How can we together “true” the verse of Genesis 3:16? Or, put another way, what are some of the mistakes translators have been making with regard to Genesis 3:16?
By Bruce C. E. Fleming
There is more to translating Genesis 3:16 than just doing word replacement. Here is an English to French word replacement: “hat” = “chapeau.” We need to do more than this simple activity to get 3:16 right and overcome the problems in interpretation that are so deeply entrenched in the minds of many.
In Genesis 3:16 the literary patterns carry meaning. Form conveys content too. If you mistake the patterns present in the Genesis 2-3 passage you can mistake the meaning of this verse.
In her 7-year study of Genesis 2-3 Dr. Joy Fleming pointed out the following distinctions between Line 1, where God acts, and Lines 2-3 where God explains.
1. In Line 1 God acts forcefully (multiplying I-will-multiply) but not unreasonably or without grace.
2. In Line 1 God tells the woman there will be two results to this action (sorrowful-toil and conception).
3. In Line 1 these two results are linked in the context to God’s judgment of the other two individuals who were present at the attack at the Tree – the rebellious serpent tempter and the rebellious man.
4. In Line 1 translations are incorrectly erasing this forceful action and its two linked results. They are replacing it with just one result, one that is completely different and strikes readers with the force of a curse on the woman and her daughters.
5. In Lines 2-4 those who wrongly assume God continues to act and don’t see God is instead explaining end up introducing further error into their translations and interpretations. When we see that God explains in Lines 2-4 the words become clear.
In Line 2 God explains both bad news and good news, childbirth will involve effort but God’s blessing from Genesis 1 still is in effect and she will have multiple children.
In Line 3 there is good news about the woman’s heart, she still lovingly desires him.
In Line 4 there is bad news about the man’s heart, he rebelliously dethroned God and chose to rule over himself at the Tree and will want to usurp God’s place as rightful ruler over her too and will desire to rule over her.
Want to go deeper?
– Listen for free to The Eden Podcast with Bruce C. E. Fleming and Joanne Hagemeyer
– Get a copy of one of the books in The Eden Book Series like The Book of Eden, Genesis 2-3 by Bruce C. E. Fleming (on Kindle, Amazon and Audible)
– Enroll and join us for the LIVE sessions of The Eden Workshop on Genesis 2-3 and The Beyond Eden Workshop on Ephesians 5-6 with Mimi Ouimet and Jean Bearden
– Purchase The Eden Course presented by Jessica Nagy! It is interactive, online and video-filled! (TheEdenCourse.com)
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