Photo by Alinari/Art Resource, N.Y.

ON THE COVER: Baruch, the scribe and friend of the prophet Jeremiah, proffers his scroll of writings, in this painting by Giotto di Bondone (1266–1337) from the Scrovegni Chapel, in Padua, Italy. A midnight blue sky and golden stars transform the surrounding ceiling into a celestial realm.

Giotto’s inclusion of Baruch on the chapel ceiling along with John the Baptist, Isaiah and other prophets attests to the scribe’s importance in Roman Catholic tradition, where he is credited not only with writing the Book of Jeremiah but also the Book of Baruch, a short collection of prayers addressed to the Jews exiled in Babylon. Baruch plays a lesser role in Jewish and Protestant tradition, however, where the Book of Baruch is relegated to the status of apocrypha.

In “Thus Far the Words of Jeremiah,” Steve Delamarter unweaves the voices of the ancient scribe, prophet, narrators, editors and copyists who shaped the Book of Jeremiah we know today.