[Editor’s note: This question is coming from a person responding to Muslim claims that Jesus never claimed to be God]


I’d like to ask you 2 questions.  1 What’s your comment on the New World Translation of Zechariah 12:10  “I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the spirit of favor and supplication, and they will look to the one whom they pierced” (Zechariah 12: 10) . This translation doesn’t say that the one who would be pierced is God (because this translation doesn’t say “look to Me”   But when I searched other translations (6 Arabic translations and 2 English translations) , I found they said (look to Me)  Also, what’s your comment on the translation from Jewish Old Testaments “And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplication; and they shall look unto Me because they have thrust him through; and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his first-born”  Who is “him” in “they have thrust him through”   Can you translate these verse and prove that the right translation is “look to me”  as a reference to God?

2- What’s your opinion about what some people say that all epistles of Ignatius are forgeries?  The oldest testimony for these epistles is from the epistle of Polycarp who said that Ignatius had sent him an epistle. However, some people now say that chapter 13 in which Polycarp said that was also interpolated!!!  What’s your comment?


On Zechariah 12:10, I am definitely no expert on Hebrew.  However, I did do some research and found that the preposition “me” is definitely in the original Hebrew.   If you are curious, you can go to http://biblehub.com/interlinear/zechariah/12-10.htm    The literal translation of the Hebrew words goes something like this:   “they have pierced whom on me and they shall look….”

The reason the New World translation does not include the words “on me” is that this is an extremely biased translation from the Jehovah Witness group.  This group denies the deity of Christ.  Because this is clearly a prophecy of the Messiah, and because God, referring to Jesus, calls himself “me” in the passage, they do not like this!!!!   So, what do they do?  They purposefully mistranslate the passage.  They do not hesitate to create their own creative “translations” of the text in order to defend their own false doctrine.  Obvious mistranslations litter the New World Translation.  For example, famously, in John 1:1 they translate this key verse, “In the beginning was the word, the word was with God and the word was a god.”  They simply add the word “a” into the text, not because the indefinite article is found in the Greek, but because they do not like the implications of the original Greek.  Apparently, in the New World Translation of Zechariah 12:10 the Jehovah Witness “translators” have chosen to change the original meaning to suit their doctrine.  You should dismiss this translation completely as unjustified by the Hebrew text.  If a Muslim was using the New World Translation to defeat the claim Zechariah 12:10 tells us that this prophecy about Jesus is calling him God, you should completely reject this argument.  You can do so by showing the original Hebrew and its direct English translation.  That Muslims would stoop to using what is arguably the worst translation of the Bible as an argument against the deity of Jesus is evidence of their lack of sincerity regarding this question (either that or they are simply mimicking others who do the same).

As for the Jewish translation, at least it includes the words “on me.”  I would say that this Jewish take on Zechariah 12:10, although awkward, is at least not an outrageous and purposeful mistranslation.  One could argue that both the Christian and the Jew are tempted to look at Zechariah 12:10 and to allow their concept of the Messiah to influence how they translate this passage.  It is my opinion that the more natural and less awkward translation of the section is to conclude that the “on me” that they looked to is also the one who was pierced.  How much of our translation is dependent on our preconceived ideas of the underlying theology of the Bible?  This is a difficult question, and I will leave this for you to decide.  What I will say is that the New World Translation is completely unjustified, and the Jewish translation, although not gramatically ruled out, shows signs of being interpreted through the eyes of people who are 1. Aware that Jesus was pierced and 2. Aware that Christians use this passage to refer to the Messiah–as evidence that Jesus of Nazareth is in fact the Messiah.  Jewish bias against Jesus as the Messiah is in play here, in my opinion.

As evidence of this post-Jesus bias on the part of Jewish translators, I looked up the Septuagint translation of Zechariah 12:10.  This is a helpful piece of data because the Septuagint translation was made before the ministry of Jesus.  At this point, there was no strong reason for the Jews to have such a biased translation–geared to prevent a messianic interpretation.  The Septuagint translation has the one who is looked on also being the one who is pierced. Actually, in the Septuagint, the one who is looked on has been mocked rather than pierced, but the grammar is clear.  This is strong support to my thesis that the Jewish translation is more the result of prejudice–as an apologetic against the Christian use of this passage, than it is justified by the original passage.

My conclusion is that in Zechariah 12:10, God is referring to himself by “on me”.  The New World attempt to eliminate these words is completely unjustified.  The Jewish translation which has the one looked on not be the one who was pierced, though grammatically possible, shows signs of being affected by a desire to avoid an obvious reference to Jesus.  I believe that in this passage, the natural meaning is that God is talking about having been pierced.  I believe this is a messianic prophecy, fulfilled when Jesus was pierced while on the cross.

About Ignatius, the vast majority of scholars agree that he was a real person who was really martyred and that he wrote letters which we have available.  There is some doubt about  possible interpolations to certain letters, but the view that he was not a real person and that we have none of his letters is a radical one which you should probably reject.  If a Muslim makes this claim, it is totally obvious that this is because of a bias, not because the evidence goes this way.  Unfortunately, nearly all Muslim apologists commit the blatant error of trolling the evidence, not to find the truth, but to undermine Christian faith.  Such intellectually dishonest treatment of the data can be frustrating, but that is what you have to deal with.

John Oakes

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