The Hebrew proper noun, חַוָּ֑ה, in Genesis 3:20 and Genesis 4:1, is transliterated "Eve" in both cases in the KJV, yet "Ζωή" and "Ευαν" (Gen. 3:20; 4:1, respectively) in the LXX. It should be "Chavah" or "Chawah," in both cases not "Eve"/"Eva(n)" or "Zoe."
I see that "Ζωή" is somehow in reference to "mother of the living" in Genesis 3:20, so it's even stranger that it's translated several verses down as "Ευαν" (Gen. 4:1) (LXX). The Latin Vulgate transliterates "חַוָּ֣ה" as "Hava" and "Havam," respectively.
As both cases are the name of the first female in the Bible, one would think her name would be translated the same, especially as it's spelled the same in Hebrew. The story of "Adam & Eve," therefore, becomes misleading. I would appreciate any clarification in my understanding of this.


1 Answer 1


Translators often include both a translation and a transliteration, respectively, of the very same word in different instance in order to best fulfill the role of a translator: preserve naturalness in the target language, but if possible, not at the expense of (even potentially) important nuances peculiar to the source language. Here is one such instance (with regard to the LXX—the Latin word Heva is declined only for its role in the sentence: Heva and Hevam are the exact same word in Latin serving a different role in the sentence alone making them different in grammatical form: the same happens with Jesu, Jesus, Jesum, etc.).

Hence, for example, Jerome translates the same word επιουσιον as supersubstantiálem (supersubstantial/perhaps miraculous/heavenly bread) in Matthew 6:11, due to the root sense of epi (upon/above) and ousia (substance/being) , the sense of which is 'above nature' and as quotidiánum (daily/lit. per the day) in Luke's Gospel.

This isn't to be indecisive, it's to preserve as much of the original mutlivalence. He is, after all, making an 'the official' translation of the Bible into the common language, for use in all the churches (and as far as I can tell from brief research, it wasn't only adopted by the Western, Latin-speaking churches, but even Syriac etc.).

I highly doubt that the translator of LXX Genesis had anything other than this in mind when he chose to preserve the meaning of the name Havah (Heb. "Life") so that the 'quick etymology' ("for she said," "for she was to be," etc.—typical of 'name narratives' in the Hebrew Bible) made more sense to its Greek readers. Hence "Zoe" (a Greek name directly equivalent to the Hebrew name Havah because it also comes from the Greek word for life), but a transliteration also (Eva).

But this form of translation assumes an external tradition which can elucidate such 'deliberate inconsistencies' of translation (i.e. the common knowledge of the name of the wife of the first man, e.g.).

The KJV was not primarily based on the LXX, but the Masoretic Hebrew, and so does not adopt this convention/translation philosophy.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.