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The Faculty Blog

InSights

12
Jun

Is Genesis 1:1 a Summary of Gen. 1:2–31, a Heading, or an Initial Act of Creation? (Part Two)

In the previous post we noted that scholars who consider Gen. 1:1 to be a grammatically independent statement (“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”) differ on how it relates to what follows. We noted that some commentators consider Gen. 1:1 to be a summary of the creative events outlined in Gen....
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03
Jun

Is Genesis 1:1 a Summary of Gen. 1:2–31, a Heading, or an Initial Act of Creation? (Part One)

The initial posts of this series examined the leading Hebrew words of Genesis 1:1. The posts that followed focused on whether Gen. 1:1 is a grammatically independent statement, as the vast majority of English versions translate it, or whether it is grammatically subordinate to 1:2 or 1:3, as some late 20th and early 21st century...
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22
May

Examining Translations of Genesis 1:1 in relation to Genesis 1:1–3 (Part Six)

In previous postings, I have examined three reasons commonly-advanced for favoring the two alternative translations to the traditional rendering of Gen. 1:1 as an absolute beginning (“In-the-beginning God created the-heavens [or heaven] and-the-earth”). The arguments are based on grammar, style, and theology. In each instance I indicated why the arguments are not fully persuasive. In this post, I’ll address yet another area of inquiry: historical precedence in translation. This fourth area in my opinion tips the probability scales decidedly in favor...
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17
May

Examining Translations of Genesis 1:1 in relation to Genesis 1:1–3 (Part Five)

In the previous post, I looked at a second commonly-advanced reason for favoring the two alternative translations to the traditional rendering of Gen. 1:1 (“In-the-beginning God created the-heavens [or heaven] and-the-earth”). It was a stylistic argument that maintains that Gen. 2:4 and 5:1 indicate that berē’šît of Gen. 1:1 should be rendered as a subordinate statement (“when … began”). We found the stylistic basis...
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10
May

Examining Translations of Genesis 1:1 in relation to Genesis 1:1–3 (Part Four)

In the previous post, I began an evaluation of the strength of two leading alternative translations over against the traditional rendering of Gen. 1:1 as an absolute beginning, “In-the-beginning God created the-heavens [or heaven] and-the-earth.” Our evaluation proceeds on the basis of four-interrelated lines of inquiry. The initial inquiry related to grammar. In the present post I’ll look at style.    Stylistically, when commentators or translation committees interpret the initial word of Genesis (berē’šît) as a circumstantial phrase (“when...
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02
May

Examining Translations of Genesis 1:1 in relation to Genesis 1:1–3 (Part Three) 

In the previous two postings, I introduced two alternative interpretations to the traditional rendering of Gen. 1:1 as an absolute beginning, “In-the-beginning God created the-heavens [or heaven] and-the earth.” These alternative translations interpret berē’šît in Gen. 1:1 as an adverbial Hebrew construct (“when … began”) and consequently subordinate Gen. 1:1 grammatically either to 1:2 or 1:3. In the following series of postings I will evaluate the strength of these two leading alternatives over against the traditional rendering of Gen. 1:1. The evaluation will be based on four interrelated lines of inquiry: grammar,...
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25
Apr

Examining Translations of Genesis 1:1 in Relation to Genesis 1:1–3 (Part Two)

In the preceding post, I noted that it is grammatically possible to interpret and translate Genesis 1:1 as a dependent (subordinate) statement. Proponents of this interpretation and translation thereby make the whole of Gen. 1:1 grammatically subordinate to either 1:2 or 1:3 as an adverbial clause. These alternative translations interpret berē’šît in Gen. 1:1 as...
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15
Apr

Examining Translations of Genesis 1:1 in Relation to Genesis 1:1–3 (Part One)

In previous posts we have assumed the traditional translation of Genesis 1:1, “In-the-beginning God created the-heavens [or heaven] and-the-earth.” This familiar rendering interprets Gen. 1:1 as an absolute statement, grammatically independent (i.e., not subordinate) to what follows. This interpretation has a long precedence in translation history. The earliest example is the Septuagint, a major pre-Christian...
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02
Apr

Heavens and Earth in Genesis 1:1 

In previous posts we looked at the first three words of the Bible, “In-the-beginning God created …” We noted that the first verb of the Bible relates to (God’s) creative activity (bārā’: “created”), while the first subject of the Bible is “God” (Elohim).  This time we’ll look at the two objects of the verb, “the heavens and the earth” (‎אֵ֥ת הַשָּׁמַ֖יִם וְאֵ֥ת הָאָֽרֶץ: ’ēt haššāmayîm ve’ēt ha’ārets). Both are designated in Hebrew with object markers (אֵת, ’ēt, pronounced as ate), the second of...
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25
Mar

Elohim (אֱלֹהִים: ’elōhîm) (“God”) in Genesis 1:1

In the previous two posts we looked at the first two words of Genesis 1:1, “In-the-beginning” (berē’šît: בְּרֵאשִׁ֖ית) and “he-created” (bārā’: בָּרָא). Today we’ll look at the third word in the Hebrew text of the Bible, Elohim (pronounced like ӗh-low-heem´). This noun is always rendered “God” in standard English translations. (In Hebrew it looks like...
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18
Mar

bārā’ (בָּרָא) (“he-created”) in Genesis 1:1

In the initial post, we looked at the first word of the Bible, berē’šît (בְּרֵאשִׁ֖ית), often translated as “In-(the)-beginning.” (In a future post, we’ll look at other translation possibilities for this word in relation to Genesis 1:1–3.) This time, we’ll look at the second word of Genesis 1:1, bārā’ (בָּרָא), a verb. (It is pronounced...
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10
Mar

What do the Biblical Languages Offer?

Master of Divinity students take Hebrew and Greek courses as part of the curriculum. What do such languages offer? In one word, “immediacy.” The biblical languages enable readers to approach the Scriptures directly rather than indirectly through translation. In forthcoming posts I’ll offer examples of insights from the biblical languages, and today we’ll begin with...
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