A few days ago I asked a question which has since become very active, including entering HNQ more than once. Because of it's popularity inside and outside this stack, I want to make sure I'm setting a good example by approaching the answers the right way.

My question was why we consider Adam and Eve married, and the first answer was that Genesis refers to them as husband and wife. I felt that fact that it was plainly asserted by Scripture was enough of an answer for a biblical-basis question, so I accepted it.

Since then, there has been a number of additional answers, and much (on-topic) discussion under them. In particular, the translation of the word "wife", which was the key to the answer, was questioned. It's possible that the translation itself falls into the same problem I'm asking about in my question.

If this is the case, I'd like to remove the checkmark, to encourage this and other answers to re-evaluate. I feel other answers have a good basis, and would like to see them improved. I think the currently accepted answer would still be a good one if the translation question can be addressed.

However, it feels like allowing this stack to question the translations themselves would set a bad precedent. I fear that if I edited my question to highlight the translation issue, it would then become off-topic. Or even if this question remained on-topic, other questioners in the future may refuse to accept answers until detailed analysis of the translation is given.

Can we engage with translation queries in answers, or should we accept the English text as accurate? If we can raise queries over translations, what is the best way to approach them?

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    Editing questions after people have properly answered the question is extremely frustrating to those who have spent time and trouble answering. So, also, is the unchecking of the accepted answer. One should check an answer as accepted only after making a fair assessment. Your question highlighted a translation issue and I think that issue needs a further, more focused, more particular question : possibly, as suggested, in Biblical Hermeneutics.
    – Nigel J
    Feb 27, 2020 at 7:27
  • @NigelJ don't think the accepted answer required a lot of time and trouble :) I think it's actually very low-quality... making it somewhat of an exception to your generally good advice. But anyway, it's not mine to assess, so I'll stop advising on it. Feb 28, 2020 at 0:55
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    @LukeSawczak I find, myself, that if a question can be answered (fully) by a very brief answer, requiring little research, that this - sometimes - reflects something about the question asked. Need it have been asked in the first place ? Or is it, perhaps, one of those facts that is not obvious to the untutored, but once revealed becomes obvious. Nevertheless such facts need to be added to the archive, which is what a good Stack Exchange site should be : an archive of researched and reliable data available for general reference to both experts and novices.
    – Nigel J
    Feb 28, 2020 at 3:27

1 Answer 1


Your question is a Biblical Basis question, which means that answerers must provide a Biblical explanation for the doctrine, but it's up to them whether they want to discuss any translation issues, or the original Hebrew and Greek etc.

It's too late for you to now require answers to engage with a translation issue. But you can remove or change what answer is "accepted" at any time for any reason, so if you like one of the other answers more, go ahead.

Also, translation issues are generally better asked about at the Biblical Hermeneutics site. So if you do want to ask a follow up question, that's where it should go, probably.

  • I disagree that it's too late to revoke the checkmark: it's not about changing the requirement or scope to be about translation, but about basic evidence. The accepted answer offers no doctrinal or historical support whatsoever, and the textual support it offers turns out to be ambiguous. I'd say it might be more polite, though, to ask a new, more specific question than to revoke the accepted state. Feb 26, 2020 at 22:32
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    @LukeSawczak I said it's too late to change the question substantially, but you can change which answer is accepted at any time. That's how it is across all SE: question "acceptance" is purely at the asker's discretion, and there are no rules or guidelines whatsoever, and they have full freedom to accept or unaccept any answer for any reason.
    – curiousdannii Mod
    Feb 26, 2020 at 22:47
  • @LukeSawczak One should not alter a question in such a way that it invalidate existing responses to the question. See my comment to this question: Changing the title from no evidence to so little evidence seriously invalidates existing answers. True it is up to the OP to ultimately alter his own question, but to reassign who gets the ✅ is of a lesser interest proving the reasons seem justifiable in the OP’s mind.
    – Ken Graham Mod
    Feb 27, 2020 at 23:46
  • @LukeSawczak I'd hardly call the textual support ambiguous. From this page we see 26 out of 27 translations listed use "wife" instead of "woman". It's not ambiguous - the overwhelming majority of English translations use wife. Feb 28, 2020 at 19:49
  • @ThomasMarkov Translation decisions on ambiguous words are informed by doctrine, in this case doctrine on possible relationships between men and women. That's fine, but it doesn't answer the question "Why are they considered married?" To answer that, we need to look at the history of the doctrine and the institution. Sometimes, of course, doctrine follows text more narrowly. But I would be very surprised – although happy to be proven wrong – that the doctrine based itself on that verse or even any verse depending wholly on the reading of that one word. Feb 28, 2020 at 21:35
  • Although I should add that I think this is not really a translation issue at all. My original point still stands: if we choose "his wife" to render "his woman/his wife", in order to capture the fact that there's evidently some kind of mating/bonding — fine, but we still have to be careful not to read into "wife" in that context all the things that we understand by it now, or even the things that later Biblical authors understood by it. It tells us nothing about the type of union. And hence doesn't answer the original question. Mar 1, 2020 at 18:18

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