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I trust you will discuss your objection to NLT2's 3:16 in view of the similarity of 3:16b to 4:7b

אֶל־אִישֵׁךְ תְּשׁוּקָתֵךְ וְהוּא יִמְשָׁל־בָּךְ

וְאֵלֶיךָ תְּשׁוּקָתוֹ וְאַתָּה תִּמְשָׁל־בּוֹ

The interpretation, as you surely know is from Walter Vogels, "The Power Struggle between Man and Woman." Biblica 77 (1996): 197–209, which has been widely noted. It is somewhat misleading to thus claim "NLT stands almost alone in translating as it does."


The more I read, the more I like you, John (here and elsewhere). I think you have chosen a very sensitive and discerning stand.



I will be doing as you suggest. The key expression also occurs in Song of Songs.

So far as I know, the interpretation reflected in NLT (and NET) was pioneered by Susan Foh (WTJ 37 [1974/75] 376–83. "Stands almost alone" means just that: the interpretation has supporters, but they are few and far between.

Translations marketed to the general public, furthermore, usually put interpretations that do not enjoy a wide consensus in a footnote, not in the main text. NLT breaks this unwritten rule.

Thanks, titus2keeper, for the encouragement, and for your fine blogging.

Martin Shields


Foh was probably the first to make the case, but I note that BDB lists the noun under a root, שׁוק III and then notes that the proposed Arabic cognate is dubious on the grounds that ش does not normally correspond to שׁ, and that the correct cognate does indeed support Foh's suggested understanding (so there is some history behind Foh's reading). This is substantiated by most of the comparative grammars and I think Foh runs with this. Of course etymology alone is a dubious basis for claiming too much, but I think that the reading is well supported by the (few) contexts in which the term appears in BH.


Martin Shields.



Thanks for your input here. My goodness, I'm going to have to argue very carefully. Blogging has become an exercise in instant peer-review. No wonder many scholars prefer to keep their distance. As for me, I like the challenge. Keep at me in this series.

David Ker

Might be worth showing the NLT for the reader's sake.

So, you reject the translation based on one verse? Is it axiomatic of the translations handling of gender issues?

I don't see a problem here. The rendering is novel, but they've listed a more traditional option in the footnotes which I think is reasonable.

Looking forward to the "to be continued."


Hi David,

No, I wouldn't reject a translation based on one verse. Furthermore, I will continue to make use of and benefit from NLT2, I think, for a long time to come.

NLT Gen 3:16 bothers me not so much for its novelty as a translation proposal as for its novelty with respect to what it says about what is "curseful" about life after the Fall. From a theological, ethical, and pastoral point of view, I have grave misgivings about the way the translation reframes things in that sense.

I realize a note in NLT provides a translation in line with the usual understanding of the verse. Not many people read the notes, however, and fewer still preach from them. Not much consolation there.

tc robinson

John, I see what you're saying, but isn't that too harsh a treatment? :-)


Hi tc,

I'm just warming up here! One might think that it would be easy for the publishers of NLT to swap in the traditional understanding of Gen 3:16 in replacement of the new and poorly supported translation. The latter might be relegated to a footnote.

I'm just guessing that that might be harder to do than one might think. Quite possibly, there is a constituency of people who would cry bloody murder if that was done.


The NLV ought to be rejected because of its rendition of Hebrews 11:3 which in truth says,
"Through faith we understand that the ages of the earth were prepared by the word of God...".
The NLV points the reader to comprehend this passage in terms of the creation of the physical world of solar system, stars, galaxies and entire universe, and apostatises from the spiritual creation of God's Temple which the entire chapter talks of.



In truth, you might consider becoming more proficient in ancient Greek.

The word in question, Greek "aeon," was used in two different ways in NT times - just as was the case with Hebrew "'olam": as a temporal or a spatial concept. In Hebrews 1:2 and 11:3, it seems to be used as a spatial concept; in 1:2, in allusion to God's creation of heaven and earth (not the ages) via his word in Genesis 1; in 11:3, in parallelism with "the visible."

The translators of the KJV, who had more Greek in their pinkies than most Bible scholars today have in their whole bodies, understood correctly and translated - dynamically! - with "world" and "whole world," respectively in 1: 2 and 11:3.

You have to allow for a single word in a given place and time to be used in various ways depending on context. Take Latin "saeculum," which you might know means "age." But it was also used in other ways: hominum saecla - in that case, it means "human race." In other places - I'm thinking of phrases in Augustine - saeculum is best translated "world."

If you were to respond and say, "Yes, but in Hebrews "ages" IS a way of referring to the world (a spatial concept) in terms of its temporal duration (a series of ages, as in gold, silver, and iron ages)," I would say: I think you are right.

But that is not what you said. You referred instead to the Temple. The business about the temple, though a prominent theme in the letter, should not be imported into these verses.


Oh dear, look John, the scripture is entirely about the 'temple'. If you think that theme does not belong you ought not to be a priest.
I've obviously come to the wrong place. Sorry for the intrusion.


It is that "entirely" business that I quibble about. But you are welcome to visit any time, Ian.

David Ker

Calm answers. That's good.

Mention has been made of the NLT1 vs. the NLTse. Is there a current revision going on for these kinds of suggestions?


I think NLT2 is fairly recent. So I'm not expecting a revision anytime soon. That's a question for Keith Williams.

ElShaddai Edwards

David - you really must get out more. According the NLT Blog, there was a minor 2007 revision to the NLTse (2004) text, so I'd find it doubtful that another revision would be in the works so soon.


"Calm answers"!! wow!!
Thank you so much David, that's a conversational first for me. I am an absolute fanatic for God's word and it's meaning and calm is difficult to maintain. Malchus would have lost his head to me not just his ability to hear God's word.
My problem with the NLT and other 20th century re-writes is that they re-interpret rather than re-record the scriptures.
Take the Samarian woman at the well; I do not see an 'H2O' well, but a 'shrine' bearing 'water' in the spiritual sense.
And when I read that she said to Jesus, "Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet" - to my mind she said that because Jesus had spoken to her about her faith/religion rather than about her 'love-life' or marital affairs.
Modern versions of the scripture to my thinking are the greatest error Christendom has ever made.

David Ker

Ian, you are a nut job. But I kinda like you.

Keith Williams

Did somebody call me?

There is ongoing review of the NLT text. The Bible Translation Committee meets annually to discuss specific issues, and the 2005, 2006, and 2007 meetings produced the decisions that are reflected in the 2007 revision.

Most of the issues that they discuss were turned up during the process of creating the NLT Study Bible and Cornerstone Biblical Commentaries, as our scholars were looking closely at the NLT text for their work. Now that we have "agents" scouring the blogs, a post like this will also get thrown on the pile to be assessed at a future BTC meeting (I had already alerted them to it).

There are not specific plans for when to incorporate any future revisions the BTC approves. They will be implemented, but releasing a new text every year is untenable.



Thanks for a very helpful reply. You are going to win people over just because you are on the ball. It is also an encouragement for me to finish the series on this passage.

David Ker

John, it's great to see Keith commenting here. I like the idea of ongoing review by a committee that has its ear to the wind.

I don't anticipate seeing any major changes on the NLTse because of the big products that have come out recently. Maybe in ten years?!?

In the end I think I agree with you that a less controversial possibility should be in the text with a footnoted alternative option. I don't detect that NLT was in general trying to be iconoclastic. And there has yet to be an "Isaiah 7:14" style smear on the translation that could sink it.


In Isaiah 7:14, NLT puts the christological interpretation in the main text, and the common-sense interpretation of the Hebrew in a footnote. Jerome already did, as it were, the same thing. That's understandable.

But I do like the NET Bible in this case:

Look, this young woman is about to conceive and will give birth to a son.

Footnote to "young woman":

"Traditionally, “virgin.” Because this verse from Isaiah is quoted in Matt 1:23 in connection with Jesus’ birth, the Isaiah passage has been regarded since the earliest Christian times as a prophecy of Christ’s virgin birth. Much debate has taken place over the best way to translate this Hebrew term, although ultimately one’s view of the doctrine of the virgin birth of Christ is unaffected. Though the Hebrew word used here (עַלְמָה, ’almah) can sometimes refer to a woman who is a virgin (Gen 24:43), it does not carry this meaning inherently."

Whatever they choose to print in the main text in Isa 7:14, I wish that NLT and other translations would footnote Isa 7:14 with sufficient clarity, as NET does.

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