Is R)$YT even a "time" word?

Peter Kirk Peter_Kirk at
Mon Mar 25 03:57:56 EST 2002

No, Ian, B- in BERESHIT is not analogous to be- in "behind", despite the
purely accidental cross-linguistic similarity. Be- in "behind" is
derivatiional morphology. B- in BERESHIT functions as a separate word.
It is much more like "in" in the English phrase "In the beginning",
whose meaning can be decomposed into "in" (in a temporal sense), "the"
(indicating definiteness), and "beginning".

Ian, you wrote, "Your "interpretation" is pure eisegesis from the Greek
philosophical influence in early Christianity." Well, actually most
accept that LXX at least of the Pentateuch is pre-Christian. But my main
reply is this: I would say that your "interpretation" is pure eisegesis
from a different kind of Greek philosophical influence in medieval
Judaism, compounded by eisegesis from Babylonian mythology.

Peter Kirk

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Ian Hutchesson [mailto:mc2499 at]
> Sent: 25 March 2002 10:17
> To: Biblical Hebrew
> Subject: Re: Is R)$YT even a "time" word?
> >Ian, thanks for sharing the passage from Enuma Elish which makes
> >how irrelevant this is. There is a lot in it which is clearly not in
> >Genesis, and apparently vice versa. So why can they not differ also
> >"in the beginning"?
> I am impressed that you cannot see the clear
> parallels, but of course this should only be
> obvious, when you don't read the text. Deal
> with the fact that it is talking of the same
> phenomenon with basically the same name, ie
> tiamat/tehom at the beginning of creation,
> who is defeated through the use of a divine
> wind and upon the defeat and death of the
> waters, the god separates the remains lifting
> half above the sky and creating the world as
> it is from the rest. So, if you cannot see
> the plain similarities, it has more to do
> with you than the text.
> >B- in BERESHIT should be taken as a preposition, a separate word.
> Just as be in behind, right? Look at how bywm is
> used and see that it is not simply dealing with
> the idea of a literal day, but is a time phrase
> in its own right, just as br'$yt is.
> >As
> >such, we can generally presume initially that the meaning of B- plus
> >RESHIT is derived from those of B- and RESHIT separately.
> This is linguistic theory of the 18th century.
> However, you can get more specific meaning from
> the combination of the words than what you get
> from the parts.
> >Of course
> >there may be special idiomatic usages where the meaning is not so
> >derived, but I have seen no evidence of such idiomatic usage. We just
> >need to take RESHIT in the sense "beginning" rather than the sense
> >"first-fruits", and we are there.
> You get that clearly from the context of b-.
> >On what basis do you say that I am fudging anything with ellipsis at
> >beginning of the book? I don't see any ellipsis in my interpretation,
> >just a use of unqualified RESHIT to mean "the very beginning of time"
> This is totally unsupported conjecture with only the
> weight of nearly two millenia of unsupported acceptance
> of such an idea. The text says at least "at the
> beginning" of what for me the text seems clear because
> it says of what. For you, you insert "of time" and as
> you do, it can only be an ellipsis. You cling to one
> poetic use of r'$yt as though it were a guarantee that
> at least there is no necessary reason for your
> unsupported view to be outrightly wrong.
> >just as in the MERESHIT example and in the LXX etc translation of
> >Genesis 1:1.
> >
> >I still fail to see any objection to my interpretation other than one
> >based on a philosophical rejection of the concept of creation ex
> Your "interpretation" is pure eisegesis from the
> Greek philosophical influence in early Christianity.
> It has nothing to do with the text. It has no
> precursor. It has no support in comparative
> accounts. It has no support within early Jewish
> literature. It does not come from the text, but is
> *evidently* imported for tendentious reasons.
> Ian

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list