Gen 1:1, Rashi

Bryan Rocine brocine at
Sun Sep 10 09:25:01 EDT 2000

Hi Peter, you wrote:
> OK, maybe not so rare. But your analysis is a quite
different one, nothing
> like Rashi's which had verses 1-2 as clauses dependent on
verse 3 as a main
> verb.

IMHO, I find identifying inter-clausal dependencies to be
rather tenuous when a relative such as 'asher or ki, etc.  I
think the recent work of Eep Talstra largely confirms this.
So I usually allow clauses to stand by themselves unless
there is a clear relative present.  In the case Gen 1:1-2, I
think we are agreed in terms of the discourse that the
section preceding the first wayyiqtol is introductory,
scene-setting material.  So the introductory material is
supportive of the wayyiqtol.  I think some are mis-labeling
this *discourse* relationship of support or background as
some sort of dependence.

But you are taking verse 1 as an independent sentence. In
fact what
> you come up with is not very different from the
"traditional" understanding
> by which I mean "In the beginning God created...",
especially since you are
> making your regular change of qatal forms to "was a doer".
> But how are you actually parsing this sentence? Do you see
BARA) as a verb
> or as a noun?

I'll take the unit bara' 'elohim as a substantive.  I think
this is what Rashi, Gesenius, Jouon-Muraoka, and our list
friend Niccacci are saying about this and the numerous other
passages in which a finite verb is in the role of nomens
rectum.  The question is how we should interpret the
substantive.  I think the majority view is that the
substantive is part of a relative that has the relative
pronoun ('asher) elided, something like "(of what or that)
Elohim created," i.e. "It was in the beginning of what
Elohim created" or "It was in the beginning that Elohim
created."  I would, of course, also like to entertain
"Elohim (is/was) a Creator."


B. M. Rocine
Associate Pastor
Living Word Church
6101 Court St. Rd.
Syracuse, NY 13206

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