Monday, 14 December 2009

Refuting the Muslim Misuse of Jeremiah 8: 8 Concering the Corruption of the Torah

In a fairly desprate attempt to prove Bible corruption modern muslims have even resorted to the Biblical text for supporting indication. The most frequent passage being quoted by these Islamic missionaries is Jeremiah 8: 8 which reads:

How can you say, ‘We are wise, for we have the law of the LORD,’ when actually the lying pen of the scribes has handled it falsely?"

Basically, the people of Jerusalem cannot claim to possess the Law since the scribes have falsefied it, or so the muslim argument runs, hence the Torah in our possession today is corruption.

This argument was originally utilized by a radical critical scholar named Albertz Rainer in his book ‘A History of Israelite Religion in the Old Testament Period: From the Beginnings to the End of the Monarchy’.

Rainer along with a number of radical critics utilized this passage in Jeremiah to support a yet another speculative attempt to undermine scripture namely the popular theory of an early religious conspiracy to turn Judea from its polytheistic state towards monotheism and back to the prophetic, priestly and political function of Moses (Rainer, pp. 203-207).

That Josiah’s reform indeed was a return to the original movement of Yahweh and the Law of Moses if accurate, but it is virtually impossible to prove that Josiah and his contemporaries forged the Deuteronomy document and neither Rainer nor any of his associates achieves this.

The book is an enjoyable reading yet apart from its academic outfit as fictionous as the Davinci Code itself.

The problem with the argument of Rainer is as Weinfeld points out that the particular word ‘sheqer’ in Jeremiah 8: 8 has multiple meanings such as untruth, shame, lie or in vain, and is far more accurately translated ‘writing in vain’ in this context. In fact the same word is found in 1 Samuel 25: 21, where David uses the same wording, which is often translated: ‘it’s been useless’

In that case the scribes of Jerusalem in Jermiah’s time are not corrupting the Law of Moses, but what they write is useless because they fail to abide by it.

Furthermore, that ‘writing in vain’ is an accurate translation of ‘sheqer’ in this passage is also supported by the context itself. In Jeremiah 26: 4-6 we are told that the Law still exists and should be followed:

"Say to them, ‘This is what the LORD says: If you do not listen to me and follow MY LAW, which I have set before you, and if you do not listen to the words of my servants the prophets, whom I have sent to you again and again (though you have not listened) then I will make this house like Shiloh and this city an object of cursing among all the nations of the earth.’"( Jeremiah 26:4-6)

Hence if the Mosaic Law still exists and should be followed, how can it be corrupted?

Interestingly a few decades later Daniel the prophet reads the book of Jeremiah:

"In the first year of Darius son of Xerxes (a Mede by descent), who was made ruler over the Babylonian kingdom - in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the LORD given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years. So I turned to the LORD and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes." (Daniel 9:1-3)

And confirms in the same book that the Law of Moses is still intact:

"Therefore the curses and sworn judgments WRITTEN IN THE LAW OF MOSES, the servant of God, have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against you. You have fulfilled the words spoken against us and against our rulers by bringing upon us great disaster. Under the whole heaven nothing has ever been done like what has been done to Jerusalem. JUST AS IT IS WRITTEN IN THE LAW OF MOSES, all this disaster has come upon us, yet we have not sought the favor of the LORD our God by turning from our sins and giving attention to your truth." Daniel 9:11b-13

This only supports that the meaning of Jeremiah 8: 8 is not that of corrupting the text but that of copying the Law in vain since the people of Jerusalem failed to abide by it anyway.

Furthermore, even if Jeremiah attests to a group of scribes falsifying the Law of Moses, it does not support the view that the Law of Moses was universally corrupted. Scribes were not only residing in Jerusalem and both Jeremiah himself and Daniel confirm that the Law remained intact and existed as such in Jeremiah’s time and in the era of Daniel.

Furthermore, if the argument of Rainer is used by a Muslim, how does the Muslim explain the Qur’anic description of the Torah in Muhammad’s time and era:

"But why do they (the Jews) come to thee for decision, when they have the Torah in which IS the command of God." (Sura 5: 46)

"But when the truth has come to them from Us, they say: `why is he not given the like of what was given to Moses?' Did they not disbelieve in that which was given to Moses before? They say: `Two kinds of magic (the Torah and the Quran) each helping the other!' And they say: `Verily! In both we are disbelievers.' Say (to them, O Muhammad): `Then bring a Book from Allah, which is a better guide than these TWO (the Torah and the Quran), that I may follow it, if you are truthful.'" (Sura 28: 48-49)

"The Jews say, `The Christians are not (founded) upon anything.' And the Christians say, `The Jews are not (founded) upon anything.' And yet THEY READ THE BOOK." (Sura 2: 113)

Obviously Rainer’s view and the view of the modern Muslims does not cohere with the teachings proposed by the author of the Qur’an.


Anonymous said...

its real easy, take Septuagint for example. Compare to DSS, you will see how Greek Text falsely interpret the hebrew verses.

Now if only, we have paleo hebrew writings on tablets, only then you can be certain scribes do not change the words.

apehearted said...

If the Mosaic laws on Impurity in Leviticus 15 make it a sin to menstruate and a sin to ejaculate semen, then how can people repent of those sins when they are part of the natural functions of the human body?

These sins frustrate male sexuality. Why should we have to atone from them and what does it tell a person about God´s character if the human race is the product of sinful "emission of semen".

James Daniel said...

The texts about ejaculation and menstruation are about coming before God with your best and at your best. If you had excreted bodily fluid within about 24 hours of going to worship, you were considered to be incomplete because of the loss. Someone who was menstruating or had had these issues (no pun intended) are not sins as you are suggesting. Sins could only be dealt with by a sacrifice to cover them. There is no sacrifice mandated for these problems. These are called uncleanness, a state of ritual impurity for the sake of worship, not sin or wickedness. The prescribed course of action to remedy the problem of sexual emissions is the same as that for other uncleanness such as contact with a dead body and usually involves a ritualistic cleansing and a 24 hour waiting period (except for cases of possible leprosy which allowed a longer isolation period to determine if the condition in question was contagious or not) after which they would be allowed back into full fellowship with the community.

Ephrem Hagos said...

As we are reminded in the terms of the “new covenant”, God's laws can only be written down on peoples’ hearts in visions and revelations by the Spirit rather than verbally on scripts.

A response and challenge to those who oppose the Christian faith.