One Word that Ruins a Woman’s Bible

Teshuqah and Desire for/toward/contrary to?

  • Sexual desire
  • Being ruled by a man in an abusive manner
  • Being ruled by a man at all
  • She will desire her man in some uncontrolled, sinful manner

Then the Complementarians Come Along

THE current issue of feminism in the church has provoked the reexamination of the scriptural passages that deal with the relationship of the man and the woman.

…the relational wholeness between the man and the woman had been ruptured by the curse. God said to the woman, “Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you” (3:16b, NIV). The word desire there does not mean romantic desire, as if God cursed the woman by making her need a man. Rather, the desire is a desire for mastery. This is the same Hebrew word used in Genesis 4:7b (NIV): “Sin is crouching at your door, it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” That the meaning of desire in 3:16 is the same as the desire in 4:7 is clear form the obvious verbal parallel between the two verses:

3:16b Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you, w’el-ishek tishuqatek wehu ymshal-bak

4:7b It desires to have you, but you must rule over it, w’elek tsheqatu timshal-bo

Just as sin desired to have mastery over Cain, so the woman, tainted by sin, desires to have mastery over her husband. Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, God says to the man, you will get what you deserve, and she will try to master you (3:17)

  1. He shifts away from the ESV. An uncharitable reading would say he did it intentionally to avoid the criticism that he got this view from the ESV rather than from his own scholarship. He uses the ESV as his default translation for most of the book. Maybe he had other reasons for NIV here? It would be good to know.
  2. He does not cite anyone or anything for this interpretation, leading one to believe that it his original to him, when everyone under the sun, moon, skies, and stars knows this comes from decades of Complementarian work on the issue, starting with Foh’s article in 1975. (I am not going to say he committed plagiarism here or intentionally left out a citation to a woman because I do not think he wrote a scholarly book, but given that he himself points out such errors in his reviews of others, he does, in fact, open himself up to both charges by not offering any citation for this interpretation).

Why Does this Matter?

  1. The NLT came from the Living Bible, which painted this passage as “yet even so, you shall welcome your husband’s affections.” I would love to know who made the stark change in the NLT to such a bold complementarian translation.
  2. How does a book like DeYoung’s or these pointed Complementarian translations help us go back to the Bible, as Schreiner directed, when he does not engage with scholarship on this issue or even cite his sources?
  3. Why isn’t there more interaction with modern critics of Foh, especially ones that are heavier in biblical interpretation than the historical critiques of Complementarian targets like Dr. Beth Allison Barr and Dr. Kristin Kobes Du Mez? Are we chasing the big names merely to gain attention from interacting with them rather than from sources which critique Foh on translational grounds?
  4. How can we live with knowing that a theological and translational lynchpin like “desire to be contrary” or even “desire to control” was found only in reaction to feminism, whatever that word may have meant at the time? Why are we allowing reactionary interpretations to drive the debate, instead of the text itself, sans current cultural context?

One academic paper became a mantra became the Bible text itself. That, to me, is a disaster.




Pastor, — Boards: Boards: — MDiv SEBTS, BA Duke

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Benjamin Marsh

Benjamin Marsh

Pastor, — Boards: Boards: — MDiv SEBTS, BA Duke

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