Translation of Scripture Debate - Windsor v. Hofstetter

Translation Debate

Round One

Counter Response

From Scott Windsor


Let me open by expressing my disappointment that Mr. Hofstetter chooses to use ad hominem against me stating I have “an inadequate knowledge of how grammatical gender works in language.”   I have taken Spanish, French and Italian and am familiar with Latin - I have an “adequate knowledge of how grammatical gender works.”  Now, if my argumentation is lacking in showing that, then point to where the arguments have missed the point (from his perspective), but do try to stay above juvenile and invalid tactics of attacking the person of whom you are debating.  I hope this is the last time I have to remind Mr. Hofstetter of this.  The point is, attack the arguments, not the persons.  Mr. Hofstetter barely knows me, he cannot possibly know what my knowledge encompasses.

Genesis 3:15

Actual Translation Issue

Mr. Hofstetter begins by disputing whose “heel” does the “crushing” and explains that the feminine gender of the word “heel” is the “normal gender for the word.”  He then ignores the actual subject of this passage - which is the woman!  Looking at the passage again:

I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.  (ESV)

I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel. (DRB)


Note first, God is speaking to the serpent (verse 14)  because the serpent has “done this thing” (deceived the woman) and He (God) will put enmity between the serpent and the woman; between his seed and her seed.  Then in verse 16 God speaks to the woman again.  Contextually speaking, it is the woman who is the subject here, it is through her and her seed that the serpent’s head will be crushed - and he (the serpent) shall lie in wait of her heel.  Both before and after verse 15 the subject matter is the serpent and the woman.

Now, if we venture away from translation and go into interpretation - then yes, Eve is the primary subject, Mary then would be the secondary subject as Jesus is of her seed and it is Jesus who destroys Satan (the serpent) and his dominion over mankind, but again - that’s interpretive and not a direct translation.

Note secondly, that the definition of “heel” includes “lier in wait”[1], thus the DRB translation of the serpent lying in wait of her heel represents a viable interpretation and it becomes difficult to see where, as the ESV translates that as “you (the serpent) shall bruise His (Jesus’) heel.”  

Rather than try to reinvent the wheel here, Dr. Taylor Marshall writes:

The obvious solution to this problem is simply to look at the original Hebrew. But that is where the problem begins. The medieval Hebrew Masoretic manuscripts read "he shall crush." (However, there are two Hebrew manuscripts that read "she shall crush.") There is good reason to doubt the majority Hebrew reading of "he shall crush."

Our three best Jewish witnesses to Gen 3:15 interpret the passage as "she shall crush." These are Philo Judaeus, Josephus the roman historian, and Moses Maimonides, the great medieval Jewish philosopher. Philo argues that the Hebrew parallel poetry of Gen 3:15 demands the reading of "she shall crush." Josephus, also writing in Greek, describes the passage for us as reading "she shall crush." Then last of all, Maimonides also states that Gen 3:15 teaches that the woman shall crush the head of the serpent.

So then, these three great Jewish scholars testify to the traditional Catholic reading of the Latin Vulgate. (emphasis added) [2]

So, yet again we see that the traditional Catholic translation in both the Vulgate and the DRB is a viable and accurate translation.

Luke 1:28

Mr. Hofstetter begins this section again in personal criticism instead of criticism of my rhetoric (my arguments).  I will overlook this for now and hope the earlier chiding suffices and we don’t see more of this in future phases of this debate.  

Mr Hofstetter has either cleverly or unwittingly done a little bait and switch with the original Greek involved here.  κεχαριτωμένη is the word we’re dealing with (even Hofstetter’s source uses the full word), but Hofstetter is using χαριτόω which we can grant (and easily see) is PART OF the word in Greek which is translated to the phrase in English as “full of grace.”  Transliterated (converting the Greek alphabet to English) the two words are kecharitomene and charitoo.  By focusing only on the root, charitoo, Hofstetter only sees the word we know as “grace” (or as he would like it translated, “favor”), but there’s more to the word than just “grace” (or “favor”).  

In his response, Hofstetter said, “I don’t know why the article cited calls it a “present” perfect – that is not really a category used in any Greek reference grammar with which I’m familiar.”  Perhaps he would like to look through these references:

http://www.ntgreek.org/learn_nt_greek/verbs1.htm (combination of two categories)


"The perfect tense expresses perfective action. Perfective action involves a present state which has resulted from a past action. The present state is a continuing state; the past action is a completed action.” (emphasis added)[3]

Present Perfect: non-modal [assertion], non-past, "perfect"


I believe these should suffice to expand Mr. Hofstetter’s view on Greek verb tenses.

[Not counting the comment in these brackets, but counting the opening comment and footnotes, I’m at 1015 words, slightly over the word count limit, so I’ll stop here for now.]



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[1] Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance: http://www.godrules.net/library/strongs2a/heb6119.htm and also:
Benner, Jeff A, Ancient Hebrew Lexicon of the Bible, http://www.ancient-hebrew.org/bookstore/e-books/ahlb.pdf page 410
[2] Marshall, Dr. Taylor, on his blog: http://cantuar.blogspot.com/2010/12/who-crushes-satans-head-in-genesis-315.html
[3] SYNTAX OF NEW TESTAMENT GREEK, James A. Brooks, Carlton L. Winbery, University Press of America, Lanham, Md., 1988, pp. 104-5 qtd. on: http://www.biblestudymanuals.net/new_testament_greek.htm
[4] Qtd. on:  http://modern-greek-verbs.tripod.com/home.html

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