veqatal and adverbs, and Genesis 1:1-3

Liz Fried lizfried at
Mon Sep 4 21:59:13 EDT 2000

One of my Hebrew teachers used to make us read the unpointed text.
He also wanted us to get rid of the spaces between the words.
All that was interpretation by the Masoretes he said.
It was hard to do, since we all had the pointed copies anyway.
I didn't realize the magnitude of the problem until I started
reading the DSS texts. Deciphering unpublished fragments
of texts with no nekudot brought it firmly home to me how
every dot is translation. Every dot you add fixes one interpretation, and
rules out forever every other one.
Don't forget, besides, the many qorey, katib differences
noted in the margins of the codices.

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Peter Kirk [mailto:Peter_Kirk at]
> Sent: Monday, September 04, 2000 5:59 PM
> To: Biblical Hebrew
> Subject: Re: veqatal and adverbs, and Genesis 1:1-3
> Ian, is it actually true that the oldest surviving text of Genesis 1:1 is
> unpointed? Is there actually a surviving ancient unpointed manuscript of
> this verse?
> Even if there is a DSS fragment of this, it would not be as old as the
> generally accepted dating (OK, I know it's not a proven dating) of the LXX
> translation which witnesses to a finite verb here. Even if LXX is no older
> than the oldest surviving MSS i.e. 4th century CE, it is a strong witness
> that this word was understood as a finite verb long before the Masoretes
> wrote the vowel points. The Vulgate also provides evidence on the same
> lines, if I am not mistaken.
> Anyway, it wasn't me but Rashi who proposed emendation of bara'
> to baro'. He
> was presumably talking about emendation of the pointed text and the
> recitation tradition which he knew. I don't know if he was aware
> of the LXX
> or Vulgate reading or if he would have taken them into account.
> Maybe, given
> the regrettable attitude of Christians to Jews in his time, he would have
> deliberately distanced himself from their readings.
> Peter Kirk
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Ian Hutchesson" <mc2499 at>
> To: "Biblical Hebrew" <b-hebrew at>
> Sent: Monday, September 04, 2000 5:52 PM
> Subject: Re: veqatal and adverbs, and Genesis 1:1-3
> <snip>
> >
> > As the earliest texts are unpointed one has to conclude that bara' seems
> to
> > be only one interpretation. baro' is not an amendment of bara'
> but another
> > interpretation.
> >
> >
> > Ian
> >
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