Gen 1:1 "When God began to create"?

Peter Kirk Peter_Kirk at
Wed Aug 30 06:19:06 EDT 2000

The main thing which your translation lacks is that it is not ridiculously
over-literal. In particular, you changed "created" to "creating" have
dropped the "and" at the start of verse 2.

I and many (all?) others would dispute that the sky and the land were there
before God's creative activity. In fact the first verse quite clearly states
that God created them (though one might argue about when or the grammatical
relationships with what follows, or about tohu webohu perhaps being raw
material). So what you are putting forward as undisputed fact is in fact
directly contradicted by the text on every interpretation which I have ever

Peter Kirk

----- Original Message -----
From: "Liz Fried" <lizfried at>
To: "Biblical Hebrew" <b-hebrew at>
Sent: Wednesday, August 30, 2000 3:30 AM
Subject: RE: Gen 1:1 "When God began to create"?

> -----Original Message-----
> > From: Peter Kirk [mailto:Peter_Kirk at]
> > Sent: Tuesday, August 29, 2000 6:56 PM
> > To: Biblical Hebrew
> > Subject: Re: Gen 1:1 "When God began to create"?
> > Here is an attempt to recreate the Hebrew ambiguity in English, in an
> > over-simplified way. A ridiculously over-literal translation of
> > 1:1-2 could
> > go something like:
> >
> > In the beginning of God created the heavens and the earth, and the earth
> > was/became formless and void...
> >
> May I suggest:
> At the beginning of God's creating skies and land the land was unpopulated
> and a wind from God soared over the ocean.
> I'd like to point out (tho no one has disputed this as yet) that the land
> and sea were already there prior to the beginning of God's creative
> activity.
> The phrase "veha(aretz hayita tohu ve bohu" is in the pluperfect.
> In narrative Hebrew, if the verb comes before the subject (VSO), the
> narration is moved along. If the subject comes first (SVO), then the
> of that clause comes *before*
> the action of the main clause. This was pointed out by Rashi and also
> Gesenius.
> The Hebrew Bible does not have creatio ex nihilo.
> Also, I think the use of the phrase in Jeremiah indicates that
> is a better translation of tohu ve bohu than "unformed and void."
> Liz
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