Okay, so, I can’t help it… let’s look at Jeremiah again. This evening’s reading from that book continues through some more historical material culminating in the Fall of Jerusalem in tomorrow’s reading (chapter 39). If you were to do a side-by-side comparison, you’ll find that this is lifted almost word for word from 2 Kings 25. This will happen again towards the end of this month, as the last chapter or two of Jeremiah also reflect on the Fall of Jerusalem, bringing us back to 2 Kings 25. So in the Daily Office lectionary you can trace lines of connection from February 9th and 22nd to November 12th.
The almost-perfect word match raises a lot of questions for biblical scholars, too. Does this mean that Jeremiah wrote 2 Kings? Did the writer of 2 Kings just copy Jeremiah’s writings? Did an anonymous editor of Jeremiah add that excerpt from 2 Kings in order to add context to Jeremiah’s biographical material? It’s one of the many mysteries of the Old Testament that will probably keep us guessing until we pass into the next life wherein we can finally ask the authors ourselves.
This happens in the book of Isaiah, too; chapter 37 extensively retells 2 Kings 19 and/or 2 Chronicles 32. Again, who wrote what, who copied whom, who edited what and when, are unanswerable questions that remind us that the history of these writings are very long and very complicated. That story will draw a line of connection from October 5th (Kings) to November 24th (Isaiah).
How does this help one to worship in the Daily Office and appreciate the Scripture readings therein? Well, not a lot, honestly. These observations are mostly background, context… more appropriate for study material. But what we can notice and learn here is that some major events like the Fall of Jerusalem show up in multiple places in the Bible, and we will accordingly hear about them several times throughout the year as they come up. This is obviously (and more frequently) true considering the great overlap between the four gospel books. But for now, enjoy taking these stories in Jeremiah’s context. Later this year we’ll hear some of them again in another setting.