Gen 1:1. Kermess

Liz Fried lizfried at
Thu Aug 31 16:19:49 EDT 2000

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Peter Kirk
 > >
> > > PK: Here you seem to be raising a textual issue. The unpointed text is
> > > ambiguous, it could be a QATAL form, an infinitive, or various other
> parts
> > > of the verb. But I note that the LXX and (I think) Vulgate translators
> > > understood the Hebrew (and so translated) along the lines of "In the
> > > beginning God created...". It is only in the modern period (which
> > > would just
> > > include Rashi), after the pointed Masoretic text was in general use,
> that
> > > anyone has suggested that this text means anything else. So you cannot
> > > attribute alternative interpretations to use of unpointed or otherwise
> > > variant texts.
> > If you refer here to the pointing under the bet in bereshit, the LXX and
> the
> > NT,
> > GJohn 1:1 have en arxh, so the pointing under the b is a
> schwah. There is
> no
> > *the*. Therefore it seems it ought to be translated as "when" or "at
> first".
> PK: Hold on, what are you arguing here? The LXX translators understood the
> Hebrew to mean something like "In a beginning". Or perhaps it is simply a
> regular Greek idiom to leave ARXH unpointed in this case - can anyone
> comment on this? So you cannot use that as an argument for the Hebrew
> meaning something different.
According to my Greek teacher, it is highly unusual not to have the Greek
he there. It should be  EN H ARXH.
They wouldn't have left the article out unless they were translating
directly from
the Hebrew, even though the Hebrew was unpointed at the time.

There is also evidence in the Samaritan
> tradition for an original qamets pointing, from how I understand
> the note in
> BHS.
However, deficilior lectus, or however that goes, i.e., the more difficult
case is to
be preferred. There is witness from the LXX, the MT, and the NT for the
absence of the
> > Quoting Rashi again, he argues that every case where you have
> breshit, or
> > betehillat, it is in the construct. Jer. 26:1; Gen 10:10; Deut. 18:4;
> > Hos.1:2, but
> > he states that bara must be read brw(.
> PK: But he doesn't give any evidence for this latter point. Is he claiming
> that brw( is correct on textual grounds or making a correction
> based on his
> grammatical arguments?
 Rashi's emmendation from bara) to baro) is only a change in pointing.
He makes this change because every other instance of reshit, or tehillat, is
followed by
either a noun or a verb in the infinite absolute.

As I and others have argued, his grammatical
> arguments are weak in the light of modern understandings. I am prepared to
> accept Rashi as a great scholar but not as an infallible authority.
How then would you translate the four verses listed above, especially the

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