Genesis 1:1: independ/subord... Recent comments

peter_kirk at peter_kirk at
Thu Dec 9 18:54:34 EST 1999

I don't want to get drawn into further controversy, but here is an 
answer to a scholarly question. I partly dealt with this in another 
submission yesterday, which you may not have received when you wrote 
this. Sequences of X-QATAL are not usual, and cannot be assumed to be 
sequential; on the other hand, they cannot be assumed to be 
non-sequential. Note that in the examples I dealt with yesterday, 
Genesis 44:3-4 and Exodus 10:13, the elements are not all in sequence 
but some of them are. Now clearly Genesis 1:1 (with my interpretation) 
and 1:2 cannot be entirely overlapping in time as one describes an 
event and the other a state. I see the following possibilities:

A) God created, after that the earth was without form and void...

B) God created, before that the earth was without form and void...

C) God created over a period of time, during that time the earth was 
without form and void...

D) God created over a period of time, at the beginning of that time 
the earth was without form and void...

B) seems unlikely for two reasons, first because there is no 
signalling of this in the text and secondly because of the logical 
difficulty of the earth existing (though without form and void) before 
it was created. There is the same logical problem in the "When God 
began to create" interpretation, if, as I do, one takes BR) to imply 
forming something that previously did not exist (not necessarily ex 
nihilo) rather than changing the state of something which already 

C) is logically possible, but unlikely, for one would expect the state 
to change during the process of creation.

D) is almost equivalent to the "When God began to create" 
interpretation (even without its underlying understanding of the 
grammar), but (so avoiding the logical problem) could also include a 
first step of God creating a void earth - God creating chaos, if you 
like, as a raw material. Thus one might paraphrase as "In the 
beginning God created... After the first stage, the earth was..." I 
accept that this interpretation is possible. In this case 1:1 could be 
a summary of the whole of 1:1-2:3.

But I still think that A), a simple sequence, is the most natural 
interpretation, and so, in the absence of indiactors of anything else, 
most likely to be the author's intention.

Peter Kirk

______________________________ Reply Separator _________________________________
Subject: Re: Genesis 1:1: independ/subord... Recent comments
Author:  <mc2499 at mclink it> at Internet
Date:    08/12/1999 21:43


While we're here, you still don't seem have dealt with my initial problem 
with your analysis: if, as per your thought, you have a sequence of two 
x-qatals, how can you give one of them temporal priority? You say that the 
creation talked of in v1 resulted in the waste and void in v2. My little 
understanding is that x-qatal provides background information to an event, 
not narrative content. If the analysis is as you claim, why isn't it an 
x-qatal (br') followed by a wayyiqtol (wyhy) as would be expected? The fact 
that this isn't the case should signal some other interpretation.




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