Letter of Jeremiah

Also known as the Epistle of Jeremiah, is a deuterocanonical book of the Old Testament; this letter purports to have been written by Jeremiah to the Jews who were about to be carried away as captives to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar. It is included in Catholic Bibles as the final chapter of the Book of Baruch. It is also included in Orthodox Bibles as a standalone book. Some scholars claim that the title of this work is misleading, as they consider it to be neither a letter nor written by the prophet Jeremiah.

According to the text of the letter, the author is the biblical prophet Jeremiah. The biblical Book of Jeremiah already contains the words of a letter (Jer 29:1–23) sent by Jeremiah “from Jerusalem” to the “captives” in Babylon. The Letter of Jeremiah portrays itself as a similar piece of correspondence.

As E. H. Gifford puts it, “The fact that Jeremiah had written one such letter to the captives seems to have suggested the idea of dignifying by his name another letter not written in reality till many ages after his death.”[full citation needed] Against the traditional view, most contemporary scholars agree that the author was not Jeremiah. The chief arguments put forward are literary quality, as well as the religious depth and sensitivity. J. T. Marshall adds that the use of “seven generations” (v. 3) rather than “seventy years” (Jer 29:10) for the duration of the exile “points away from Jeremiah towards one who deplored the long exile.” The author may have been a Hellenistic Jew who lived in Alexandria, but it is difficult to say with certainty. The earliest manuscripts containing the Epistle of Jeremiah are all in Greek. The earliest Greek fragment (1st century BC) was discovered in Qumran.