Translation of Scripture Debate - Windsor v. Hofstetter

Translation Debate

Round two

Counter Response

From Barry Hofstetter

What’s the Issue?
Mr. Windsor has just used several hundred words to tell me I’ve gone off track.  I respectfully disagree.  Demonstrating how Catholic scholarship has handled the translation question since the Vulgate/DRB is precisely on point and part of the discussion.  Showing that other translations that disagree are viable demonstrates that the Vulgate/DRB is not a viable translation. I’m quite willing to settle for Mr. Windsor’s unwillingness to answer my arguments from the NAB and NJB.  They are proper translations from the Hebrew and Greek texts.  The Vulgate and DRB are not.  Mr. Windsor’s feeling about the state of the Catholic Church when these translations were produced, and his implied argument that the translations are therefore invalid, is not relevant to their correct translation of the Hebrew and Greek (which has been objectively demonstrated).


The question of the Vulgate as itself a translation is another critical issue which Mr. Windsor somehow feels that it is safe to ignore.  In fact, understanding the nature and quality of the translation in question is part of the overall framework to evaluate that translation. Since Mr. Windsor has decided not to respond to the arguments presented, I’ll leave it at that.

Another Translation Issue

Again, demonstrating a problem of translation in the text is part of the overall consideration of whether or not the specific translation under investigation is valid or invalid.  It is also directly relevant to the issue of whether or not Gen 3:15 is a valid translation in the Vulgate/DRB (I was unaware that we were restricting this only to the subject he/she of the verse).  With regard to the translation ofinsidiabaris/lie in wait for, none of the glosses Mr. Windsor cites are “lie in wait for.”  The difference in form between the two usages is formal (inflectional) only, and has nothing to do with the semantic content.[1]   The Septuagint is a significant ancient witness to the text.  Seeing how the Septuagint translator(s) rendered the Hebrew into Greek is an important piece of evidence in determining if Jerome did so correctly in his translation.

The Masoretic Text (MT) is the basis and foundation for all versions of the OT.  The Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS), which are an even more ancient version than the MT have the same reading as the MT at this point.  The vast majority of textual witness is to the reading that we have in the MT.  The footnote Mr. Windsor provides to support his assertion, BTW, refers to a source which seems unaware of the DSS and the textual support they provide for the MT.[2]   This means that the reading found in the MT was extant at the time of Jerome (also proven by the Septuagint, the translation cited most often by the NT authors, which clearly reflects that reading).

Addendum and Clarification of Earlier Secondary Source Reference
Philo apparently agrees with the MT (and DSS) reading of the text, but wishes to interpret it otherwise, using his standard Platonic/allegorical method.  Since he reads the masculine rather than the feminine, he actually supports my arguments against the Vulgate/DRB translation.  I don’t know where the reading “watch” comes in for the verb, since neither the Hebrew nor the Greek which Philo would have had has this – I would have to see Philo in the original Greek, but it’s not directly relevant.

Essentially Mr. Windsor and his source have cited three extra-biblical citations to argue that the original reading was “she” instead of “he.”  Only one of these witnesses is clear and unambiguous in saying “she,” and this is a medieval source (many centuries later, Maimonodes b. 1135, d. 1204).  It is unclear whether he is offering this as a translation or as an interpretation, but the context seems to indicate the latter.  Mr. Windsor himself notes that Josephus is no support at all, so that leaves us with two, but Philo is no support from a translation perspective, since he reads the Hebrew correctly, but interprets it differently.  Mr. Windsor and his sources have asserted that the MT is a corrupted tradition, but have provided no proof to support the assertion.  The DSS reflect a textual tradition nearly a thousand years prior to the finalized MT and substantially support the MT.

Luke 1:28

Please see above for the relevancy of the NAB and NJB.  Let me point out here that the idea that these translations removed “full of grace” as part of “Protestant appeasement” is only a theory with no proof at all.  From the perspective of the Greek, they are fine translations.  I am glad, however, that Mr. Windsor has repeated his argument from his prior comments with regard to the Greek. Please understand that charitoõ  and kecharitômenê are the same word with precisely the same range of meaning.  Using the perfect stem does not change the meaning of the word to mean “full of grace.”  It changes the meaning of the word to “having received grace.” Mr. Windsor did not respond to my syntactical arguments against his position, but only repeats his assertion above.  I also note that he spent some time in his rebuttal trying to prove that “present perfect” exists as grammatical category.  Please note that the standard reference grammars do not so categorize the perfect tense – they do explain that it shows completion, the consequences of which continue up to the present – not quite the same thing.


Mr. Windsor can only state that he has sufficiently answered my arguments if he ignores the several facts cited against his position. His only actual argument appears to be “the original reading might have been different.”  That is clearly insufficient, and Mr. Windsor has not even come close either to rebutting my arguments or supporting his own.

[1] Let me explain this using a Latin example, since Mr. Windsor and perhaps the readers of this debate will be more familiar with Latin than Hebrew.  Insidiabaris is literally “you were lying in wait for.”  That is the second person singular imperfect tense.  Insidiabar would be “I was lying in wait for, insidiabatur would be “he/she/it was lying in wait for.”  The formal/inflectional difference only changes the personal subject, not the meaning of the word.  The difference in form for the Hebrew SUP is the same.  In the prior usage, it is third person masculine singular, and in the latter, it’s second person masculine singular.  This does not even come close to supporting Jerome’s translation difference.
[2] “Indeed, one of the most important contributions of the scrolls is that they have demonstrated the relative stability of the Masoretic text.”  Gen 3:15 is not one of the differences referred to in the next paragraph of this article!

Word Count: 1092

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