ἀποστροφή in Genesis 3:16 – Thoughts?

Kurk (because he is sorta insisting, I think) is in a conversation regarding Genesis 3.16 in the LXX. It is my contention that the LXX is not so much a translation (although in Deuteronomy it is) but a reauthorizing of the Text. Of course, I guess by truly translating Deuteronomy, they may be alluding to the fact that they considered it perfect and will within the Translator’s context, but that is another matter.

The Greek reads,

BGT  Genesis 3:16 καὶ τῇ γυναικὶ εἶπεν πληθύνων πληθυνῶ τὰς λύπας σου καὶ τὸν στεναγμόν σου ἐν λύπαις τέξῃ τέκνα καὶ πρὸς τὸν ἄνδρα σου ἡ ἀποστροφή σου καὶ αὐτός σου κυριεύσει

The Hebrew, into English, reads,

NRS  Genesis 3:16 To the woman he said, “I will greatly increase your pangs in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.”

I noticed that the next (besides Genesis 4.7 cf 1st Clement 4.5) place which deals with sorta the same context is in 3rd Maccabees,

NRS  3 Maccabees 2:10 And because you love the house of Israel, you promised that if we should have reverses and tribulation should overtake us, you would listen to our petition when we come to this place and pray.

BGT  3 Maccabees 2:10 καὶ ἀγαπῶν τὸν οἶκον τοῦ Ισραηλ ἐπηγγείλω διότι ἐὰν γένηται ἡμῶν ἀποστροφὴ καὶ καταλάβῃ ἡμᾶς στενοχωρία καὶ ἐλθόντες εἰς τὸν τόπον τοῦτον δεηθῶμεν εἰσακούσῃ τῆς δεήσεως ἡμῶν

Not sure if this means anything, but Philo uses the same word, but in English we read,

“And thy ἀποστροφή,” says God, “shall be to thy husband.” [Genesis 3:16.] There are two husbands of the outward senses. The one a legal one, the other a destroyer. For the object of sight, acting upon it like a husband, puts the sense of sight in motion; and so does sound affect the sense of hearing, flavor the sense of taste, and so on with each of the outward senses respectively. And these things attract the attention of and call the irrational outward sense to itself, and become the master of it and govern it. For beauty enslaves the sight, and sweet flowers enslave the sense of taste, and each of the other objects of outward sense enslaves that sense which corresponds to them. (Leg 3:220 PHE)

Liddell-Scott notes,

2. a resort, resource, Hdt.:-c. gen. objecti, u[datoj avp. a resource or means for getting water, Id.; swthri,aj avp. Thuc.

Maybe, the LXX translators are seeing a recourse for Life or a return to her Husband which may be meaning the return to the androgyny of Genesis 1.26. In 3rd Maccabees, the word is translated and means a reverse. What if the LXX translators saw the woman reversing herself?

Joel L. Watts holds a Masters of Arts from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

3 thoughts on “ἀποστροφή in Genesis 3:16 – Thoughts?”

  1. Thanks to each of you for your helpful comments. I’m working on this theme in a new book and have the following to offer for your criticism, if you have any to offer:
    “Eve’s recourse (αποστροφη) is now to her husband, who will rule over her. This word means “desire, recourse, or return”, different from the usual word for sexual desire (ἐπιστροφὴ). A few scholars of biblical Greek prefer clinging. The phrase bothered me enough that I dug deeper and learned that “Eve” is the same word as “life”. It is just as accurate to say Life’s return will be from her husband as it is to say Eve’s clinging will be to her husband. They were technically dead, but by desiring or clinging to her husband, he would put Life’s Recourse into her womb. It is an elegant play on words with a double meaning, and helps to explain why Eve thought that any of her sons could be the Messiah.”

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