Translation of Gen. 1:1...scholars know better.

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David Paul | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Jun 13 2019 12:59 AM

Thomas Pape:
from the Jewish point of view:
Ariel’s Bible commentary: the book of Genesis....
"This verse records the original creation, which is preliminary to the work of the six days. It is an independent clause that provides an introduction to this section. Here, the number seven is prominent. In the Hebrew text, there are seven words. Furthermore, the seven words comprise a total of twenty-eight letters (four times seven). Genesis 1:1 is one of the many verses where there was a disagreement between the School of Shammai and the School of Hillel. The School of Shammai claimed that Heaven was created first, while the School of Hillel said that the earth was created first.
The first word in the Hebrew text is bereishit, which in English is three words: In the beginning. The word itself says nothing as to when the beginning was, just that this was the beginning of the heavens and the earth. It refers to the first phase of a step, the beginning of the universe as it now exists." …..

Even though this generally supports my comments (particularly the importance of the seven words of 1:1), there is/was hardly anything that could be called "the" Jewish point of view, as the constant disagreements between Shammai (et al.) and Hillel (et al.) readily demonstrate. Sufficient to call Fruchtenbaum's perspective "a" Jewish point of view. Glad to see he perceives 1:1 to be an independent clause.

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David Paul | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Jun 18 2019 11:25 PM

If there are any other recommendations on the topic of Gen. 1:1 (discrete) vs. Gen. 1:1-3 (inclusive), they would be appreciated.

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David Paul | Forum Activity | Replied: Fri, Jun 21 2019 2:19 AM

Thanks...think I have all of those. Yes Haven't got to them yet. A couple are in my "Must Read" category, along with about a hundred or so other things.

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Christopher Kou | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Jun 25 2019 11:30 AM

David, I agree with you.  Heiser and those who take this tack on Genesis 1:1 are relying on the vowel markings added by the Masoretes in the middle ages.  That is a legitimate tradition, and needs to be respected and accounted for.  Still, we cannot simply assume that the Jewish traditions of interpretation in the middle ages most accurately represent what the original text is saying, nor can we assume that Jews reading the Hebrew had always vocalized a tsere there rather than a qamets.  In fact, critical scholars of Hebrew supply revocalizations to amend the Masoretic vowel markings all the time for particularly difficult passages.

And, contrary to what Heiser claims, the Masoretic text is not the only unambiguous Jewish tradition on this verse.  The Greek Septuagint translation of Genesis 1:1 reads: "Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἐποίησεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν οὐρανὸν καὶ τὴν γῆν," in which "ἐποίησεν" for "created" is in the aorist tense, and is not a dependent clause.  While this is not a Hebrew manuscript tradition, it does represent a Jewish interpretive tradition that is much older than the Masoretes, and it requires no more than a revocalization of the Hebrew to arrive at the translation.

The logical weight of your objection to the modern reinterpretation is great as well.  The modern interpreter who wishes to affirm that God is the creator of all things is on the horns of a dilemma.  If he takes Gen1:1 as a dependent clause then he must read it to say that when God began to create the earth, it was already in existence!  Certainly a problem, one which some like Walton get around by translating bara to mean not "create" but assigning function.  Thankfully, from what I can tell, most knowledgeable scholars of Hebrew are not buying that.

Anyhow, my rant to add to yours.  All the best, David.

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David Paul | Forum Activity | Replied: Thu, Jun 27 2019 4:12 AM

Christopher Kou:
Anyhow, my rant to add to yours.

Appreciate your input. Yes

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