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 Genesis 3:2 - Singular or plural?
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40 Posts

Posted - 22 Jan 2008 :  09:09:41  

καὶ εἶπεν ἡ γυνὴ τῷ ὄφει ἀπὸ καρποῦ ξύλου τοῦ παραδείσου φαγόμεθα

A literal translation of this would be "And the woman said to the serpent: From a fruit of a tree of the garden, we will eat". But that's a bit ambiguous. Most translators have "from the fruit of the trees", so they translate ξύλου by a plural and add a definite article to both nouns (ξύλου and καρποῦ). Can someone explain to me what the grammatical possibilities are? And if "from the fruit of the trees" is correct, then what is the grammatical explanation for this translation? Is it often that one must translate a singular by a plural or a noun without a definite article with one that has such an article?

Thank you,



615 Posts

Posted - 22 Jan 2008 :  10:03:38  


Marian, you should be patient to develop a linguistic instinct in order to decide on such matters, because not everything is described by grammatical rules. Why should you translate with all those indefinite articles in the line, as if they were in a garden where everything was indifferent and faceless? In Greek, at any rate, use of the definite article is the norm, so that if it is not there, you should rather imply this than the indefinite.

Always be careful about the context of a phrase, the whole chapter. Since the reply of Eve to the Devil makes a distinction between the other fruits and the particular forbidden fruit, it is right to translate ξύλου in plural, i.e., trees.

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