Genesis 1 & 2 (Peter)
peter_kirk at sil.org
peter_kirk at sil.org
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.
______________________________ Reply Separator _________________________________
Subject: Re: Genesis 1 & 2 (Peter)
Author: <mc2499 at mclink.it> 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
>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
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.
More information about the b-hebrew