Peter Kirk Peter_Kirk at
Thu Mar 14 12:09:15 EST 2002

Ian, I resent your implication that my "analysis is not from the text".
I am trying to understand the text according to the best possible
analysis of the Hebrew.

In the two translations you just offered to Paul you confirm what I
thought you were saying earlier, that in your opinion the whole of verse
2 is dependent on bereshit. This is the hypothesis I am arguing against.
So when you say that I "require for some unclear reason that the first
verse be syntactically attached to what follows," the reason is simply
that that is what you have proposed. There may be an alternative
hypothesis that verse 1 is a detached fragment like a descriptive
heading, but we are not discussing that one.

You claim that I am "not willing to deal with the numerous cases of b-
noun governed clauses". I accept that there are many such cases where
there is one clause with an infinitive construct, and perhaps a few
cases of a sequence of clauses starting with an infinitive construct
continued by a WAYYIQTOL. I looked at one specific example, Numbers 7:1,
and showed that it is ambiguous and your understanding has been rejected
by two quite independent recent translation teams. No one has offered an
example in which more than one clause is governed by b-noun and the
second clause is not WAYYIQTOL. Until they do, I continue to maintain
that your analysis of Genesis 1:1-2 is syntactically unique. Mine is
also unique, I accept, but lexical uniqueness is far more common than
syntactic uniqueness.

Peter Kirk

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Ian Hutchesson [mailto:mc2499 at]
> Sent: 14 March 2002 15:39
> To: Biblical Hebrew
> Subject: Re: bereshit
> >Precisely, Ian. I deliberately specified a following w-SVO clause as
> >someone else pointed out that this was a significant difference
> >Genesis 1:1-2 and the other examples you quoted like Numbers 7:1
> >I did discuss briefly, remember that I stated that JPS and NIV had a
> >different understanding?) A WAYYIQTOL clause may perhaps sometimes be
> >sequential to an infinitive construct dependent on a B-noun time
> >indicator. I don't know of any examples of a w-SVO clause acting as
> >sequential to an expression. That is why I was asking for further
> >examples.
> I don't understand, Peter, why you are not willing to deal
> with the numerous cases of b- noun governed clauses, which
> is the main argument related to an understanding of br'$yt,
> though you've come up with no better parallels for
> understanding Gen 1:1.
> You know that there are no examples of unqualified r'$yt
> and the writers show a preference for using r'$wn for an
> unqualified statement regarding a beginning.
> So, you are asking for exacting requirements that you are
> nowhere close to being able to fulfil for any alternative.
> This suggests that you have no data to back up your opinion
> of Genesis 1:1-2 and that your analysis is not from the
> text.
> I have shown:
> 1) all uses of r'$yt are qualified (and that unqualified
>    beginnings can be indicated with r'$wn);
> 2) parallel phrases to br'$yt, such as bywn routinely
>    govern VSO clauses;
> so there is nothing strange about subordinating br' 'lhym
> to br'$yt.
> You require for some unclear reason that the first verse be
> syntactically attached to what follows, though there is no
> need for this as many books start off with sentence
> fragments, or verbless phrases, as a descriptive heading
> (eg numerous prophets), so your requirement is not
> warranted and you need to do with the data despite your
> artificial requirement. I do think though, that, as the
> first act of creation explicitly stated in the text, based
> on the notion of creation in six days, is in verse three,
> the start of the first day (with the first light) -- a fact
> that you perennially avoid --, verse three is the first
> independent clause. [Let me add:
> 3) time phrases can govern numerous clauses (see Eccl 12:3
>    along with the previous ones).
> though this doesn't meet your b-noun VSO wSVO requirements.
> And you've arbitrarily excluded ky with its government of
> the VSO wSVO form.]
> You waive the data about the subordination of an SVO clause
> to a time phrase of the type br'$yt belongs, thus avoiding
> the central problem.
> Peter, I don't think you can justify your approach.
> Ian
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