Translation of Scripture Debate - Windsor v. Hofstetter

Round 3a

Cross Examination Round

Rebuttal by Barry Hofstetter to the

Answers from Scott Windsor

In line with Mr. Windsor’s method, I have left questions and answers intact and interspersed my rebuttals .

1. In Round 1 of your opening remarks, you argue that because the word for “heel” is feminine, it is therefore must refer to the woman. In your counter response to my rebuttal of this, you don’t address my response at all (except to acknowledge it), but instead assert that I am ignoring the subject of the passage. Do you therefore accede that your argument concerning the gender of “heel” was fallacious?

Answer: I acknowledged the “normal gender of the word” and went on to explain the subject of the passage is “the woman.” When we look at the context, which I pointed to, then there should be no question as to the gender of the heel. Now if I had only said: “AWR” (Strong’s H6119) is a feminine form of the word for “heel” - and therefore it makes sense that it is “her heel” that the serpent lies in wait of...”then you might have something here, but I went on to say:

“It really makes no sense, literally speaking, to change the gender here and present this as a male (Jesus) who will crush the head of the serpent (Satan). Literally speaking, it is a female who will do the crushing and it will be a female for whom the serpent (Satan) lies in wait of her heel. Going beyond the literal, yes, these things can be said of Jesus too - but this passage does not speak of a male doing it. Thus the traditional Catholic translation of this verse is not only viable - it is a better translation than those which would do all the gender swapping.”

I stand by my overall argument. Context and syntax demands we don’t do the gender swapping. Context: The primary subjects are “the woman” and “the serpent.” The secondary subjects are “her seed” and “his (the serpent’s) seed.” Then the narrative changes back to the primary subjects stating “she shall crush your head” and “you shall lie in wait of her heel.” The KJV gets rather confusing on these points. It starts with “thee (the serpent) and the woman” then goes to “thy (the serpent’s) seed and her seed” to “it” and “thy” to “thou” and “his.”

Rebuttal: This answer is hopelessly confused.  First of all, the gender of the word heel has nothing to do with the gender of the subject, as you still seem to imply even in rephrasing.  The grammatical gender of the word heel (which is the direct object of the verb) is irrelevant to the grammatical gender of the subject.  Every noun in Hebrew has a grammatical gender (as also Greek and Latin) which in no way whatsoever affects any other noun or pronoun in a sentence with regard to the gender of that noun or pronoun.

Secondly there is no gender swapping at all, unless you simply assume that somehow the Vulgate/DRB rendering is correct and use that as part of your evidence (but that would be a petition principi fallacy). You also seem to be using the word “subject” in a very loose fashion.  The subject of the first clause is the pronoun H)u.  That this should be understood as a masculine is shown from the third singular masculine verb.   The antecedent of the pronoun therefore can only be ZeRaH, “seed.”  The subject of the second clause is “you”, i.e., the serpent, and the direct object of the verb SUPh is “heel.”

What you need to realize is that the grammar and syntax are the major element of the context.  You want to ignore the facts of the grammar in favor of how you read the context, but you really can’t do that.  

2. In your counter response, you claim “Note secondly, that the definition of ‘heel’ includes ‘lier [sic] in wait,’ 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." This makes no sense to me. How does the word “heel” contain the definition of “lie in wait?” The noun and verb are completely separate. Would you please clarify what you are trying to say here?

Answer: I named the Strong’s reference and quoted from it, here’s the full reference and citation:


heel, rear, footprint, hinder part, hoof, rear of a troop, footstep


mark of heel, footprint

hinder part, rear

King James Word Usage - Total: 13

heel 6, footsteps 3, horsehoofs 1, at the last 1, steps 1, liers in wait 1 (emphasis mine).

I apologize for being unclear here, the point is that the DRB says, “and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.” The “liers in wait” is part of the definition of H6119, which in turn lends itself to the DRB translation. The “heel” is the “rear” or the “hinder part” or that which “lies in wait.” All these contribute to the viability of the DRB translation.

Rebuttal: Now at least I understand better where you are coming from, but you have completely misread this.  The word “heel,” (aQeB, in the right context can be translated as “ambush,” but Jerome is not translating the word “heel” as “lie in wait.”  He translates the word heel as heel, calcaneo.  He translates the Hebrew word SUPh with the Latin insidio, “to lie in wait for, ambush.”  Thanks to the rather quaint KJV way of rendering the noun (aQeB in certain contexts as “liers in wait” (i.e,, ambush), you thought that the translation of the Vulgate/DRB was somehow valid.  This is not the case, and another explanation for Jerome’s translation must be sought.

3. Also in your counter response, you fail to respond to the actual grammatical argument that I make with regard to Luke 1:28, and instead accuse me of dealing with only part of the word. (a) Would you please take some time to demonstrate how I have done this, (b) and also take the opportunity to respond to the actual argument that I make?

Well, that’s two questions. To answer 3a: charitoo is the root of kecharitomene, which you have claimed are “the same word” - but they are not. To say they are the same word would be akin to saying “noun” and “pronoun” are the same word because they have the same root. Kecharitomene expands upon the root of charitoo (grace) to tell us that this “grace” has already been given to the Blessed Virgin, and it is a completed giving of it (perfect). Thus the perfected giving of grace means that she is “full of grace.” It is also used in the vocative, that is as a name or title that the angel of the Lord is addressing her by, “Hail, Full of Grace...” and she is actually confounded by that address “and thought with herself what manner of salutation this should be.” Mary considered herself to be a “lowly handmaid of the Lord,” yet this angel had addressed her as “Full of Grace.” If I were to address you, “Hey, one whom God has graced,” you would not think much of it and would likely accept it as a greeting any Christian could receive. Now if I said, “Hey, full of grace!” you might be just as confounded by such a statement as the Blessed Virgin was.

As for answering to 3b, my purpose in this debate is not to answer to OTHER possible translations, but to respond to the viability of the Vulgate/DRB translations. I have already stated that I will not be following these distractions (rabbit trails). Whether or not you have ANOTHER viable translation is beyond the scope of this debate.

Rebuttal: There is no soft way to say this – you are simply making an erroneous claim.  It is not at all like the distinction between noun and pronoun.  The lexical form of kecharitômenê is charitoô.  That means if you try to look up kecharitômenê in any Greek lexicon or dictionary, you will fail.  It will instead be found under charitoô because the lexicographer recognize it as the same word.  Do you remember the example I gave to illustrate how the different forms of the Hebrew don’t change the meaning of the word, except with regard to the form and usage in the sentence?  An English example would the difference between flower and flowers.  They are the same word, we add the ‘s’ to indicate the plural.  Kecharitômenê simply changes the form to perfect middle/passive participle, to indicate “having been shown/having received grace.”  Secondly, the use of the vocative does not mean that she is being given a name or title – it means that the word is being used to describe her as one who is being addressed.  As to your repetition of the idea that the perfect stem somehow implies “full of grace” because the perfect denotes completion, see below.  I am not asking you to respond to my arguments concerning the modern Catholic translations, but to respond to the actual syntactic and semantic arguments that I made based on the Greek text.

4. In your comments so far, and particularly your rebuttal for round two, you seem to be making the claim that Jerome actually used a different Hebrew text than what we currently possess. I would like you to discuss this in more detail, and provide any evidence that you have in addition to the rather thin support you have already provided. To clarify specifically, you and Dr. Marshall provide very tenuous support for the assertion that “There is good reason to doubt the majority Hebrew reading...” Can you or your source provide any other arguments in support of this assertion?

Answer: I already have where I found the support of what Dr. Marshall said, especially in regard to Moses Maimonides (who is still quite respected in Jewish circles). I quoted and cited Maimonides where he clearly also refers to “she” or “her” in the same manner as the DRB. I have already responded regarding what I personally have found regarding Josephus and Philo and have told you (and the readership) that I have written Dr. Marshall regarding his references and I also stated that I doubted he would respond prior to the denouement of this debate. I’m not sure what more you expect of me at this point, unless your point was to get me to repeat that the Josephus and Philo references (that I could find) did not seem to be overly, or even at all supportive of Dr. Marshall’s assertion.

Rebuttal: I simply wanted to a) give you the opportunity to provide further support, and b) highlight the fact that you actually are on very thin ground for the assertion.  One comment by Maimonodes (which may be interpretative rather than actual translation) and two unnamed manuscripts.  From a text critical perspective, that is practically no support at all.  It has the feel of grasping at straws.

5. You asserted in your recent round two rebuttal that the NAB and the NJB altered the translations of Gen 3:15 and Luke 1:28 as part of a Protestant appeasement program. Other than the fact that such activity seemed to be taking placed (sic) in your church generally, do you have any actual documentary or other hard evidence to support this claim?

Answer: Well, two things here. 1) I clearly stated it was my opinion when I initially stated it. 2) As we both have stated, this matter is really nothing more than a distraction to the debate so let us leave the red herrings behind, shall we?

Rebuttal: You brought up the claim as evidence concerning why the NAB and NJB are not valid translations at the verses under discussion.  I will accept the fact that you are unwilling or unable to provide specific documentary evidence.

6. Dr. Marshall claims that there are two Hebrew manuscripts (out of literally hundreds), which have the feminine “she” instead of “he” for Genesis 3:15. Would you please provide the names, dates and provenance of those two manuscripts?

Answer: That’s more of a question for Dr. Marshall. Let me express my doubt about the parenthetical statement of “literally hundreds” of Hebrew manuscripts. I concur there are several, but not “hundreds” - especially that may have been extant in St. Jerome’s day.

Rebuttal: There is no way to tell how many manuscripts Jerome had available, but we are talking about extant manuscripts, manuscripts which are available today.

The first list of the Old Testament manuscripts in Hebrew, made by Benjamin Kennicott (1776–1780) and published by Oxford, listed 615 manuscripts from libraries in England and on the Continent. Giovanni de Rossi (1784–1788) published a list of 731 manuscripts. The main manuscript discoveries in modern times are those of the Cairo Geniza (c. 1890) and the Dead Sea Scrolls (1947). In the old synagogue in Cairo were discovered 260.000 Hebrew manuscripts, 10.000 of them are biblical manuscripts. There are more than 200 biblical manuscripts among the Dead Sea Scrolls, some of them were written in the Paleo-Hebrew alphabet. They were written before the year 70 AD. 14 scroll manuscripts were discovered in Masada in 1963–1965

7. With regard to Luke 1:28, (a) do you understand the difference between semantics and syntax (if so, (b) please briefly explain), and (c) can your (sic) provide any additional lexical support for your claims?

Answer: That’s really 3 questions, so you’ve really asked eleven questions, not eight.

7a: Yes

7b: Semantics has to do with the meaning of words while syntax is the grammatical structure.

7c: Too vague, I cannot ask questions here but I am at a quandary as to which claims Mr. Hofstetter would like me to present lexical support for. Does he mean just for the terms semantics and syntax? Does he mean for ALL claims made in this debate thus far? That being said, I’ve answered two of the three questions he asked in “question 7” so we’re ahead of the game already. Perhaps Mr. Hofstetter can clarify in his rebuttal phase (next) and I can respond to that in Round 4.

Rebuttal: This is another way to get you to respond the actual arguments that I made concerning Luke 1:28, which is in part dependent on the difference between semantics and syntax.  I’m asking you here to provide lexical support, either standard lexicons/dictionaries, or an actual “concordance” study which would prove that kecharitômenê  may be translated “full of grace.”

8. ” 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.’” Can you show me where I ever said anything about the heel doing the crushing?

Answer: Certainly. You said, Now what this means is that that the grammatical gender of (aQeB, heel, has nothing to do whatsoever with whose heel the serpent “is lying in wait for.” (emphasis added) (Source).

Rebuttal:  You don’t seem to understand what you wrote and certainly not what I wrote.  You have effectively stated that I claimed that “heel” was the subject of the verb “crush.”  Nowhere in the text is “heel” the subject of that verb, nor does my statement above claim that it is.

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