The prophetically announced, apostolically confirmed, historically verified reality of Christ’s crucifixion, something virtually uncontested by the vast majority of scholars, has long been a point of embarrassment for Muslims, as has Christ’s triumph over death and the grave, particularly since the man they wish was a prophet, Muhammad, who admittedly has been under the power of death for 1,400 years, is widely believed to have denied that the crucifixion (and by implication the resurrection) even took place:
And because of their saying (in boast), "We killed Messiah Iesa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary), the Messenger of Allah," - but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but the resemblance of Iesa (Jesus) was put over another man (and they killed that man), and those who differ therein are full of doubts. They have no (certain) knowledge, they follow nothing but conjecture. For surely; they killed him not (i.e. Iesa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary) ): S. 4:157, Hilali-Khan
Since in the nature of the case truth must cohere with itself and correspond to the facts, this of necessity meant that a systematic altering of many other things taught by the prophets and apostles was in order for Muhammad. Not only did Muhammad’s denial of the crucifixion logically dictate that he would have to teach a very different view of salvation than that shadowed forth in the ceremonial law of Moses, of which Christ is authoritatively declared to be the reality, substance, and fulfillment according to the apostolic writings (q.v. the Book of Hebrews); it also necessitated teaching a very different view of God, who in this scheme becomes the arch-deceiver of history.
And they cheated/deceived and God cheated/deceived, and God (is) THE BEST (of) the cheaters/deceivers. S. 3:54, Ahmed Ali
And when those who disbelieved deceive/scheme at you to affix/affirm you, or kill you, or bring you out, and they scheme/deceive, and God deceives/schemes and God (is) BEST (of) the deceivers/schemers. S. 8:30, Ahmed Ali
In this coup, God becomes the paradigmatic deceiver, and Satan’s deception becomes merely imitative, being modeled on Allah’s own pattern of deception, a habit Allah is said to have modeled forth and to have had some practice in long before the first century.
He [i.e. Satan] said: Now, because Thou [i.e. Allah] hast sent me astray, verily I shall lurk in ambush for them on Thy Right Path. S. 7:16, Pickthall
[Iblis (Satan)] said: "O my Lord! Because you misled me (aghwaytanee), I shall indeed adorn the path of error for them (mankind) on the earth, and I shall mislead (walaoghwiyannahum) them all. S. 15:39, Hilali-Khan
This is very different from what Jesus taught:
Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me. Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word. You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer FROM THE BEGINNING, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from HIS OWN NATURE, for he is a liar and THE FATHER OF LIES. But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me. Which one of you convicts Me of sin? If I speak truth, why do you not believe Me? He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God.” John 8:42-47, NASB
Unsurprisingly Muslims have put forth a lot of effort to cover Islam’s shame when it comes to these things. One such Muslim is Paul Williams of the Muslim Debate Initiative. Today Paul has argued that the prophecy of Psalm 22:16, which has traditionally been understood to foreshadow the crucifixion, is not well-founded, resting as it (allegedly) does on later manuscripts that are not supported by the reading found in the original Hebrew text. According to Paul, the post-Christian Jewish study Bible gives the more accurate, and no doubt “unbiased,” reading. In contrast to the King James version, which says,
For dogs have compassed me:
the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me:
they PIERCED my hands and my feet
The Jewish Study Bible offers the following translation of the supposedly earlier and more reliable reading:
Dogs surround me;
a pack of evil ones closes in on me,
like lions [they maul] my hands and feet
…since the King James version was made over 400 years ago numerous manuscripts of the Hebrew bible have been discovered taking us ever CLOSER to the ORIGINAL text. In a number of significant places our translations have been revised in light of these new discoveries, Psalm 22 being a good example. This has meant that a number of traditional proof texts employed by Christians as prophecies of Jesus are no longer credible… (emphasis mine)
Ironically enough, Williams’ usual targets are Christian fundamentalists; yet it is just the kind of superficial acquaintance with and presentation of the facts on full display in Williams' argumentation that is supposed to characterize fundamentalists.
Michael Rydelnik, a Jewish convert to Christianity who is currently professor of Jewish Studies at what Williams would call a “fundamentalist” school, i.e. Moody Bible Institute, is better acquainted with the facts and makes Williams look like an obscurantist of the highest order:
The Masoretic Text reads ka’ari, (“as a lion”) and the Septuagint reads oruxan, from the verb orusso, “to dig/excavate” or “to perforate/pierce,”41 apparently a translation of the Hebrew k’ru (“they pierced”).42 Thus, the verse in the Masoretic Text reads, “For dogs have surrounded me; a gang of evildoers has closed in on me; as a lion . . . my hands and my feet.” However, the LXX, Syriac, and the Vulgate read, “For dogs have surrounded me; a gang of evildoers has closed in on me; they pierced my hands and my feet.”
Plainly, the Masoretic Text rendering avoids the Christological implications of predicting the crucifixion, thereby taking the less messianic rendering and making it more acceptable to Judaism.43 The primary arguments for taking the Masoretic Text as the correct reading is that preference should always be given to the Masoretic Text and to the harder reading. The absence of the verb, making the phrase elliptical, yields not only the harder reading but a virtually UNINTELLIGIBLE one. On the other hand, the Septuagintal reading has THE OLDER SUPPORT and MAKES GRAMMATICAL SENSE within the literary context.44
In the final analysis, it seems that the Septuagintal reading should be preferred for several reasons. First, although the Masoretic Text has the harder reading, there is a difference between a harder reading and an impossible one. One would have to assume incoherence on the part of the author, which is far more than the principle of taking the harder reading requires. As Peter Craigie has noted, the Masoretic Text reading “presents numerous problems and can scarcely be correct.”45 Second, defining the harder reading depends on the audience reading it. For a Masorete, “they pierced my hands and my feet,” a seeming prediction of the Messiah’s crucifixion, would certainly have been the harder reading. Third, the LXX reading fits the literary context, makes grammatical sense, and is supported by the other versions (and even some Masoretic traditions). Perhaps most important, in 1997, the translation of a textual discovery from Nahal Hever in the Judean Wilderness brought strong support to the Septuagintal reading.
The discovery of a fragment of the book of Psalms, dated between AD 50-68,46 contains Ps 22:17[Eng. 16] and reads, k’ru (“they pierced”).47 . . . Thus THE OLDEST EXTANT Hebrew manuscript of Ps 22:17 reinforces the Septuagintal, Syriac, and Vulgate readings, supporting the translation “They pierced my hands and my feet.” (Michael Rydelnik, The Messianic Hope: Is the Hebrew Bible Really Messianic?, NAC Studies in Bible & Theology (Nashville, Tennessee: B&H Publishing, 2020), p. 44-46) (Italics original; bold and capital emphasis mine)
42 It is uncertain whether the verb rendered by the LXX was כָּאֲרִ or כרך, both of which occur in a few Masoretic mss. R. L. Harris took it from כרך, giving the meaning as “bore, dig, hew (meaning dubious).” He explains that it “occurs only in Ps 22:16 [H 17],” and “may be an hapax ka’ar. The meaning ‘dig, wound, pierce’ would derive from the context and LXX.
43 The MT reading is also supported by the editors of the NET Bible. Although they recognize that the reading is “grammatically awkward” and characterized by “broken syntax,” their apparent commitment to the MT above all motivates them to retain the Masoretic reading and to argue that “it is better not to interpret this particular verse as referring to Jesus’ crucifixion in a specific or direct way.” The NET Bible (Richardson, TX: Biblical Studies Press, 1997), 924n20.
44 For a thorough analysis of the text-critical problem and a compelling argument for the LXX reading, see C. R. Gren, “Piercing the Ambiguities of Psalm 22:16 and the Messiah’s Mission,” JETS 48 (2005): 284-99.
45 P. C. Craigie, Psalms 1-50, WBC (Waco, TX: Word, 1983), 196.
46 P. Flint, “Biblical Scrolls from Nahal Hever and ‘Wadi Seiyal’: Introduction,” in Miscellaneous Texts from the Judaean Desert, ed. J. Charlesworth, N. Cohen, H. Cotton, and E. Eshel, DJD 38 (Oxford: Clarendon, 2000), 143.
47 M. Abegg Jr., P. Flint, E. Ulrich, The Dead Sea Scrolls Bible (New York: HarperSanFrancisco, 1999), 519; J. VanderKam and P. Flint, The Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls (New York: HarperSanFrancisco, 2002), 125. The latter states, “Among the Dead Sea Scrolls, the reading in question is not preserved at Qumran, but in the Psalms scroll from Nahal Hever (5/6HevPs), which is textually very close to the Masoretic Text. In line 12 of column 10 we read: ‘They have pierced my hands and feet’! For the crucial word … is grammatically difficult; but it is clearly a verb, not a noun and means they have bored or they have dug or they have pierced.”
The facts, then, pierce right through Williams’ claims to scholarship and expose the fundamentalist beneath. However, don’t be too hard on Paul, the possibility remains that it was his “god” who made him think he was a scholar. This wouldn’t be the first time the one who admits to being the arch-deceiver of history has led one of his "creatures" astray.
Some other articles dealing with this in more detail can be found here: