the Apostolic Scriptures, constrained to the First Century C.E., the period of the Tanach stretches back all the way to the beginning of the universe itself. Questions like: Who was the Pharaoh of the Exodus? Did God actually condone the genocide of the Canaanites? and Am I the only one who thinks the Prophets are mentally disturbed? are debates that many people do not want to enter into. Even more significant is the effect of critical scholarship which has attempted to divide the Torah into non-Mosaic sources, question the inspiration and historical reliability of the text, and even regard much of the Tanach as Ancient Israel’s mythology. For a Messianic movement that claims to place a high value on the Tanach, it is time that we join in to these conversations.

A Survey of the Tanach for the Practical Messianic takes you through the Old Testament from a distinct Messianic point of view. It presents a theologically conservative perspective of the books of the Tanach, but one that does not avoid some of the controversies that have existed in Biblical scholarship for over one hundred and fifty years. The student, in company with his or her study Bible, is asked to read through each text of the Tanach, jotting down characters, place names, key ideas, and reflective questions. Each book of the Old Testament is then summarized for its compositional data and asks you questions to get a good Messianic feel for the text. This workbook can be used for both personal and group study, and will be a valuable aid for any Messianic Believer wanting to study the whole Bible on a consistent basis.

290 pages