Toward A Purge Of The Battle Of The Sexes And “Return” For The Original Meaning Of Genesis 3:16b -- By: Janson C. Condren

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 60:2 (Jun 2017)
Article: Toward A Purge Of The Battle Of The Sexes And “Return” For The Original Meaning Of Genesis 3:16b
Author: Janson C. Condren


Toward A Purge Of The Battle Of The Sexes
And “Return” For The Original Meaning Of Genesis 3:16b

Janson C. Condren*

* Janson C. Condren is Senior Lecturer of OT at Sydney Missionary & Bible College, 43–45 Badminton Rd., Croydon, NSW 2132, Australia. He may be contacted at [email protected]

Abstract: Susan T. Foh argues the woman’s תשׁוקה in Gen 3:16 is not an affectionate “desire for” her husband, as in almost all previous English translations, but rather a “desire to contend with him for leadership.” This adversarial view has gained wide acceptance among evangelicals, as can be seen by its appearance in the NLT and 2016 ESV. The present essay contends the view is seriously misguided. Its reliance on Gen 4:7, a text with its own major difficulties, makes for an unreliable foundation. Furthermore, an examination of the history of translation and interpretation of תשׁוקה in its three OT occurrences, as well as its use outside the OT in the DSS, reveals both a complete lack of precedent for an adversarial reading as well as considerable evidence that the original meaning was not “desire” but rather “return.”

Key words: Gen 3:16, Gen 4:7, Song of Songs 7:10, desire, woman, translation, curse, marriage

“Your desire will be for your husband” (Gen 3:16b NIV)1

“Seldom has so much mischief been caused by a translation error that became institutionalized. … It is time the church returned to the real meaning of this word.” (Walter C. Kaiser)2

“Today, you cannot rely on your dictionary, since it is outdated.” (David J. A. Clines)3

It has been thirty-five years since Walter C. Kaiser first called for a move away from the longstanding translation of תשׁוקה as “desire” in Gen 3:16.4 Far from heeding the call, however, recent translations and commentaries have actually doubled down on it. Following the lead of Susan T. Foh’s use of the “desire” (תשׁוקה) of sin in Gen 4:7 as an interpretive key, co...

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