In 2010, the Watch Tower Society released a commentary on the book of Jeremiah (and Lamentations) entitled God’s Word for Us Through Jeremiah. Unlike other Watch Tower Society verse-by-verse commentaries, their ‘analysis’ of Jeremiah instead purports to impart lessons ‘for us’.
In an effort to ‘explain’ this changed approach, the first chapter of the book suggests a few ‘alternative’ ways that the book of Jeremiah ‘might’ otherwise be considered:
- “verse by verse, seeking to understand the background or import of each verse”
Key scriptures in Jeremiah contradict Jehovah’s Witnesses’ core doctrines, so a verse-by-verse approach was out of the question, particularly in view of the lessons likely learned from their problematic commentaries of Daniel and Isaiah that expose flaws in their interpretations.
- “valid parallels—individuals and events described in Jeremiah and Lamentations set alongside or contrasted with modern equivalents or developments”
In the past, Watch Tower Society literature frequently asserted that biblical characters represent parallel ‘types’ and ‘antitypes’ in order to suggest ‘modern fulfilments’. This trend has diminished in recent years, culminating in the admission in the 15 March 2015 issue of The Watchtower (Study Edition) that this practice has been all but abandoned.*
* A major reason for abandoning the focus on ‘types’ and ‘antitypes’ was to ‘justify’ the Watch Tower Society’s changed interpretations of the parables about the ‘faithful and discreet slave’ and the ‘discreet and foolish virgins’, in which elements of the stories no longer have any purported ‘antitypical fulfilment’.
- “the historical setting and events”
Just as any honest attempt at a verse-by-verse analysis would expose contradictions, attempting to focus on the historical setting might also draw the attention of honest readers to the fact that Jeremiah’s references to 70 years pre-date the destruction of Jerusalem but post-date the beginning of the Jews’ exile, rendering their interpretation of the period illogical.
Because of these reasons, the commentary ignores much of the Bible book of Jeremiah altogether. Less than half of the Bible book is mentioned at all, and only 16% of the verses in Jeremiah are actually quoted (including portions with the instruction to “Read” the cited verses). This fact is ‘disguised’ (either deliberately or incidentally) by jumping from chapter to chapter, considering verses out of sequence, and repeatedly citing specific verses that suit their purposes.
Unsurprisingly, Jeremiah 25:12, which indicates Babylon’s judgement in 539 BCE as being after the end of the 70 years, is not mentioned in the book at all.
In the chart below, verses quoted or cited more than once are only counted once. Where a verse is quoted, but leaves off just a few words that don’t affect the meaning, it is counted as fully quoted.