[b-hebrew] Light be made versus Let there be light.

James Christian jc.bhebrew at googlemail.com
Thu Oct 15 16:26:02 EDT 2009

Hi Karl,

2009/10/15 K Randolph <kwrandolph at gmail.com>

> James and Steve:
> I can see the question as far as how best to render these ideas into
> English.
> But for the Hebrew, I can’t recognize your questions. Grammatically it is
> simple, common Hebrew, other than the subject matter. God commands the
> light
> to come into existence, and it does.

Are you suggesting a vocative understanding here? i.e. That God is talking
to the light? If so, this a very different understanding to the one
presented by a translation of 'Let there be...'. If so, what linguistic
criteria do you use for extracting a vocative sense? Just common sense?
There is no vocative case in Hebrew so we can't be absolutely sure unless we
have some other form of linguistic apparatus to judge this by. What
understanding does orthodox Jewish tradition hold. Is God speaking to the
universe in general? To a co-worker of some kind? Or to light itself?

> On Tue, Oct 13, 2009 at 2:17 PM, James Christian
> <jc.bhebrew at googlemail.com>wrote:
> >
> > Just to make things clear I am not advocating that Wycliffe's translation
> > was superior to Tyndale's. Neither am I advocating the reverse. In fact I
> > am
> > not advocating anything. The issue is far from resolved in my mind. My
> > intention was to stimulate discussion to help me resolve the question.
> The
> > way I see it is this:
> >
> > We are clearly attempting to translate a situation which does not occur
> in
> > everday life and so is difficult to find corresponding natural language
> > equivalents of as ideal target language translations.
> Yes, this was a one time event, never to be repeated.


> > My understanding is
> > that Tyndale 'invented' the English idiom 'Let there be...' for this very
> > reason. So the question is this. Was the Hebrew also an example of such
> > rare
> > and funny sounding language?
> No.

Then how can you side with a 'Let there be...' translation? If this is not
funny sounding in Hebrew then common sense would dictate that its
translation should not be funny sounding in any natural language.

> > I have reason to believe it wasn't. Did Moses
> > (or the author) make up a funny sounding Hebrew expression to express
> this?
> > Or did he reuse easily understood formulas and forms? I am not certain
> but
> > I
> > think he did. Can anybody suggest any similar formulas or forms from
> other
> > parts of the Tanakh? If so, this would seem to suggest implications about
> > the register of the language used in the creation account.
> >
> > How about verses 6 and 14 in the same chapter, Genesis 30:34, 33:9,
> Exodus
> 10:10, Ruth 2:19, 1 Kings 8:57 and many more? No, grammatically, this is a
> common structure.
I look at these when I've got time. Can you expand on them if you've got

James Christian

> > James Christian
> >
> > As for translation, how would you render the above verses into English?
> Similar to Tyndale?
> Karl W. Randolph.
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