Ex nihilo? Was Raqiyah

Peter Kirk Peter_Kirk at sil.org
Tue Jul 23 16:54:03 EDT 2002


Ian, I don't accept your "given that the first creative act according to
the imposition of the seven day week was that the first act of creation
begain on day one...". This is one interpretation, but it is also quite
possible to understand the Hebrew to imply two stages, first a creation
(perhaps ex nihilo) of a formless earth along with the heavens, followed
by seven days of shaping of the earth. (By the way, I am not stating
this as my theological position.) At least I have not seen any clear
linguistic arguments to rule out this second interpretation. And I would
rather clarify the linguistic arguments before considering any
theological ones - after all, this list is for language not theology.

Your discussion of the aorist in LXX seems to presuppose that the
commonest meaning of the aorist, as a punctiliar past, cannot apply
here, and so you search out other meanings, as inceptive or overview,
which are possible but relatively rare. For you write "It certainly is
not a punctiliar aorist -- as it's not a punctiliar action." But you
have no linguistic argument that it is not a punctiliar action (at least
as the LXX translators understood the Hebrew), only a theological one.
(I am asking a Greek scholar friend to comment further on this.) I could
argue in the opposite direction, that the Greek implies a punctiliar
action, therefore that is how they understood the original Hebrew,
therefore that is the meaning of the original Hebrew. But I see a flaw
in that argument, that the LXX translators (whose Hebrew may have been
weak) may have misunderstood the original Hebrew author's intention.

Peter Kirk

PS In case of any misunderstanding: I am not arguing for or against a
seven day creationist position. But I am trying to clarify the
understanding of the Hebrew author especially on the ex nihilo question.

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Ian Hutchesson [mailto:mc2499 at mclink.it]
> Sent: 23 July 2002 02:20
> To: Biblical Hebrew
> Subject: Re: Ex nihilo? Was Raqiyah
> 
> >I see creation ex nihilo in verse 1, which I still interpret as an
> >independent sentence - don't let's get back into discussing the
syntax
> >again.
> 
> You still haven't explained the relationship of the
> first two verses with the rest of the creation story,
> given that the first creative act according to the
> imposition of the seven day week was that the first
> act of creation begain on day one when God said, Let
> there be light.
> 
> >On my interpretation, which is certainly a very ancient one going
> >back at least to the LXX, there is no mention of preexisting matter,
> >just that God created the heavens and the earth.
> 
> The aorist form of the verb indicates that the LXX
> does not in fact support the position you claim. My
> reaction was that it had to be an inceptive aorist
> ie we are looking at the start of the creation in v1,
> though another approach was also outlined on this
> list was that the aorist gave an overview of the
> whole story which followed. It certainly is not a
> punctiliar aorist -- as it's not a punctiliar action.
> 
> >This interpretation
> >takes v.2 as a description of the state of the earth just after it
had
> >been created.
> 
> Either way, inceptive aorist or overview, such an
> interpretation doesn't seem available.
> 
> 
> Ian
> 
> 
> 
> 
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