I’m getting started on Jeremiah today, reading some introductions from the various study Bibles I have handy here. As usual, the JSB is most detailed, and also most controversial. However, what I’d like to offer here is a link to an article on how the book of Jeremiah came to have its present form. This article calls into question what people really mean when they appeal to the “original autographs” or original manuscripts as personally written by the first author. The book of Jeremiah presents some particularly difficult problems for such a question.
That link points to the text of the article in a book on Google Books, which apparently does not have authority to legally publish the entire text. For this reason you’ll notice that some pages are missing from the article. Nevertheless, even with missing segments it is still a very good read.
Consider this: Though we all know exceptions to this rule, most of us today prefer to read a modern translation of the Bible over an older version like the KJV, precisely because modern translations use language and phrases in ways that make sense to our current understanding. Wouldn’t it make sense, then, that scribes in the 2nd c. BCE would have done something similar? Couldn’t we expect that each successive copy of the text would have some amount of editorial revision to update antiquated phrases and figures of speech? Wouldn’t they likely include modern understandings of the stories? Wouldn’t they update the poems and psalms to fit the way the current congregations sing them?