The Greek introduction

“It happened

After the captivity

Of Israel,

After the destruction

Of Jerusalem

The prophet Jeremiah

Cried.

He offered

This lamentation

Over Jerusalem.”

Most of the conjecture about the author of this book comes from this introductory title to the Greek Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Bible. It clearly states that this work takes place after the captivity of Israel and the destruction of Jerusalem. It explicitly says that Jeremiah was the one crying as he offered this lamentation over Jerusalem. Although this introduction was not in the original Hebrew text, the Greek translators believed that Jeremiah was the author. However, the style is not like Jeremiah. The style is a Hebrew acrostic poem that has each verse starts with a different sequential consonant of the 22 letter Hebrew alphabet. There were other acrostic works, especially the psalms, with the most prominent being Psalm 119.

Epilogue (2 Macc 15:38-15:39)

“If it is well told and to the point, that is what I myself desired. If it is poorly done and mediocre, that was the best I could do. Just as it is harmful to drink wine alone or to drink water alone, but wine mixed with water is sweet and delicious. It enhances one’s enjoyment. So also I hope the style of this story delights the ears of those who read the work. Here will be the end.”

This biblical author is somewhat apologetic for not writing a better book. This was rare and even rarer today. If you like it fine, but otherwise it was the best that I could do, a rare hint of humility. It was the custom to read aloud even when reading alone because so few people had books anyway. Thus the hearing of the story is so important. The illusion to wine and water may be an attempt to speak about the Greek language of his work. Despite the opposition to Hellenization, the book was written not in Hebrew, but in Greek. Nevertheless, a little Hebrew water would add to the taste and enjoyment of all.