Genesis 1 & 2 (Peter)

peter_kirk at peter_kirk at
Sat Dec 4 16:39:58 EST 1999

I won't bother to reply to much of this as our views are clearly so 
far apart that we will only end up with another slanging match. But I 
will reply to some parts, about the Hebrew.

Peter Kirk

______________________________ Reply Separator _________________________________
Subject: Re[7]: Genesis 1 & 2 (Peter)
Author:  <mc2499 at> at Internet
Date:    03/12/1999 23:40


.. The theological move to creatio ex nihilo is something manifested in 
historical space, in the time of the fathers. Please provide someone writing 
in the Hebrew tradition who clearly uses the notion of creatio ex nihilo 
before the writing of Wisdom. If you can't, then you can't ignore the 
implication of Wisdom on the creative act.

PK: Look at Hebrews 11:3, apparently a statement of creation ex nihilo 
- at least not from matter as generally understood. I don't know how 
you would compare its date to that of Wisdom, but I guess not much 
later. Also of course Genesis 1:1 LXX implies creation ex nihilo. See 
also Isaiah 42:5, 44:24, 45:12,18, which don't leave much room for 
preexisting matter.


>PK: Unfortunately it is those newer translations rather than the older 
>ones which are incorrect. We have B:R")$IYT BFRF) ):ELOHIYM... which 
>is a clear example of a temporal phrase with B:- and a time noun 
>followed by a finite QATAL verb, meaning "In the beginning God 
>created.." or perhaps "In the beginning God had created...".

Peter, you and how many scholars have been pretending to know what the 
Hebrew verb morphology is all about? Much of the debate on this list has 
said this for a long time. Why would you insinuate a past perfect form into 
the English translation? I've seen you make this sort of guess numerous 
times on the list.

Please tell me why v2 starts with the noun if the writer saw fit to include 
a verb in the clause....

PK: Both verse 1 and verse 2a are formally X-QATAL clauses, in which 
something other than a verb comes before a verb in the QATAL form. 
Although scholars may dispute the precise meaning of this, one 
widespread view is that such clauses represent background events 
before the start of the main narrative. Compare the first clauses of 1 
Kings and Job. This is the reason for suggesting the translation "had 
created" in verse 1, before the time of the first "fiat" (using the 
narrative form WAYYIQTOL) in verse 3.

..And why is the verb "moved" [mrxpt] in that form? Is not v2 telling the 
state of affairs at the time of the creation (not after creation)?

PK: This is telling us the state of affairs at the time of the main 
clause here, the earth becoming "tohu webohu".

Are you positing that God create chaos? And then decided to fix it up? This 
is implied by your analysis.

PK: I would tentatively suggest that God first created formless 
matter, raw material if you like, and then gave form to it.

Gen1:1 is functionally equivalent to Gen2:4b

  b ywm '$wt yhwh 'lhym      'rc w$mym

  br'$yt br'      'lhym  't h$mym w't h'rc

PK: No it isn't. You have confused the issue by ignoring the pointing. 
In 1:1 BFRF) is a QATAL finite verb form (not a Masoretic invention, 
as LXX translates this as a finite verb, in the aorist). In 2:4 
(:A&OWT is an infinitive construct, as is clear even in the unpointed 

(I guess you'd conclude that this translation was wrong as well: "in the 
day that God made the earth and the heavens". Where did that "that" come 
from? The making took place in the day.)

They are rather similar and appear in exactly the same relationship to the 
texts that follow them. The major differences are 1) the writer of Gen1 
didn't use yhwh 'lhym because he is working with the full knowledge that 
God revealed his name to Moses; and 2) he preferred br' for theological 

PK: And 3) the sentence structures are quite different.


You haven't established anything other than a confused God, which I don't 
accept. "Let's create chaos and then do something with it." This is the 
creatio-ex-nihilist's approach, someone with the a priori conviction that 
we are dealing with creatio ex nihilo.

PK: I can mock your theology as well if you like, but I choose not to.

Could you outline the events of the first day for me, so I can understand 
how you perceive that it fits into the literary formation of the full 
creation account of Gen.1? Given the fact that each day starts with God 
using divine fiat (y'mr 'lhym  and, for three of the first four days, yhy 
translated in Latin as "fiat"), are you proposing that the first day breaks 
that mould used for all the other days?

I have so far only seen excruciatingly painful knots from the 
creatio-ex-nihilo squad over Gen1:1-2. Without the baggage the text is 
relatively easy to understand. The starting conditions of the creation 
were: waste and void, darkness and the divine wind moving on the waters 
(all found in the Enuma Elish -- though the chaos and the waters were the 
same thing).

PK: I see 1:1-2 as outside and before the framework of the seven days, 
as indicated by the Hebrew verb forms, and indicating the background. 
However, to me verse 1 makes it clear that God did create ex nihilo 
the "tohu webohu" (not exactly "chaos"!), but perhaps before the first 
numbered day. If this is different from Enuma Elish, it is because the 
author wanted to point out that even this raw material of creation was 
under God's control.



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