Reading with the Faithful: Interpretation of True and False Prophecy in the Book of Jeremiah from Ancient to Modern - Knox Theological Seminary
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Reading with the Faithful: Interpretation of True and False Prophecy in the Book of Jeremiah from Ancient to Modern

by Dr. Seth Tarrer

If, therefore, someone is a prophet, he no doubt prophesies, but if someone prophesies he is not necessarily a prophet. — Origen

Origen, writing sometime in the mid-third century on the Gospel of John, has charted a course for the subsequent history of interpretation of true and false prophecy. Although Tarrer’s study Reading with the Faithful is concerned primarily with various readings of Jeremiah’s construal of the problem, the ambiguity inherent in Origen’s statement is glaring nonetheless.

This monograph is a study of the history of interpretation. In that sense it does not fit neatly into the category of Wirkungsgeschichte. Moving through successive periods of the Christian church’s history, Tarrer selects representative interpretations of Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and theological works dealing explicitly with the question of true and false prophecy in an effort to present a “sampling” of material from the span of the church’s existence. As evidenced by the list of “false prophets” uncovered at Qumran, along with the indelible interpretive debt owed by Christian interpreters such as Jerome and Calvin to Jewish exegetical methods, Jewish interpretation’s vast legacy quickly exceeds the scope of this project. From the sixteenth–century onward, the focus on the Protestant church is, again, due to economy. In the end, Tarrer concludes that the early church and pre-modern tradition evidenced a recurring appeal to some form of association between Jeremiah 28 and the deuteronomic prophetic warnings in Deuteronomy 13 and 18.


The value of the book is in surveying Bible interpretation on a single issue, one still existentially relevant, over a large time expanse. The premodern interpreters provide balance to the views propounded in the last several centuries. One is alerted to the way recent interpretations pick up clues from earlier works. The book would be a fine text for a graduate course in hermeneutics. Tarrer is articulate in presenting vast data. In a Jeremiah course one might readily follow vicissitudes of the exegesis of Jeremiah 23-29 over the centuries. —Elmer A. Martens, Bulletin for Biblical Research

Tarrer has read a vast number of books and articles to compile his survey. This alone makes the book worth reading if one is to keep current with scholarship. For those interested in OT hermeneutics and prophecy this volume will be helpful. —Gary H. Hall, Lincoln Christian Seminary

Tarrer’s study assists OT scholars in understanding the history of how Christians have understood true and false prophecy and is a valuable resource for one seeking a concise, in-depth survey about the major works and figures in this field. It would primarily aid those OT scholars who want to study the field of prophecy and need a resource that will give an overview of the history of research in this area. —Adam Day, Journal for the Evangelical Study of the Old Testament


Book Info

Author: Dr. Seth Tarrer

Print Length: 209 pages

ISBN: 978-1-57506-705-6

Publisher: Eisenbraums

Publication Date: 2013