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Author Topic:   basic reading of genesis 1:1
arachnophilia
Member (Idle past 1371 days)
Posts: 9069
From: god's waiting room
Joined: 05-21-2004


Message 1 of 312 (410063)
07-13-2007 3:00 AM


in the aggadah of genesis thread, IamJoseph and i were debating what i feel is a rather obvious point of basic reading comprehension, regarding the function of the very first verse in genesis. it's somewhat odd how people can get so hung up on the first verse, but i'd like the chance to discuss it, in depth.
among IAJ's many clearly contrived points, he comes up with this idea that "in the beginning god created the heavens and the earth" means that in that single instant, god created everything that ever existed. what he does, then, with the rest of the chapter which describes that creation (taking the course of six days) is still a mystery to me.
i got a bit side-tracked by real life recently, and that thread has since closed. re-opening would be somewhat pointless, as our discussion wasn't quite on topic to begin with. so i'd like to continue here, in a fresh new thread -- mostly because of something i read today. the problem is thus:
IamJospeh writes:
The sun was not created in V16 but in V1: 'IN THE BEGINNING GD CREATED THE HEAVENS (GALAXIES/STARS/SUN) AND THE EARTH'. Only here the term created ('bara') is used, not in V16, with the galaxies listed before the earth.
as one reading the chapter can see, heaven and earth are created on days two and three respectively, so this should be quite obvious that it just doesn't mean this. in the previous thread, i made a case for my preferred translation, the nJPS, which says, "When God began to create..." i made my case thusly:
arachnophilia writes:
and anyways, the verse more properly says "when god began creating heaven and earth..." why should it say that, when both are acceptable grammatically for the hebrew? because of course god created heaven and earth in the beginning. that's the definition of "beginning." the other way is less of a "well duh" point, and serves as a better introduction.
part of my above argument, you see, is actually incorrect. both are not acceptable grammatically for the hebrew. here, courtesy of iyov's blog, are the notes of the translator responsible for the new rendering, Harry Orlinsky:
quote:
1-3: When God began to create.
For some 2,200 years ” since the Septuagint version of the Torah was made by Jewish translators for the Jewish community of Alexandria, Egypt ” all official translations of the Bible have rendered Hebrew bereshith bara elokim mechanically, "In the beginning God created." There are several cogent reasons, each independent of the others, for rejecting the traditional rendering as incorrect, and for accepting the temporal ("When...") construction.
(a) The first vowel in the first word, be(reshith), as distinct from a form ba(reshith), indicates that the word is in the construct (rather than in the absolute) state, and has the meaning "In the beginning of (God’s creating . . .)" rather than "In the beginning (God created...)." Indeed, it is not even bareshith (the form doesn’t happen to occur in the Bible) but barishona that one would have expected here for “In the beginning (God created...)."
(source)
the word used indicates the beginning of an action, which then grammatically follows, not the beginning of time. this was the impression i got from my (incredibly limited) knowledge of hebrew, but this confirms it. here is Rashi's take on the matter: (still the same source on Orlinsky's notes)
quote:
This had already been noted by Rashi, who wrote: "But if you are going to interpret [this passage] in its plain sense, interpret it thus: At the beginning of the creation of heaven and earth, when the earth was (or the earth being) unformed and void ... God said, 'Let there be light.' For the passage does not intend to teach the order of creation, to say that these [namely, heaven and earth] came first; because if it had intended to teach this, it would have been necessary to use the form barishona ('In the beginning' or 'At first') He created the heavens,' etc.,
the function of genesis 1:1 is an introduction to the rest of the chapter, not to establish what came first. the "beginning" is the beginning god creating. Rashi notes another example:
quote:
since you have no instance of the form reshith in Scripture which is not in construct to the word following it, as for example 'In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim' (bereshith mamlekheth yehoyaqim, Jer. 27.1).... So here, too, you must say [that the phrase] bereshith bara elokim, etc., is equivalent to 'In the beginning of (God's) '(bereshith bero).
he includes a second example from Hosea as well, but see the link for that.
quote:
So that Rashi was right when he noted that the whole of verse 1 (N.B.: Rashi did not emend bara to bero!) was in construct to verse 3: "In the beginning of God’s creating (or "When God began to create) the heaven and the earth . . . God said, 'Let there be light'; and there was light" ” with verse 2 constituting a circumstantial clause, i.e., a clause which describes the circumstances under which the action in verses 1 and 3 took place: 2"... the earth being unformed and void," etc.
so verse 1 is really part of a larger sentance, "when god began creating the heavens and the earth ... god said 'let there be light.'" the middle clause becomes confusing, but this clears it up. the first action of the creation of the heaven and earth is the command for light to exist.
quote:
(b) When the story of creation is resumed later, in 2.4, it is, again, the temporal ("When") construction that is employed: "When the LORD God made earth and heaven" (beyom asoth HASHEM elokim eretz we-shamayim); and note how there also, as in 1.2, verses 5 and 6 constitute a circumstantial clause, with verse 7 being the fulfillment of verse 4 ("When the LORD God made heaven and earth ... the LORD God formed man from the dust of the earth...").
this is a point i commonly bring up: similarity in style to chapter 2. not the strongest point, it makes things look nice.
quote:
(c) The numerous ancient Near Eastern stories of creation nearly all begin with the "When" sentence structure, e.g., the Babylonian Enuma Elish:
When above, the heavens had not been named,
(And) below, the earth had not been called by name.

cross-cultural similarities have to be considered.
quote:
(d) Though verse 2 had traditionally been rendered as a separate sentence, "And the earth was (unformed and void...)," the relative order of the two words, we-ha-aretz hayetha (subject, verb) ” apart from the arguments given above ” points to the rendering "the earth being..."; Trad., "and the earth was" would have been expressed here by the usual order (verb, subject): wa-tehi ha-aretz. See, e.g., at Exod. 1.5 below, on we-yosef haya (as against wayhi yosef).
this is a point i hadn't actually noticed -- modern hebrew, with which i am more familiar, takes the subject-verb order. biblical hebrew does not. i am not sure i agree with this next part:
quote:
The implications of the new translation are clear. The Hebrew text tells us nothing about "creation out of nothing" (creatio ex nihilo), or about the beginning of time. What, then, according to our passage, constituted the first act of creation, if it was not heaven or earth or darkness or deep, etc.? The Hebrew text itself, once again, provides the answer directly, in verse 3: "(When God began to create the heaven and the earth...) God said, 'Let there be light'; and there was light." In other words ” again as Rashi had already observed ” the first thing that God did when He created the universe, as ancient man knew it, was to create light.
the conclusion i agree with, but i think the proper rendering of "unformed" should connotate nothingness, ie, "the earth did not exist."
quote:
This conclusion is further supported by the fact that light ('or) was the first element to receive a name (that is, official existence) from God: "God called the light Day" (wa-yiqra elokim la-or yom, verse 5); the heaven and the earth, on the other hand, did not receive names until the second and third days respectively (v. 8, "Sky"; v.10, "Earth").
the god of genesis 1 is a god of names. god creates by speaking things into existance, "let there be..." and then stamping them approval by way of naming them. but this is where IamJoseph's reading get's a little... fruity. for him, the earth and sky aren't formed or even named on days two and three, but on day one. he even goes so far as to try to make a distinction between "day one" (literally what the text has in hebrew) and "first day" which would be consistent with the "second day, third day, fourth day," etc, of the rest of the chapter.
IamJoseph writes:
it is written as DAY ONE, not FIRST DAY; while the follow-up days are written as SECOND DAY; THIRD DAY, ETC. If there was no distinction between ONE and FIRST, why would it be written so?
my reply was such:
arachnophilia writes:
i see two things, that are pretty obvious. one: the first day counted, "one day" is part of a definition. evening + morning = 1 day. so that requires slightly different language. two: the authors wanted to keep the basic numeric theme. instead of saying - - — and having "first" break the pattern, it was actually more poetically consistent to say - - —.
i'm sorry, i guess this point doesn't make much sense in english, where "day one - day two - day three" and "first day - second day - third day" are more consistent, but in hebrew "day two" could be mistaken as saying "two days" (when it's really one), and so you have to use "second." and "two" and "second" are just forms of the same word, "one" and "first" are not and "first" would stick out like a sore thumb.
here is Orlinsky's note:
quote:
5. a first day*. (*Others "one day").
Trad, "one day" is, again, merely a mechanical reproduction of Heb. yom echad. For one thing, it will be noted at once that all the other days of creation are qualified not by the cardinal ("two," "three," "four," etc., "days") but by the ordinal: "a second," "a third," "a fourth," etc., "day" (yom sheni, shelishi, revi’i, etc.). It has, further, been generally overlooked that in enumeration, the cardinal will be employed for "first" and the ordinals for "second," "third," etc. Thus in Gen. 2.11, "(The name of) the first ([river] is Pishon)" is expressed by (shem) ha-echad (not ha-rishon), with the ordinals ha-sheni, ha-shelishi, and ha-revi’i, "the second," "third," "fourth" (vv. 13-14) used thereafter. Finally, it may be observed here that the cardinal be-echad (la-chodesh), not the ordinal ba-rishon, is the regular term for "on the first day (of the month)"; as a matter of fact, the ordinal ba-rishon would have the meaning "in the first month," as in 8:13, ba-rishon be-ehad la-chodesh, "in the first month, on the first (day) of the month." Some of this is discussed in Gesenius’s Hebrew Grammar, 2nd English edition by E. Kautzsch-A. E. Cowley (1908), 98a (p. 292), 134p (pp. 435-6).
apparently, it's quite standard biblical hebrew practice. ironically, the modern word for "sunday" is yom raishon and not yom achad.
but the point here should be apallingly obvious by now. the first verse serves as introduction to the seven days of creation. the first action of creation, on the first day, is the creation of light, which god calls "day." the darkness the preceded it was "night" and the two make the first day. the other creative actions, described in genesis 1:1's "heaven and earth" (an idiom for "everything"), happen throughout the rest of the chapter. not at some arbitrary "beginning," not instaneously, and not all at the same time.
(bible study forum please. realm of discussion should be genesis 1:1 to 2:4a, with emphasis on interpretation of the first verse.)


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Message 2 of 312 (410082)
07-13-2007 6:55 AM


Thread moved here from the Proposed New Topics forum.

  
kbertsche
Member (Idle past 2159 days)
Posts: 1427
From: San Jose, CA, USA
Joined: 05-10-2007


Message 3 of 312 (410276)
07-14-2007 4:35 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by arachnophilia
07-13-2007 3:00 AM


I started to do a word-by word analysis of Gen 1 a few months ago, so I'll point out a few things that I found.
"In the beginning" is missing the article. As you (and Rashi and JPS) note, this would normally imply a construct, "In the beginning of ...". But there are rare cases where this form is used and it is NOT a construct.
The second word, "created" is pointed as a Qal perfect verbal form. It is NOT pointed as the participle "creating" as Rashi translates it (and as it should be if the first word is in construct). But there are some rare cases where a verbal form is used as a participle.
The third word is the subject, Elohim.
So in the first three words we have some awkward grammar. It could be "In the beginning of God's creating of ..." (Rashi, JPS, Arach) or it could be "In the beginning God created ..." (most other translations). Both are defensible, and both rely on rare grammatical usage.
It seems to me that the Rashi/JPS translation has more problems than the other:
1) If Rashi's translation is correct, the "bara" should be pointed differently OR there should be at least one additional word in the phrase to repair the grammar.
2) Starting with v. 3 (and then God said), the clauses are all in the preterite (waw-consecutive). This preterite sequence needs a referent in the perfect to start it, and "bara" in v. 1 is the only candidate. This means that "bara" must function as a verb, not as a participle.
So I think the traditional translation "In the beginning God created ..." is the best fit to the grammar.
Next points:
1) The preterite construction implies that the verbal action "created" is completed before the next action, which is "and then God said" in v. 3.
2) "heavens and earth" is generally a "merism" for "everything".
So I would translate it:
"In the beginning God created everything." (and this is finished before v. 3 where He says "let there be light").
How can this be? V. 2 seems to be a circumstantial explanatory clause, describing what things were like after the initial creation. Everything was created, but was "waste and empty", i.e. it was unfinished. The rest of the account from v. 3 onward seems to be a "finishing" of the creation, all described from a reference frame on earth.
Edited by kbertsche, : typo

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arachnophilia
Member (Idle past 1371 days)
Posts: 9069
From: god's waiting room
Joined: 05-21-2004


Message 4 of 312 (410412)
07-15-2007 12:19 AM
Reply to: Message 3 by kbertsche
07-14-2007 4:35 AM


"In the beginning" is missing the article.
well, the article isn't really important, either rendering would be absent the "the" in hebrew. the important point is the form of the word itself, that it uses reshit instead of raishon.
As you (and Rashi and JPS) note, this would normally imply a construct, "In the beginning of ...". But there are rare cases where this form is used and it is NOT a construct.
can you provide an example?
The second word, "created" is pointed as a Qal perfect verbal form. It is NOT pointed as the participle "creating" as Rashi translates it (and as it should be if the first word is in construct). But there are some rare cases where a verbal form is used as a participle.
past and present tense third-person verbs in hebrew are actually indistinguishable, even in terms of vowels. either rendering is actually acceptable here. though i'm not sure i agree with the infinitive construction "began to create" that the nJPS uses, as it is not an infinitive in the hebrew.
So in the first three words we have some awkward grammar. It could be "In the beginning of God's creating of ..." (Rashi, JPS, Arach) or it could be "In the beginning God created ..." (most other translations). Both are defensible, and both rely on rare grammatical usage.
i think perhaps it just sounds a little odd in english.
It seems to me that the Rashi/JPS translation has more problems than the other:
1) If Rashi's translation is correct, the "bara" should be pointed differently OR there should be at least one additional word in the phrase to repair the grammar.
it is traditionally emended with different vowel points, actually.
2) Starting with v. 3 (and then God said), the clauses are all in the preterite (waw-consecutive). This preterite sequence needs a referent in the perfect to start it, and "bara" in v. 1 is the only candidate. This means that "bara" must function as a verb, not as a participle.
the vav-consecutive, from what i understand, actually functions very simply as a marker for "casual voice" in the verbs. translating literally, you end with "and" at the beginning of every sentance in the bible.
frankly, the fact that bara LACKS the vav in front indicates that it is an abnormal verb.
1) The preterite construction implies that the verbal action "created" is completed before the next action, which is "and then God said" in v. 3.
i'm not sure about that at all. if it's not the actual verb of the sentance to begin with, the point is totally moot. "and god said..." becomes the independent clause, with "when god began creating..." becoming the dependent. there is no action to be completed in that clause.
and, as i pointed out numerous times to iamjoseph, reading the first chapter of genesis to mean that god created everything twice is more than a little bizarre. 1:1 cleary refers to the rest of creation, which is described as taking place over the course of 6 days. therefor, it makes little sense to say this action must be completed. it's clearly not.
2) "heavens and earth" is generally a "merism" for "everything".
indeed.
So I would translate it:
"In the beginning God created everything." (and this is finished before v. 3 where He says "let there be light").
i wouldn't take the merisms out of the bible. some of the more obscure idioms, maybe. but this one specifically resonates with the rest of the chapter, where god creates both heaven, and earth, and everything else. it's preference, i suppose, but i wouldn't dumb-down the text to such an extent that we rob it of it's poetic beauty.
How can this be? V. 2 seems to be a circumstantial explanatory clause, describing what things were like after the initial creation.
actually, we might say before the initial creation. the first thing created (and thus the first thing given a name) is light. whether you take 1:2 as meaning the earth exists in a shapeless manner, or that it does not exist at all, it is clearly in the state before god has done much of anything to it.
Everything was created, but was "waste and empty", i.e. it was unfinished.
well, this is exactly the reading i'd like combat here. nothing has been created yet, regardless of how you read verse 1. the more traditional "in the beginning..." still pretty clearly refers to the rest of the chapter. not a first and second stage of creation, or two separate creations as the gap theorists might like. it is one singular creation, spanning six days. verse 1 is an introduction to the concept, not an act of creation itself.
The rest of the account from v. 3 onward seems to be a "finishing" of the creation, all described from a reference frame on earth.
well, no. one can see pretty clearly in verses 6-8 that god first commands heaven to exist, and then gives it a name. "heaven" is one of those things in verse 1:1. that's a little more than "finishing" work, that's a pretty substantial part of it. the point is even worse if you recognize that as a merism for "everything." if god made everything already, how does he keep making stuff?
Edited by arachnophilia, : No reason given.


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ICANT
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Posts: 6769
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Member Rating: 1.6


Message 5 of 312 (410416)
07-15-2007 12:56 AM
Reply to: Message 4 by arachnophilia
07-15-2007 12:19 AM


Re-making stuff
"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth" Genesis 1:1.
Everything was completed in one day including all the things in Genesis 2:4-Genesis 4:26.
if god made everything already, how does he keep making stuff?
He doesn't, He just has to remake some things that got messed up between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2.
Enjoy

"John 5:39 (KJS) Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me."

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tudwell
Member (Idle past 6006 days)
Posts: 172
From: KCMO
Joined: 08-20-2006


Message 6 of 312 (410417)
07-15-2007 1:12 AM
Reply to: Message 5 by ICANT
07-15-2007 12:56 AM


Re: Re-making stuff
I'm not nearly so knowledgable in this area as arachnophilia, but I thought I'd give my two cents.
Everything was completed in one day including all the things in Genesis 2:4-Genesis 4:26
If Genesis 1:1 is a complete action that happens before anything else, then no, it wasn't made in one day, because day doesn't exist until 1:3.
He just has to remake some things that got messed up between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2.
Where in the Bible does it say that anything got "messed up" between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2?
Look, if you read Genesis as you do, it plainly contradicts itself. In Genesis 1:1 God creates the heavens and the earth. In Genesis 1:6 God creates a firmament and in 1:8 calls the firmament heaven. God creates heaven twice!

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kbertsche
Member (Idle past 2159 days)
Posts: 1427
From: San Jose, CA, USA
Joined: 05-10-2007


Message 7 of 312 (410421)
07-15-2007 2:16 AM
Reply to: Message 4 by arachnophilia
07-15-2007 12:19 AM


Preterite (waw-consecutive)
the vav-consecutive, from what i understand, actually functions very simply as a marker for "casual voice" in the verbs. translating literally, you end with "and" at the beginning of every sentance in the bible.
frankly, the fact that bara LACKS the vav in front indicates that it is an abnormal verb.
No, this follows the normal grammar of the preterite (waw-consecutive). [Note: the preterite (waw-consecutive) is the usual form for narrative. It implies a consecutive sequence of events.]
The grammar of the waw-consecutive construction works as follows:
The first verb in the narrative is in the perfect (e.g. "bara" ="created" in 1:1)
The subsequent verbs in the narrative have an IMperfect form, with a "waw" prepended to the verb. But the verb is actually translated as a perfect, with "and then" prepended to it. (e.g. "wa yo'mer" = "and then said" in 1:3)
Since "and then God said" in v. 3 follows this construction (waw + imperfect), it must refer back to a perfect form earlier in the account which has no waw. There are three possibilities for which verb this is:
1) the "bara" in 1:1, which means that "created" functions as a perfect verb, not a participle, and the translation must be "In the beginning God created".
2) possibly the "hayeta" in v. 2, which would have to be translated "became". This means that v. 2 is a main clause, not a circumstantial clause. Vv 1-2 would then be translated either "In the beginning of God's creating of the heavens and the earth, the earth became waste and empty" or "In the beginning God created ... And the earth became waste and empty". But this view has a problem: if the verb is used to mean "became" there should be a "beth" prefix before the predicate "tohu wa bohu", according to my PhD Hebrew friend.
3) possbily an implied verb which is not explicit.
The first seems to me to be the best fit to the text.
Edited by kbertsche, : clarification
Edited by kbertsche, : clarification

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kbertsche
Member (Idle past 2159 days)
Posts: 1427
From: San Jose, CA, USA
Joined: 05-10-2007


Message 8 of 312 (410428)
07-15-2007 2:41 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by arachnophilia
07-13-2007 3:00 AM


Grammatical function of 1:1
but the point here should be apallingly obvious by now. the first verse serves as introduction to the seven days of creation. the first action of creation, on the first day, is the creation of light, which god calls "day." the darkness the preceded it was "night" and the two make the first day. the other creative actions, described in genesis 1:1's "heaven and earth" (an idiom for "everything"), happen throughout the rest of the chapter. not at some arbitrary "beginning," not instaneously, and not all at the same tim
I don't think it's nearly so obvious or firm. There are three main possibilities for the grammatical function of the first verse, and these affect how the rest of the account is read. Here are some of my study notes on v. 1:
This is a simple sentence with a single clause. The verb “create” is in the Qal stem, perfect tense, third person masculine singular. The subject is God (elohim). The object is the “heavens and the earth”, which is a figure of speech (a merism) for “everything”.
1) The first verse may be a main clause telling us an action which God did prior to the action in v. 3. This is the traditional view, adopted by Luther and Calvin (Waltke, p. 58). This interpretation makes the best sense of the waw-consecutive in v. 3; the first act in the creation narrative is the act of creating the heavens and earth.
2) The first verse also may be a a main clause acting as a summary heading for the entire creation account. This is the view taken by Waltke (p. 58). This gives some tension with the waw-consecutive in v. 3; the first act of the creation narrative is now missing, and must be inferred.
3) Instead of a main clause, the first verse may be a temporal clause modifying verse 3, “In the beginning when God began to create . God said, “Let there be light” . ” with verse 2 as parenthetical. This translation is followed by Rashi, the Jewish Tanakh, and some other translations and study Bibles, and is gramatically valid (Kidner, p. 43). Alternatively, it may be a temporal clause modifying verse 2, “In the beginning when God began to create . the earth was formless . .” This interpretation was followed by Ibn Ezra (Wenham, p. 11). In this interpretation, the account is not the original creation of everything, but is a re-creation from already existent material. This causes some theological difficulties.
Ancient translations all viewed the first verse as an absolute statement, “In the beginning, God created . ” rather than as a temporal clause. Young defends this, and suspects that the temporal clause is chosen by some modern translators because the Babylonian creation account begins this way (Young, p. 20-24).
[It seems to me that the first view above is the best fit. I think it's saying that the first act of creation was to create everything; the second act was to create (unveil?) light.]

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kbertsche
Member (Idle past 2159 days)
Posts: 1427
From: San Jose, CA, USA
Joined: 05-10-2007


Message 9 of 312 (410519)
07-15-2007 2:45 PM
Reply to: Message 4 by arachnophilia
07-15-2007 12:19 AM


First thing created?
the first thing created (and thus the first thing given a name) is light. whether you take 1:2 as meaning the earth exists in a shapeless manner, or that it does not exist at all, it is clearly in the state before god has done much of anything to it.
I agree that light is the first thing given a name, and that this is signfiicant. But is this creation in 1:3 really the first thing created? If so, where did the land and water come from? 1:2 speaks of the waters already existing. On Days 2 and 3, these waters are separated (first from the heavens, then from the land). There is no explicit mention of their being created (or of the land being created). So I see two options:
1) the account is NOT a creation of everything, but starts with pre-existing material (waters, and probably land).
2) the waters, land, etc. were created in 1:1 as an act prior to 1:3, as part of the creation of "everything" in the beginning.

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 Message 4 by arachnophilia, posted 07-15-2007 12:19 AM arachnophilia has replied

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arachnophilia
Member (Idle past 1371 days)
Posts: 9069
From: god's waiting room
Joined: 05-21-2004


Message 10 of 312 (410534)
07-15-2007 5:26 PM
Reply to: Message 5 by ICANT
07-15-2007 12:56 AM


Re: Re-making stuff
"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth" Genesis 1:1.
Everything was completed in one day
thank you for ignoring the entire argument made in the openning post, which was mostly about the grammar in the original hebrew, and how it should be translated. i would think that a hebrew scholar of six years would have eaten that right up.
He doesn't, He just has to remake some things that got messed up between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2.
this is evidently not the case, due to the grammar, which indicates that 1-3 is a single sentance, with a dependent clause followed by a parenthetical, followed by the independent cluase. that was the argument above.
further, there is no evidence of anything getting "messed up" between the first and second verses. you (and the gap-theorists) have to insert this into the text, where it does not belong.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 5 by ICANT, posted 07-15-2007 12:56 AM ICANT has replied

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 Message 37 by ICANT, posted 02-04-2011 10:56 PM arachnophilia has replied

  
arachnophilia
Member (Idle past 1371 days)
Posts: 9069
From: god's waiting room
Joined: 05-21-2004


Message 11 of 312 (410536)
07-15-2007 5:55 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by kbertsche
07-15-2007 2:16 AM


Re: Preterite (waw-consecutive)
No, this follows the normal grammar of the preterite (waw-consecutive). [Note: the preterite (waw-consecutive) is the usual form for narrative. It implies a consecutive sequence of events.]
indeed, it does imply that in most cases. but it also often begins a sequence of events, as it most likely does here. the point is that the first verse is not actually part of that sequence, but the introduction to the sequence itself. it's a dependent clause, not the first action.
The grammar of the waw-consecutive construction works as follows:
The first verb in the narrative is in the perfect (e.g. "bara" ="created" in 1:1)
actually, you can't say that for sure. this particular tense in hebrew can be either past or present. it's not equivalent to the "past perfect" tense in english, ie: "god had created..."
The subsequent verbs in the narrative have an IMperfect form, with a "waw" prepended to the verb. But the verb is actually translated as a perfect, with "and then" prepended to it. (e.g. "wa yo'mer" = "and then said" in 1:3)
that's not quite how it works, actually. the vav on the beginning is simply casual narrative voice. there is no reason to add a "then" forcing it to be at least a second action when the hebrew does not imply this at all. the vav-consecutive is simply the normal stlye of a verb in the torah.
Since "and then God said" in v. 3 follows this construction (waw + imperfect), it must refer back to a perfect form earlier in the account which has no waw. There are three possibilities for which verb this is:
1) the "bara" in 1:1, which means that "created" functions as a perfect verb, not a participle, and the translation must be "In the beginning God created".
have a look for a second at the first verse of, say, joshua.
quote:
, --‘ ; —- ‘-, —
notice something? it starts with the vav as well. what is it referring back to? judges begins this way too. so does samuel, and kings. and for that matter, so does exodus, numbers, and leviticus (but not deuteronomy).
now, some of these books are abitrary divisions. but some are separate works, with nothing to refer back to at all. even in the other cases, as above, with moses's death, the end of deuteronomy is clearly an ending -- but it starts with a vav too.
so this argument is simply not true at all. a vav-consecutive needs not refer backwards to anything. it's just the casual narrative voice.
2) possibly the "hayeta" in v. 2, which would have to be translated "became". This means that v. 2 is a main clause, not a circumstantial clause. Vv 1-2 would then be translated either "In the beginning of God's creating of the heavens and the earth, the earth became waste and empty" or "In the beginning God created ... And the earth became waste and empty". But this view has a problem: if the verb is used to mean "became" there should be a "beth" prefix before the predicate "tohu wa bohu", according to my PhD Hebrew friend.
sure that wasn't a lamed? bet usually means "in" or "at" where lamed means "to." maybe it can be used that way, but i would have written — ‘ had that been what i meant, and not . the order of the verb and the subject is also important here. since this is not a vav-consecutive, it indicates that this is a parenthetical clause.
3) possbily an implied verb which is not explicit.
the only verbs i'm aware of that are implied is in the present tense. but since this is past tense, they show up.


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arachnophilia
Member (Idle past 1371 days)
Posts: 9069
From: god's waiting room
Joined: 05-21-2004


Message 12 of 312 (410538)
07-15-2007 6:14 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by kbertsche
07-15-2007 2:41 AM


Re: Grammatical function of 1:1
(i've ignored the waw-consecutive points, because they are addressed above)
This is a simple sentence with a single clause.... 1) The first verse may be a main clause telling us an action which God did prior to the action in v. 3. This is the traditional view, adopted by Luther and Calvin (Waltke, p. 58).
but that is evidently not the case. look at the other examples that Rashi provides:
quote:
Jeremiah 26:1
‘, — ‘-
"in the beginning of the reign of yehoiaqim ben-yosyahu..."
"b'reishit" is clearly an indication of a dependent clause. as for tradition, i believe that rashi antedates calvin and luther by a good 400 years, plus. and spoke hebrew natively.
2) The first verse also may be a a main clause acting as a summary heading for the entire creation account. This is the view taken by Waltke (p. 58).
i think that even with the "traditional" translations, this is the most obvious view, as the creation of "heaven and earth" (merism or not) are clearly described in the rest of the chapter.
3) Instead of a main clause, the first verse may be a temporal clause modifying verse 3, “In the beginning when God began to create . God said, “Let there be light” . ” with verse 2 as parenthetical. This translation is followed by Rashi, the Jewish Tanakh, and some other translations and study Bibles, and is gramatically valid (Kidner, p. 43). Alternatively, it may be a temporal clause modifying verse 2, “In the beginning when God began to create . the earth was formless . .” This interpretation was followed by Ibn Ezra (Wenham, p. 11).
yes, that is valid. but,
In this interpretation, the account is not the original creation of everything, but is a re-creation from already existent material. This causes some theological difficulties.
this is not. in no way does that begin to follow. even if verse 1 simply modifies verse 2 (and NOT 3), it might merely be talking about the initial state of creation, before god acted. "when god began creating heaven and earth, the earth was unformed and empty." similarly, "when i began writing this post, the message box was empty." it doesn't imply that anything was destroyed.
It seems to me that the first view above is the best fit. I think it's saying that the first act of creation was to create everything; the second act was to create (unveil?) light.
this make little sense to me. if god has already created everything in one act, how can there be a second act of creation?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 8 by kbertsche, posted 07-15-2007 2:41 AM kbertsche has replied

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 Message 14 by kbertsche, posted 07-24-2007 1:09 AM arachnophilia has replied

  
arachnophilia
Member (Idle past 1371 days)
Posts: 9069
From: god's waiting room
Joined: 05-21-2004


Message 13 of 312 (410540)
07-15-2007 6:23 PM
Reply to: Message 9 by kbertsche
07-15-2007 2:45 PM


Re: First thing created?
I agree that light is the first thing given a name, and that this is signfiicant. But is this creation in 1:3 really the first thing created?
yes.
ignore the first verse for a second, pretend that it doesn't exist, and that the account starts here. the rest of creation follows (somewhat) logically from it.
If so, where did the land and water come from? 1:2 speaks of the waters already existing. On Days 2 and 3, these waters are separated (first from the heavens, then from the land). There is no explicit mention of their being created (or of the land being created). So I see two options:
i think you answer your own question. land is created by the collection of water into specific places. water pre-exists, as it is the primordial element. quite standard ideology for the ancient near-east, actually.
1) the account is NOT a creation of everything, but starts with pre-existing material (waters, and probably land).
water "doesn't count." it sounds strange, i'm sure, but it doesn't. water is thematically the antithesis of creation. god doesn't create darkness/night, either. rather, he defines it by giving it a name, and separating it from day. water is the same thing -- it's defined by its separation from land, but it need not be created.
water/darkness are thematically linked, and represent chaos. god's creation is the separation of things, creating order in the chaos. but the chaos pre-exists.


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 Message 9 by kbertsche, posted 07-15-2007 2:45 PM kbertsche has seen this message but not replied

  
kbertsche
Member (Idle past 2159 days)
Posts: 1427
From: San Jose, CA, USA
Joined: 05-10-2007


Message 14 of 312 (412164)
07-24-2007 1:09 AM
Reply to: Message 12 by arachnophilia
07-15-2007 6:14 PM


Re: Grammatical function of 1:1
look at the other examples that Rashi provides:
quote:
Jeremiah 26:1
‘, — ‘-
"in the beginning of the reign of yehoiaqim ben-yosyahu..."
"b'reishit" is clearly an indication of a dependent clause. as for tradition, i believe that rashi antedates calvin and luther by a good 400 years, plus. and spoke hebrew natively.
Can you point to any other biblical examples of this usage with "bara"? I find that "bara" is classed as a "telic" verb, like "die" or "sell", so "only finds meaning at the end of a process". Waltke claims that "bara" only refers to "a completed act of creation" and gives as examples Deut 4:32; Ps 89:12; Is 40:26; and Amos 4:13.
(BTW, how do you edit Hebrew characters in this window? I can copy and paste yours, but can't figure out how to edit them.)

This message is a reply to:
 Message 12 by arachnophilia, posted 07-15-2007 6:14 PM arachnophilia has replied

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kbertsche
Member (Idle past 2159 days)
Posts: 1427
From: San Jose, CA, USA
Joined: 05-10-2007


Message 15 of 312 (412174)
07-24-2007 2:12 AM
Reply to: Message 4 by arachnophilia
07-15-2007 12:19 AM


well, the article isn't really important, either rendering would be absent the "the" in hebrew.
I disagree; the article IS important. If the article were present on "beginning" ("ba-reshit" instead of "bereshit") there would much less debate. In this case, it could NOT be in construct and Rashi's translation would not be a possibility. The missing article means that Rashi's translation is a possibility.
can you provide an example? (Of cases where a form like "bereshit" is used with no article but it is NOT a construct)
Is 46:10 uses exactly the same form "bereshit" as Gen 1:1, with no article:
I foretell the end from the beginning (JPS)
(There are at least half a dozen other examples, but this is about the best.)
past and present tense third-person verbs in hebrew are actually indistinguishable, even in terms of vowels. either rendering is actually acceptable here.
But this is not the issue.
though i'm not sure i agree with the infinitive construction "began to create" that the nJPS uses, as it is not an infinitive in the hebrew
Yes, THIS is the issue. To take it as a construct (a la Rashi) requires translating it "in the beginning of the creating of God", i.e. "in the beginning of God's creating". For this "bara" MUST be read as an infinitive. But as you note, it is not an infinitive form. It is a 3d person singular finite verb form. To read this as an infinitive would be EXTREMELY unusual and unlikely. (But not necessarily impossible; Wenham points out that this occurs in Hos 1:2).

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