The Douay Rheims Bible
The Achilles Heel of Papal Infallibility

Gen 3:15 [KJV] And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

Genesis 3:15 is widely recognized as what is the called the protoevangelium, that is to say, the first proclamation of the coming Savior to redeem a fallen human race. As such, it holds a very important place in scripture, and as you might imagine, is something Satan would like to corrupt or distort. I have recently purchased a copy of the Roman Catholic Douay Rheims, a reproduction of the 1899 edition that bears the Imprimatur of James Cardinal Gibbons, dated September 1, 1899. This is how Gen 3:15 is translated in the Douay Rheims:

15 I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed; she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.

The margin note for that verse reads as follows-

Ver 15 She shall crush. Ipsa, the woman; so divers of the fathers read this place, conformably to the Latin; others read it ipsum, viz., the seed. The sense is the same: for it is by her seed, Jesus Christ, that the woman crushes the serpent's head.

Also note the following blasphemy from Alphonsus Liguori, a doctor of the Catholic church:

Not only is the most Blessed Virgin Queen of heaven and of all the saints, but she is also Queen of hell and all evil spirits: she overcame them valiantly by her virtue. From the very beginning God foretold the victory and empire that our Queen would one day obtain over the serpent, when he announced that a woman should come into the world to conquer him: "I will put enmities between you and the woman. . . ." (Gen 3:15)
    Who could this woman be but Mary, who by her fair humility and holy life always conquered him and beat down his strength? The Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ was promised in the person of that woman, as St. Cyprian remarks, for God did not say "I place enmities," as if to refer to Eve, but "I will place" to point to Mary in the future.
    The Septuagint says, "And he will crush your head," while the Vulgate version has it, "she will crush your head." This is the [pg. 50] sense known by St. Ambrose, St. Jerome, St. Augustine, and a great many others.
    However, it really does not matter, whether the Mother crushes the head of the serpent through her Son, or the Son overcomes Lucifer through His Mother who brought Him into the world to effect this. As St. Bernard remarks, this proud spirit, in spite of himself, was beaten down and trampled under foot by this most Blessed Virgin. As a slave conquered in war, the devil is forced to obey the commands of this Queen.

Source: The Glories of Mary, by St. Alphonsus Liguori (1696-1787), Edited and abridged by Msgr. Charles Dollen, copyright 1990 by the Society of St. Paul, published by Alba House, New York, pages 49, 50.

The image at left is a typical Catholic depiction of Mary crushing the head of the serpent. This image is also supposed to depict the woman of Revelation 12, with a crown of twelve stars around her head and the moon at her feet, also sometimes interpreted by Catholics to be Mary. This interpretation is quite easily disproved to the Catholic:

KJV Rev 12:1 And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars:
KJV Rev 12:2 And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.

Note that the woman in Rev 12 gives birth in pain. Pain in childbirth is a penalty imposed on women, by God, for having sinned:

KJV Gen 3:16 Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.

This presents a major problem for the Catholic, since they teach as infallible dogma that Mary was born without original sin (the immaculate conception), and so deduce that she must have delivered Jesus without pain, since pain in childbirth is a penalty imposed by God on women for Eve's original sin. Many Catholics are quite unaware of this deduction, and some have suggested I am in error here. Please note the following:

Mary: Full of Grace at Catholic Answers presents the Catholic teaching on the matter from the writings of early church fathers and deduces that because Mary bore Jesus without pain, that is proof positive that she was free from original sin. So to interpret the woman of Revelation 12 as Mary is to say she was a sinner, but this is anathema to the Catholic mind.

The woman of Revelation 12 is actually symbolic for the true church of faithful believers (the Bible frequently refers to the church as a woman or bride). Note that Daniel 7 clearly states that the saints of God are persecuted for 3 1/2 times, and that in Revelation 12 the woman flees persecution for the exact same time period:

Dan 7:25 And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.

Rev 12:14 And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.

Both verses refer to the same period of history, 3 1/2 times, representing 1260 literal years of persecution of the saints during the dark ages, the woman of Revelation 12 representing the faithful but persecuted church. The opposite symbol of the apostate persecuting church, drunk with the blood of the saints, is found in Revelation 17, the woman depicted as the whore of Babylon.

Note also that the woman in Gen 3:16 has children - plural, and Eve definitely had more than one child. So if the woman in Gen 3:15-16 is to be interpreted also as Mary, then not only does she give birth in pain as a result of her sin, she also had to have more than one child as well. But wait! This conflicts with the Catholic dogma of the perpetual virginity of Mary, which asserts Mary had no relations with Joseph ever, and therefore did not have any children after Jesus.


Now here is a direct quote from INEFFABILIS DEUS, the Apostolic Constitution Defining the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception, by Pope Pius IX on the 8th day of December, 1854. My understanding of this document is that it is a pillar of Catholicism, to be considered ex-cathedra (from Peter's chair) and it is therefore promoted as infallible (free from all error). Under the heading of INTERPRETERS OF THE SACRED SCRIPTURES, it reads-

The Fathers and writers of the Church, well versed in the heavenly Scriptures, had nothing more at heart that to vie with one another in preaching and teaching in may wonderful way the Virgin's supreme sanctity, dignity, and immunity from all stain of sin, and her renowned victory over the most foul enemy of the human race. This the did in the books they wrote to explain the Scriptures, to vindicate the dogmas, and to instruct the faithful. These ecclesiastical writers in quoting the words by which at the beginning of the world God announced the merciful remedies prepared for the regeneration of mankind--words by which he crushed the audacity of the deceitful serpent and wondrously raised up the hope of our race, saying, "I will put enmities between you and the woman, between your seed and her seed" (Gen 3:15)- taught that by this divine prophecy the merciful Redeemer of mankind, Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, was clearly foretold: that his most Blessed Mother, the Virgin Mary, was prophetically indicated; and, at the same time, the very enmity of both against the evil one was significantly expressed. Hence just as Christ, the Mediator between God and man, assumed human nature, blotted the hand writing of the decree that stood against us, and fastened it triumphantly to the cross, so the most holy Virgin, united with him by a most intimate and indissoluble bond, was, with him and through him, eternally at enmity with evil serpent, and most completely triumphed over him, and thus crushed his head with her immaculate foot. Pope Pius IX, December, 8, 1854.

As I understand it, this "infallible" declaration of the Papacy is that Mary will crush Satan's head. Do you see what has happened? It is Mary's victory over Satan, that Pius IX claims is prophesied. She has been exalted to a co-equal with Jesus Christ in destroying Satan, and she actually carries out the deed, not Jesus! Is this not AntiChrist? INEFFABILIS DEUS declares that Mary was conceived in her mother's womb without original sin and remained sinless throughout her life (Immaculate Conception meaning conceived without sin).

Now 50 years after the "infallible" proclamation of Pius IX, we have this astounding statement by Pope Pius X:

Extract from
FEBRUARY 2, 1904

6. ... Adam, the father of mankind, looked to Mary crushing the serpent's head, and he dried the tears that the malediction had brought into his eyes. Noe thought of her when shut up in the ark of safety, and Abraham when prevented from the slaying of his son; Jacob at the sight of the ladder on which angels ascended and descended; Moses amazed at the sight of the bush which burned but was not consumed; David escorting the arc of God with dancing and psalmody; Elias as he looked at the little cloud that rose out of the sea. In fine, after Christ, we find in Mary the end of the law and the fulfillment of the figures and oracles.

The Old Testament patriarchs are presented as yearning for the advent of the "immaculate" Mary and her victory over Satan! There is one very major stumbling block to this - the Bible itself:

Rom 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

Rom 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

Luke 1:46 And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord,
Luke 1:47 And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.

Mary was a sinner by birth, for all have sinned. Mary herself acknowledges her need for a Savior and the Bible says nothing of Mary or any other human since the Garden of Eden being sinless, except for Jesus Christ. Yet the Roman Catholic Church declares the circumstances of her conception, birth, and life to be equal to the Son of God in this respect! Again, isn't this AntiChrist?

It is interesting to note that the Douay Rheims Bible was not translated from the Greek or Hebrew texts, but rather from the Latin Vulgate, itself a translation by St. Jerome (342-420 A.D.), although it does say it was "compared with the Hebrew, Greek, and other editions in divers languages". This is one reason for the comments in the foot note for Gen 3:15. Apparently there is confusion as to whether the Vulgate uses Ipsa (woman) or Ipsum (seed). Yet, the publishers of the copy I have say "the Douay-Rheims is the most reliable English-language Bible there is", in their preface dated August 24, 1989. (The complete Douay Rheims was first published in 1609, with the first revision in 1763.)

Can the apparent confusion of the Douay Rheims be resolved? Well, how do other, more modern, more thoroughly researched Bibles, translate Gen 3:15?

King James Version- Gen 3:15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

New King James Version- Gen 3:15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shalt bruise His heel.

New International Version- Gen 3:15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.

New Revised Standard Version- Gen 3:15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.

Amplified- Gen 3:15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; He shall bruise and tread your head under foot, and you will lie in wait and bruise His heel.

The New American Bible* for Catholics- Gen 3:15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel.

The Catholic Living Bible- Gen 3:15 From now on you and woman will be enemies, as will all of your offspring and hers. And I will put the fear of you into the woman, and between your offspring and hers. He shall strike you on your head, while you will strike at his heel.

Notice that they all say that it will be the seed of the Woman, He (Jesus) that will strike at Satan, not the woman (Mary, by Catholic interpretation).

Remember that Pius IX has declared that Mary "crushed his head with her immaculate (sinless) foot"? Well, why don't all Bibles read just like the Douay Rheims? Why is there nothing in the margin notes about Mary? Clearly there is a mistranslation on someone's part. Either the Douay Rheims is in error (along with Pius IX, infallible or not), or every single non-Catholic Bible, and even some "approved" versions for Catholics, are in error. Is it conceivable that all the Protestant Bibles have been intentionally mistranslated to contradict the teachings of the Catholic Church? Or is it more likely that the mistranslation of the Latin Vulgate, perpetuated by the Douay Rheims, has led to faulty doctrine regarding Mary, and even "infallible" Papal pronouncements that are really nothing of the sort?

A second Bible with a translation similar to the Douay Rheims is a translation by Monsignor Ronald Knox, from the Latin Vulgate (in the light of of the Hebrew and Greek Originals) published originally in 1944, authorized by the Hierarchy of England and Wales, and the Hierarchy of Scotland, bearing the Imprimatur of Bernard Cardinal Griffin, the Archbishop of Westminster. From the preface by Cardinal Griffin, dated 1954, it would seem this translation was (is?) popular, at least in the United Kingdom. This is the text of Gen 3:15 as it appears in Monsignor Knox's translation-

Gen 3:15 And I will establish a feud between thee and the woman, between thy offspring and hers; she is to crush thy head, while thou dost lie in ambush at her heels.

The following footnote appears for this verse-

For 'she' and 'her' the Septuagint Greek has 'he' and 'his'; the Hebrew text also, as it has come down to us, gives 'he', or perhaps 'it'. But most manuscripts of the Latin version have 'she', which plainly gives us a better balance to the sentence. That the reference of this passage, in any case, is to the Incarnation, is the general opinion of the Fathers. The Latin here assumes that there is a word play upon words in the original, since there are two Hebrew verbs closely alike, one which means 'to crush' and the other 'to follow eagerly'. But the Hebrew text has 'to crush' in both clauses; the Septuagint Greek, in both clauses, has 'to lie in wait'.

So the Greek Septuagint and Hebrew texts (and even the old pre-Vulgate Latin texts) do not agree with the Latin Vulgate, which Monsignor Knox prefers because of better "balance"? Just what does that mean? Could it be that he casts aside the Greek, Hebrew, and old Latin texts because Jerome's Latin Vulgate (itself a translation) fits the accepted Traditional Church teachings better than those other texts? Clearly the integrity of the translation has been compromised by dictates of Church Tradition in this case. Today we might say that Knox was politically correct in his translation of Gen 3:15, but by his own admission in his footnotes, he was not true to the Greek and Hebrew texts.

It has also been noted that the English Bible of John Wyclif, first produced from 1382 to1384, reads "she shall trede thy head." Since Wyclif's Bible was a literal translation of the Latin Vulgate, this is to be expected, since Wycliff apparently did not know Hebrew. So quite understandably, his Bible reads much the same as the Douay Rheims.

That Catholics have intentionally changed the reading of Gen 3:15, and are not faithful to the Hebrew, is even admitted in the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia in the entry on The Blessed Virgin Mary. (See paragraphs 1 and 2.)

Note how this is explained at this Catholic web site, the Nazareth Resource Library: The Douay-Rheims and Gen 3:15, which attributes the Douay Rheims variance to a copyist error in some versions of the Latin Vulgate!

Well the vast majority of English translations do not say the woman crushes the head of the serpent, but rather her seed, (Jesus) does. So who really is the woman? Let's look at a couple more verses of the passage to make this clear. From the King James-

God talks to Eve

Gen 3:13  And the LORD God said unto the woman [Eve], What is this that thou hast done? And the woman [Eve] said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.

God talks to Satan about his deceiving Eve and the consequences

Gen 3:14  And the LORD God said unto the serpent [Satan], Because thou hast done this [deceived Eve], thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life:
Gen 3:15  And I will put enmity between thee [Satan] and the woman [Eve], and between thy [Satan's] seed [sinners] and her seed [the Savior] ; it shall bruise thy [Satan's] head, and thou shalt bruise his [the Savior's] heel.

God talks again to Eve

Gen 3:16  Unto the woman [Eve] he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.

God talks to Adam about following Eve into sin

Gen 3:17  And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife [Eve], and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;

In verses 13 and 16 God is speaking to Eve, and in verse 17 is God speaking directly to Adam. Does anyone doubt that Eve bore her children in pain and sorrow as a result of her sin? Or does someone want to propose this did not begin until after Mary? Next, is it unreasonable to assume that the woman of verse 16 is exactly the same woman spoken of in the preceding verses (13&15)? Does the text indicate a change in the identity of the woman on either a literal or spiritual level? No it does not. So, the woman in Gen 3:15 is NOT Mary, it is Eve. The enmity with Satan began with Eve and her offspring immediately after the fall, NOT with the birth of Jesus. Adam and Eve were expelled from garden of Eden as a result of their sin, and suddenly had to work and till the soil for food. They were forbidden to eat from the tree of life and faced a certain death as a result. Who doubts the enmity with Satan and his seed began with Adam and Eve? Surely this enmity increased all the more with the world's first murder of Able by Cain!

Catholics read Mary into verse 15 and it is completely unwarranted. The woman in the verse is Eve, the serpent is Satan and the seed of the woman is Jesus. Yes, Jesus is eventually the seed of (descendant of) Eve, as we all are. So Mary is neither mentioned nor intended in Gen 3:15. The verse is intended to announce to Adam and Eve that a Savior will ultimately defeat Satan, though Satan will injure the Savior (at the cross). It speaks of Jesus, the Son of God, coming to redeem mankind on the cross. At the cross when Jesus died, Satan thought he had triumphed over the Son of God, but this is equated to a wound in the heel. But the resurrection of Jesus was the blow to Satan's head that will ultimately result in his death in the lake of fire. It means eternal life to those with faith in the atoning blood of Jesus shed at the cross to cover their sins. Gen 3:15 is the first announcement to mankind of the Savior Jesus Christ, to Adam and Eve and even to Satan, but Mary is not even mentioned. And that IS the truth.

But now following the thread of Gen 3:15 in Catholic documents, we find it again in the Apostolic Constitution of Pius XII Defining The Dogma of the Assumption (MUNIFICENTISSIMUS DEUS), November 1, 1950, which is also ex-cathedra, and purports to declare Mary was taken up into heaven at the end of her life. Paragraph 39 reads as follows-

We must remember especially that, since the second century, the Virgin Mary has been designated by the holy Fathers as the new Eve, who, although subject to the new Adam, is most intimately associated with him in that struggle against the infernal foe which, as foretold in the proto-evangelium (Gen 3:15), would finally result in that most complete victory over the sin and death with are always mentioned together in the writings of the Apostle of the Gentiles.

Lest you have any doubt about what Pius XII meant by that, this is what he wrote in his encyclical letter of September 8th, 1953, on the centenary of the definition of the Immaculate Conception (of Mary, not Jesus) by Pope Pius IX-

In the first place, the foundation of this doctrine (the Immaculate Conception) is to be found in Sacred Scripture, where we are all taught that God, Creator of all things, after the sad fall of Adam, addressed the serpent, the tempter and corruptor, in these words, which not a few Fathers, Doctors of the Church and many approved interpreters applied to the Virgin Mother of God: "I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed" (Gen 3:15).

Genesis 3:15 is appealed to again as the first revelation of Mary and her enmity with Satan, the serpent. Do you think that this was apparent to Adam and Eve in the Garden, to whom God was speaking at the time? Hardly. They knew now of the coming Redeemer, but nothing of his mother. It is only as the doctrines of Mary were promoted by the Roman Catholic Church that anyone attempted to put Mary into this passage. Did the Jews prior to the time of Christ see the mother of the expected Messiah in Genesis 3:15? Is there a single Jewish commentary that advocates this point of view? I dare say there is not. Clearly then, as demonstrated here, it is a Catholic invention to support the apostasy of Mariolotry.

So where does that put Pius IX and his Dogma of the Immaculate Conception, and Pius XII with his Dogma of the Assumption of Mary, both infallibly declared from the seat of Peter (ex-cathedra), and both appealing to Gen 3:15 as prophetically speaking of Mary? Might one say the Achilles heel of Papal infallibility can be found in the accuracy, or lack thereof, of the Latin Vulgate, Douay Rheims Bibles and Knox Bibles, and whether or not Mary is the woman of Genesis 3:15, and just who it is that really crushes the head of the serpent? Indeed, I believe it can.

*NOTE: The New American Bible (NAB) is a revision of the Douay Rheims for American readers that was completed in 1970. Previously the NAB was referred to as the "Confraternity Version". The translators of the NAB were scholars from the Catholic Biblical Association of America.

ADDENDUM- the new Catholic Catechism also makes a link between Gen 3:15 and the Immaculate Conception-

Paragraph #411 The Christian tradition sees in this passage an announcement of the "New Adam" who, because he "became obedient unto death, even death on the cross," makes amends superabundantly for the disobedience of Adam. Furthermore many Fathers and Doctors of the Church have seen the woman announced in the Protoevangelium as Mary, the mother of Christ, the "new Eve." Mary benefited first of all and uniquely from Christ's victory over sin: she was preserved from all stain of original sin and by a special grace of God committed no sin of any kind during her whole earthly life.

The name Eve appears only 4 times in all of scripture- Gen 3:20, 4:1, 2 Cor 11:3, and 1 Tim 2:13. None of them speak of the concept of a "new Eve". The first and last Adam, however, are both mentioned in 1 Cor 15:45-47. The first Adam was earthly and created, the last (Jesus) was spiritual and eternal deity, in whom salvation can be found through faith. Who seriously wishes to apply this same formula beyond the two Adams?

A Catholic rebuttal by Jacob Michael