Invasion of the Bible Snatchers: Ray Comfort’s ‘Scientific Facts in the Bible’ – Seed of a Woman

To see other posts in this series, please go to the series’ page.

INTRODUCTION

In Scientific Facts in the Bible: Amazing Truths Written Thousands of Years Before Man Discovered Them, Ray Comfort quotes Genesis 3:15 and writes,

This verse reveals that a female possesses a “seed” for childbearing. This was not common knowledge until a few centuries ago. It was widely believed that only a male possessed the “seed of life” and that the woman was simply a glorified incubator.[1]

Presumably, by “seed of life” Comfort is referring to the ova carried by females of our species. But is this what the biblical author had in mind when referring to the woman’s seed?

THE SEED OF THE WOMAN

At the outset, it should be noted that in the NKJV from which Comfort quotes the words “Seed” and “His” are capitalized. The reason for this stylistic choice can be inferred from the preface to the NKJV.

[R]everence for God in in the present work is preserved by capitalizing pronouns including You, Your, and Yours, which refer to Him. Additionally, capitalization of these pronouns benefits the reader by clearly distinguishing divine and human persons referred to in a passage. Without such capitalization the distinction is often obscure, because the antecedent of a pronoun is not always clear in the English language.[2]

While “Seed” is not a pronoun, the translators of the NKJV thought of it as a reference to a divine person. Specifically, as many Christians do, the reference is to Jesus. Old Testament scholar Bruce Waltke writes about this passage,

The pronouncement that the woman’s seed will crush…the Serpent’s head is called the protoevangelium (the first gospel message). The reach of this prophecy extends from Eve to the future of her seed throughout history. Though Eve deserves only death, God does not turn his back on her. Instead, in his kindness God restores her through the mission of her seed. His purpose will not be defeated. Humankind will yet be crowned with glory and honor, bringing all things under their feet as God originally intended.[3]

This restoration to glory and honor, Waltke contends, comes through the suffering of Jesus.[4] Thus, from the very beginning we have an utterance of the good news.

While this may be a favored interpretation of Genesis 3:15 among many Christians, there is nothing in the text itself that gives us the impression it is the correct one. Nor does Comfort employ this passage as a prophetic text about Jesus. Instead, for him the passage’s value is scientific: the verse is referring to women’s ova.

“Seed” renders the Hebrew substantive zeraʿ,a term that, per BDB,[5] can refer to a sowing (of seed), a seed from which a plant grows, semen, offspring/descendants, and moral fruit. Which is it here? The clue is found in the language of the second half of the verse: “he will strike your head, and you will strike his heal” (NRSV).[6] The presence of the masculine pronoun hûʾ (“he”) and the pronominal suffix (“his”) found in the verb təšūp̄ennū (“you will strike his”) points to zeraʿ not being an impersonal ovum but a dynamic agent with the ability to strike at serpents. Specifically, since zeraʿ is a collective noun, the idea may be that all of humanity (i.e., the descendants of the first woman) are in view. In the words of Nahum Sarna, the “curse [on the serpent] seeks to explain the natural revulsion of humans for the serpent.”[7]

CONCLUSION

Far from referring to the gamete of females, Genesis 3:15’s reference to the woman’s “seed” is likely referring to her descendants. We may thus see Genesis 3 as a kind of etiology, an attempt by the biblical author to explain the status quo. Comfort has once again misunderstood the biblical text.


[1] Ray Comfort, Scientific Facts in the Bible: Amazing Truths Written Thousands of Years Before Man Discovered Them (Bellflower, CA: Living Waters Publications, 2016), 14.

[2] “The New King James Version: Preface,” helpmewithbiblestudy.org.

[3] Bruce K. Waltke with Charles Yu, An Old Testament Theology: An Exegetical, Canonical, and Thematic Approach (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2007), 266.

[4] Waltke, An Old Testament Theology, 266.

[5] The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon, edited by F. Brown, S. Driver, and C. Briggs (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2000 [originally published in 1906]).

[6] All quotations of biblical texts, unless otherwise noted, are from the New Revised Standard Version.

[7] Nahum M. Sarna, Genesis: The Traditional Hebrew Text with the New JPS Translation Commentary, The JPS Torah Commentary (Philadelphia, PA: The Jewis Publication Society, 1989), 27.

One Comment on “Invasion of the Bible Snatchers: Ray Comfort’s ‘Scientific Facts in the Bible’ – Seed of a Woman

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