He, she, it, or they? Genesis 3:15

Discussion in 'Bible Versions/Translations' started by franklinmonroe, Sep 10, 2009.

  1. franklinmonroe

    franklinmonroe
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2006
    Messages:
    2,872
    Likes Received:
    3
    Genesis 3:15 is called the Protoevangelium ('first gospel'). BTW, Verses 14-19 were originally written in a Hebraic poem form --
    And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed;
    it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. (KJV)

    I wyll also put enmitie betweene thee & the woman, betweene thy seede and her seede:
    and it shall treade downe thy head, and thou shalt treade vpon his heele. (Bishops)
    The pronoun "it" here agrees in English with the genderless word "seed"; but why then does the KJV & Bishops render the next pronoun masculine ("his") when the "heel" apparently belongs to the same agency that will bruise the serpent's head? The Jerusalem Bible consistently used the neuter pronoun in both places --
    I will make you enemies of each other you and the woman, your offspring and her offspring.
    It will crush your head and you will strike its heel. (JB)
    Now, many versions have two masculine pronouns. Typically, the "he' is interpreted to be Jesus Christ. These versions may lean somewhat on the LXX which also translated the Hebrew hu' with the masculine form of the Greek pronoun (autos). Here are just three examples --
    I'm declaring war between you and the Woman, between your offspring and hers.
    He'll wound your head, you'll wound his heel. (Message)

    I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers;
    He will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel. (NAB)

    And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring* and hers;
    he will crush* your head, and you will strike his heel. (NIV)
    Some versions have a pair of plural pronouns which may indicate an interpretation that the "seed" represents many individuals (an entire 'race'). Or, this may simply be an attempt to use these pronouns in a singular 'gender-neutral' sense (that is, in 'socially conscious' terms) --
    And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed;
    they shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise their heel. (JPS)

    I will put enmity between you and the woman, between your brood and hers.
    They shall strike at your head, and you shall strike at their heel. (NEB)

    I will put enmity between you and the woman, And between your posterity and hers;
    They shall attack you in the head, And you shall attack them in the heel. (American Translation)
    And still others have a duo of feminine pronouns. A few Catholic translations follow the feminine Latin pronoun ipsa supporting their mariological interpretation (you may have seen dipictions of Mary stepping upon a snake) --
    Y schal sette enemytees bitwixe thee and the womman, and bitwixe thi seed and hir seed;
    sche schal breke thin heed, and thou schalt sette aspies to hir heele. (Wycliffe)

    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. (D-R)

    And I will establish a feud between thee and the woman, between thy offspring and hers;
    she is to crush thy head, while thou dost lie in ambush at her heels. (Knox)
    Can all these pronouns be grammatically proper? It seems so: the Hebrew here has a epicene (gender ambiguous) personal pronoun. So, a couple of versions have avoided assigning gender (or number) by their renderings --
    And I will put hostility between you and the woman and between your offspring and her offspring;
    her offspring will attack your head, and you will attack her offspring’s heel. (NET)

    I will make you and the woman hate each other; her offspring and yours will always be enemies.
    Her offspring will crush your head, and you will bite her offspring's heel. (TEV)
     
    #1 franklinmonroe, Sep 10, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 10, 2009
  2. Johnv

    Johnv
    Expand Collapse
    New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2001
    Messages:
    21,321
    Likes Received:
    0
    Go to the authoritative source. What does it say in the Hebrew source texts?
     
  3. franklinmonroe

    franklinmonroe
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2006
    Messages:
    2,872
    Likes Received:
    3
    Um, that was kinda the point: the Hebrew doesn't tell us.
     
  4. Jerome

    Jerome
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2006
    Messages:
    5,629
    Likes Received:
    45
    They don't. They render the next pronoun neuter ("his").

    OED: "The original genitive or possessive neuter was his, as in the masc., which continued in literary use till the 17th c. . . . . Its was not admitted in the Bible of 1611 (which has thereof, besides the his, her, of old grammatical gender) . . . . Its does not appear in any of the works of Shakespeare published during his life-time"
     
  5. go2church

    go2church
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2002
    Messages:
    4,304
    Likes Received:
    6
    Language has changed and translations are reflecting those changes. Now there is in accepted language usage a singular "they". Some people don't like changes like this, but it is used more and more and translations are adjusting accordingly.
     
  6. franklinmonroe

    franklinmonroe
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2006
    Messages:
    2,872
    Likes Received:
    3
    Thank you; I had forgotten about that. So, the AV men expressed the promised Messiah as an "it" here?

    And if neuter was the translators' original intention, then why should "his" not have been revised to "it's" for grammatical agreement in the later editions? I think perhaps because the editors may have preferred the masculinity provided by "his". How many times have we heard preached that "his" is a explicit proof of the 'man' Jesus.
     
    #6 franklinmonroe, Sep 11, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 11, 2009
  7. franklinmonroe

    franklinmonroe
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2006
    Messages:
    2,872
    Likes Received:
    3
    But the possessive neuter "it" had been around awhile by 1611. Notice these two examples from the Geneva Bible (confirmed by the 1587 edition shown below, but also in previous editions back to 1560 on good authority) --
    That which groweth of it owne accorde of thy haruest, thou shalt not reape, neither gather the grapes that thou hast left vnlaboured: for it shalbe a yeere of rest vnto the land. (Leviticus 25:5)

    Nowe when they were past the first and the second watch, they came vnto the yron gate, that leadeth vnto the citie, which opened to them by it owne accord, and they went out, and passed through one streete, and by and by the Angel departed from him. (Acts 12:10)
    So, the AV revisers could have have used "it" as a possessive neuter in Genesis 3:15. In fact, they had allowed a possessive neuter in their text at Leviticus 25:5, which was later revised to "its" --
    That which groweth of it owne accord of thy haruest, thou shalt not reape, neither gather the grapes of thy Uine vndressed: for it is a yeere of rest vnto the land. (1611)
    That which groweth of its own accord of thy harvest thou shalt not reap, neither gather the grapes of thy vine undressed: for it is a year of rest unto the land. (1769)
    Furthermore, it is not outrageous to have expected the later editors to have updated the useage of "his" to "it's"; they had removed "his" in favor of the possessive apostrophe-S in 1 Kings 5:14 and Esther 3:4 --
    But the high places were not remooued: neuerthelesse, Asa his heart was perfect with the Lord all his dayes. (1611)
    But the high places were not removed: nevertheless Asa's heart was perfect with the LORD all his days. (1769)

    Now it came to passe, when they spake daily vnto him, and he hearkened not vnto them; that they told Haman, to see whether Mordecai his matters would stand, for he had told them that he was a Iewe. (1611)
    Now it came to pass, when they spake daily unto him, and he hearkened not unto them, that they told Haman, to see whether Mordecai's matters would stand: for he had told them that he was a Jew. (1769)
    Its true, the editors did remove words.
     
    #7 franklinmonroe, Sep 12, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 12, 2009
  8. Deacon

    Deacon
    Expand Collapse
    Well-Known Member
    Supporter

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2002
    Messages:
    6,971
    Likes Received:
    128
    A very small correction:

    Here are two verses from a later edition of the KJV -- The 1873 Cambridge Paragraph Bible of the Authorized Version.

    That which groweth of it own accord of thy harvest thou shalt not reap, neither gather the grapes of thy vine undressed: for it is a year of rest unto the land.
    Leviticus 25:5 AV 1873

    But the high places were not removed: nevertheless Asa’s heart was perfect with the LORD all his days.
    1 Kings 15:14 AV 1873

    The Introduction of the Cambridge Paragraph Bible alone is worth the price of the book.
    Below is a very small portion of analysis describing the differences in the various Authorized version texts.

    *****************

    Regarding Genesis 3:15, the NET Bible provides some interesting notes.

    Rob
     
  9. franklinmonroe

    franklinmonroe
    Expand Collapse
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2006
    Messages:
    2,872
    Likes Received:
    3
    A portion from the Preface to the Edition of A.D. 1885 --
    One of the few instances in which the language of the Authorised Version has been modified in accordance with later usage is the change of the neuter possessive pronoun from "his" to "its." It is well known that "its" does not occur in the Bible of 1611, and it does not appear to have been introduced into any edition before 1660. But it is found ten times in Shakespeare, and there is other evidence to show that at the time of the Authorised Version it was coming into use. It was found necessary in some cases to substitute "its" for "his" in order to avoid obscurity, and there seemed no good reason, when it was once introduced, for refusing to admit it generally when it referred to purely inanimate objects.
    Interesting footnote from A practical English grammar: with lessons in composition and letter by Welsh (1889) page 161 --
    Its, the possessive singular of the neuter it, is of modern origin. The t in it (Anglo-Saxon hit) was originally a suffix to denote neuter gender. The regular possessive was formed by dropping t and suffixing s instead (hi(t)s = his). This possessive, his, was in general use previous to the 17th century. During the 17th century people began to lose sight of the significance of the neuter suffix t, and to look upon it as a part of the original word. They then formed the possessive without dropping the t,—its.

    In the translation of the Bible (King James' Version, 1611) its is not found, except once (by mistake it is thought); and in the writings of Shakespeare and Milton it occurs rarely.
     
    #9 franklinmonroe, Sep 12, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 12, 2009

Share This Page

Loading...