Sunday, February 12, 2006

Genesis 1:1

I'm doing research regarding the translation and meaning of Genesis 1:1-3. The below isn’t a finished product, must leave it open for addition and revision as I acquire and process new information. It’s really only a very beginning of the extensive research and interpretation that is needed. The best thing I can hope for is that it will bring forth a lot of questions.

To put it mildly there are some “problems” with our English translations of Genesis 1:1-3. Our translations don’t tell us the whole story. I wrote about these verses previously.

The first word of Genesis is spelled something like “be’raesheet”. It is a compound word. The prefix “be” means “with”, “raesheet” means a “first wisdom”. The Aramaic translation, the Targum Neofiti I recognizes this and translates the first verse of Genesis thusly, “From the beginning, with wisdom, the Memra of the Lord created and perfected the heavens and the earth”. Proverbs 3:19 says “The Lord by wisdom hath founded the earth; by understanding hath he established the heavens.” Psalm 104:24 says “O Lord, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches.”

Proverbs 8:22-31 describes a personified, pre-existent Wisdom. This set of verses is a creation narrative. Using my trusty interlinear bible software I can tell that this section needs more research. The English translation that I’m reading isn’t telling the whole story, there’s more here than meets the eye, especially from Girardian and Margaret Barker Temple Theology perspectives. But I think we can conclude that this text parallels Genesis 1 and that Wisdom was there when God began the creation.

The first word of Genesis, “be’raesheet”, is a very interesting word and I should devote a lot more attention to it, and rabbis through the ages have. This includes a lengthy exposition on Genesis 1 and “be’raesheet” and it’s potential meanings.

Genesis 1:1 can be translated something like this: “In/With Wisdom Elohim created the heavens and the earth”. I think this was how the Gospel of John understood Genesis 1:1. In John 1:3 it says, “All things were made by him (the Word) and without him was not anything made that was made.”

My next post will be on Genesis 1:3 and how it could/should be translated “And Elohim said ‘let Him be light’: and He was light.”

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