Wednesday, November 09, 2011

In the beginning...

“...bĕrēʾšît is a strikingly appropriate term to introduce a sequence that will be carried on by the tôlĕdôt transitions. It marks the very first period, with the tôlĕdôt phrases introducing each of the successive periods. If this be the case, the book would now have 12 formally marked sections (a number that is much more logical than 11). If the bĕrēʾšît clause is a marker comparable to the tôlĕdôt clauses, it could easily be seen as functioning in an independent clause, just like the tôlĕdôt clauses. The conclusion then is that it is an independent clause that functions as a literary marker to introduce the seven-day account, just as the tôlĕdôt phrase is a literary marker that introduces the passage that follows.”— Genesis 1 as Ancient Cosmology, page 125

<idle musing>
Now that makes sense to me. All the other explanations of the construct form in Genesis 1:1 have struck me as contrived.
</idle musing>


Robert Holmstedt said...

Ahh, that's just another case of ignoring grammar for imaginative literary analysis.

"Contrived," eh? I'll take that as an insult if you're throwing my 2008 VT argument in this category. The construction in Gen 1.1 is well-attested in Semitic, from Akkadian to OSA.

jps said...


I don't recall seeing your argument; can you e-mail me an offprint?


Peter Kirk said...

Robert, you might like to see my comments on your argument, on my own blog.

Robert Holmstedt said...


No, I didn't like your response. Trying to answer without showing the full extent of my irritation wasted 30 minutes of my evening.

It's actually pretty hard to piss me off, but suggesting I analyze Hebrew through the lens of English did it really well. How about you come to U of T and sit at my feet for a bit, like my grad students in Hebrew linguistics, and I'll teach you a few things about Hebrew grammar.

Robert Holmstedt said...


Ok, I've allowed some administrative work to cool me down.

From a professor's perspective, your comments on my argument represent what is the most troubling aspect of blogs: contrary to the expectations in scholarship, blogs seem so often to promote baseless, non-researched discussion. And there is no accountability.

As a researcher, such discussions are just frustrating, since they creates static that stands in the way of what I'm trying to communicate. As teacher, it is much more deeply distressing. it suggests that our efforts in university education are failing to produce careful, critical thinkers.

John Anderson said...

And everyone can attend the Gen ! session at SBL this year and hear John Walton, Mark Smith, Bill Brown, and Ellen van Wolde discuss and debate the issues surrounding Gen !!