Jeremiah 36:28—How can this book be inspired if the original manuscript of Jeremiah perished?
Problem: According to evangelical scholars, only the original manuscripts (autographs) were inspired and inerrant, not the copies, since there are minor errors in the copies. But according to this passage, the king destroyed the original manuscript in the fire.
Solution: When evangelicals refer to the “original manuscripts” alone being inspired (autographs), they do not exclude the fact that a biblical author may have had a “second edition” in original manuscripts too. Nor do they exclude the fact that, if the original is destroyed, God can inspire another one just like it. Indeed, Jeremiah was told, “Take yet another scroll, and write on it all the former words that were in the first scroll” (v. 28). So both manuscripts were inspired, only the first one perished without a copy. So the second one is now the “original” one.
Technically, we should not claim that only the original manuscripts are inspired, but the original text. For example, a perfect copy (e.g., a photo copy) of an original manuscript is as inspired as is the original manuscript itself. Likewise, all existing manuscript copies of the original are inspired in so far as they have accurately reproduced the original manuscript. God in His wisdom has not deemed fit to preserve the original manuscripts of Scripture. Some believe this is so men would not make an idol of it (cf. 2 Kings 18:4). Others claim it was His way of keeping it from human distortion by diffusing so many copies that it would be impossible to distort all of them. Whatever the case, the copies we do have are earlier, more numerous, and more accurate than those of any other book from the ancient world. They bring us all the truth of the original text, and the minor differences do not affect any doctrine of the Christian faith.
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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.