Construct + Finite = Relative?

Alviero Niccacci sbfnet at
Mon Sep 11 03:49:34 EDT 2000

On  9/10/00 (Re: Construct + Finite = Relative?) Ian Hutchesson wrote:

>At 18.48 09/09/00 +0300, Alviero Niccacci wrote:
>>I analyze Gen 1:1-3 as follows: "In the beginning of (the fact that) God
>>created heaven and earth, i.e. When God began to create heaven and earth
>>[sentence 1], the earth was chaos and void [sentence 2], darkness was on the
>>surface of the abyss [sentence 3], and the Spirit of God was hovering over
>>the surface of the water [sentence 4]. Then God said [sentence 5] etc."
>>Semantically, Gen 1:1-2 means that when God created the universe (this is
>>meaning of "heaven and earth"), He proceeded step by step. He first
>created a
>>raw reality (if I can put it this way), then He adorned it in its various
>Dear Alviero,
>I don't understand the step from saying
>  "the earth was chaos and void"
> "He first created a raw reality"
>You give no support for this augmenting of the meaning of
>  yh'rc hyth thw wbhw
>At the same time it nullifies the notion of God creating the world in six
>days and resting on the seventh, if one accepts the literary form placed on
>the day structure which began with a divine fiat. Such a creation of "raw
>reality" would have taken place on day 0 -- a Sabbath.
>>A major difference is that the *creatio ex nihilo* seems to me clearly
>>indicated in the Biblical text--the creation was first chaotic, then God
>>ornamented it in different steps. Lengthy discussions on the *creatio ex
>>nihilo* were conducted mainly on a philosophical basis by both Jewish and
>>Christian scholars, esp. in Medieval times. See, e.g., S. Kamin in _Scripta
>>Hierosolymitana_ 31 (1986) 91-132.
>I have cited a number of times on this list on this topic, Wisdom of
>Solomon 11:17a, which is clearly much earlier than Mediaeval times
>specifically contradicts the notion of "creatio ex nihilo". We must
>remember that later times were even more influenced by Platonic ideas.

Dear Ian Hutchesson:

I do not see why the phrase "God created a raw reality" is not a suitable interpretation of *weha'arec hayetâ tohû wabohû*--whatever the exact meaning of the individual terms is. Anyhow, my point was the syntax of Gen 1:1-3.

I do not see either how my interpretation, in your words, "nullifies the notion of God creating the world in six days . . . Such a creation of 'raw reality' would have taken place on day 0 -- a Sabbath." I would suggest not to count what or where the text does not. The week structure is employed for the adornment  of heaven and earth rather than for their production, or pre-existence, if you prefer. Besides, your observation, if valid, IMO applies to whatever translation and interpretation of the passage one may choose.

As for Wisdom of Solomon 11:17a, it affirms that God "created the world out of formless matter" (RSV). Strictly speaking, it does not say anything concerning the origin of the matter itself, does it. On the contrary, in Gen 1:1-2, the earth, which was "without form and void" (RSV), is said to have been created by God.

Pace e bene.

Alviero Niccacci

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