SV: Gilgamesh and Genesis 1:1

Peter Kirk peter_kirk at
Mon Jan 17 22:36:13 EST 2000

I don't know if NPL was on this list at the time, but it's not many 
months since we had an exhaustive discussion of the syntax of Genesis 
1:1. My conclusion was that Lee Martin's interpretation of this verse 
cannot be syntactically correct, as this would leave it as a hanging 
prepositional phrase linked to nothing else, for verse 2 (starting 
with WAW) is clearly a new sentence. So I agree with NPL that the 
literal meaning of BERE'SHIT is "at a beginning" with no construct 
chain. But this cannot mean "one of many beginnings" but in this 
context can only mean "in the beginning" in an absolute sense.

Peter Kirk

______________________________ Reply Separator _________________________________
Subject: Re: SV: Gilgamesh
Author:  <lmartin at> at Internet
Date:    17/01/2000 11:24

Niels Peter Lemche wrote:

> One of the basic parts of the training at universities is to tell people to 
> read a text in context. You cannot isolate one verse from it context and
> claim that you can interpret it out of context.

Dear Niels,
Your statement above is condescending.  We all know that texts must be read in 

> Gen 1:1 can be translated in
> several different ways, e.g. because the first word does not say in the 
> beginning but as it stands in the Leningradiensis (and Aleppo for that 
> matter) 'at a beginning'.

Gen. 1:1 does not say "at a beginning."  The reason BeReShiTH does not have the 
article is that it is in construct.  It takes its definiteness from the word 
following.  The construct used with a finite verb is attested many times in the 
HB and
it is always definite.  Thus, Gen. 1:1 says, "In the beginning of God's creating
heavens and the earth."  The statement may be interpreted in several ways, but G
creation of heaven and earth cannot be excised from verse one or from the whole 

Lee R. Martin
Pastor, Prospect Church of God, Cleveland, Tennessee 
Instructor in Hebrew and Old Testament
Church of God Theological Seminary

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