Genesis 1 & 2

Dave Washburn dwashbur at
Sat Dec 4 00:17:39 EST 1999

Paul wrote:
> 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.  

I understand what you're saying, but I'm not sure how it resolves 
the apparent contradiction about the order of humans vs. animals?

> 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.

*shudder* I hope I haven't actually said such a thing, and if I 
seemed to it certainly wasn't my intention and I apologize at once.  
I know that views of consecution have been developed after careful 
study; I just don't happen to agree with them :-)  To Jonathan, I 
should explain that my approach seeks unifying factors in 
grammatical usage, some sort of "thread" that ties apparently 
disparate uses of a form together.  There are innumerable 
examples of wayyiqtols that can't be consecutive, so I ask what 
the tie is that binds consecutive and non-consecutive uses 
together.  I also work from a strict separation of syntax and 
semantics a la Chomsky.  My view is a minority one, I am well 
aware.  But from some chatter I've read here and there as well as 
some private messages I've received now and again, a view other 
than consecutivity seems to be gaining some steam.  Perhaps in 
another hundred years or so...And again, if I have implicitly or 
explicitly suggested that somebody here does any "blind following" 
of a view, I apologize.  

> 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.

Agreed.  It amounts in large measure to a difference in starting 
points, and as good a case can be made for one as for the other.  
Whichever one prefers, there's a lot we can learn from each other.

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

Back at ya :-)

Dave Washburn
Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth;
give me an undivided heart that I may fear your name.
                                   Psalm 86:11

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