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MEDIEVAL-RELIGION  November 2009

MEDIEVAL-RELIGION November 2009

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Subject:

Re: RE medieval exegeses of Genesis 1, 1 implying bara' = to separate

From:

rochelle altman <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

medieval-religion - Scholarly discussions of medieval religious culture <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sun, 22 Nov 2009 09:00:15 +0200

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text/plain

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medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

Kerry, George, absolutely agree. "bara" cannot mean "separate."

Kerry, one more point from poetic structure and 
the multiple levels of meaning of the Hebrew text.

This is the beginning -- it itself is a 
singularity -- just as god is a singularity 
(though plural in form; elohim, all gods in 
one).  Being singular, both for the act and for 
the one performing the act, the parallelism is 
inherent in "bara elohim." As George says, the 
word is reserved for god's singular action: to create/form/shape.

Reinforcing this double reference to a singular 
act by a singular agent, the normal overt 
parallelism is placed on the second cola and 
parallelism operates from then on.

Further, a quick check of the BHS (Biblia Hebraic 
Stuttgartensia -- for fellow list-members) shows 
absolutely no variants on bara. Neither in Greek nor in Hebrew.

The Medievals looked to both the Greek and the 
Hebrew for translation -- and they were one heck 
of a lot more knowledgeable than lots of moderns.

BTW, I wouldn't translate berashit as "in the 
beginning," though. "At first" is much closer to the actual meaning.

Back to my cyber-cubbyhole,

Rochelle


>medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of 
>medieval religion and culture Doctissimi,
>
>In complete agreement with Kerry, I would like to add only two minor points:
>
>1. as far as I know the term _bara_ is reserved 
>to the special, if you wish, creative act of 
>God. Bara is "God-acting". No human agent can 
>_bara_, while separation (badal) can be 
>accomplished by others, like human agents, too, e.g. Neh 9,2┬  Ezr 10, 16.
>
>2. since the medieval commentators relied on the 
>knowledge of the ancient translato, but none of 
>the Greek translators (cf.Hexapla, that is, 
>Aquila, Theodotion, Symmachus, in addition to 
>the LXX which they wanted to improve on in some 
>way or another) were reported to have adopted 
>this meaning (most of whom were native speakers, 
>so to say ... :) - therefore it is unlikely that 
>anyone would come up with such an innovation.
>
>Best,
>
>George
>
>2009/11/21 V. Kerry Inman 
><<mailto:[log in to unmask]>[log in to unmask]>
>medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
>┬
>
>Thank you, Mata, but the last time we discussed 
>Hebrew, I think you and I were the only ones on 
>the list following the discussion.
>
>Ellen van Wolde, who holds her inaugural speech 
>at the Raboud university in Nijmegen on Friday, 
>says the Hebrew word bara should not be 
>translated as 'created' but as 'separated'.
>
>This is just unbelievably poor scholarship. 
>Whatever the word bara meant in the past, she 
>bases her study mostly on etymology, it is very 
>unlikely that it means separate here. The word 
>for separate badal appears only a few lines 
>below, "God separated the light from the 
>darkness." If bara were a synonym for separate, 
>than we would have a parallel grammatical 
>structure. But we don't. God separates the light 
>"from" beyn the darkness. In verse one there is 
>no "from" beyn. To use anyword for separate 
>without using beyn violates the standard 
>practices (rules if you like) for all Semitic languages not just Hebrew.
>
>Genesis 1 simply does not say that God separated the heavens and the earth.
>
>V. Kerry Inman, M.A., M.Div., Th.M.
>Ph. D. Candidate, Arabic and Hebrew
>University of Pennsylvania
>Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations
>┬
>┬
>
> > Date: Fri, 20 Nov 2009 10:14:04 -0500
> > From: <mailto:[log in to unmask]>[log in to unmask]
> > Subject: [M-R] RE medieval exegeses of 
> Genesis 1, 1 implying bara' = to separate
>
> > To: 
> <mailto:[log in to unmask]>[log in to unmask]
> >
> > medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
> >
> > Isn't George FERZOCO's question if anyone can
> > point to medieval exegeses of Gen 1.1 which are
> > along the lines of van Wolde's idea that Bara'
> > means "to separate ..." &c ? that is: the question
> > is not RE medieval exegeses RE the question "from
> > what was the univese made" ? i.e. *not* what tohu
> > & bohu is/are (whether hylic or whatever) ? but
> > whether there is a mediaeval precursor to van
> > Wolde's idea RE what bara' means, viz. "to
> > separate" and not "to create" ? And isn't V.
> > Kerry Inman pointing out that Genesis Raba in
> > taking tohu wa bohu of Gen 1.2 (= unified substrate
> > of Heaven and Earth) as the archetype of earthy
> > matter, as it were, may somehow be related to the
> > idea that bara' in Gen 1.1 means "to separate" and
> > not "to create" ?
> >
> > Mata Kimasitayo
> >
>"
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>
>
>
>
>--
>
>Gy├Ârgy Ger├ęby CSc (PhD)
>associate professor
>head, Mediaeval Studies Department
>Central European University
>
>Budapest V
>Nador u 9
>H-1051 Hungary
>
>Phone/fax: + 36.1.3412634
>Mobile: +36.30.9969874
>Skype: ggereby4
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