Translation of Scripture Debate - Windsor v. Hofstetter

Translation Debate

Round 5

Closing Arguments

Scott Windsor

We have reached the concluding stage of our debate.   I thank Mr. Hofstetter for persevering through to the end of this debate.  While I have no misconceptions that Mr. Hofstetter has “seen the light” and will concede this debate, I believe the objective reader can see that he truly should.

Reviewing my thesis statement:

It is my goal to not only demonstrate the traditional Catholic translation is viable, but to also lessen the objection many, if not most, Protestants have regarding the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Catholic view of her. I know, as a convert myself, that the Catholic view of the Blessed Virgin can be quite a stumbling block (if not outright offensive) for non-Catholics looking at the Catholic Faith - speaking from my own experience, it surely was. [1]

I believe I have done what I set out to do and I will recap the reasons why.  The two verses we have been discussing are Genesis 3:15 and Luke 1:28.  Both of these verses have a Marian theme about them.  Protestants may try to dismiss anything about Mary in Genesis 3:15, but truly the Blessed Virgin is of “the seed” of Eve, and it is through Mary that the Redeemer came into the world and Satan’s head was crushed.  There can be no denial that Luke 1:28 is about the Blessed Virgin and the angel’s greeting to her - and that greeting “disturbed” her.  So without further ado, let us look to the translation issues.

Genesis 3:15
“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.”  And putting in references from the Strong’s Concordance we see:

I will [ZIY = sheeth, to place] put enmities [DAI@ = ay-baw’, hostility, enmity] between thee and the woman [DY@ = ish-shaw’, woman], and thy seed [RXF = zeh’-rah, seed] and her seed [ibid], she [hu/hi = he/she/it] shall crush [SEY = shoof, to bruise, crush, gape...] thy head [Y@X = roshe, head, highest part, masculine], and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel [AWR = feminine, a heel, the rear (of an army), --heel, (horse-)hoof, last, lier in wait]. [2]

My opponent has argued that the last part is that which he would consider to be in error, the “she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.”   As both Dr. Sippo and I have argued, you have two subjects in this passage, A - the serpent and B - the woman.  Then there’s enmity between Aa - his seed and Bb - her seed.  Then “A” will have his head crushed and “A” will lie in wait of “someone’s” heel.  Since the subject switched back from “Aa” and “Bb” back to “A” - it makes logical sense that it would also switch back to “B” - the woman.  This is a viable translation of the ancient Hebrew text.  Keep in mind, ancient Hebrew has no vowels and the insertion of them is left to the translator.  The key word here being הוּא, transliterated is “hu” or “hi” which in Hebrew can be translated “he, she or it.” [3]  Since it CAN be translated this way, then “she” is a viable translation and Mr. Hofstetter cannot deny this, especially based upon the logic asserted above.

Now, CAN this part of Genesis 3:15 be translated to “he shall crush your head and you shall lie in wait of his heel?”  Certainly!   I have already granted this fact!  However, as I clearly stated in my opening argument, this debate is NOT about OTHER viable translations - only that the traditional Catholic translation is viable.  Based on what we see above there can really be no denying the traditional Catholic translation is viable.  Mr. Hofstetter then was left only with red herring (distraction) arguments - which are invalid in any debate.

Luke 1:28
“And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.”  Again, putting in Strong’s Concordance references:

“And [kai, G2532, kahee - a primary particle, having copulative force and sometimes also a cumulative force; and, also, even, so then...] the angel [aggeloj, G32, ang’-el-os, a messenger; especially an angel] being come in [eisercomai, G1525, to enter...], said unto [proj, G4314, pros, a preposition of direction; forward to...] her [autoj; G846, ow-tos’, “her”]: Hail [cairw, G5463, ...especially as a salutation (on meeting or parting)...], full of grace [Kecharitomenae,] the Lord [kurioj, G2962, God, Lord, master...] is with [meta, G3326, a primary preposition properly, denoting accompaniment...] thee [sou, G4675, of thee, thine (own), thou, thy]: blessed [eulogeō G2127, to speak well of, praise, honor] art thou [su, G4771, the person pronoun of the second person singular, thou] among [ἐν, G1722, "in," at, (up-)on, by, etc. Derivation: a primary preposition denoting (fixed) position (in place, time or state), and (by implication) instrumentality (medially or constructively)] women [γυνή, G1135, goo-nay, a woman; specially, a wife].” [4]

With this passage, Mr. Hofstetter found objections with most of the traditional Catholic translation, but most of his argumentation was interpretive, not translational.  For example, he argued that the Blessed Virgin Mary was disturbed by the Angel Gabriel’s presence, well I answered that one (I could have dismissed it as off-topic) with the fact that by this portion of the text all we are told is that she was disturbed by the greeting. We also have to go beyond the scope of the debate, which is verse 28, to see that in verse 29 where it says: Who having heard, was troubled at his saying, and thought with herself what manner of salutation this should be.”  Note, it clearly says she was “troubled at his saying” - NOT at his presence, and further she doesn’t question who or what he is but says to herself, “what manner of salutation this should be.”  So not only was Mr. Hofstetter’s argumentation a distraction, it was flatly and demonstrably wrong.  Now I grant the reader and Mr. Hofstetter that reading context can help us understand what is said in a particular passage - but Mr. Hofstetter has clearly misinterpreted the context here therefore throwing into doubt his entire argumentation on this passage.

Mr. Hofstetter also argued that “blessed among women” does not exist “in the oldest and best manuscripts [5a], yet I demonstrated that the Peshitta Text [5b], which has long been the official text of the Eastern Church “since biblical times,” [5c] indeed has those exact words - and as you will see below, so do many other translations of the Scripture at hand.  Again, providing even more evidence that the Vulgate/DRB translations are indeed viable translations.

The key disagreement here in this passage is over the traditional Catholic translation of “gratia plena” or “full of grace” from the Greek word “Kecharitomenae.”  According to the New World Encyclopedia:

"Χαίρε, Κεχαριτωμένη", Chaire kecharitomene... The latter word, kecharitomene, is the passive voice, present perfect participle of the verb "to grace" in the feminine gender, vocative case; therefore the Greek syntax indicates that the action of the verb has been fully completed in the past, with results continuing into the future. Put another way, it means that the subject (Mary) was graced fully and completely at some time in the past, and continued in that fully graced state. [6]

The New World Encyclopedia substantiates the viability of the Vulgate and DRB.

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.”  I presented the following references: (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)[7]

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

Other translations:


28 ܘܥܰܠ ܠܘܳܬ݂ܳܗ ܡܰܠܰܐܟ݂ܳܐ ܘܶܐܡܰܪ ܠܳܗ ܫܠܳܡ ܠܶܟ݂ܝ ܡܰܠܝܰܬ݂ ܛܰܝܒ݁ܽܘܬ݂ܳܐ ܡܳܪܰܢ ܥܰܡܶܟ݂ܝ ܒ݁ܪܺܝܟ݂ܰܬ݂ ܒ݁ܢܶܫܶܐ܂

28 ועל לותה מלאכא ואמר לה שלם לכי מלית טיבותא מרן עמכי בריכת בנשא܂

28 και εισελθων ο αγγελος προς αυτην ειπεν χαιρε κεχαριτωμενη ο κυριος μετα σου ευλογημενη συ εν γυναιξιν


The Peshitta Text: [9b]

Lamsa Translation:

And the angel went in and said to her, Peace be to you, O Full of Grace, our Lord is with you, O blessed one among women. [10]

Murdock Translation:

And the angel entered the house, and said to her: Peace to thee, thou full of grace! The Lord is with thee: and blessed art thou among women. [11]

Etheridge Translation:

And the angel entered to her, and said to her, Peace to thee, full of grace ! our Lord is with thee, thou blessed among women ! [12]

See also Khabouris Codex:

So the Peshitta, Lamsa, Murdock and Etheridge translations all translate the same way as the Vulgate/DRB.  More and more support for the viability of the traditional Catholic translation.  Again, that OTHER translations are viable is not the purpose of this debate, but demonstrating that many other translations have it exactly the same way as the Vulgate/DRB contributes to the viability of them.  Are there other translations which do not read exactly as the traditional Catholic translations read?  Certainly, but again - that has never been a point of dispute in this debate!

Getting back to the definition provided by the New World Encyclopedia:

kecharitomene, is the passive voice, present perfect participle of the verb "to grace" in the feminine gender, vocative case; therefore the Greek syntax indicates that the action of the verb has been fully completed in the past, with results continuing into the future. Put another way, it means that the subject (Mary) was graced fully and completely at some time in the past, and continued in that fully graced state. [6]

I repeat this because it is a point I want to emphasize.  I understand Mr. Hofstetter disagreed with this definition, but again - his agreement is not necessary to demonstrate the viability of the traditional Catholic translations.

Now, as I brought up previously, can the Protestant version of “Hail, favored one” be a viable translation?  Yes, but upon exegesis of the context, such a relatively watered down greeting would not cause the Blessed Virgin to be disturbed or troubled, whereas “Full of Grace,” being stated as a title, could easily cause this simple handmaiden to be confused, disturbed or troubled.  Mr. Hofstetter compared it to saying, “Hey, lucky one!”  As I responded to him, that may cause me to wonder what he’s selling - but it wouldn’t confuse or disturb me!  So again, while not denying the viability of the modernist versions, the traditional version makes more sense and is then even more viable.

Almost Home
One of the points I brought up in this debate (“we’re almost home”) is based on two facts:

1) Mr. Hofstetter grants that St. Jerome’s Latin Vulgate is from the Patristic era and is therefore is itself an ancient text in the Church.

2) Mr. Hofstetter grants that the Douay-Rheims Bible is a viable translation of the Latin Vulgate.

These two facts alone almost end the debate in my favor.  Yes, Mr. Hofstetter has been arguing against St. Jerome’s Latin Vulgate, but as I have demonstrated, most of his argumentation has been invalid for this debate because he makes comparisons to other viable (which I grant) translations.  Where he has attempted to directly assault the Latin Vulgate, he does so by interpretive means and exegesis - not purely on translational points.  Again, he presented other viable ancient texts - and I countered with (at least one) other ancient text using precisely the same verbage as the Latin Vulgate/DRB - and again I emphasize that other viable texts do not equate ipso facto that the traditional Catholic translations are “wrong.”

In Summary
Throughout this debate I have been providing valid reasons for why the traditional Catholic translations (the Vulgate and the Douay-Rheims versions) of these two verses are viable translations.  I have not asked or even expected Mr. Hofstetter to agree with the traditional Catholic reading as I have accepted from the beginning that there may be, even are, other viable translations.  This debate was never to be about other translations, however that seemed to be the main thrust of nearly all of Mr. Hofstetter’s arguments!  The debate was never to be about deeper theological implications in the text, for that is interpretive, but again that seemed to be behind most of Mr. Hofstetter’s arguments.  While I can understand the Protestant’s desire to discredit deeper Catholic thought behind these passages, I repeat, that was not the point of this debate!  THE point of this debate was to show that the words St. Jerome used were viably used irrespective of any other theological thought.  Not only has Mr. Hofstetter failed to demonstrate faultiness in St. Jerome’s translation I believe I have presented far more than necessary arguments that the objective reader should accept that St. Jerome’s Latin Vulgate is viable on these two verses.  Again, in this debate I am not asking the Protestant or non-Catholic reader to accept any deeper theological arguments behind these verses, only that the words used by St. Jerome, who was closer in time to the original texts, were and are viable.

In Closing
I want to thank Mr. Hofstetter for this debate as well as those who have persevered through the reading of it from the beginning until now.  I am also confident that this discussion will continue on the Catholic Debate Forum and maybe on the CathApol Blog too.  With this, I close my part of the “official” debate and look forward to these further discussions.

Scott Windsor<<<

[2] ibid.
[4] Windsor’s Opening Statement:
[5a] Hofstetter’s Round 4 Opening:
[5b] Windsor’s Round 4 Response:
[5c] ibid.
[7] SYNTAX OF NEW TESTAMENT GREEK, James A. Brooks, Carlton L. Winbery,
University Press of America, Lanham, Md., 1988, pp. 104-5 qtd. on:
[8] Qtd. on:


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