FW: Ex nihilo? Was Raqiyah

Peter Kirk Peter_Kirk at sil.org
Wed Jul 24 17:33:57 EDT 2002

Ian asserted that the Greek aorist in Genesis 1:1 LXX must be "inceptive
aorist or overview" - see below. I asked a friend who is a Greek scholar
to comment. Following my comments is the reply, forwarded with
permission and slightly edited to conceal my friend's identity.

It seems that I am justified in my claim that this aorist is much more
simply understood as a simple punctiliar aorist, one of a series of past
events. This leaves open the question of whether the following verses
refer to subsequent states and events or give internal details of what
is initially presented as an event with no internal structure: compare:
"I went to the town today. It was a nice warm day. First I walked down
the road, then I caught the bus..." Perhaps this is what Ian meant by
"overview", and this is certainly a possible interpretation of both the
Hebrew and the Greek. But there is certainly no support in the Greek for
the inceptive idea.

Peter Kirk

-----Original Message-----
From: ... 
Sent: 24 July 2002 12:46
To: Peter Kirk
Subject: Re: Ex nihilo? Was Raqiyah

Inceptive aorist is used with verbs whose present denotes a state or
condition. E. de W. Burton, Syntax of the Moods and Tenses in NT Greek,
C.F.D. Moule, An Idiom Book of N.T. Greek, p. 10;W.W. Goodwin, Syntax of
Moods and Tenses of the Greek Verb, #55. (Goodwin is a classical one,
use was the same from the Ionic dialect to the Koine.)

By "overview" (which I have never heard of) I assume he means a gnomic
aorist. A gnomic aorist expresses a general truth (e.g. they impose a
penalty on everyone who commits a crime) clearly absolutely impossible

By the way, I have looked through every single reference work I have
mentions the LXX, and not one comments on Genesis 1:1, as they would if
there was anything remotely interesting there. It is obviously a simple

Hope this helps!


----- Original Message -----
From: "Peter Kirk" <Peter_Kirk at sil.org>
> -----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
> >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
> >been created.
> Either way, inceptive aorist or overview, such an
> interpretation doesn't seem available.
> Ian

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