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Who Crushes Satan's Head in Genesis 3:15? (Mary or Jesus?)

I just read an interesting overview of the historic controversy regarding the Proto-Evangelium.

Here's the Bible.cc list:
  • he will crush your head         (New International Version)
  • He will strike your head         (New Living Translation)
  • he shall bruise your head         (English Standard Version)
  • He shall bruise you on the head         (New American Standard Bible)
  • He will crush your head         (GOD'S WORD® Translation)
  • he shall bruise thy head         (American Standard Version)
  • by him will your head be crushed         (Bible in Basic English)
  • he shall crush thy head         (Darby Bible Translation)
  • He will bruise your head         (World English Bible)
  • he doth bruise thee -- the head         (Young's Literal Translation)
  • He will strike at your head         (New American Bible)
  • it shall bruise thy head         (King James Bible)
  • it shall bruise your head         (American King James Version)
  • it shall bruise thy head         (English Revised Version)
  • it shall bruise thy head         (Webster's Bible Translation)
  • she shall crush thy head         (Douay-Rheims Bible)

If the number of english translations is authoritative, there doesn't look to be much controversy.

The obvious solution to this problem is simply to look at the original Hebrew. But that is where the problem begins. The medieval Hebrew Masoretic manuscripts read "he shall crush." (However, there are two Hebrew manuscripts that read "she shall crush.") However, there is good reason to doubt the majority Hebrew reading of "he shall crush."
Our three best Jewish witnesses to Gen 3:15 interpret the passage as "she shall crush." These are Philo Judaeus, Josephus the roman historian, and Moses Maimonides, the great medieval Jewish philosopher. Philo argues that the Hebrew parallel poetry of Gen 3:15 demands the reading of "she shall crush." Josephus, also writing in Greek, describes the passage for us as reading "she shall crush." Then last of all, Maimonides also states that Gen 3:15 teaches that the woman shall crush the head of the serpent.

So then, these three great Jewish scholars testify to the traditional Catholic reading of the Latin Vulgate. Why are the Hebrew manuscripts that we have today different from these ancient Jewish witnesses. The answer is that the Masoretic manuscript tradition has been corrupted - something claimed by the both the Eastern and Western Fathers throughout the centuries.

Before reading this article, I hadn't given it much thought. What say you?

Tags: Proto-Evangelium, hebrew, manuscripts, masoretic

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Our recently departed brother (from Theologica at least), Gary, shared this from the 1917 Jewish Publication Society:

Genesis 3:15
טו וְאֵיבָה אָשִׁית, בֵּינְךָ וּבֵין הָאִשָּׁה, וּבֵין זַרְעֲךָ, וּבֵין זַרְעָהּ: הוּא יְשׁוּפְךָ רֹאשׁ, וְאַתָּה תְּשׁוּפֶנּוּ עָקֵב. {ס}
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.'
Mary is a dead woman. Period!

Mary undoubtedly a faithful woman, after having a bunch of kids through Joseph, eventually died, and was buried. She is now with the Lord in heaven. There she has stayed, having played NO FURTHER PART NOR HAVING ANY POWER TO INFLUENCE earthly events. Neither is she going to crush anybody's head.
There are no prophecies regarding taking part in any future event, any such claim is just typical catholic mythology.
Francis are you arguing that the Proto-Evangelium does not refer to the Resurrection, but to the Second Coming?

Either way, this isn't really about that. It's about what the text originally said.
What do the Dead Sea Scrolls say? The Targums? The LXX? I know that the Father's generally went with the LXX, but there were outspoken supporters of the Hebrew text including Jerome, who translated the Vulgate primarily from the Hebrew, not the LXX or Greek.

I'm inclined to think that the Father's linked Gen 3:15 with Christ instead of Mary or another woman too, but I am not certain.
Yes, I haven't done my homework yet, but here are a few links I'll be looking through toward answering how the Fathers looked at the text:

http://www.textweek.com/pentateuch/gen2_3.htm
http://litteralchristianlibrary.wetpaint.com/page/Gen.+Patristic+Ci... (do a search for " 3:15")
Sounds like it's bo-oh--oh-oh-gus to support a single (wrong) reading.

I know Josephus speaks about the men and women being equipped to know how to defeat the serpent which makes sense since Jews often looked at Man as typical of The True Man which would be Israel (which is why they read a lot of Messianic statements as corporate).

Philo thinks the serpent is a picture of pleasure which God condemns without letting it appeal because it is rightfully condemned. It would be strange if pleasure is only crushed by the woman. That's the context, but ah well--even in the very passage where he speaks about her seed, he speaks about it being masculine.

With those two out of the way, I wouldn't even bother looking at Maimonides from several centuries later.

So I say "baloney".
יְשׁוּפְךָ is singular.
Rough survey through Schaff:

Eucherius - "The heel is the deceit of the shrewd; in Genesis: she will herself watch out for your head, and you for his heel. And in a bad part: he has lifted his heel against me."

Irenaeus - "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; He shall be on the watch for thy head, and thou on the watch for His heel."

Tertullian - "This also was wanting to the Christian woman, that she may add a grace to herself from the serpent! Is it thus that she will set her heel on the devil’s head," while she heaps ornaments (taken) from his head on her own neck, or on her very head?"

Hippolytus - "And they were “in the heel” in particular, for “he shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel."

Apocryphal Revelation of Moses - "He shall lie in wait for thy head, and thou for his heel, until the day of judgment. And having thus said, He commands His angels that we be cast out of paradise."

Augustine - What was said by God to the Serpent? “She shall mark thy head, and thou shalt mark her heel.”

Augustine - "What more after the heads of dragons? For those dragons have their chief, and he is himself the first great dragon. And concerning him what hath He done that hath wrought Salvation in the midst of the earth? Hear: “Thou hast broken the head of the dragon” (ver. 14). Of what dragon? We understand by dragons all the demons that war under the devil: what single dragon then, whose head was broken, but the devil himself ought we to understand? What with him hath He done? “Thou hast broken the head of the dragon.” That is, the beginning of sin. That head is the part which received the curse, to wit that the seed of Eve should mark the head of the serpent. For the Church was admonished to shun the beginning of sin. Which is that beginning of sin, like the head of a serpent? The beginning of all sin is pride."


(no citations, just a quick rough cut for curiosity)
Thanks Rey. I haven't looked up the Josephus and Philo citations yet.
Here's another translation for the mix:

He will strike at your head         (New American Bible)

And its related footnote:
[15] He will strike . . . at his heel: since the antecedent for he and his is the collective noun offspring, i.e., all the descendants of the woman, a more exact rendering of the sacred writer's words would be, "They will strike . . . at their heels." However, later theology saw in this passage more than unending hostility between snakes and men. The serpent was regarded as the devil (Wisdom 2:24; John 8:44; Rev 12:9; 20:2), whose eventual defeat seems implied in the contrast between head and heel. Because "the Son of God appeared that he might destroy the works of the devil" (1 John 3:8), the passage can be understood as the first promise of a Redeemer for fallen mankind. The woman's offspring then is primarily Jesus Christ.
LXX - He
Dead Sea Scrolls - No one knows. Verse 15 was eaten by cave worms.

Darn that was fun to write. I wonder if I'll ever get to say that sentence again.


Chad Gibbons said:
LXX - He
Dead Sea Scrolls - No one knows. Verse 15 was eaten by cave worms.

Darn that was fun to write. I wonder if I'll ever get to say that sentence again.

Thanks. Interesting if the majority reading of the LXX is "he" whay the fuss about the supposedly corrupted Masoretic Text?

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