Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Zech 12:10 / John 19:37

This is a section of a reply to the major accusations made by Robert H. Countess in his book defaming the Bible translation of the Jehovah's Witnesses: "The Jehovah's Witnesses' New Testament - A Critical Analysis of the New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures [NWT]," Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1982 (2nd ed. 1987). (I got my copy from Christian Book Distributors [CBD] in October 1994.)

Zech 12:10 / John 19:37

Jehovah says: "...they shall look upon ME whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for HIM, as one mourneth for his only son" - Zech 12:10, KJV.

Of course Countess insists that Jehovah's saying, "me whom they have pierced" proves that Jesus is Jehovah. He has no real explanation for the NT text that actually clarifies this scripture, but insists that it, too, somehow, shows that Jesus is Jehovah.

Although Countess is trying to show the "dishonesty" of the New Testament of the NWT as it concerns "evidence" of Jesus being Jehovah, the "evidence" is so sparse that he is forced to slip back to an acknowledged corrupt text in the Old Testament for further "proof"!

Unfortunately for Countess (and the many other charlatans who attempt this particular "proof"), even many trinitarian translations disagree:

"... when they look upon him whom they have pierced" - RSV. Also in agreement with this rendering (and completely ignored by Countess) are NRSV; GNB; MLB; NAB (1970); NAB (1991); LB; Mo; AT; JB; NJB; NLV; BBE; and Byington. (The ASV says in a footnote for "me" in Zech. 12:10: "According to some MSS [manuscripts], `him'." Also see Rotherham footnote.)

Even the context tells us that the latter non-trinitarian rendering is the correct one. Notice that after saying that they will look upon me (or him) God continues with "they shall mourn for him"! Notice how the KJV (and those following its tradition) contradicts itself here. The "me" in the first half simply does not agree with the "him" of the second half. Since there has never been any question about the accuracy of the word "him" in the second half, the disputed word of the first half (which has manuscript evidence for both renderings) must also properly be rendered as "him" (or "the one").

The testimony of the first Christian writers to come after the NT writers (the `Ante-Nicene Fathers') confirms the non-trinitarian translation of Zechariah 12:10 ("him"). Ignatius, Irenaeus, and Tertullian (repeatedly) rendered Zech. 12:10 as "him whom they pierced"! This is specially significant because many trinitarian scholars and historians claim these particular early Christians (including Origen who doesn't quote Zech. 12:10 at all in his existing writings) are the very ones who actually began the development of the trinity doctrine for Christendom! If any of the earliest Christian writers, then, would use a trinitarian interpretation here, it would certainly be these three. Since they do not do so, it must mean that the source for the `look upon me' rendering originated even later than the time of Ignatius, Irenaeus, and Tertullian (early 3rd century A.D.)!

The Septuagint (LXX) uses "me" (in the existing copies, at least - 4th century A. D. and later), but it is significantly different from the Hebrew: "They shall look upon me, because they have mocked me, and they shall make lamentation for him, as for a beloved [friend], and they shall grieve intensely, as for a firstborn [son]." - Zech. 12:10, Septuagint, Zondervan, 1976 printing. In other words, (1) they will look upon God whom they have mocked [not "pierced"] as their judgment arrives and (2) they will mourn Christ. The two are not the same person here, nor the same God!

Included in those very early Christian writers' quotes of Zech. 12:10 is Justin Martyr I. Apol., i. 77, who also quotes it as it is found in John.
According to The Expositor's Greek Testament, : John's translation of Zech. 12:10 is the correct one. "The same rendering is adopted in the Greek [OT] versions of Aquila, Theodotion, and Symmachus" - vol. 1, p. 860.

"The [Hebrew] text of Zech. 12:10 is corrupt. The LXX [Greek Septuagint] text reads:... (`they shall look upon me whom they have treated spitefully') .... The text in [Jn 19:37] does not follow the LXX; but it has also avoided the impossible [`me'] of the Hebrew text." - p. 195, John 2, Ernst Haenchen, Fortress Press, 1984.

The JPS translation of Zech 12:10 in Tanakh (NJV) also reveals that the text of Zech 12:10 is corrupt. The NJV (New Jewish Version or Tanakh published by the Jewish Publication Society) is highly praised for its accuracy by noted trinitarian Bible scholars Sakae Kubo and Walter F. Specht in their popular book So Many Versions? which analyzes and critiques modern Bibles:

"The NJV is a monument to careful scholarship .... It ranks as one of the best translations of the Hebrew Bible [the Old Testament] available." - p. 143, SMV, Zondervan Publ.

A footnote says that the Hebrew sometimes rendered "when they look upon" is "uncertain." Although it uses the pronoun "me," it renders Zech 12:10,

"they shall lament to Me about those who are slain, wailing over them as over a favorite son and showing bitter grief as over a first-born." - Jewish Publication Society, 1985.

But most important of all, closely examine John 19:37 (even in the KJV) where this scripture has been quoted by John! All translations show John here translating Zech. 12:10 as "They shall look upon him [or `the one'] whom they pierced." So we have this Apostle and inspired Bible writer telling us plainly (and undisputed even by trinitarian scholars) that Zechariah 12:10 should read: "They shall look upon him" (not `me'). Therefore, Jehovah is speaking in Zech. 12:10 of someone else who will be pierced - not Himself!

There simply is no real evidence strong enough for Countess, or anyone else, to honestly insist that "the antecedent of `the one' in the phrase `the one whom they pierced' [Jn 19:37] can be none other than Jehovah God." And for him to insist that the NWT is dishonest for translating Zech. 12:10 in the same way that so many respected trinitarian scholars have done is dishonest in itself!

Countess' "evidence" that the NT quotes the OT and thereby calls Jesus `Jehovah' is specious.

Furthermore, exactly who is being called Jehovah by the inspired NT writers when they are really quoting from the OT? Is it ever the Son?

Well, if you didn't know the history of the Jewish writings (See ISRAEL study paper) and the clear statements of the OT (e.g., Is. 63:16, "You Jehovah are our Father" - The King James II Version - cf. the American Standard Version), you would not be able to tell in all cases. Context does not always make it clear for those who don't know that Jehovah was always used for the personal name of the Father alone. However, sometimes context does clarify it:

Acts 2:34 (Ps. 110:1)

Acts 3:22 (Deut. 18:15, 18)

Acts 4:26 (Ps. 2:1, 2)

And whenever the context is clear, it is found that the Son is never called Jehovah – only the Father is! (Old Testament references found in parentheses above are from the NIV Study Bible, but most other trinitarian reference Bibles would agree.)

Also see:
Zech. 12:10 (SFBT)

Zechariah 12:10 (INDNWT)

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