Who will Strike The Devil's head?

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Genesis 3,15. I have read of Pope John Paul II and from some exegetes that Jesus will be the one who will strike Satan's head. I've also read (and heard) from some other sources that that will be done by Mary. Once I read that it is a recent discovering that what follows the statement "And I will put hostility between you and the woman and between your offspring and her offspring" is a masculine pronoun, something like "He" so that would make Genesis the first book prophesing the Coming of Christ. What makes me wonder, why there are so many images of Mary standing over a serpent's head?

P.S. Not that I think in Heaven they argue about who will come down and crush Satan's head!!! duh! even if Jesus gave me the Power to do it I would crush it with great joy.

-- Cristian (gabaonscy@hotmail.com), September 18, 2002


-- fix (@ .), September 18, 2002.

Hello, Cristian.

The Revised Standard Version (RSV) of the Bible translates the original Hebrew this way: "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel." (This translation, by non-Catholic scholars, is accepted by the Catholic Church.)

The (Catholic) New American Bible (NAB) translates it this way: "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel."

Not many centuries before the coming of Jesus, a Greek translation (the "Septuagint") of the Hebrew text was made. I am not a scholar of Hebrew or Greek, but I believe that, in these two ancient languages, the sex of the person doing the "bruising/striking at" is ambiguous.

How, then, did some people come to say the English words, "SHE will strike your heel"? I believe that it was because of the old Latin Vulgate translation made by St. Jerome around 400 A.D. -- the Church's official translation. Here is how he rendered the original in Latin: "Iinimicitias ponam inter te et mulierem et semen tuum et semen illius. Ipsa conteret caput tuum et tu insidiaberis calcaneo eius."
The word "ipsa" is feminine -- "she herself."

Ah, but what happened then? Pope John Paul I unveiled the New Latin Vulgate in 1979 -- the first new, official Latin translation of the Hebrew and Greek in 1500 years. The New Vulgate renders the verse in this way: "Inimicitias ponam inter te et mulierem et semen tuum et semen illius; ipsum conteret caput tuum, et tu conteres calcaneum eius."
The word "ipsum" is neuter -- "it itself will strike at" or "will bruise." Why neuter? What is this "it"? This "it" refers back to the woman's offspring/seed -- the Latin "semen" (seed/offspring) being neuter.

Although footnotes in the NAB are sometimes quite poor, here is what the footnote for Genesis 3:15 has to say:

"'He will strike at your head, [serpent,] while you strike at his heel.' Since the antecedent for 'he' and 'his' is the collective noun 'offspring,' i.e., all the descendants [seed] 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."

God bless you.

-- J. F. Gecik (jfgecik@hotmail.com), September 18, 2002.

I never said it, but I think you know it, John, Thank You.

-- Cristian (gabaonscy@hotmail.com), September 23, 2002.

You will always be welcome, Cristian. JFG

-- (jfgecik@hotmail.com), September 23, 2002.

Oops! Just noticed a typographical error in my reply. It was Pope John Paul II (not I) who released the New Vulgate.

-- (jfgecik@hotmail.com), September 23, 2002.

The pronoun seems to be inspecific. In English translations of the Tanakh, the Hebrew scriptures, it is translated not as he or she but as "THEY will crush."

This fits nicely with what Paul writes in Romans 16:20 "The God of peace will soon crush Satan under YOUR feet." That's plural.


-- Larry Nolte (lar@newheartnewvoices.com), October 08, 2002.

Mary can't crush anything. Jesus Christ was the only one who defeated Satan. Mary did not die for the sins of the world, that is why she CANNOT defeat Satan who brought sin into the world.

Read Genesis 3:15 in the original Hebrew and you will see it says "He" and not "she."

-- Gabrielle (no@mail.com), February 09, 2003.

Dear Gabrielle,

Obviously Mary does not have such power within own humaness. That is completely consistent with Catholic teaching. However, Moses didn't have the power to part the Red Sea either. But he did it. The Apostles didn't have the power to cure lepers and drive out evil spirits. Mary didn't have the power to conceive as a virgin. Yet by the power of God these people were able to do these things. Therefore it goes without saying that Mary could not crush the head of Satan by her own power, but she certainly could by the power of God, if He chose to use her in that way. In any case, she has already done so in a sense, by bringing Jesus into the world.

-- Paul (PaulCyp@cox.net), February 09, 2003.

The Douy-Rheims bible says that SHE will strike Satan's head. Forwhatever reason the new intepretation now says HE. I would trust the older version, as far too many revisions have been made in the newer translations.

-- Ed Richards (loztra@yahoo.com), February 09, 2003.



-- Ed Richards (loztra@yahoo.com), February 09, 2003.

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