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

George Athas gathas at
Wed Aug 30 17:57:24 EDT 2000

Liz wrote:

| 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 action
| 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.

I'd agree with everything but the last statement. I think the text is ambiguous about
"what" God created the world and sky with. It simply doesn't say. It just says that he
created them and that they'd been terribly chaotic and insubstantial. He then proceeds to
give good order to the chaos, and then places man over the new order. I don't think Gen 1
gives evidence either pro or contra creatio ex nihilo. It's not interested in answering
that question, even in passing.

| Also, I think the use of the phrase in Jeremiah indicates that "unpopulated"
| is a better translation of tohu ve bohu than "unformed and void."

To an extent, yes. Unpopulated because of the sheer chaos of the environment in which no
one could live. The two ideas (unpopulated and chaotic) go together.

Best regards,
- Anglican Chaplaincy, UNSW;
- Southern Cross College,
Sydney, Australia
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