Gen 1:1. Kermess

Ian Hutchesson mc2499 at
Wed Aug 30 13:08:01 EDT 2000

At 11.19 30/08/00 +0100, Peter Kirk wrote:
>The main thing which your translation lacks is that it is not ridiculously
>over-literal. In particular, you changed "created" to "creating" 

Working from the earliest texts, it doesn't say "created" though, does it.
This is only your translation assumption.

>dropped the "and" at the start of verse 2.

Do you translate every w- you find in the OT/HB?

>I and many (all?) others would dispute that the sky and the land were there
>before God's creative activity. 

I haven't seen you ever deal with the structure of the text, Peter. Each
day starts with a divine fiat. Besides your commitment to creatio ex
nihilo, what makes you think that the author didn't see the raw material of
creation as a chaotic sea? Remember that the Babylonian creation requires
the separation of the watery chaos (tiamat) -- so watery chaos was there
before the creation, noting the mention at this stage of the deep (tehom,
the cognate of tiamat). 

Just as in the Babylonian story the divine wind swept over the waters. It
was through this wind that the great god, Marduk, defeated the sea and
began his creation. One can only expect the Genesis account to follows the
cultural artifacts available in its era, so it's not strange that there
were things around before the creation.

>In fact the first verse quite clearly states
>that God created them 

Although there is no dispute that the text says that God created them, this
is not the problem. The problem is: what do the terms actually refer to and
how does the first verse relate to the rest of the passage. God creates
rqy` in v7, then calls it $mym. Is this $mym the $mym of v1? Did God
recreate the heavens? He created the earth by divine fiat in v9 and called
in `rc. Did God recreate the earth?

Liz chose to translate it "At the beginning of God's creating skies and
land". Something of the likes of "At the beginning of" seems to be the more
accepted understanding of br'$yt (the version I'm looking at at this
moment, NRSV, has "in the beginning when" and omits the "and"). Why do you
take it as a simple temporal adverb (given all the preceding debate on the

The first verse is often thought of as a type of introduction to the
creation. At the beginning of the book we get a description of God creating
the heavens and the earth, and, after the introductory verses, that's what
you get.

>(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

What Liz said, ie "that the land and sea were already there prior to the
beginning of God's creative activity", has in fact been disputed (by you
amongst others), but her ideas here tend to coincide with what is literally
in the text and what we know of ancient thought (rather than what moderns
project onto it).

The literalist is faced with the dirtiness of the rude, crude text; the
inerrantist creates a complex and monumental, unverifiable subtext to
replace it.


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