Is R)$YT even a "time" word?
mc2499 at mclink.it
Fri Mar 29 22:02:10 EST 2002
>Thanks to all who sent me the Vulgate text. I think this demonstrates
>(for what it's worth) that the Hebrew was understood in the 4th century
>CE, by Jerome and the Jews of Bethlehem who helped him, in the sense "In
>the beginning God created..."
Peter doesn't seem to me to be interested in the Hebrew
text or its background. He somehow imagines that the world
was created out of nothing and either created as chaos or
returned to chaos.
It is a little difficult to understand anyone wanting to
assume God create chaos, especially when Isa 45:18 says
specifically that God did not create the world as chaos.
One then has to postulate that something must have happened
between vv 1 & 2 to transform God's creation into chaos and
we have all sorts of weird and wonderful speculations.
Just because some early fathers were also trained in Greek
philosophy doesn't mean that we must necessarily transform
a relatively straight-forward text into a piece of Greek
Peter is unable to date the translation of the LXX Genesis
text. He seems to believe those who make a tendentious
reading of Aristeas, who only talks about the law. He should
note that there were no text tradition variations of Genesis
from Qumran, while there were for the other pentateuchal
books, ie there are LXX Hebrew versions of the others but
not for Genesis. There is no Hebrew Vorlage for LXX Genesis,
while there is for the other four pentateuchal books. There
is in fact nothing to support a LXX translation of Genesis
before the beginning of Christianity. So relying on LXX (or
Vulgate) is interesting but irrelevant to the Hebrew text of
The simple understanding known from antiquity, ie that one
should read br'$yt in Genesis 1:1 as "at the beginning of"
with a following clause being related in the construct
state, does not create any need for fiddling the text to
explain the creation by God of chaos. It was just there as
was darkness and the waters and God's first act in his
creation was the creation of light.
This "at the beginning of" is reflective of all known uses
of br'$yt in the OT/HB. I have shown that there are
numerous examples of time phrases such as bywm and b`t which
"govern" clauses, so there is nothing strange in the syntax
of the reading. In fact there are no precedents to suggest
that br'$yt could be read as anything else. One does not
expect to find an ellipsis at the beginning of a book. (Only
when one doesn't fully understand does one get a suggestion
of ellipsis, as in the LXX translation.)
The literary creation is based on the institution of the
sabbath day of rest. There are six days of creation at the
end of which God rests. Putting something before the first
day entails rendering the literary structure of the creation
useless. Each day starts with God saying something as part
of a structural formula for the day. Day one starts with God
saying "Let there be light!" To place any creation before
that point seems not to understand what is going on in the
account as a whole. Peter has consistently refused to deal
with the literary structure of Genesis 1.
The refusal to see the similarities between the Babylonian
creation account, Enuma Elish, and Genesis 1 does not
reflect a lack of relationship between them, merely that the
refusal is unwarranted. There are linguistic connections as
well as story elements that make the similarities evident.
(This is not to say in any way what the relationship between
the accounts is.) I have posted a translation of some of the
relevant material earlier.
To impose creatio ex nihilo on the creation in Gen 1, is to
decide that the obvious reading cannot be correct. It is to
decide that a grammatical analysis of the structure not
requiring ellipsis must be overlooked. It is to decide that
the comparable literature cannot be looked at. It is to
decide that the literary structure of Gen 1 must not have
relevance. Finally it is to decide that when Isaiah has God
say that he didn't create a chaotic world, that God didn't
really mean it.
More information about the b-hebrew