Saturday, March 07, 2015

Romans 16:20 and Genesis 3:15

Gen 3:15 (OG/LXX): καὶ ἔχθραν θήσω ἀνὰ μέσον σου καὶ ἀνὰ μέσον τῆς γυναικὸς καὶ ἀνὰ μέσον τοῦ σπέρματός σου καὶ ἀνὰ μέσον τοῦ σπέρματος αὐτῆς αὐτός σου τηρήσει κεφαλήν καὶ σὺ τηρήσεις αὐτοῦ πτέρναν

Romans 16:20 is likely influenced/shaped by Genesis 3:15 and hearkens back to that passage:

From Henry Alford's GNT:

συντρ. τ. σατ. is a similitude from Genesis 3:15.

συντρίψει, not as Stuart, ‘for optative,’ nor does it express any wish, but a prophetic assurance and encouragement in bearing up against all adversaries, that it would not be long before the great Adversary himself would be bruised under their feet.

From Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers:

"Bruise.—With reference to Genesis 3:15."

From the Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges:

"shall bruise Satan, &c.] The very first promise of Redemption (Genesis 3:15,) is doubtless here referred to.—The 'Enemy who soweth tares' had been already 'bruised' by the Redeemer, in His triumphant work; and that victory would be, in due time, realized in the personal ('under your feet,') triumph over sin and death, and final deliverance from all trial, of each of His followers."

From John Gill's Exposition of the Bible:

"so here is a manifest allusion to what was said by way of threatening to him, 'it', the woman's seed, 'shall bruise thy head', ( Genesis 3:15 ); and which has had its accomplishment in Christ, who has not only destroyed the works of the devil, but him himself, and spoiled his principalities and powers, and bruised him and them under his feet, when he led captivity captive"

Barnes also writes:

"Will bruise - The 'language' here refers to the prediction in Genesis 3:15. It here means to 'subdue, to gain the victory over.' It denotes Paul's confidence that they 'would' gain the victory, and would be able to overcome all the arts of those who were endeavoring to sow discord and contention among them."

More recent commentators have also pointed to the "clear" Genesis allusion in Romans 16:20. See Tremper Longman III and Daniel G. Reid, "God Is A Warrior."


Duncan said...


I appreciate what you are suggesting. To keep things simple for the beginner.

But there is a big difference. How many people outside of scholastic circles hang on every word of a translation of History of the Peloponnesian War?

If there are two possible translations of equal weight for a given phrase, should they not be made clear? (At least in the footnotes as you suggest).

NEB is an adequate example of this method in a number of instances.

As for 1:1c are you referring to the interpretation on the purely koine understanding or with the inclusion of a Peshitta understanding?

Edgar Foster said...


I use Thucydides, Homer or Hesiod as examples, but it could be any notable Greek writer, and the point would seem to remain the same. If a reader has to depend on translated material--rather than the original language materials--then the translator should probably avoid misleading the reader and not distract him/her (IMO). Classical Greek works (and Latin ones) usually confine the technical stuff to footnotes/endnotes and scholarly apparatuses. So while very few people are likely hanging onto every word of classical writers, think about students who have to read Plato, Homer, Hesiod (etc)--these students usually lack knowledge of Greek or th background for such classical works.

As you state above, yes, I'm saying relegate options to footnotes/appendices.

Duncan said...

What about equal weights?

Goliath's height or the number of the beast etc.

The NEB states in it's introductory not that items marked ALT in the foot notes have Equal standing to those in the main body of the text. A number of times I have had the main body text quoted at me as being the only rendering of note - they just see that a footnote is always inferior secondary to the main body.

Duncan said...

Also how about the practice used in the JPS study edition of stating when a word or phase is uncertain / questionable? Should this not be in all translations to explain that these sections cannot be translated in the strict sense & there for to cling to the English words used would be problematic.

Edgar Foster said...

My suggestions should not be interpreted as universal prescriptions for all translations. IMO, each version/translation has its target (intended) audience and the propspective audience should inform the translation approach.

I think it's good to let readers known when words/phrases are uncertain, which even the old NWT used to do frequently in the footnotes. But to put all this information in the main text clutters and confuses the lay reader.

Edgar Foster said...

results in clutter and confuses the reader

Duncan said...

Just recently I have read "Ecclesiastical History of the English People" in modern English & personally I found it very useful in a limited number of places of particular controversy that the alternative translation was bracketed in the main body of the text.

The majority of additional information was in the foot notes, but my point is that you cannot "translate" something used two infrequently in the vocabulary. Usually you can only guess - in these instances it should be made very clear that it is not a translation.

Duncan said...

Yes the NWT did list some uncertainties but the JPS list more than 5 times as many.

Edgar Foster said...

But that's one point I've been trying to make: not every translation must have the same approach, but the target audicience must be considered. At least in both instances, the scholarly concerns are relegated to notes.