Bible Translation Discrepancies in Isaiah 53:9 and 53:11

Did you know that most English translations of the Bible in Western Christian traditions rely heavily on the Masoretic texts, which were crafted between the 6th and 10th centuries after Christ walked the earth? Well, it’s true. The Greek Orthodox church instead relies on Hebrew translations in the Septuagint, which were written between the first and third centuries before Christ. In some cases, the textual variants between these translations are significant, especially in those with fulfilled prophecies of Jesus. This blog will identify two examples from Isaiah 53:9 and Isaiah 53:11. Unfortunately, there are many more.

Isaiah 53:9

The Septuagint translation by Brenton in Bible Hub reads as follows: “And I will give the wicked for his burial, and the rich for his death; for he practiced no iniquity, nor craft with his mouth.”

Peter called our attention to the verse in 1 Peter 2:22 “He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth.”

English Bible translations vary on whether he committed “no violence” or “no sin” or “no iniquity” or “no evil” because they rely primarily on the Masoretic texts.

Hebrew translation (Chabad): “And he gave his grave to the wicked, and to the wealthy with his kinds of death, because he committed no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.”

Isaiah 53:11

The Septuagint translation by Brenton in Bible Hub reads as follows: “the Lord also is pleased to take away from the travail of his soul, to shew him light, and to form him with understanding; to justify the just one who serves many well; and he shall bear their sins.”

Most English Bible translations exclude the mention of the light, with a few notable exceptions, such as the ISV and NIV. The NIV refers to the “light of life.” The light is an allusion to the resurrection, so it’s inclusion is important.

 John 8:12 is a comparable verse. “Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’”

Hebrew translation (Chabad): “From the toil of his soul he would see, he would be satisfied; with his knowledge My servant would vindicate the just for many, and their iniquities he would bear.”

Conclusion

In conclusion, I encourage my readers to see the truth in Scripture by looking to the earliest texts, such as the Septuagint, and examining how the New Testament authors referenced these texts. Readers should also examine multiple English (or other language) translations if discrepancies result. We need to be as wise as snakes and as innocent and doves as we realize that wolves in academic dress have invaded Biblical translation committees.

7 Replies to “Bible Translation Discrepancies in Isaiah 53:9 and 53:11”

  1. This was a very interesting post, and I’ve taken some time to look over the subject matter of your points. First of all, I agree that it is a good thing to be better acquainted with the original texts and how our translations came about. That journey alone is one that would strengthen one’s faith, not weaken it. But as to the issue with Isaiah 53:9, I don’t see a huge problem.

    The LXX uses “anomia” (Strong’s G458), while the Masoretic Hebrew is the word “hamas” (H2555). This holds true in other verses as well, such as 59:6. The first (anomia) is a word that can be translated as “without law, transgressor, wicked, lawless,” while the second can be translated as not only violence, but “wrong, false, cruel” and “injustice.” Granted, when one reads the New Testament Greek, “anomia” is never translated as “violence,” but most often “iniquity.”

    However, as etymonline.com (Online Etymology Dictionary) points out, it’s worth noting that the early English translators were working with a word that’s definition was much more in common with the LXX, i.e., that “no violence” might have been understood in 1611 as “no violation or destruction of the law.”

    violent (adj.)
    mid-14c., from Old French violent or directly from Latin violentus, related to violare (see violation). In Middle English the word also was applied in reference to heat, sunlight, smoke, etc., with the sense “having some quality so strongly as to produce a powerful effect.” Related: Violently.

    violation (n.)
    c. 1400, from Old French violacion and directly from Latin violationem (nominative violatio) “an injury, irreverence, profanation,” from past participle stem of violare “to treat with violence, outrage, dishonor,” perhaps an irregular derivative of vis “strength, force, power, energy,” from PIE root *weie- “to go after, pursue with vigor or desire” (see gain (v.)).

    More food for thought 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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