Literary Form

Jeremiah – Light Beyond the Darkness
Literary Form

a. Introduction

  • Jeremiah’s writing is direct, incisive and clear
  • No chronological consistency
  • Writings carries a note of sorrow
  • “The Weeping Prophet”

b. Literary devices – figures of speech commonly used

  • Hyperbole: Exaggeration for effect. eg. Jer 4:23-24

    Vs 23: I beheld the earth, and indeed it was without form, and void; And the heavens, they had no light.
    Vs 24: I beheld the mountains, and indeed they trembled, And all the hills moved back and forth.

  • Personification: Application of common human characteristics and actions to inanimate objects. eg. Jer 4:28Vs 28: For this shall the earth mourn, And the heavens above be black, Because I have spoken.
    I have purposed and will not relent, Nor will I turn back from it.
  • Metaphor: Comparison by implication; describing one thing in terms of another. eg. Jer 12:5

    Vs 5: If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you, then how can you contend with horses?
    And if in the land of peace, in which you trusted, they wearied you, then how will you do in the floodplain of the Jordan?

  • Simile: An explicitly stated comparison using “like” and “as”. eg. Jer 6:7

Vs 7: As a fountain wells up with water, So she wells up with her wickedness.
Violence and plundering are heard in her. Before Me continually are grief and wounds

  • Anthropomorphism: Attempts to ascribe human body parts to God. eg. Jer 9:1 ears, eyes and hands

    Vs 1: Oh, that my head were waters, And my eyes a fountain of tears, That I might weep day and night For the slain of the daughter of my people!

c. Literary Techniques

  • Rhetorical Questions: Jeremiah asked questions with obvious answers. Yet the people disregarded what they know to be right. eg. Jer 2:32

Vs 32: Can a virgin forget her ornaments, Or a bride her attire? Yet My people have forgotten Me days without number.

d. Other Techniques

  • Symbolic Action: An action which accompanies the “spoken word” providing a supporting “visible word”. To emphasize a message being declared by providing a vivid visual illustration. eg. The potter (19:10-11) provided a most dramatic symbolic action.

    Vs 10: Then you shall break the flask in the sight of the men who go with you,
    11: and say to them, “Thus says the LORD of hosts: Even so I will break this people and this city, as one breaks a
    potter’s vessel, which cannot be made whole again; and they shall bury them in Tophet till there is no place to

  • Symbolic Perception: A real object conceived of as a symbol of something else.

i. A branch of almond tree – indication the Lord is ready to exercise his judgment on His people.

ii. Baskets of figs (Ch 24) – Good figs (exiles) and bad figs (those remaining in the land).

e. Narrative Types

  • Historical narrative: (39:1-18 Fall of Jerusalem) and (52:1-34 Destruction of Temple)
    Tells of Judah’s history.
  • Autobiographical narrative: (1:4-19)
    Account of Jeremiah’s call is told in the 1st person.
  • Biographical narrative: (20:1-6)
    Story of Jeremiah’s suffering at the hands of Pashhur the priest.

Autobiographical and biographical narratives form a large part of the book.

f. Characterization of Chapters

  • S. Mowinckel’s 3 Types:

i. Type A (Poetry) – Ch 1-25
Authentic prophetic oracles : Yahweh speaking through the prophet’s mouth

ii. Type B (Prose) – Ch 26-29, 34-45
Personal and historical material of a biographical kind

iii. Type C
Presented in a verbose, repetitious, monotonous and highly rhetorical style.
Includes many stereotyped expressions