bereshit (translations)

Peter Kirk Peter_Kirk at
Mon Mar 18 17:06:00 EST 2002

Ian, if I see convincing evidence that a b-noun time phrase in Hebrew
can govern more than one finite clause coordinated by w-, then I will
concede my point. But I will consider convincing only evidence which is
accepted by the majority of modern English translation teams. I note
that it is perfectly possible, good English and not poor style to do
this in English, when there are only 2-3 coordinated subordinate
clauses, as in "On the day that I chose Israel and swore an oath to him,
I..." But I have not seen any such example.

Peter Kirk

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Ian Hutchesson [mailto:mc2499 at]
> Sent: 18 March 2002 21:54
> To: Biblical Hebrew
> Subject: Re: bereshit (translations)
> >No, I am not saying that the others are making mistakes. I am saying
> >that both are valid translations because no one can be sure which
> >meaning was the Hebrew author's intention. Are you prepared to agree
> >with me on that? If so, we can agree that this evidence for your
> >interpretation of Genesis 1:1-2 is debatable and so unreliable.
> Do you at least agree that there is the tendency to
> translate long sentences from a source language into
> more, shorter sentences in English?
> Do you also agree that languages that generally allow
> longer sentences than modern English, tend to
> translate the verse under consideration as one long
> sentence with clauses governed by the time phrase?
> Do you also agree that older versions in English
> generally used longer sentences? and translated
> our verse as one long sentence with clauses governed
> by the time phrase?
> Do you agree that the earliest translations did the
> same thing?
> This is not a big deal about large meaning changes,
> for the modern English versions you cite do what I
> do when translating Italian, ie chop up the sentences.
> There is nothing particularly strange about the act.
> What we are dealing with is your resilliance to the
> notion that the original text had a time phrase which
> could govern more than one clause.
> Ian

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