Genesis 1 & 2

Paul Zellmer zellmer at digitelone.com
Wed Dec 1 14:43:41 EST 1999


Dave wrote (in part) in response to Jonathan Bailey:

> > My next question is, even if the accounts are two separate accounts
pieced together
> > (as I believe), does that dictate that they both be considered
contending and
> > contradictory accounts of the creation of the entire world?
>
> I don't think they are contradictory.  The supposed contradiction
> most frequently pointed out (at least pointed out to me) is the
> sequence of creation between Adam and the animals; chapter 2
> supposedly says that the animals were created after the man,
> because the mention of the animals' creation uses a waw-
> consecutive verb.  But my grammatical research has found that the
> waw-consecutive isn't consecutive at all, and more and more
> approaches are starting to realize this.  In fact, the suggestion of
> such a blatant contradiction is an insult to the ancient editors: are
> we really supposed to imagine that these fellows, pious and
> concerned about what they were doing, were also so stupid that
> they didn't realize that one put animals before man and the other
> put man before animals?  And that in the space of a relatively few
> sentences so that it would have been glaringly obvious to anybody
> but a complete moron?  "I don't think so, Tim."  The problem is not
> that the scribes, editors etc. were idiots, the problem is that we
> don't understand the function of the verb form in question.

But, as has been stated in previous discussions on this matter, there is
also a change of verb roots here, from (&H in Gen 1:25 to YCR in 2:19.
The difference may be significant, with the Genesis 2 form referring not
to a creation (in the sense that that word is normally used in a
biblical setting) but rather a forming of examples of lifeforms
previously created.  If this is the case, the use of the wayyiqtol can
still carry the sense of consecutive activities that many approaches
still ascribe, at least in part, to the wayyiqtol in Hebrew prose.  In
other words, Jonathan, not all of us have gone as far as Dave in totally
rejecting this feature of the Hebrew wayyiqtol verb form.  Rather, we
have opted for a somewhat more complicated usage of the form that does
not require the same "blindly followed" [not Dave's words, but sometimes
his implication] simple interpretation in all cases, but still allows
the majority of cases to have consecutivity as part of its baggage of
meaning.

But this is an old discussion that comes up every so often and then gets
put on the back burner again in the interest of civility.  I have noted
offlist that it seems that the degree to which one holds to these type
feature is in direct relation to the goals in studying the language.
Some are trying to come up with descriptions of the various forms, and
so are bothered by exceptions.  Others are seeking to determine the
meanings of passages, and find generalities as baselines which specific
situations can modify.  Both approaches are necessary, and followers of
each are found living somewhat amicably on this list.

Dave, I appreciate you and your comments, even when I don't agree
completely.

Paul




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