The Bible Forgery URL states that Jeremiah 8:8 should be translated as:
“How can you people say ‘We are the experts, for we have the Lord’s Bible,’ when behold, like a forgery, the pen has been manipulated by dishonest Bible copiers!” (Jeremiah 8:8)
You're right that is far from the common interpretation. Most English translations have something along the lines of:
"How can you say, 'We are wise, And the law of the LORD is with us'? But behold, the lying pen of the scribes Has made it into a lie. (NASB)
The point of contention is obviously how they take "law of the Lord" as "Lord's Bible." The Hebrew behind the phrase is wtorah yhwh, which means "and the law of YHWH." (The w- on the front of torah is a conjunction.)
What did Jeremiah complain about? Was Torah corrupted during Jeremiah era? Was the statement on that URL true? Why bible translation translate "torah" into "law" instead of "torah"
The first thing that needs to be realized is, contrary to the bible_forgery url, the word torah does not simply mean "the five books of Moses." The Hebrew word torah appears 219x, means "instruction" or "law", and can refer to several things each of which can be found in the Hebrew Bible.
- human or divine instruction in general (human: Proverbs 1:8; 3:1; 4:2; 7:2; divine: Exodus 13:9; Job 22:22; Isaiah 1:10; 8:16, 20; 42:4, 21)
- codified laws of conduct or religious expression (Exodus 24:12; Joshua 24:26; sacrifice Leviticus 6:7; 7:7)
- customs (2 Samuel 7:19)
- the law of Moses (Joshua 1:7, 8; 8:34; 23:6; 1 Kings 2:3; Daniel 9:11-13; Nehemiah 8:13-14, 18)
Now, simply showing that the word can refer to something besides the five books of Moses renders the argument of the url null as they claim it must mean "the five books of Moses"1 are corrupted.2 But we can go further. There are many places in the five books of Moses that refer to the Law of God. Surely, as those books were being written at the time, "the law of God" could not be referring merely to the five books.
Somehow wa tawrat becomes "law of god". Even though the english have a word for tawrat, that is, torah. Did Jeremiah refer to torah or some other "law of God" in Jeremiah 8:8?
The English word for the Hebrew word torah is "law/instruction." It isn't a mistranslation to render torah with law. It's correct in many places. "Instruction" is also a good word for it.
While looking into this, the NET notes make an interesting statement regarding their rendering of the verse.
Jeremiah 8:8 How can you say, “We are wise! We have the law of the Lord”? The truth is, those who teach it have used their writings to make it say what it does not really mean.
“The lying pen of the scribes have made [it] into a lie.” The translation is an attempt to make the most common interpretation of this passage understandable for the average reader. This is, however, a difficult passage whose interpretation is greatly debated and whose syntax is capable of other interpretations. The interpretation of the NJPS, “Assuredly, for naught has the pen labored, for naught the scribes,” surely deserves consideration within the context; i.e. it hasn’t done any good for the scribes to produce a reliable copy of the law, which the people have refused to follow. That interpretation has the advantage of explaining the absence of an object for the verb “make” or “labored” but creates a very unbalanced poetic couplet.
So the rendering of the NJPS takes the verse a completely different way. That is, the scribes have been faithful, but the people have not been. This rendering would fit in well with verse 9 which states that the wise have rejected the word of God.
But the important question remains. What is Jeremiah complaining about? First off, if he is complaining that the Torah of Moses has been corrupted by the scribes, would he let it remain corrupted? As a prophet, it would be part of his duty to find the correct scrolls and make sure they were used in further copies. In fact, something like that happened with the book of Jeremiah itself (Jeremiah 36).
Secondly, if the books of Moses had been corrupted, how could Jeremiah turn around and tell people to follow it? Remember, the argument of the site is that "torah of YHWH" means "five books of Moses." Jeremiah 26:4-6 has the prophet telling the people to follow the law of God (literally, the LORD says... "follow my Law which I have set before you (i.e. in written form)". (It should also be noted that later prophets will also refer to the Torah of YHWH, telling people to follow it, and Jesus said that the law would not pass away.)
Jeremiah appeals to the Law of YHWH several other times in his book. If he means in 8:8 that it is corrupted, how can he tell the people to trust it? If it is corrupted, how then can Ezra, 400+ years later read it and tell people to obey it (Nehemiah 8:13-18)?
Finally, the site claims that Genesis 1 is part of the corruption, that it is a later addition and not the work of Moses. If this is true, then surely John the Evangelist, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, would not give a clear allusion to Genesis 1:1 when opening both the Gospel with his name and his first epistle.
Assuming the John was snookered into quoting a corrupt source, Jesus surely would not be. As the omnipotent second person of the Trinity, Jesus would not quote approvingly and base teachings upon a corrupt later addition borrowed from the Babylonians. However, Jesus indeed quotes and bases teachings off of Genesis 1.
- When asked about taxation in Matthew 22:15-22, Jesus reminds the listeners of whose image they are in (Genesis 1:27).
- When asked about marriage and divorce in Matthew 19, Jesus ties together Genesis 1:1, 27 and 2:24 when He says, "Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female [Genesis 1:27], And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh [Genesis 2:24]?".
1They also make an amazing leap of logic to say that since the Bible says the five books of Moses are corrupted that Genesis 1 is certainly part of what Jeremiah is referring to. And no, an amateur cannot easily see how the documentary hypothesis is correct. Even as an amateur, that is before seminary training, I could show places in the documentary hypothesis that did not work together and places where the arguments made no sense. For example, J and E can be seen in Genesis by the different names for God. But why not refer to God by different names when you want to make a different point (Elohim for his power and majesty, Yahweh when speaking of his personal nature)?
2Let us also consider that this site claims we should believe the Bible is corrupted because the Bible says it is. Think about that. As long as you need. Just think about it.