Jews believe Catholics mistranslated verses about Jesus in the HB/OT?


I saw this is one of th reasons Jews don’t believe in Jesus because they believe Catholics have mistranslated the prophetic verses related to him.

Is it possible that The Church did mistranslate?


There are many, hundreds, passages that point to Jesus, at least according to Christians and not just Catholics.

There is a possibility that the Christian faith is a hoax. This is the nature of believe; it could be incorrect.

You will have to get an answer from people with a higher pay grade than mine, but to me it is obvious that Christianity believed Jesus completed, fulfilled the covenants of Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses and David. Whether a person by the name of Jesus did what the New Testament claims is the issue. But, as I totally believe He did, if He did, then the Covenants have been fulfilled.

It is a matter of faith!

I believe.


If you’re Catholic, it is certainly not possible. If you’re Jewish, it is more than possible. This is one of the ongoing controversies between the religions, and neither side is ready to relinquish its own position. Not in this life anyhow.


It’s a matter of trust and faith… I think a good place to start is: all the saints (incoruptibles), the well documented apparitions and the miracles that happened in Catholic history. There is more than enough to convince me that God would have let us know if his word had been corrupted or mistranslated. And would not have let the miracles of the saints and the apparitions happen in the Catholic Church or to the people of the Catholic church all this time. It just really bends our way…

there are to many well documented miracles that at least a few of them have to be true.


Yes, I believe it’s true.

One of the most quoted ‘mistranslations’ is Isaiah 7:14. In Hebrew it says, according to scholars, ‘a young woman shall conceive’. In the Septuagint, which is the Greek translation that Matthew used, it says ‘a virgin shall conceive’. But the Septuagint was a Jewish translation of the Bible into Greek before Jesus was born.


May I add that the Septuagint was the bible used by Jesus and his disciples. It is seen by the 300+ quotes they put in the scriptures from the Septuagint.


From the NABRE on the USCCB website:

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign; the young woman, pregnant and about to bear a son, shall name him Emmanuel.


I’d like to know how you are sure of this? If they used the Hebrew Scriptures in the Temple at Jerusalem, wouldn’t the whole countryside have used that as well? If they wrote in Greek, but were translating from Hebrew to Greek, wouldn’t it look the same?

I’m just asking how we know for a fact they used the Septuagint, not saying they didn’t.


From the Jewish perspective, one of the issues is the belief, supported by evidence, that the part of the Septuagint that was translated from Hebrew into Greek by Jewish sages and scribes was ONLY the Torah/Pentateuch rather than the whole Tanakh/Hebrew Bible. It was the Church Fathers–Origen, Lucian, Hesychius–who made translations of the remainder of the Hebrew Bible, including the Books of the Prophets, which contain Isaiah. Even St. Jerome pointed this out, and this is one reason why he did not regard the Septuagint as an authentic translation of the Hebrew, preferring the Latin Vulgate, contrary to the preferences of St. Augustine.

Another issue is the word “almah” itself, which most often refers to a young maiden, and not a virgin, in the Hebrew Bible, in which the word “virgin” is usually translated as “bethulah.” The Greek translation of the Hebrew “almah,” used by Matthew, is “parthenos,” which does mean virgin; but again, this was not translated by Jewish scribes. The Christian rebuttal is that the use of the word “almah” in the CONTEXT OF THE VERSE from Isaiah strongly suggests that the young maiden is also a virgin. The Jewish counter-rebuttal is that the CONTEXT OF THE WHOLE PASSAGE from Isaiah reveals that the topic is not that of the Messiah at all, but a more imminent battle that threatens the Jewish people, and it provides a note of consolation.

And so on and so forth…


That’s interesting…can you please post some evidence? Perhaps a website that supports this?

I guess looking at the big picture we should ask what would be the significance of Isaiah predicting a young maiden giving birth to a child? I did a google search for the definition of a maiden and it said “A girl or young woman, esp. an unmarried one.” It primarily refers to an unmarried girl so we’re approaching dangerous ground if the conclusion is Isaiah is predicting the Lord’s sign of birth by fornication.

God bless,


No because “we” (the first Christians and the Jews during, and before, Christ’s time, including the Apostles) used the Septuagint which included all the books - those even that Christ quoted from, which the Hebrew Bible does not contain.

After the death of Jesus, and of His Apostles, which was about 100 AD (John being the last), in a village just outside of Jerusalem (the village of Jamnia), the Sadducees (who were Rabbis, and enemies of Christ and did not believe in the resurrection, life-after-death, and angels, - see Acts 5:17-19), assembled a completely new version of the Jewish Scripture, omitting some books entirely and rewriting others. The result is the Jamnian Canon, or the Palestinian Talmud. There is also another version known as the Babylonian Talmud.

One of them for instance, Aquila, removed the word PARTHENONS (virgin), from Is. 7:14, and changed it to NEANIS (young woman) shall conceive. That way they could claim that the prophecy did not match what the Christians were teaching. What I find ironic is that regardless, in those times, a young unmarried woman was still a virgin!

Hebrew Bible is the term used to describe the bible used by the Jewish people since they have no “Old Testament” and no “New Testament”. Correctly, we do not call our Old Testament as the “Hebrew Bible” since we include all the books as were in the Septuagint and the Hebrew Bible does not.


Of course they used the Septuagint. The majority of quotes of the OT in the NT are from the Septuagint version, word for word. The Greek translation would have been used by Hellenized Jews who conversed in Greek. Perhaps, around Jerusalem they would have used the Hebrew scriptures but in other places they would have used the Septuagint, especially Christians who were interested in not just evangelizing Jews but the Greeks as well.

Christianity spread to the Greeks. Jews in an effort to hold on to their ways got rid of any books that were Greek and parted ways from the Christians. Of course this is just an over simplification.

I guess another question would be how do we know the apostles wrote the NT in Greek and it wasn’t just translated to Greek by scribes later on? The earliest manuscript we have is dated to the 4th century. So it is impossible to know for sure. But, the earliest manuscripts all use the Septuagint.


[quote="Boccherini, post:5, topic:310530"]
Yes, I believe it's true.

One of the most quoted 'mistranslations' is Isaiah 7:14. In Hebrew it says, according to scholars, 'a young woman shall conceive'. In the Septuagint, which is the Greek translation that Matthew used, it says 'a virgin shall conceive'. But the Septuagint was a Jewish translation of the Bible into Greek before Jesus was born.


Hear St. Jerome in the 4th century arguing his point against the Jews:

"Isaiah tells of the mystery of our faith and hope: Isaiah 7:14 "Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Emmanuel." I know that the Jews are accustomed to meet us with the objection that in Hebrew the word Almah does not mean a virgin, but a young woman. And, to speak truth, a virgin is properly called Bethulah, but a young woman, or a girl, is not Almah, but Naarah! What then is the meaning of Almah? A hidden virgin, that is, not merely virgin, but a virgin and something more, because not every virgin is hidden, shut off from the occasional sight of men. Then again, Rebecca, on account of her extreme purity, and because she was a type of the Church which she represented in her own virginity, is described in Genesis as Almah, not Bethulah, as may clearly be proved from the words of Abraham's servant, spoken by him in Mesopotamia: "And he said, O Lord, the God of my master Abraham, if now thou do prosper my way which I go: behold I stand by the fountain of water; and let it come to pass, that the maiden which comes forth to draw, to whom I shall say, Give me, I pray you, a little water of this pitcher to drink; and she shall say to me, Both drink thou, and I will also draw for your camels: let the same be the woman whom the Lord has appointed for my master's son." Where he speaks of the maiden coming forth to draw water, the Hebrew word is Almah, that is, a virgin secluded, and guarded by her parents with extreme care. Or, if this be not so, let them at least show me where the word is applied to married women as well, and I will confess my ignorance. "Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son." If virginity be not preferred to marriage, why did not the Holy Spirit choose a married woman, or a widow? For at that time Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser, was alive, distinguished for purity, and always free to devote herself to prayers and fasting in the temple of God. If the life, and good works, and fasting without virginity can merit the advent of the Holy Spirit, she might well have been the mother of our Lord. Let us hasten to the rest: Isaiah 37:22 "The virgin daughter of Zion has despised you and laughed you to scorn." To her whom he called daughter the prophet also gave the title virgin, for fear that if he spoke only of a daughter, it might be supposed that she was married. This is the virgin daughter whom elsewhere he thus addresses: Isaiah 54:1 "Sing, O barren, you that dost not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, you that did not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate, than the children of the married wife, says the Lord." This is she of whom God by the mouth of Jeremiah speaks, saying: Jeremiah 2:32 "Can a maid forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire." Concerning her we read of a great miracle in the same prophecy Jeremiah 31:22 — that a woman should compass a man, and that the Father of all things should be contained in a virgin's womb."


I am not convinced that this is a point that should be conceded. Is almah really not the word that should be used for “virgin?”


I’m asking if there is a scholarly reference. That is, now that we have the scrolls in the original Hebrew, not the Masoretic but the Qumran material, do we find some quotes that have been confidently attributed to the Septuagint and could not be the older but retained Hebrew translated into Greek? I’m not asking because I disagree, I also believe as you do. Not everyone does. I was hoping you had a source.


Not all scholars agree. The use of the Sept. as opposed to the later masoretic text is arguably more reliable. The Alexandrian Jews were closer in time to the original and as you point out had no ax to grind as it was before the birth of Christ. The RSVCE translates the Hebrew as “virgin” and supports it’s version with a reference to the Sept. I don’t read the languages but I’ve always thought that the context of the Lord giving a sign and then referring to a young woman conceiving doesn’t make much sense. Young woman conceive all the time. Virgins do not.

[14] Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, a [young woman/ virgin] shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Imman’u-el


Sorry this is what happens when you don’t read the entire thread. Please ignore.


I think the best way to understand this sort of thing is to understand how the New Testament is viewed by the two ‘sides’.

Christians believe that the New Testament is ‘reportage’ and so you can look through what we call the Tanakh and Christians call the Old Testament and find all sorts of things that are predictive of, or point to, or are echoed in the events or things said in the New Testament.

Now, if you don’t believe that the New Testament is ‘reportage’ but, rather, a ‘construct’ then one’s conclusions about the process will be different, ie that in order to tell a particular story, in a particular way, events/text in the Tanakh/Old Testament were ‘mined’, interpreted/reinterpreted so as to ‘fit’ - like biting bits off jigsaw pieces to make them fit the picture you want rather than the picture on the lid of the box.

From a Jewish perspective, the ‘virgin’ passage is about a young woman and events at the time and the only reason that there’s so much fuss about it is that Christians need that passage to be about a virgin birth because, if you’re out to prove a man was God and begotten buy God then a virgin birth would be de rigueur and it’s all just a matter of combing the Tanakh/Old Testament to find something that could be described as ‘predictive’.

As has been said earlier, it’s all a question of faith - if you believe in the New Testament than ‘virgin’ is ‘virgin’, if you don’t, then it’s ‘young woman’. Perhaps it’s not so much a matter of translation but of interpretation which is not exactly the same thing.


Wow, I am amazed that Jews also go to CAF. :slight_smile:

But this translation (Virgin) is just one of the prophecies pertaining to Jesus. What about Isaiah’s prophecy about the suffering servant? Or the Psalms chapter on “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”

I’m also curious to know what the Jewish opinion is regarding the fact that if Jesus didn’t fulfill all the prophecies pointing to him, how come prophecies concerning the Messiah ceased after he came? (please correct me if it didn’t cease).


Quoting myself from a while ago (I’m terribly sorry if I sound like a broken record :blush:):

Personally I don’t think that speaking of a fixed, closed ‘canon’ of Scripture in the context of the Second Temple era without any definition is proper.

For Jews - and Christians - at that time, our modern Bibles (a complete collection of books bound under one cover) would have been something strange. In those days the norm was for different books, or different categories of books, to have their own scrolls: so a typical synagogue library would have had a scroll or scrolls of the Torah, some Prophets, perhaps a few writings such as the Psalms, or even collections of snippets from different scriptures organized around a particular theme (a testimonia). It probably would not have had included all the texts now in the protocanon (the undisputed OT books), and it might well have included some texts that were not part of that canon.

While some scholars think that the Palestinian ‘canon’ was not definitively fixed until much later in time (some propose a date as late as the 4th century AD), others argue that it was already more or less established by the 1st century BC. Still, that does not mean that the canon was closed: while Jews already had good guesses as to which books were authoritative, there was apparently nothing which prevented considering other books not included in this protocanon as being authoritative as well or expressing doubts about a few of the already-‘canonized’ books (such as Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs, as we have seen earlier).

After the death of Jesus, and of His Apostles, which was about 100 AD (John being the last), in a village just outside of Jerusalem (the village of Jamnia), the Sadducees (who were Rabbis, and enemies of Christ and did not believe in the resurrection, life-after-death, and angels, - see Acts 5:17-19), assembled a completely new version of the Jewish Scripture, omitting some books entirely and rewriting others. The result is the Jamnian Canon, or the Palestinian Talmud. There is also another version known as the Babylonian Talmud.

No, it was the Pharisees. Or rather their later spiritual progeny the Rabbis. The Sadducees seem to have died out with the Temple. :wink: And no, the Talmud is really a work which combines the codified Oral Law, the Mishnah (ca. 2nd-3rd century), and later explanations of and comments about it known as the Gemara (ca. 4th-6th century). (Yes, they do exist in two versions: the Jerusalem and the Babylonian, with the Babylonian being the ‘standard’ version.)

And also, about the “council of Jamnia:” we should be careful not to inject the Christian idea of what a ‘council’ is into the term, as in groups of elders gathering together and officially ratifying this or that as binding dogma. Later rabbinic literature does paint things in that way, but whether the portrait which the later Talmud paints is actually historical fact is now something that is uncertain.

All the sources tell us is this: before Jerusalem fell, Rabbi Johanan ben-Zakkai established an academy at Yavneh (Jamnia) which proceeded to function like a Sanhedrin between the period between the Jewish revolts of AD 70-132. He was then succeeded by Rabbi Gamaliel II. Somewhere between AD 80 and AD 117 Gamaliel was deposed for a time, during which Eleazar ben-Azariah was installed as head of the academy. According to the Mishnah, at the day of Eleazar’s installation, the sages ruled that both Song of Songs and Ecclesiastes “make the hands unclean” (i.e. are holy). The same passage goes on to state that “all the Holy Scriptures render the hands unclean,” and so it is clear that the point at issue was whether the two books ranked among the Scriptures. This passage is then followed by a series of enactments introduced by the phrase “on that day” (Mishnah, Yadaim 3.5-4.4). Later tradition (Talmud, Berakhoth 28a), taking this formula at face value, claimed that every ruling prefixed by the phrase were indeed made on the same occasion.

Now as mentioned, applying the Christian idea of what a ‘council’ is to these debates is probably off. On the contrary, the deliberations at Yavneh were closer to the character of a school, academy, or court. All that this anecdote tells us was that there was some debate about the exact status of these two books, not that the canon of Scripture was being officially decided . In fact, it would seem that the dispute were not terminated by the decisions at Yavneh: even as late as the late 2nd century, Rabbi Meir (circa 135-170), famous as one of the greatest of the Tannaim of the fourth generation, was disputing the idea that Ecclesiastes defiled the hands. There is no evidence that the status of other Writings was debated, or that a final decision was reached. In any case, it is even doubtful whether the actions of the academy were official decisions; there was probably no body in Judaism that functioned in an ‘official’ capacity post-AD 70.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit