Construct + Finite = Relative?

Ian Hutchesson mc2499 at
Mon Sep 18 19:38:45 EDT 2000

At 15.37 18/09/00 +0300, Alviero Niccacci wrote:
>At 2:02 AM +0200 9/15/00, Ian Hutchesson wrote:
>	< . . . >
>>How then would you explain the various headings referring to David in the
>>psalms, using b- to locate the "context" of the psalm at a particular time
>>but leaving the time reference dangling? There doesn't seem to be the
>>necessaity to attach them to a finite clause. (Pss 56, 57, 63 etc.)
>Many words and phrases in the headings of the Psalms are of doutful 
>interpretation, as far as I know. 

Dear Alviero,

While this may be so, it is not an argument against Gen1:1-2 being a heading.

>From the grammatical point of view 
>, I would say that the headings constitute a non-verbal sentence, 
>frequently with an elliptic subject--<This is for...  / This belongs 
>to...>, or <It is...>, e.g.
>- Psa 56:1 ... < This is / This belongs > for / to David; < It is > a 
>Miktam, when the Philistines seized him in Gath.
>- Psa 57:1 ... < This is / This belongs > for / to David; < It is > a 
>Miktam, when he fled from Saul, in the cave.

Sorry, but I find little to recommend this: the "when..." clauses simply
don't attach in a logical manner here. There is nothing for them to attach
themselves to. By adding "< This is >" at the beginning, you haven't helped
the b- clause. Perhaps one could add a little more:

>- Psa 63:1 < This is > a Psalm of David, < which was written> when he was 
>in the Wilderness of Judah.

But it is precisely because there is the necessity for extra material for
the linguistic fragment to make grammatical sense that I cited them. The b-
clauses hang, not directly attachable to anything, though they supply a
sort of context for reading the psalm text, ie they hang unless you can see
a way to attach them to what precedes them.

>In the book of Genesis we find the heading, "These are the 
>generations of... --a complete non-verbal sentence with *'elleh* as 
>the predicate, and *tôledôt...* as the subject. (BTW, this heading is 
>found 10 times and subdivides the whole book of Genesis into 10 

This is not as transparent as one might want to claim it to be -- would one
really want to think of the "divisions" of Terah and of Ishmael, for
example, as principal sections of the book? However, one notable thing that
they each have in common is that each precedes the passage they belong to
-- with the possible exception of 2:4, though this in fact may not be an
exception at all, but a heading supplied which unites the second creation
account to the sections which follow. Note that the next heading in 5:1
uses the verb bara', which relates the same verb in 2:4 to the headings
rather than 2:4 to the passage it precedes. The major reason for separating
2:4 from the following creation account is the use of that particular verb,
yet a developmental history, which sees Gen1:1-2:3 as written separately
from the series of toledot headings, would nullify that logic. This would
mean that Gen1:1-2 is not constrained to follow the logic of either the
toledot headings or the grammatical concerns of modern analysts. Written
separately Gen1:1-2:3 would have finished with God blessing the Sabbath
because it is the day he rested from his creation.


>no heading can stand without its body, or its development--the psalm, 
>or the prophetic book.

...or even the first creation account, if Gen1:1-2 is such a heading.

Distinti saluti,


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