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Hebrew Studies 31 (1990) 226 Reviews execution of punishment (Deut 25:1-3) rather than arbitrate or decide about guilt. The oldest institution wielding judicial authority was the group of the "elders," and Niehr sees it flourishing during the Exile for the last time (Ezek 8:1; Jer 29:1). Then the elders were supplanted by the "lineage heads" (Ezra 10:16) or acted along with (Ruth 4) "the assembly" (?iTp, iT,.u)-the latter institution apparently to be identified as the assembly of the adult male citizens. I wonder whether Niehr is justified in distinguishing among elders, lineage heads, and the assembly. Perhaps one should take these expressions as designations of essentially the same group of leaders, of men of rank and influence whose leadership was vaguely defined (as Max Weber's "traditional" authority tends to be) and whose composition varied. Niehr's study reminds us how little we know about ancient Israel's legal institutions. As a survey containing a good bibliography-to which we can now add Niehr's own "Grundziige der Forschung zur Gerichtsorganisation Israels" (Biblische Zeitschrift 31 [1987]:206-227); Joachim Buchholz, Die Altesten Israels im Deuteronomium (GlSttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1988); and Hanoch Reviv, The Elders in Ancient Israel (Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1989)-it will be the obvious starting point for scholars who try their hand at elucidating an important subject of biblical studies. Bernhard Lang University ofPaderborn D-4790 Paderborn. West Germany THE CONFESSIONS OF JEREMIAH: THEIR INTERPRETATION AND ROLE IN CHAPTERS 1-25. By Kathleen M. O'Connor. SBL Dissertation Series 94. Pp. xv + 183. Atlanta: Scholars, 1988. Cloth/Paper. Kathleen O'Connor (Maryknoll School of Theology) has offered us an ambitious and bold study of Jeremiah's confessions. The work is a dissertation at Princeton Theological Seminary under the direction of J. J. M. Roberts. O'Connor is fully conversant with the current scholarly discussion, faces vexing interpretive questions vigorously, and makes an important suggestion about a direction of interpretation of the poems in Jeremiah. Hebrew Studies 31 (1990) 227 Reviews The book is divided into two almost equal parts. In the first part O'Connor provides a detailed exegetical consideration of the five confessions . (She excludes 20:14-18 as a cursing poem not related to the genre of "confession.") Her careful and suggestive work is based in Baumgartner's thesis concerning the lament genre of the confessions; her approach is especially infonned by the accent on rhetoric urged by Muilenburg. O'Connor's interpretation sides with those who regard the confessions as the voice of the prophet Jeremiah (Bright) against those who hear in the poems the voice of the community (Reventlow). Thus her assumption is that the poems are from the person of the prophet. Indeed, the community resists the prophet and is, therefore, the target of vengeance in the laments; thus the community could hardly be the voice of lament. In identifying the voice in the poems as the voice of the prophet, however, O'Connor resists a psychological interpretation about personal, spiritual experience. The personal voice sounded in the poems has a public intent. The confessions intend to assert and legitimatize Jeremiah's prophetic call. This is accomplished by afflfDling that Jeremiah is faithful to his call and that the call is rooted in God's own purpose and will. Thus the confessions serve and advance the claim of the prophetic word which the community seeks to silence and nullify. O'Connor's treatment of the texts in tenns of their fonn, rhetoric, and intention is thoughtful and, on the whole, persuasive. In the second half of the book consideration is given to the place of the confessions in the larger movement of the text of Jeremiah. I find this part of the book less persuasive because the argument is less disciplined and much too brief and abridged. At the same time. however. this part of the book is probably the more important part of her argument because it raises fresh issues and makes new suggestions which will no doubt evoke and generate other discussions in time to come. The argument of the second half of the book is that the confessions are strategically placed in two...


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