BR)$YT, the continuing saga.

Ian Hutchesson mc2499 at mclink.it
Mon Apr 1 08:24:29 EST 2002


Peter,

Thanks for your post. It has clarified the situation 
at least for me.

>Ian, you seem to assume that my understanding of Genesis 1:1 is
>contradicted by Isaiah 45:18. This is a logical jump, and an inaccurate
>one, ...

This I can see now after having read all the current 
post. I was working on the notion that you had read 
Gen 1:1 as an indication of creatio ex nihilo, citing 
Isa 45:18 as showing that God did not create thw was 
aimed at the notion that God had already started the 
creation in Gen 1:1.

>...as during this thread I have never stated my understanding of the
>chapter as a whole and how this first verse fits into it. You have
>criticised me for this, and with some justification, but I have avoided
>this partly because I have wanted to focus attention on the text in
>question and not on the theological constructs which are inevitably
>linked with any broader understanding.

I did feel that it was extremely difficult to come to 
any definitive understanding of Gen 1:1, rejecting the 
indications I had attempted to give with regard to the 
time phrases I went to lengths over and not reading it 
in the broader context of the whole passage.

>But you have now put me into a position where I am obliged to consider
>the wider discourse level structure of the chapter. I should stress that
>my understanding of this is provisional and uncertain. But here is my
>that understanding:
>
>1:1 is an introductory summary, or perhaps even a title, summarising the
>entire process of creation as described in 1:3-2:3.
>
>1:2 is not apparently sequential to 1:1 (no WAYYIQTOL verbs) but
>describes the situation either at the beginning of or before the process
>of creation. (The X-QATAL verbs have their regular pluperfect force.) I
>might translate "Now the earth had been formless and empty...".
>
>1:3, with the first WAYYIQTOL verbs, gives the first events of creation,
>which took place when the situation was still as described in 1:2. This
>is not sequential to 1:1 but the first of a series of steps (finishing
>at 2:3) which were summarised in 1:1.
>
>You will note that I am not actually talking about creation ex nihilo
>here, but rather describing a process of creation from pre-existing
>chaos. I find this theologically and philosophically difficult as I am
>also one of those influenced by Greek philosophy and theology dependent
>on it. But I am forced to agree with you, Ian, that the Hebrew text does
>not describe creation ex nihilo (although LXX probably does).

How does the LXX work though. Is the creation merely 
in the first verse? Either one reads the verb, an 
aorist, as a punctiliar past event or an ingressive 
(or inceptive) aorist. It would be very hard to 
justify the punctiliar reading, ie that the heavens 
and the earth were created at once as per v.1, for 
what is then the point of the following verse? So, I 
would favour an ingressive reading, ie "in the 
beginning God began to create..."

>But I stand by my grammatical parsing of 1:1 as a single finite clause,
>consisting of B- plus absolute noun as an adverb phrase of time,
>followed by finite verb, subject, and complex object.

I don't really understand how you can necessarily stand 
by this parsing. The b-noun time phrase structure can be 
followed clauses with various forms of the verb including 
finite verbs, in imperfects and perfects, as well as 
infinitives and imperatives, so there is no problem of 
verb form following b-noun time phrases. I have provided 
examples of complex clause structures governed by bywm 
(eg Ob.11), so there is no reason why such things can't be 
governed by br'$yt. We agree that the first narrative event 
is in v.3, while v.2 provides background information.

Why do you prefer your parsing? 

Nevertheless, as a provisional and uncertain reading of the 
creation passage Gen 1:1-3 (and on to 2:3), the above seems 
coherent.


Ian







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