Yesterday was Easter Sunday and at Speakers Corner an enthusiastic Christian told me of the amazing prophesy to be found in Psalm 22 concerning Jesus’ death on the cross.

He read the following to me from The King James Bible

Psalm 22

16 For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.

My Christian friend drew my attention to the detailed prediction of verse 16 ‘they pierced my hands and my feet.’ This of course refers to Jesus’ crucifixion on the cross as told in the gospels.

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I remarked that my Jewish Study Bible (published by Oxford University Press) has a different translation, which gives a rather different meaning. He looked at me very skeptically and said that “God’s Word was very clear in Psalm 22” and that I had not provided any proof of my claim. Of course I did not have The Jewish Study Bible with me at Speakers Corner. But I do now, and here is the translation of verse 16:

Dogs surround me;

a pack of evil ones closes in on me,

like lions [they maul] my hands and feet

I also checked a Christian translation of the Bible, the respected New Revised Standard Version, which renders the verse:

For dogs are all around me;

a company of evildoers encircles me.

My hands and feet have shrivelled;

So now we have three different translations of the same passage! But 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. The traditional Christian translation of Isaiah 53 has also been called into question, but that is another story...