bereshit

Peter Kirk Peter_Kirk at sil.org
Sun Mar 17 15:23:32 EST 2002


Liz, it seems to me that you are condemning your position out of your
own mouth. You seem to say I should take Rashi as an authority, but then
you show how Rashi's thought is dependent on Aristoteleian philosophy.
It seems to me that he read this philosophy into the text. It would be
hard to argue that the text was originally intended to express
Aristoteleian philosophy, not least because at least traditionally it
has been dated before Aristotle. Certainly ancient Israelite thought was
different from Greek philosophy. We may not be able to reconstruct it
accurately, but that is another issue.

I accept that Rashi was a great interpreter, but I do not accept him as
an infallible authority. As I just pointed out in another posting, we do
have a much earlier interpretation (though also potentially influenced
by Greek philosophy) in the LXX translation, which is clearly "In the
beginning God created..." as a separate sentence.

Peter Kirk

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Lisbeth S. Fried [mailto:lizfried at umich.edu]
> Sent: 17 March 2002 16:26
> To: Biblical Hebrew
> Subject: RE: bereshit
> 
> 
> 
> Dear Peter,
> 
> >
> >
> > >No, Ian, my silence does not imply consent. You may well be right
that
> > >the first creative act was "Let there be light!". The problem is
that
> > >that begs the question of the origin of the formless earth and
waters.
> >
> > What makes you think they need, or the writer thought
> > they had, origins?
> >
> > >I accept that if you look at verse 1 alone bereshit could mean what
you
> > >say, but in my opinion that causes so many problems when the
context is
> > >widened that an alternative understanding has to be preferred.
> 
> It seems to me that if Rashi did not need an alternaive
interpretation,
> then we don't need one either. Rashi states that the text says nothing
> about what went on before, about how the world was created. The text
> begins with the light.
> If you want, this can be consistent with creatio ex nihilo, and with
> Artistotelian thought. Aristotle said God created the universe,
however,
> he also said that God cannot change, i.e, he cannot go from a state of
> not creating to a state of creating. Therefore, the creation has to be
> co-terminus with God, and if God is eternal, then so is the world.
> Aristotle (and I think also Maimonides) believe this, while at the
same
> time believing in a world created by God.
> Maimonides argued that time is part of the created world, therefore
> there could not have been a moment *in time* when the world did
> not exist.
> Therefore, you can retain your theology, and leave the Biblical text
> as it is.
> 
> Imo, of course, the writer had no such thoughts, and did not
> assume creatio ex nihilo, but rather an earth covered by water
>  from the beginning.
> 
> Best,
> LIz
> >
> 
> >
> >
> 
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