BR)$YT, the continuing saga.

Peter Kirk Peter_Kirk at
Sun Mar 31 12:34:16 EST 2002

Ian, you seem to assume that my understanding of Genesis 1:1 is
contradicted by Isaiah 45:18. This is a logical jump, and an inaccurate
one, as during this thread I have never stated my understanding of the
chapter as a whole and how this first verse fits into it. You have
criticised me for this, and with some justification, but I have avoided
this partly because I have wanted to focus attention on the text in
question and not on the theological constructs which are inevitably
linked with any broader understanding.

But you have now put me into a position where I am obliged to consider
the wider discourse level structure of the chapter. I should stress that
my understanding of this is provisional and uncertain. But here is my
that understanding:

1:1 is an introductory summary, or perhaps even a title, summarising the
entire process of creation as described in 1:3-2:3.

1:2 is not apparently sequential to 1:1 (no WAYYIQTOL verbs) but
describes the situation either at the beginning of or before the process
of creation. (The X-QATAL verbs have their regular pluperfect force.) I
might translate "Now the earth had been formless and empty...".

1:3, with the first WAYYIQTOL verbs, gives the first events of creation,
which took place when the situation was still as described in 1:2. This
is not sequential to 1:1 but the first of a series of steps (finishing
at 2:3) which were summarised in 1:1.

You will note that I am not actually talking about creation ex nihilo
here, but rather describing a process of creation from pre-existing
chaos. I find this theologically and philosophically difficult as I am
also one of those influenced by Greek philosophy and theology dependent
on it. But I am forced to agree with you, Ian, that the Hebrew text does
not describe creation ex nihilo (although LXX probably does).

But I stand by my grammatical parsing of 1:1 as a single finite clause,
consisting of B- plus absolute noun as an adverb phrase of time,
followed by finite verb, subject, and complex object.

Peter Kirk

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Ian Hutchesson [mailto:mc2499 at]
> Sent: 30 March 2002 23:09
> To: Biblical Hebrew
> Subject: BR)$YT, the continuing saga.
> >Ian, I am unable to date LXX, just as you are, because I do not rely
> >the letter of Aristeas and the dating implied there.
> I am able to restrict the date because of the DSS material.
> LXX Genesis did not have a Vorlage in Hebrew while the
> other pentateuchal books did. This means that LXX Genesis
> did come from an already developed tradition, so it did not
> exist before 63 BCE.
> Dating is always an important issue (I note though that you
> did avoid the subject through caution).
> >My point in quoting translations is that translations are good
> >for how the translators understood their Vorlage. Full stop.
> This is why I brought in the DSS. There was no LXX Hebrew
> Vorlage for Genesis. All 24 fragmentary copies are
> basically MT with slight variations.
> >Ian, you wrote "The simple understanding known from antiquity, ie
> >one should read br'$yt in Genesis 1:1 as "at the beginning of" with a
> >following clause being related in the construct state,...". What is
> >evidence that this understanding was known from antiquity, by which I
> >understand you as referring to before the time of Rashi? What
> >dateable documents can you quote?
> Isaiah 45:18 when God said l'-thw br'h will do.
> >I have several documents, including
> >the Vulgate which is securely dated to the 4th century CE and LXX
> >must be older, which witness that my understanding was known from
> >antiquity. (Would you like me to start researching the Church Fathers
> >for their understandings and their early quotes from LXX, old Latin,
> >Syriac etc etc?)
> If you don't think that the creation in LXX Gen 1:1
> was punctiliar, then was it an ingressive aorist?
> >And that is all I am trying to argue at this stage of
> >the discussion (having realised that it is pointless, and annoying to
> >other list members, to repeat my earlier points despite you
> >to bring up these issues).
> I have attempted to keep the issues in sight, whereas
> I do feel that you have either trivialised (Enuma Elish)
> or ignored (the 6-day literary structure) them.
> >And in all of this I have made no reference to my personal views on
> >creation, and certainly not to any theories of the world being
> >to chaos after and initial creation.
> I am trying to elicit such a view based on textual
> evidence so as to see how you can make such a view
> coherent.
> Ian

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