Construct + Finite = Relative?

Studium Biblicum Franciscanum sbfnet at
Thu Sep 14 01:32:31 EDT 2000

  On Tue, 12 Sep 2000 Ian Hutchesson wrote:

	< snip >

>If Gen1:1-2 is in fact a heading, it doesn't need to be syntactically
>hooked onto Gen1:3. (I'm only proposing one possible understanding of
>Gen1:1-2, not advocating it.) However, I think it is clear that the writer
>intended v3 to be understood as the *first* act of creation.

Dear Ian Hutschesson:

	1) IMO Gen 1:1-2 does need be syntactically hooked onto Gen 
1:3 because it is an offline construction, or background (sfondo, in 
Italian). It is grammatically independent because it is not governed 
by any subordinating conjunction--such as kî, 'im, ka'a$er, etc.--; 
however it is syntactically dependent because an offline sentence 
cannot stand alone in a text; e.g. in italiano: Io camminavo per la 
strada, just as in English: I was walking on the road, cannot remain 
alone, it needs to rely on a passato remoto (simple past) verb, which 
in Italian (English) expresses mainline in historical narrative. This 
applies even though that sentence is not grammatically dependent as 
is, e.g., Mentre camminavo per la strada, While I was walking on the 

	< . . . >

>But we are not -- as I understand it -- dealing with "the adornment of
>heaven and earth", but with a blow-by-blow description of the creation of
>the constituents, day & night, sky and sea, land, etc.

	< . . . >

>If you accept that the phrase "heaven and earth" means "universe", can you
>separate the parts of the phrase and use each part such that they have
>separate significance? If so, then it would seem you will also have to
>argue that according to 1:10 the earth was created a second time. I take
>v10 as intending that the actual creation of the earth (in the literal
>sense of 'rc) took place on the third day (just as vv7-8 indicate the
>actual creation of the heavens).
>I accept the notion that 't h$mym w't h'rc indicates "universe", but I
>don't see that one can argue either that the 'rc of v2 represents an earth
>created in v1 (which could merely be part of a general heading for which v2
>is extra starting information), or that v1 is an antecedent of v2.

	2) Besides syntax, interpretation is a major problem in Gen 
1:1-2. On the one side, "heaven and earth" seem to be used in v. 1 as 
polar terms to indicate the whole of creation (merismus). On the 
other side, in v. 2 and following the two terms are taken up again in 
their meaning according to the current use of each term. Note, BTW, 
that they are taken up again in reverse order: heaven and earth (v. 
1), earth (v. 2), heaven (v. 8).

	I would understand Gen 1:1 ff. as follows--but we are really 
in acque troppo profonde (in waters too deep), as you say--among 
myth, literary convention, old conception of the universe, etc.
At the beginning of the creation of cosmos, what was commonly called 
*'erec* was *tohû wabohû*; it was a *tehôm* covered with *mayim*; 
over it there was *xo$ek* and the hovering spirit of God. The 
different acts of creation (indicated with jussive yiqtol forms, 
e.g., yehî, and narrative wayyiqtol, e.g. wayehî) are presented as a 
series of separation and adornment.
	First light is made and day is separated from night; then the 
ky is made to separate the waters above from the waters beneath; then 
the waters beneath are gathered together so that the earth is made to 
appear--i.e., it is not really created a second time.
	And so on, until the end of the first text, or pericope, of 
the Bible, which is represented IMO by Gen 2:4. In fact this verse 
takes up again the main terms of 1:1: heaven and earth (in reverse 
order) and the verb create. Add that 2:4 shows such a compact 
construction chiastically arranged in its two parts that I would 
never dare to divide it in two parts as is done by the documentaty 
hypothesis, wich assigns the two parts to different sources.

Grazie per l'attenzione. Pace e bene.
Alviero Niccacci

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