bereshit

Ian Hutchesson mc2499 at mclink.it
Tue Mar 12 19:59:02 EST 2002


Peter,

Thanks for your response.

>Ian, the problem with the analysis of bereshit as a construct is that it
>seems either to leave verse 1 as a verbless fragment followed by a full
>sentence in verse 2, 

Although a number of texts (mainly prophets) start with an 
introductory fragment explaining what the text is about (and 
one could interpret 1:1 to be so), I think there is a word 
order problem with such a reading: v.2 is SV and needs to be 
attached in my understanding to something which has normal 
word order.

>or to require all three clauses of verse 2 as well
>as the remainder of verse 1 to be dependent on bereshit. You seem to
>prefer the latter of these options. But Paul pointed out the problem,
>that you require a unique (as far as he and I know) construction in
>which four whole clauses fill the place in a construct chain where a
>noun is expected. So Paul is right to ask you to find an unambiguous
>similar construction. You mentioned Numbers 7:1, and I agree that this
>could be understood as a string of clauses dependent on B:YOM, as in
>NRSV, but it can also be understood differently as in the JPS Tanakh and
>NIV and so this is not a strong argument. 

I haven't got an NIV but my copy of JPS (perhaps old) follows 
the structure followed by AV, ASV (1901!) and now you mention 
it the NRSV. You will note, 
however, that Num 7:1 was only a part of the whole argument, 
though I should note that what follows the bywm is slightly 
longer than what follows the br'$yt in Gen 1:1-2.

I cited a number of time phrases such as br'$yt and b'ywm 
controlling clauses which are apparently VS. I also cited 
Gen 6:1 which uses ky as the conjunction which governs a VS 
clause followed by an SV clause. This is strictly analogous 
with Gen 1:1-2, with gen 1:1 having the VS and v.2 having two 
SVs (and a verbless phrase). I don't think two SVs change the 
situation, they both admit their secondary nature.

Another example of bywm, 1Kgs 2:42, has two subordinate 
clauses, really two verbs as the subject of each is the 
same.

bywm                c'tk   w   hlkt
on the day that you go out and walk abroad

[My JPS Tanakh reads (Num 7:1)

"And it came to pass on the day that Moses had made an end of 
setting up the tabernacle, and had anointed it and sanctified 
it, and all the furniture thereof, and the altar and all the 
vessels thereof, and had anointed them and sanctified them;"]

>Also Numbers 7:1 is
>structurally different from Genesis 1:2: the former is a sequence of
>WAYYIQTOL clauses, but the latter has X-QATAL and stative clauses.

I cited Num 7:1 for bywm controlling a number of subordinate 
clauses, which you have questioned.  The verb forms were not 
a priority, as I gave other pointers which were more related 
to specific structural similarities to Gen 1:1-2.

I think there is a strong case for reading br' 'lhym 't h$mym 
w't h'rc as subordinated to br'$yt. If you want to argue to 
the contrary, I think you'd have to supply at least one case 
in which r'$yt was not qualified, but of the 28 cases I can 
find, not one of them is unqualified. Unqualified uses tend 
to be left to r'$wn or simply r'$. -- A few unqualified r'$yt 
would be handy for a case to the contrary. If there are none 
then obviously there is no case at all against br'Syt 
subordinating the br' clause.

If the br' clause is subordinated to br'$yt then as you point 
out there are two approaches to the analysis. An argument 
against the structure of Num 7:1 doesn't deal with the basic 
problem at hand and that is the relationship of br'$yt with 
what follows. I have shown a number of other time phrases 
requiring qualification which are parallel to Gen 1:1, so I 
think I have a reasonable case for attaching br'$yt to what 
follows. I think the argument against the length of the 
subordination is secondary, though Gen 6:1 shows that the 
structure as I have advocated for Gen 1:1-2, while shorter, 
is to be found. Gen 1:2 simply supplies circumstances to the 
beginning of the creation.

------------

I should add that the creation itself starts when God says, 
"Let there be light", for without light there can be no day 
to begin, so that the first light began the first day of the 
creation. What comes before must be prelude. 


Ian









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