Saturday, October 10, 2009

HEBREW PHILOLOGY is in the news today, which doesn't happen often enough.
God is not the Creator, claims academic
The notion of God as the Creator is wrong, claims a top academic, who believes the Bible has been wrongly translated for thousands of years.

By Richard Alleyne, Science Correspondent (The Telegraph)
Published: 5:45PM BST 08 Oct 2009

Professor Ellen van Wolde, a respected Old Testament scholar and author, claims the first sentence of Genesis "in the beginning God created the Heaven and the Earth" is not a true translation of the Hebrew.

She claims she has carried out fresh textual analysis that suggests the writers of the great book never intended to suggest that God created the world -- and in fact the Earth was already there when he created humans and animals.

Prof Van Wolde, 54, who will present a thesis on the subject at Radboud University in The Netherlands where she studies, said she had re-analysed the original Hebrew text and placed it in the context of the Bible as a whole, and in the context of other creation stories from ancient Mesopotamia.

She said she eventually concluded the Hebrew verb "bara", which is used in the first sentence of the book of Genesis, does not mean "to create" but to "spatially separate".

The first sentence should now read "in the beginning God separated the Heaven and the Earth"

According to Judeo-Christian tradition, God created the Earth out of nothing.

Hmmm ... The idea that Genesis 1:1 does not describe creatio ex nihilo is hardly new. The interpretation of Qal/basic stem of bara' as "to separate spatially" may be, I'm not sure. Presumably it's based on the only other usage of the root: in the Piel/factitive stem it means to chop down (trees), appearing only (I believe) in Joshua 17:15, 18. It's likely enough that Genesis 1:1 is about God reworking the primordial goo rather than creating out of nothing.