Genesis 1 & 2

Dave Washburn dwashbur at
Sun Dec 5 16:15:14 EST 1999

Jonathan wrote in part:
> Additionally, we have to consider the great probability that the source material for 
> Genesis came from other languages and was translated into Hebrew at the level of 
> redaction. So during the redaction process with the combining of the sources, there is 
> a translation element here that causes us to lose the ability to look for redactionary 
> indicators in the grammar. Take this for example. I like to say that the first source 
> ends with the very end of 2:4 after eretz ve-shamayim, and I make verses 2:5-2:6 (in 
> their entirety) a redactional insertion that attempts to smooth out the 2 sources, and I 
> make the second source start with verse 7, vayitsar. Of course the notion of an 
> independant source starting with a vayyiqtol is ludicrous, but the Akkadian or West 
> Semitic or even Protosemitic source need not necessarily start with an imperfective 
> form, if there even was such a thing in the source language, as we are working with 
> the translation into Mosaic/Davidian Hebrew. So in this respect, detailed grammar 
> analyses are only useful for exegesis. You cannot apply grammar to theories of 
> redaction if you are working with a text that was translated as it was redacted.

Actually, the idea of an independent source starting with a 
wayyiqtol isn't ludicrious at all.  We have such forms all over the 
Hebrew Bible starting new sections, new thoughts, even a whole 
book like Jonah.  While I agree that it's possible some sources 
were written in other languages, there's nothing inherently ludicrous 
about a Hebrew source starting with a wayyiqtol.  See F. I. 
Andersen, "The Sentence in Biblical Hebrew" on wayyiqtol's use to 
begin a new idea, as well as my paper "Perspective and Purpose: 
Understanding the Josiah Story" in _Trinity Journal_ 1991 (there's 
also a link to it as a WordPerfect file at

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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