Did Christian Translators distort and alter Isaiah 53 to conform to Christian Theology?

Jews say that Isaiah 53 refers to Israel, the nation, as the Suffering Servant. Christians say the chapter is referring to Jesus.  Let’s compare the Jewish and Christians Bibles on this passage.  Did Christian translators alter the original Hebrew to make the passage conform to Christian theology, creating a “messianic prophecy” out of a chapter that no Jew had ever considered messianic?

Isaiah 53:2-5

The Jewish Bible:

“…he had neither form nor grandeur…he was despised and isolated from men, a man of pains and accustomed to illness.  As one from whom we would hide our faces; he was despised, and we had no regard for him.  But in truth, it was our ills that he bore, and our pains that he carried-but we had regarded him diseased, stricken by God, and afflicted.  He was pained by our rebellious sins and oppressed through our iniquities…”

The Christian Bible (NJV):

“He has [instead of had] no form or comeliness…He is [instead of was] despised and rejected [instead of isolated] by men.  A man of sorrows [instead of pains] and acquainted with grief [instead of accustomed to illness].  And we hid, as it were, our faces from him.  Surely he has borne our griefs [instead of ills] and carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed him stricken, [instead of diseased] smitten by God, and afflicted, but he was wounded for our transgressions.”


Isaiah referred to an event that had already occurred and therefore used the past tense.  Christian translators manipulated the text by changing the tense to the present tense to apply it to Jesus.  Christian translators avoided the problem that Jesus was never reported to have suffered from “illness or disease” by mistranslating these words as “sorrows and grief.”  This manipulation of the text shifted the meaning of Isaiah’s words to support Christian theology.

                                       —Asher Norman, orthodox Jewish author,
                                               “Twenty-Six Reasons Why Jews Don’t Believe in Jesus”


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