Baruch and the Letter of Jeremiah are among the so-called deuterocanonical books of the Bible, part of the larger Catholic biblical canon. Except for a short article in the Women's Bible Commentary, no detailed or comprehensive feminist commentary on these books is available so far. Marie-Theres Wacker reads both books with an approach that is sensitive to gender and identity issues. The book of Baruch—with its reflections on guilt of the fathers, with its transformation of wisdom into the Book of God's commandments, and with its strong symbol of mother and queen Jerusalem—offers a new and creative digest of Torah, writings, and prophets but seems to address primarily learned men. The so-called Letter of Jeremiah is an impressive document that unmasks pseudo-deities but at the same draws sharp lines between the group's identity and the "others," using women of the "others" as boundary markers.
Marie-Theres Wacker is professor of Old Testament and women's research at the Faculty of Catholic Theology, University of Muenster, Germany.
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"Marie-Theres Wacker's commentary combines philological-historical study of Baruch and the Epistle of Jeremiah with an engaging quest for how these texts might be read today. It both explores the ongoing relevance of these books and encourages critical examination of their rhetoric and ideology. This is a powerful commentary stimulating interaction with these texts from a variety of perspectives, including feminism, gender sensitivity, and postcolonial criticism."
Lutz Doering, University of Münster
"Marie-Theres Wacker deals with two short biblical books that are relatively unknown to most readers and little studied within academic and church circles, and she discovers in them important gems of wisdom for our day. In her commentary, the close reading of the Greek text is brought into dialogue with feminist, postcolonial, and interreligious concerns. The supplementary contributors make these concerns concrete as they relate, for instance, the failures of the `fathers and rulers' (Bar 2:1) to the crisis of sexual abuse in the church, or place the mockery of idols in the Epistle of Jeremiah in dialogue with the voice of Dalit women from India today. This commentary will certainly lead many of us to pay much more attention to these short but challenging books."
Eileen Schuller, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada