Joe Henderson offers a critique of the assumption that poetic form in the book of Jeremiah indicates authenticity. This assumption undergirds Bernhard Duhm’s reconstructions (1901) of the prophet’s biography and the book’s composition, the basic components of the dominant paradigm for twentieth-century Jeremiah scholarship. Henderson argues that Duhm’s model is best understood as an attempt to bring the book into conformity with nineteenth-century systems of aesthetics, historiography, and theology—and with the Grafian reconstruction of the history of Israel’s religion. The accord between these systems and Duhm’s assumption about poetic form has less to do with their common grasp of the historical reality of Hebrew prophecy than with their common roots in the Romantic theory of prophetic and poetic inspiration—a theory forged by Robert Lowth in his exposition (1752) of the poetry he found in the prophetic books.
Henderson contends that continued adherence to Duhm’s foundational assumption has held back recent attempts to “move beyond Duhm” and overcome the fragmentation of the book entailed by his model. Rhetorical critics, who maintain that Jeremiah 2–10 is unified by the structural devices of the historical prophet, and redaction critics, who maintain that Jeremiah 11–20 is unified by the theological agenda of Deuteronomistic editors, both rely on the assumed authenticity of the poetry. Henderson observes that although these scholars have uncovered evidence of dramatic presentation in Jeremiah 2–20, they have failed to see that the dramatic nature of these chapters undermines their use for Duhm’s historical-critical projects and reveals what actually unifies them—narrative progression.
Henderson's book is a strong work that demonstrates successfully how the assumptions and aims of Duhm's approach influenced Jeremiah scholarship in the twentieth century and affect research in the early twenty-first century. Henderson's book is the most comprehensive critique of the dominant paradigm of Jeremiah studies that Duhm initiated. Furthermore, Henderson's notion of dramatic presentation is a welcome contribution to Jeremiah scholarship since it opens a new avenue to explore further the nature of the book's unity and coherence. * The Journal for the Evangelical Theological Society * Henderson's book is the product of his lifelong study of Jeremiah. His arguments are carefully crafted and cogently presented. This is an important work that advances the debate among scholars regarding the composition of the book of Jeremiah. * The Bible Today * Jordan M. Henderson's book, Jeremiah under the Shadow of Duhm, is a thorough investigation into the history of scholarship on the book of Jeremiah ... an invaluable book for understanding the origins and undertones of 20th century textual scholarship on the book of Jeremiah, and it presents a viable interpretation of how the present form of the book is to be understood. * Biblische Notizen Neue Folgen * [It] remains a milestone ... [as a] reference with which to confront ... the exegetical study on Jeremiah. * Biblica (Bloomsbury Translation) * For over twenty years Joseph Henderson has immersed himself in the book of Jeremiah, its text, its setting, its scholarly problems, probing the strange and bruising power this book exerts over its readers. In this study he unearths a crucial assumption that has shaped over a century's critical analysis of this book. Henderson's critique arises not from a distaste for historical criticism, but from the recognition that accepted conventional wisdom has barred the way to deeper understanding. His critique of the central assumptions underlying Jeremiah scholarship is effective and thoughtful. The proposals he offers in its place are fruitful and even programmatically bold. This book is the end of 'business as usual' in Jeremiah studies. * Lawson G. Stone, Asbury Theological Seminary, USA * Joseph Henderson shows how Duhm's watershed work on Jeremiah was decisively influenced by approaches to poetry and literature in the Britain and Germany of his day. The study issues a comprehensive demolition job on the presuppositions of a century of Jeremianic criticism, for which he suggests an intriguing alternative. * John Goldingay, Fuller Theological Seminary, USA *