A 480 page commentary on Jeremiah and Lamentations that seeks to bridge the gap from what happened “back then” to how Christians can apply it to their own lives today.
Both Jeremiah and Lamentations have their own reasonably sized introductions. He explains that Jeremiah was written to help God’s people make sense of their fall to the Babylonians. Dearman takes a strongly Christological perspective in seeing how themes of temple and land would be ultimately fulfilled. He thinks it unlikely that Lamentations was written by Jeremiah, and notes that in the New Testament, it is on the lips of Jesus himself that we most frequently find lament.
As with all volumes in the NIVAC series, the full text of a chapter or section is included, followed by three sections of commentary. The first section, entitled “original meaning” attempts to explain what the text meant in its original context to its original hearers. “Bridging Contexts” shows both the points of continuity and discontinuity between our modern context and theirs. Finally “Contemporary Significance” seeks to apply the message directly to our own lives. The “Original Meaning” section is most similar to a standard commentary, while the “Contemporary Significance” section is what might be heard in a typical sermon on the passage in question.
Most of the commentary is done in sections of one chapter at a time, although there were a couple of places where five or six chapters were tackled in one big section.
Since Jeremiah is not arranged chronologically, it is very helpful to have good information linking what is prophesied in each chapter to the historical situation at the time. Dearman is also careful to apply the passages in the light of the New Covenant, but at the same time does not blunt the social and ethical implications of the prophecy. He works hard to keep the application sections varied and interesting. He tackles a wide variety of subjects including pluralism, politics, abortion, worship, social justice, and the fulfilment of prophecy. He likes to pick out incidents from modern history to illustrate his points.
With the limited space given to “Original Meaning”, not everything can be commented on, so those looking for exegetical answers on particular verses may not find what they are looking for. The “Contemporary Significance” sections are often focused on the American church and culture, so it won’t always hit the mark for readers from other parts of the world.
Why Buy It?
This commentary will be useful for two groups of people. First, those personally studying their way through Jeremiah will find the format helpful – one chapter a day can be managed without too much time commitment. Second, those preparing sermons or Bible studies on Jeremiah and Lamentations will doubtless find some good ideas on how to present the “relevance” of this ancient book to modern audiences.