For those of you who follow the Midday Lectionary promulgated by this page, you may be puzzled to find that the continuous reading through 1 Esdras is interrupted today and for the next couple days to make space for the first three chapters of Baruch. This is in anticipation of the regular Daily Office Lectionary’s inclusion of Baruch 4 & 5 in Evening Prayer on February 23rd and 24th.
Okay, that makes sense I guess. But why are we reading from Baruch between Jeremiah and Lamentations at Evening Prayer?
The bigger question is why are we not reading all of Baruch at that point! In the Greek Old Testament, Baruch is connected to Jeremiah and Lamentations because of the authorship attribution. The books of Jeremiah and Lamentations are ascribed to Jeremiah and his scribe, Baruch, and thus the book of Baruch simply belongs with them. What the 2019 book’s lectionary does (strangely, given historical precedent) is only appoint chapters 4 & 5 of Baruch, and omit the first three.
Chapters 1 & 2 in particular are poignant “answers” to the instructions left by Jeremiah in Jer. 29. Perhaps that renders them redundant in the eyes of the suspicious-of-the-books-called-apocrypha editors? Instead, Evening Prayer appoints chapters 4 & 5, which contain the tail end of a wisdom discourse and an extensive section of hope. This is, again, in accord with the writings of Jeremiah, but both historically and thematically it is reasonable to follow up the dour ending of Jeremiah’s book the hopeful ending of Baruch’s little book.
Still, it’s best to read the whole thing if you can, which is why I created this Midday Prayer lectionary in the first place!