Translation of Scripture Debate - Windsor v. Hofstetter

Translation Debate

Round Two

Rebuttal Arguments

From Scott Windsor

In responding to Mr. Hofstetter’s Thesis Statement, we must see that he has already gone off-track.  He opens with the statement, “My thesis is simply that the translation of these verses, as found in the KJV, ESV and other standard translations, accurately reflects the Hebrew and Greek of those passages.”  Now I remind the reader of THE question of THIS debate!  “Is the traditional Catholic translation of these verses a viable translation of the Scriptures?”  THIS debate is really not interested in whether or not the KJV, ESV and other standard translations are accurate - but are the traditional Catholic translations viable (acceptable) translations of the Scriptures?

Thesis Statement
My goal for this round will be simply to respond to Mr. Hofstetter’s points, much as I have done above in responding to his Thesis Statement.

Continuing with Hofstetter’s Thesis Statement, examination of the New American Bible (NAB) and the New Jerusalem Bible (NJB) is not part of this debate!  These are not “traditional Catholic translations.”  The question clearly refers to the “traditional Catholic translations” and I will not be drawn off-topic to discuss “modern Catholic translations.”  If I might express my personal opinion here, these translations came out at a time in which the Catholic Church was in a state of flux.  Huge changes to the liturgy and catechesis were in play and there seemed to be an overt attempt to appease Protestantism, as if to make Catholicism more palatable for non-Catholics.  On the surface, that’s not a bad goal, but to make changes to fundamental parts of the Catholic Faith for the sake of that appeasement is taking things a bit too far.  It is my opinion that the pendulum had swung a bit too far in that direction, and it is fortunately starting to swing back the other way.  That being said, based upon the timing of the release of the NAB and NJB one should not be surprised to find the translations to be more “in line” with the standard bearer for Protestantism, the KJV.  I will not get into Hofstetter’s continued critique of the NAB and NJB, again, that is not part of THIS debate.  Let us not be further diverted.

Hofstetter points out that “the DRB is a translation not from the original Hebrew and Greek (and Aramaic where that applies), but a translation of the Latin Vulgate...” a point I have not disputed and agree with.  He goes on to say, “The DRB is a faithful translation of the Latin into English, but a translation of a translation is suboptimal.”  Again, I would agree with Mr. Hofstetter here, but this comparison is just another diversion from the actual question at hand!  We’re not discussing the optimal-ness of the DRB, the question only goes so far as to ask is the DRB, as it relates to the verses we’re discussing, a viable translation.  Mr. Hofstetter concedes it is a faithful translation of the Latin Vulgate, which itself is, in Hofstetter’s words, “an ancient translation from the original languages” and that the “Vulgate is itself part of the overall witness to the ancient texts which were current at his (St. Jerome’s) time.”  Hofstetter then expresses his opinion to summarize this section stating, “it is better to go to the original languages in which the text was composed, and not through an intermediary translation.”  While I may support Hofstetter’s opinion if one is doing in-depth research on the Scriptures, again, that is not the question at hand here!  We’re not real interested, for the purpose of this debate, as to which is “better.”  Now, we are getting into some deeper research on the Scriptures in question, which is a good thing, but to continually express opinions which are not really pertinent to the debate amounts to distraction tactics being used to undermine the real topic, in debate terms - they are “red herrings[1] which are invalid arguments.

Another Translation Issue
Regarding Genesis 3:15 - Hofstetter points out that (St.) Jerome translates the “same verb in Hebrew, ShUP” two different ways and asks “Why does (St.) Jerome render the second usage of the verb with a completely different meaning than the first?”  Well, first off - we can concur that the same root verb is used here, but it has more than one “simple” meaning!  As even Hofstetter agrees and posits, it can mean “bruise, crush or strike.”  It can also mean to gape, snap at, to overwhelm, break, bruise or cover [2].  Another point to consider here is in the Hebrew there is a variation to the words used, which is an explanation for St. Jerome’s variation in translation.  The first usage is: תְּשׁוּפֶ֥נּוּ and the next is: יְשׁוּפְךָ֣ - both are interpreted as Strong’s 7779 (e). [3] (If the Hebrew font cannot be seen in this document, please go to the link in the footnote to see clearly the difference).

“The Septuagint does not do so (use different verbs), and neither does any other translation based in the original languages, including the NAB and NJB Catholic translations.”  I have to ask the reader to ask, as I do here, “so what?”  The Septuagint is a Greek translation, it is not the original language!  That being said, Mr. Hofstetter does not tell us which verbs and/or verb syntax is being used by the Septuagint here, so his argument is not complete.  Either way, the Septuagint is not one of the translations we are discussing so we’re left with another red herring.

Hofstetter concludes this section stating, “I mention this simply to show that Jerome’s translation is problematic and does not reflect the original Hebrew as we have it in the Masoretic text.”  Here he has gone a bit anachronistic on us.  The “Masoretic text” (considered by some to be a corruption of the ancient texts[4]) did not even exist at the time St. Jerome translated the Hebrew and Greek into Latin (the lingua franca, common tongue)!  The Masoretic text was developed between 500ad and 1030ad and was first published in the 15th century! [ibid]  This renders Hofstetter’s criticism void.  How can St. Jerome be held accountable to a translation/compilation which did not even exist in his day?

Addendum and Clarification of Earlier Secondary Source Reference:
I had quoted and cited Dr. Marshall in my previous “Counter” argument, and have been doing some research to improve the quotes of Dr. Marshall to primary source instead of secondary.  Here is what I have come up with thus far:

Philo of Alexandria, the quote is "He shall watch thy head, and thou shalt watch his Heel," still in the masculine, but Philo argues it is still about the woman and that the evil is “pleasure” which is why it is in the masculine mind.  His words:

Why so? It ought to be expressed with respect to the woman: but the woman is not he, but she. What, then, are we to say? From his discourse about the woman he has digressed to her seed and her beginning. Now the beginning of the outward sense is the mind. But the mind is masculine, in respect of which one may say, he, his, and so on. Very correctly, therefore, does God here say to pleasure, that the mind shall watch your principal and predominant doctrine, and you shall watch the traces of the mind itself, and the foundations of the things which are pleasing to it, to which the heel has very naturally been likened. [5]

The reference to Josephus, I found this:

Besides this, he inserted poison under his tongue, and made him an enemy to men; and suggested to them, that they should direct their strokes against his head, that being the place wherein lay his mischievous designs towards men, and it being easiest to take vengeance on him, that way. [6]

The reference here is plural, “to them” and “they” and not what was allegedly quoted by Dr. Marshall.  

Moses Maimonides states:

Eve defeats the serpent by crushing its head, whilst the serpent defeats her by wounding her heel. This is likewise clear. [7]

I have written to Dr. Marshall for clarification on Josephus and Philo, but I do not expect a reply before this debate concludes.  So for now I leave the Philo quote as limited support and Maimonides as direct support, but until I have a primary source on Josephus, I am withdrawing that citation from my argument.

In Conclusion
Each of Mr. Hofstetter’s arguments have been sufficiently answered to, leaving the traditional Catholic translations (the Vulgate and the DRB) as viable translations of the Scriptures.

Word Count: 1528
[1] Logical and Critical Thinking:
[2] Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance,
[3] Interlinear Bible:
[4] Bible Believers:
[5] Philo of Alexandria: Section LXVII. (188)
[6] Josephus Flavius, Antiquities of the Jews, Chapter 1.4
[7] Maimonides, Moses, Guide for the Perplexed,


Luke 1:28 Material
Most of what Mr. Hofstetter says in regard to Luke 1:28 is related to his calling upon the NAB and NJB, both of which I have issues with, especially with Luke 1:28.  


28 He went in and said to her, 'Rejoice, you who enjoy God's favour! The Lord is with you.'

29 She was deeply disturbed by these words and asked herself what this greeting could mean,

30 but the angel said to her, 'Mary, do not be afraid; you have won God's favour. [8]


28 And coming to her, he said, "Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you."

29 But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.

30 Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. [9]

Now, can it be said that "charitoo" also has the meaning of "favored?"  Yes!  However, kecharitomene goes beyond merely "favored" and being that the root "charitoo" also carries the meaning "grace" - as has been previously and objectively established in this debate (and elsewhere), thus the Vulgate/DRB translations are quite viable in "gratia plena" or "full of grace."

As I have already expressed, both these versions of the Bible came about during a time of upheaval in the Catholic Church wherein many "in" the Church were on, what I would call, an "appeasement campaign" to appease the Protestants (six Protestant clergy even served on the council which helped draft the Novus Ordo Missae (new order of the Mass)). [10]  So it is not surprising that these versions of the Bible also removed "full of grace" in accordance with the KJV, which did so several years after the DRB was published.  As Mr. Hofstetter has alluded to, this is really a distraction from the debate at hand - but he has brought it up twice now so I feel the need to squash the importance of referring to the NJB and the NAB, especially in regard to Luke 1:28.  Again, since we've objectively established that "full of grace" is a viable translation, continued reference to modern English translations are truly irrelevant to this debate.

Added Footnotes:
[8] NJB, qtd. on Catholic Online website:
[9] NAB, qtd. on Vatican website:
[10] Photo of the six Protestant ministers with Pope Paul VI:

Amended Word Count: 1959

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