Genesis 1 & 2 (Peter)

Ian Hutchesson mc2499 at mclink.it
Sun Dec 5 02:07:54 EST 1999


>.. 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.

That which we now call the Septuagint does not equal that which
Pseudo-Aristeas referred to as having been translated when Phalerius
Demetrius was supposed to have been the librarian. Pseudo-Aristeas talks of
the law being translated, which excludes Isaiah and given the indications
from the DSS Genesis was not part of the law but circulated separately.
When Pseudo-Aristeas was writing is hard to tell: his reference to
Phalerius Demetrius is anachronistic, so is not writing anywhere near the
event reported. (Dating supplied for Pseudo-Aristeas in the Charlesworth
Pseudepigraphic collection ranges from early second century BCE to first
century CE.) When either Genesis or Isaiah was translated is extremely
difficult to know. I don't think anyone has any tangible ideas. However,
Alexandria was a centre of middle Platonism, home of such writers as
Aristobulus and Philo who were both strongly influenced by Platonic ideas.
One cannot help but think that when texts were translated into Greek, it
was done by people who were steeped in Greek ideas as well.

The Isaiah passages you mention above are no help for the
creatio-ex-nihilist. Look at the last Is45:18, God created the heavens and
formed [ycr] the earth. [l' thw br'h]

Now look at the background to Gen1:2-7. I have already talked of the Enuma
Elish. Let's see some of the biblical connections to the defeat of the
watery chaos dragon which is sublimated in Gen1:2-7. Try Ps89:10, in the
context of the raging sea, Rahab is defeated and slain, after which we have
the mention of the heavens and the formation of the earth. Or Ps74:13,
where the sea is divided and the heads of the dragons in the waters are
broken. Again, Job26:12-13, God quelled the sea, struck down Rahab, by his
wind the heavens made fair. Is51:9, God divided [xcb] Rahab and pierced the
dragon. In these verses we have the battle between the watery chaos dragon
and God with the result that Rahab is defeated and divided. In most cases
some form of creation is listed. Of course in the Babylonian version the
watery chaos is called Tiamat, just as the deep in Gen1:2 is called tehom
[thwm]. Rahab is simply a pejorative epithet. But there is no longer any
slaying of the dragon in the story as it is told in Gen1. However, who
makes the connection between thwm and thw? (What about between bhw and
bhmwt?) The deep and chaos! God divided the waters in v6 exactly as Marduk
did, though first Marduk used the wind to get control of Tiamat, the divine
wind moving on the face of the waters.

Gen1 was clearly written after the currency of the slaying of Rahab in all
the works cited above.

(I think you can find a copy of the Enuma Elish on the web now.)

>>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.

Yet you want an action to have taken place in v1. Looking at the Kings and
Job examples, they are both basically static states of affairs. You however
want some narrative weight in v1, which should not according to your
thinking -- as I understand it -- be a qatal.

>..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.

Chaos, Peter. God created chaos. Why not just create the things and not
waste time? This is the problem invented by the creatio-ex-nihilo crew. God
creates chaos then creates everything from 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. 

I use an unpointed text. My basic point was the similarity of structure not
the similarity of verb form.

when, do what, who, what

The "when" is comparable; the "do what" synonyms; the "who" is the same;
and the "what" is the same.

>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). 

Which was done first, the pointing or the "LXX" translation of Genesis?

>In 2:4 
>(:A&OWT is an infinitive construct, as is clear even in the unpointed 
>text.
>
>(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 
>purposes.
>
>PK: And 3) the sentence structures are quite different.

By showing the verb form to have been different doesn't make the "sentence
structures quite different", merely the verb form. Both verses provide a
dating mechanism and say that God created/made the heavens and the earth.
You're being contrary.

Both texts after saying what they are about to talk about (the
creation/making of the heavens and the earth) go on to give the state prior
to the creative acts. 

>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.

No, you can't!

>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. 

I agree with the background notion -- the state of affairs at the time of
the action, but you have shown no reason to order the talk of creation in
v1 with the fact that the earth was thw wbhw in v2. Both clauses contain a
qatal, so how do you relate them to each other? Aren't they simultaneous?

>However, to me verse 1 makes it clear that God did create ex nihilo 

Yet the verb form is qatal. Are you giving it narrative force then with
respect to the other qatals, ie that the creation mentioned in v1 came
before the situation in v2? Or are all the clauses in v1 & 2 on the same
par. If the x-qatal provides the background information for the wayyiqtol,
then we should take in consideration both examples of x-qatal in vv1&2.
Perhaps it's just my lack of knowledge in Hebrew (eminently possible), but
have you got any examples of x-qatal in narrative sequence?

>the "tohu webohu" (not exactly "chaos"!), 

What is it then? It's translated as confusion, waste, without form, and
other chaotic notions.

>but perhaps before the first numbered day. 

"perhaps"? Either it is according to you or you're having doubts about
creatio ex nihilo.

>If this is different from Enuma Elish, 

Red herring.

>it is because the author wanted to point out that even this raw 
>material of creation was under God's control.

Creating chaos is obviously a wasted step. God creates chaos, then God
creates the various things that make up the world. Why not just: God
creates the various things that make up the world; which is more reasonable
than having God create chaos.

Remember, God did not create darkness, merely light, which he separated
from darkness. If one raw material was not created, then why must you
assume that all the rest were?


Cheers,


Ian




More information about the b-hebrew mailing list