Rekindled Light — The Narrative Structure of the Hexaemeron (Genesis 1:1–31)

by Mebaqqer2 71 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • peacefulpete

    The Twenty-two Works of Creation.

    Israel, the people, stands in closest relation to God, the Father, the Israelites being His beloved children (ch. i. 24 et seq., xix. 29). While all other nations are subject to angels or spirits appointed by Him as the Ruler of the world, Israel is subject only to God (comp. LXX. and Targ. Yer. to Deut. xxxii. 8). As a sign of its union with God, both the Sabbath and circumcision have been given to it, privileges which it shares with the angels (ch. ii. 18-21, xv. 26-27: "The two highest angelic orders have been created thus from the day of their creation"; comp. the passage concerning Adam and the rest of the world's saints [fifteen in number] having been born circumcised, derived from Gen. i. 27—"God created man in his own image" [Ab. R. N. ed. Schechter, p. 153]). Upon Jacob, as the end, the whole Creation is centered (ch. ii. 23, xix. 24-25), and the world's renewal is effected through the Messianic kingdom in Jerusalem (ch. i. 29, iv. 26). Accordingly, the twenty-two works of the six days of Creation are enumerated (ch. ii. 2-22): On the first day—heaven, earth, water, the spirits, the abyss, darkness, and light; on the second—the firmament; on the third—the land, the seas, vegetation, and paradise; on the fourth—sun, moon, and stars; on the fifth—the sea-monsters (Behemoth and Leviathan, "the first things of flesh created by His hands"), the fish, and the birds; on the sixth—the wild and the tame animals, the creeping things, and man; these twenty-two works correspond to the twenty-two generations from Adam to Jacob, as well as to the twenty-two letters of the alphabet and the twenty-two books of Holy Scripture (ch. ii. 23; comp. Midr. Tadshe vi.; Epstein, "Mi-Ḳadmoniyyot ha-Yehudim," 1887, p. xx.; and Charles, l.c. pp. 11, 18).


    The above demonstrates that an agenda was at work in the 22 enumeration. The 22 are not self-evident but result from necessity.

  • Mebaqqer2

    I actually addressed this point previously when I cited my main paper,

    It must therefore be stressed that, however else the author of Jubilees may explicate [→ elaborate on] them in his own composition, these twenty-two works are exegetically derived from the text of Genesis itself and are thus not an eisegetical creation of the author. One must therefore disagree with VanderKam’s assessment that “The writer of Jubilees has reworked Genesis’ eight acts of creation into 22 because this harmonizes with his larger purpose of stressing the sabbath and its significance in God’s universe and plan.” Such a characterization does not comport with the clear exegetical derivation of these twenty-two works nor the author’s intent that Jubilees serve as a guide to understanding the text of Genesis–Exodus. It would perhaps be more accurate to say that the writer of Jubilees found the twenty-two works of the Hexaemeron serviceable to his larger purpose.

    Jubilees enumeration, as I demonstrated from the example of the third day, represents the works of creation found in Genesis, not Jubilees. Jubilees doesn’t just give the number of works as twenty-two in a general way and leave it at that. It enumerates the works created on each day specifically. And the truth of this enumeration is demonstrated by the fact that I can easily present all twenty-two works in the text of Genesis for each day precisely in the outline and diagram of the narrative structure. It is this fact which must be explained if the enumeration is something that the author of Jubilees just made up to serve an agenda as you state. You have made no demonstration as to why Jubilees’ reckoning is artificial. How Jubilees utilizes Genesis’ twenty-two works for some other theological purpose is beside the point. From my perspective you, and earlier VanderKam, have the situation backward.

    Perhaps I could explain things better by making a similar argument to the one you just advanced:

    Sarna in his commentary on Genesis writes,

    [The biblical Creation narrative’s] quintessential teaching is that the universe is wholly the purposeful product of divine intelligence, that is, of the one self—sufficient, self-existing God, who is a transcendent Being outside of nature and who is sovereign over space and time.

    This credo finds reiterated expression in the narrative in a number of ways, the first of which is the literary framework. The opening and closing lines epitomize the central idea: “God created.” Then there is the literary structure, which presents the creative process with bilateral symmetry. The systematic progression from chaos to cosmos unfolds in an orderly and harmonious manner through a series of six successive and equal units of time. The series is divided into two parallel groups, each of which comprises four creative acts performed in three days. The third day in each group is distinguished by two productions. In each group the movement is from heaven to terrestrial water to dry land. Moreover, the arrangement is such that each creation in the first group furnishes the resource that is to be utilized by the corresponding creature in the second group.

    My argument: “The above demonstrates that an agenda was at work in Sarna’s 8 creative act enumeration and bilateral symmetry. The 8 arranged this way is not self-evident but results from a necessity to prove the creative process was orderly and harmonious from chaos to cosmos.”

    How convincing would you find such an argument? Hopefully you would reason, “Sarna is interpreting what he understands to be in the text. The implications are something else." And you would be right. What is required of me, since I disagree with Sarna’s reading of the text, is to offer a better explanation while showing problems with Sarna's symmetrical arrangement of the eight creative acts. And I submit that this is just what I have done with my proposal.

  • peacefulpete

    I guess I will simply summarize my thoughts.

    I do not agree we can deny a demythologized version of the chaos motif in Genesis 1, it is pretty explicit and repeated throughout the Tanakh in back references to creation. This means the ordering/filling of the formless chaotic earth and heavens (featuring the dividing of restless waters blown upon by God, as in the Enuma Elish) is the theme. The formless heaven and earth are not created they are assumed to exist primordially. This eliminates 2 (heaven and earth) of the 22.

    The parsing of the other 20 is not necessary or evident, the plants for example are featured twice in the narrative. The one is their creation (day 3) the other is the usage (day 6), these are not two creative acts. BTW green plants are divided 3 ways, grass, herb and tree. Why only count 2 at their creation on day 3 and only 1 at the command to eat them on day 6 when herbs and trees are listed separately? Then notice in the summary of vs30 all three divisions of plants are lumped as 'herbs'. Clearly the author was concerning himself with "green plants" and waxed on regarding the varieties but did not numerate them as separate creations.

    In this same, vein vs. 26 in contrasting humans from the other creatures the author repeats his enumerating as 3 categories (not 6 as you do in the chart), creatures of the sea, air and land.

    I'll also repeat that the widely accepted chiastic structure, 3 days and 3 corresponding days, works very well and is consistent with similar chiastic structures in Genesis. The approach you are suggesting is unnecessary and foreign.

    Also, I believe it is a mistake to assume the Hasidic author of Jubilees had any insight into the original intent of the author of Genesis. In fact, he added and subtracted from the Genesis story freely. His respect for the work did not preclude his adaptation of it. As we know he drew from other parts of the 22 sacred writings for his angel creation on the first day for instance. His reordering Genesis material and creating artificial 7 and 49 year schemas are key features of the work. No, I don't believe the author is concerned with originality.

    I also seriously doubt the author of Gen 1 was consciously referencing the Tent or ark. That later theologians saw symbolism in those objects with Genesis reveals the imagination of the theologians, perhaps with an eye to deny the designs were of non-Yahwist origins. There isn't sufficient verbal connections nor any explicit link in the Tanakh.

    Hope that didn't come across poorly, in truth I find the topic and your research interesting.

  • Mebaqqer2

    Greeting peacefulpete,

    Apologies for the delay.

    I can appreciate your reading of my work. You are coming from a different place and what I am putting forth is somewhat at variance with what you have already come to know. So let me see if I can bridge the divide.

    You speak of “a demythologized version of the chaos motif in Genesis 1.” You say this motif is “pretty explicit and repeated throughout the Tanakh in back references to creation.” This is an understandable position. It is based on reading Genesis together with ancient near eastern creation accounts. It is a comparative religious reading of the text and is a common approach. You specifically note the Enuma Elish in your comments.

    I am familiar with this approach. I am also familiar with the work of Tsumura whose scholarship serves as a balance to this approach. Tsumura writes,

    There is a popular hypothesis that the Chaoskampf motif of Enuma elish, the battle between Tiamat and Marduk, is behind the biblical idea of creation, especially in the background of Gen 1:2, and hence it has been assumed that the basic pattern of the biblical creation motif is “order out of chaos,” as a result of the victory over the chaos waters, which symbolize the enemy of a creator god.

    There are still questions about the meanings of key expressions in Gen 1:2 such as tōhû wābōhû and tĕhôm, as well as the nature of the earth-waters relationship. B. S. Childs, who like many other scholars accepts a mythological background for these expressions, explains Gen 1:2 as describing “the mystery of a primordial threat against creation, uncreated without form and void, which God strove to overcome.” He had expressed this view in more theological terms a quarter of century earlier: “the Old Testament writer struggles to contrast the creation, not with a background of empty neutrality, but with an active chaos standing in opposition to the will of God. . . . The chaos is a reality rejected by God.”

    However, this view deserves scrutiny. Does Gen 1:2 describe a “watery chaos” that existed before creation? In other words, do the terms tōhû wābōhû and tĕhôm in v. 2 really signify a chaotic state of the earth in waters and hence “a primordial threat against creation”?
    — David Toshio Tsumura, Creation and Destruction : A Reappraisal of the Chaoskampf Theory in the Old Testament (Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns, 2005), 1–3.

    Tsumura then undertakes a linguistic analysis of tōhû wābōhû and tĕhôm in Gen 1:2. After his analysis of the phrase tōhû wābōhû, Tsumura writes,

    In light of the above, it would be very reasonable to understand the phrase tōhû wābōhû in Gen 1:2 as also describing a state of “desolation and emptiness,” though the context suggests that this was the initial state of the created earth rather than a state brought about as a result of God’s judgment on the earth or land (cf. Jer 4:23, Isa 34:11). In this regard, the earth that “was” (hāyĕtâ) tōhû wābōhû signifies the earth in a “bare” state, without vegetation and animals as well as without man. The author’s intention in describing the earth in its initial state as tōhû wābōhû was not to present the earth as “the terrible, eerie, deserted wilderness” but to introduce the earth as being “not yet” normal.
    — Tsumura, Creation, 33.

    After his analysis of the term tĕhôm, Tsumura writes,

    There is no evidence that the term tĕhôm in Gen 1:2 is the depersonification of an original Canaanite deity, as Day assumes. The Hebrew term tĕhôm is simply a reflection of the common Semitic term *tihām- “ocean,” and there is no relation between the Genesis account and the so-called Chaoskampf mythology.
    — Tsumura, Creation, 56–7.

    So you may not know the work of Tsumura which serves as a balance to the position you take as axiomatic. If you do, then you no doubt have a contrary analysis to invalidate his findings or can refer me to someone who does. At the minimum, you can perhaps now understand why I do not take the Chaoskampf motif as self evidently working in the background in Genesis 1.

    Moving on, you say, “The formless heaven and earth are not created they are assumed to exist primordially.” This statement is based on reading Gen 1:1 as a prepositional phrase. Holmstedt’s work shows this to be one of two possible options. So it is possible, but by no means the only opinion. My paper on bĕrēʾšît in Gen 1:1 specifically argues in support of the other option that this verse is an independent clause. You, like Holmstedt earlier, do not address the fact that both the Masoretic Text and the Samaritan Pentateuch understand the verse as an independent clause as does every ancient translation up to the 10th century. On the other hand, the Masoretic Text, the Samaritan Pentateuch and the ancient translations all support my position. So my view is not only possible, but is the one better supported. Additionally, the narrative structure I propose, if true, makes reading v. 1 as an independent clause the only opinion. So I am sorry to say, you have not eliminated “the heavens and the earth” from the count.

    Moving on, you question why the two types of vegetation are only counted twice for day 3 and once for day 6. Sorry, but you have fundamentally misunderstood what I have laid out. The twenty-two works are works of creation. Thus the mention of vegetation in the provision of food is not counted at all. So when you say, "these are not two creative acts," I can only agree with you. It is the textual unit delineated by “and Elohim said” on day three (Gen 1:11–12) which corresponds to the textual unit delineated by “and Elohim said” on day six (Gen 1:29–31). If you look carefully at the diagram and the outline, you will see that the provision of food is in fact not numbered. Now consider the symmetrical arrangement which presents vegetation (day 3) as correspondent to land animals and humans (day 6) alone. This, as I said previously, contradicts v. 30 which also includes flying creatures (day 5) in the provision of food. My proposal thus yields a more sensible arrangement.

    Moving on, you say that there are actually three kinds of plants created on day three. Sorry, but your reading of the text is wrong on this. The truth is as Sarna writes in his commentary, “vegetation Hebrew deshe’ is the generic term, which is subdivided into plants and fruit trees.” Thus the creation of “vegetation” (dešeʾ) is effected through the creation of the two types of vegetation according to the text: “seed sowing herbage” (ʿēśeb mazrîaʿ zeraʿ) and “fruit producing arborage” (ʿēṣ ʿōśè-pĕrî). These are the two works created during the second half of day three.

    You continue, “notice in the summary of vs30 all three divisions of plants are lumped as 'herbs'.” Citing Gen 1:29–30 from the JPS translation in Sarna’s commentary, here is what I notice:

    29 God said, “See, I give you every seed-bearing plant (ʿēśeb) that is upon all the earth, and every tree (ʿēṣ) that has seed-bearing fruit; they shall be yours for food. 30 And to all the animals on land, to all the birds of the sky, and to everything that creeps on earth, in which there is the breath of life, [I give] all the green plants (yereq ʿēśeb) for food.” And it was so.

    v. 29 states that the same two types of vegetation created in v. 12 are to be the food for mankind. This supports the view that two types of vegetation were created in vv. 11–2. As for the mention of yereq ʿēśeb in v. 30, there have long been problems in understanding the relationship of the two words here as Abraham Tal relates in his textual commentary for BHQ (I have transliterated where the text is in Hebrew):

    yereq ʿēśeb The equal lexical value of the two nouns, yereq and ʿēśeb (according to the vocalization), motivated G to transpose them, attributing to the former the role of adjective. Although Hebrew nouns normally precede adjectives, this collocation was considered possible, in view of parallel phrases (constructs), such as yĕpē ʿênayim [Lit. “beautiful of eyes”], yĕpē tōʾar [Lit. “beautiful of form”]. This rather unusual expression provoked Qimhi to state: “the grass is edible only when it is green.” On v. 19 Ibn Ezra says, “the green grass is for animals.” Aquila translates as “vegetation of green grass.” Theodotion restores the order of M without changing G. To Symmachus the phrase is a genitive, as it is to the Targumim, which consider the word yereq to refer to vegetables, according to its meaning in, e.g., 1 Kgs 21:2.

    Yet while there is some dispute as to the precise meaning of yereq ʿēśeb, there is nothing to indicate that the phrase intends to include every kind of vegetation in it as your comment asserts. The text appears to say rather what Ibn Ezra states in his comments on Gen 1:29, namely, that while the plants (ʿēśeb) were given to mankind as well as animals, the fruits of the trees (ʿēṣ) were reserved for mankind alone. Therefore I do not see the mention of plants (ʿēśeb) in v. 30 as an all inclusive term for all vegetation as you do. In fact, I see quite the opposite.

    Moving on, you mention v. 26 as “contrasting humans from the other creatures” and state that an enumeration of “3 categories” invalidates the enumeration of the works of creation in my summary chart. In point of fact, v. 26 specifies the types of creatures over which mankind is to rule and lists, not “3 categories” as you maintain, but four: 1) fish 2) flying creatures 3) docile creatures and 4) scurrying creatures. And knowing that the context here is not about creating creatures, but the creatures over which mankind is destined to rule, you should understand why the author omits two types of creatures from the list of creatures, namely, 1) the great serpents and 2) the wild animals. The four types of creatures in v. 26 are creatures subservient to humans while the two that are omitted are not. You may compare this to Gen 9:2 where the fear of humans is brought up with a list of the exact same four subservient creatures as v. 26.

    Moving on, you assert the existence of a “widely accepted chiastic structure” which I have several times now demonstrated has problems in its formulation and its bases which you have yet to address. You assert my approach is “unnecessary” even though I have shown problems with a symmetrical arrangement of the works and have drawn attention to the fact that scholars also recognize these problems which, again, you have yet to meaningfully countered. And you incredibly assert my approach is “foreign” while you make references to the Enuma Elish to understanding Genesis and outright dismiss what Jubilees, a work produced in the same cultural environment and in the same language as Genesis itself, might have to say. Truly astounding I must say.

    Moving on, you say you “doubt the author of Gen 1 was consciously referencing the Tent or ark.” Well since you know something about critical scholarship, you probably know that the Hexameron is assigned to P (Priesterschrift, Priestly Source). Here is what one scholar says,

    In the priestly conception of the world, the tabernacle is undoubtedly important. Indeed, in many recent reconstructions, the account of the tabernacle’s construction in Exod 25–31, 35–40* marks the conclusion and climax of the original priestly document, the Grundschrift. The priestly document opens with the creation of the world (Gen 1), and the creation finds its fulfilment in the making of the tabernacle.
    — Nathan MacDonald, The Making of the Tabernacle and the Construction of Priestly Hegemony (New York, N.Y.: Oxford, 2023), 102.

    So you are of course free to doubt that the Dwelling was in the mind of the author when the Hexaemeron was composed, but the connection agrees quite well with critical scholarship and is far from outlandish. So when ancient authors millennia ago actually within the religious tradition make the same connection, I think it might be good not to dismiss them too hastily. I remember how anthropologists and others scoffed at the stories that people on Easter Island told them about how the Moai walked to their locations and then learned much later that people had walked the Moai by swaying the slightly tilted figures from right to left with ropes. Often it just takes the removal of an unwarranted assumption to see a simple truth.

    peacefulpete, I appreciate your efforts. It indicates to me that there are places I need to offer more explanation or explain differently. Thank you again for sharing your viewpoints. I hope you understand that there is no personal animosity in the defense of a thesis. Hopefully we are all after the truth of the matter and greater understanding.

  • peacefulpete

    The great part is, we are not bound to any dogma.

    Regarding the chaos motif in the Tanakh, you may enjoy these old threads:

    The skinny on the Leviathan and Rahab monsters.


  • Mebaqqer2

    Greetings peacefulpete,

    With respect to your assumption of the use of the Chaoskampf motif in Genesis 1, I cited Tsumura’s work in support of my stated position that “I do not take the Chaoskampf motif as self evidently working in the background in Genesis 1.” Given your evident disagreement, I asked if you could produce a contrary analysis to invalidate Tsumura’s findings or refer me to someone who does. Here now you present a 20 year old post by the venerable Leolaia. Beloved by all on this board who know her, only a fool would dare to offer a view contrary to her pronouncements and call forth the ire of other board members. Further, her long absence suggests that any issues taken with her position would go unanswered by her herself. So you put me in a bad situation through your own inability to address my counterpoints to your criticisms on your own. But I did say, “Call whoever you need to aid you.” So the fault is ultimately my own.

    Whether it is the pronouncements of the governing body of Jehovah’s Witnesses or the venerable Leolaia, the only thing that should matter is if a position advanced can be substantiated and successfully defended against rival positions. This is why I call for substantive criticism of my own work. You recommend Leolaia’s post as if I had not heard Leolaia’s views before. Yet as I stated previously, “I am familiar with this approach.” I did not need Leolaia’s post to know it because I have heard it from scholars who, like Leolaia, are influenced by the Religionsgeschichtliche Schule, particularly Hermann Gunkel in relation to Genesis. And yes, there are indeed times when I myself find value in the findings which scholars present utilizing this approach. But the question here is whether Genesis 1 is one of those instances. So confining ourselves to Genesis 1, the subject of my thesis, let us take a look at one example of what Leolaia says,

    The Priestly account of creation in Genesis 1 appears to be a demythologized version of the Tiamat legend. The Hebrew cognate of Tiamat is tehom "deep" which denotes the initial state before creation: "The earth was a formless void (thw-w-bhw), there was darkness over the deep (thwm), and the wind of God hovered over the water" (Genesis 1:2). We have no explicit notion of a personalized chaos monster but we have the primordial existence of "darkness" and the "deep", the same two traits of chaos in Greek myth and in the Enuma Elish.

    She states that “Genesis 1 appears to be a demythologized version of the Tiamat legend.” What is the basis for this position? She states that “Tiamat” is the Hebrew cognate of “tehom.” Note that this is asserted, but is not demonstrated. So what does Gunkel, upon whom Leolaia ultimately depends for this assertion, state that would support this assertion?

    The fact that the word ‫תהום‬ [tĕhôm] in the sing[ular] is never employed in the determined state, and thus is treated as a proper name, implies that Tehom was originally a mythological entity, that is, a goddess. The same is true of ‫תבל‬ [tebel], “arable land, earth.” The Babylonian Tiâmat = Hebr. ‫תהום‬ [tĕhôm] demonstrates the accuracy of this conclusion. Tiâmat is the primordial sea, represented as a goddess or feminine monster.

    — Herman Gunkel, Genesis, trans. Mark E. Biddle (Mercer Library of Biblical Studies; Macon, Ga.: Mercer, 1997), 105.

    Well that settles it then right? tĕhôm in Hebrew is the demythologized version of the goddess Tiamat and therefore in Genesis 1. Well no, because then Tsumura comes along with his originally 20 page analysis of the term tĕhôm and notes contra Gunkel and those who follow him,

    The earlier scholars who followed Gunkel usually held that the author of Genesis had borrowed the Babylonian proper name Tiamat and demythologized it. However, if the Hebrew tĕhôm were an Akkadian loanword, there should be a closer phonetic similarity to tiʾāmat. The expected Hebrew form would be something like *tiʾāmat > tiʾṓmat > tiʾāmat. This could have been subsequently changed to *tĕʾomā(h), with a loss of the final /t/, but never to tĕhôm, with a loss of the entire feminine morpheme /-at/.

    — David Toshio Tsumura, Creation and Destruction : A Reappraisal of the Chaoskampf Theory in the Old Testament (Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns, 2005), 36–7.


    When one says that tĕhôm is etymologically related to Tiamat, no clear distinction is made between the fact that tĕhôm and Tiamat are cognate, sharing the common Semitic root *thm, and the popular supposition that tĕhôm is a loanword from the Akkadian divine name Tiamat, hence implying a mythological relationship. Because the latter is phonologically impossible, the idea that the Akkadian Tiamat was borrowed and subsequently demythologized is mistaken and should not be used as an argument in a lexicographical discussion of Hebrew tĕhôm. It should be pointed out that the Akkadian term tiʾāmtum > tâmtum normally means “sea” or “ocean” in an ordinary sense and is sometimes personified as a divine being in mythological contexts. Therefore, the fact that tĕhôm is etymologically related to Tiamat as a cognate should not be taken as evidence for the mythological dependence of the former on the latter.

    — Tsumura, Creation, 38.


    [S]everal common nouns are used without the definite article in Gen 1… Thus, the lack of the definite article with tĕhôm is no proof of personification. Furthermore, tĕhôm without the article appears either as a part of an idiomatic expression or in the poetic texts, which often omit the article. The very existence of its plural form, tĕhômôt (or tĕhōmôt, tĕhômōt), and its articular usage in Isa 63:13 and Ps 106:9 suggest that the term is a common noun in Hebrew, just as in Ugaritic, Akkadian and Eblaite.

    — Tsumura, Creation, 48–9.

    So the term tĕhôm is better explained as a common noun meaning “ocean” contra the view of Gunkel and others who have seen a demythologized goddess in its use in Genesis 1. Knowing this, I thought it sufficient to cite from Tsumura’s conclusion,

    There is no evidence that the term tĕhôm in Gen 1:2 is the depersonification of an original Canaanite deity, as Day assumes. The Hebrew term tĕhôm is simply a reflection of the common Semitic term *tihām- “ocean,” and there is no relation between the Genesis account and the so-called Chaoskampf mythology.

    — Tsumura, Creation, 56–7.

    So please understand that I am not dismissing reading Chaoskampf mythology in Genesis 1 because I haven’t heard of it, or I don’t get it, or I don’t like it. I dismiss it because the basis for it has been found wanting for some time. This is why it is enough for me to cite Tsumura, since his analysis is the next step in the discussion that needs to be countered if that analysis is wrong. So instead of me addressing Gunkel’s scholarship by way of Leolaia’s post, perhaps it would be better for you first to address Tsumura’s response to Gunkel and counter his analysis. Until then, Tsumura’s points which relate to my own thesis stand. As encouragement in your reading of Tsumura, here are some comments from reviews of Tsumura’s original work in relation to Genesis 1.

    Tsumura opposes the view of Gunkel and others since his day that tĕhôm is borrowed from Tiamat. He is obviously correct. Both words derive from a Semitic root thm and thus they are cognates, but a direct connection between the two is disavowed… Thus, those scholars who see a Hebrew tĕhôm as a depersonification or a demythologization of a deity (Canaanite or Babylonian) are incorrectNo future commentator on Genesis 1–2 will be able to disregard this book.

    — Gary A. Rendsburg, “Review of Tsumura, D. T. The Earth and the Waters in Genesis 1 and 2: A Linguistic Investigation, Journal of Biblical Literature 110.1 (1991): 137–8.

    Among [Tsumura’s] principal conclusions are that tōhû wābōhû does not refer to the primordial chaos, but to the earth as an empty place, unproductive and uninhabited; that tĕhôm is not the depersonification of an original divine name, but a common Semitic word for “ocean”, which in Gen. i 2 covered the whole earth (he argues forcefully against the view that sees here a reference to the Chaoskampf theme)… This is a clear, learned and sober monograph which frequently shows up deficiencies in previous comparative philological studies because of a failure fully to study the use of words first in the context of the various languages in which they occur. By concentrating on a thorough study of a limited range of issues, Tsumura has made a substantial contribution to the clarification of these difficult passages.

    — H. G. M. Williamson, “Review of Tsumura, D. T. The Earth and the Waters in Genesis 1 and 2: A Linguistic Investigation, Vetus Testamentum 42.3 (1992): 422–3.

    And you may finally note that I am not simply being some slavish follower of Tsumura, since the narrative structure that I advance with my thesis disagrees with his work which assumes the symmetrical arrangement that is commonly accepted. This is of course to be expected on his part given the lack of a clear exposition of the narrative structure until now. My thesis thus represents an advance on the discussion by clarifying this feature of the narrative. To conclude, although we may not be bound by dogma as you say, we are bound by intellectual honesty to read works as their authors intended them to be read. Such, I believe, is what I bring to the table through the recovery of the narrative structure of the Hexaemeron.

  • Rattigan350

    The 6 days of Gen 1 were not about the time that God spent creating anything. Remember that it was written by Moses. It was all about him, not God.

  • Mebaqqer2

    Greetings Rattigan350,

    In my response to aqwsed12345 I specifically wrote, “today debate continues to rage on whether the days of creation are literal 24-days days or long periods of time… My proposal is not made with this question in mind.” In the same response I also wrote that my proposal “simply concerns the narrative structure as a feature of the text.” There are days in the text. These days are arranged within the text. This is what my thesis concerns.

  • peacefulpete

    Well, I posted a couple threads on this forum on the topic in case you were unaware of the subject. Leolaia was certainly not the end of any discussion, in fact we disagreed on many finer points. I would also imagine she would have sharpened her understanding over the last 20 years (as I have) as well. To anyone interested in this topic, however, her reviews were a great resource from which to pursue further research.

    On this topic, while I find Tsumura’s primary arguments sound, his conclusions/objections are something of red herrings. He seems to believe he is making observations others are unaware of. While some, especially early in the history of comparative religion research, may have suggested the authors retained the chaos theology, recent scholarship points out the language reflects a cultural linkage/indebtedness. Especially considering the lateness of the hexaemeron (5th-3rd) we would not expect the author to be simply repeating creation stories from a thousand years previous. He rather demonstrates the persistence of an ancient motif. Much like today when we refer to 'forbidden fruit' or making someone a 'scapegoat', these are metaphors/idioms/motifs that carry meaning separate from the larger specific religious origins. Cross used to say, when the language no longer posed a threat to the scribal elites, they were adopted and transformed in subtle ways. However, it's not just the words it's also some underlying conceptual theme that persists. In other words, my audience knows what being a 'scapegoat' is even if most have no idea where it came from nor are religiously Jewish.

    In the case of the dividing waters, the idiom is also utilized in fresh ways by the second temple author/redactors. It would seem in many contexts the symbolism is no longer narrowly related to 'creation' but fresh beginnings and demonstrations of divine power. Note in the exodus stories the similar elements of tehom/yam interacting with wind/breath from God parting the sea as a divine act opening a new chapter for Israel. Perhaps the author intended a back reference to Gen 1 (as I suggested), perhaps not consciously. Regardless the idiom and motif are present.

    So, I'm convinced the shaping of a formless world into a habitable world, and of dividing waters as are clear examples of inherited metaphor that was recognized by nearly anyone in the ANE.

    As I said in my first post it's a hobby for me, hobbies should be fun. I don't feel like we're having fun any longer, so I'll let you go. Good luck with your research.

  • Anony Mous
    Anony Mous

    Just as a hint as to why people may not read your paper: it’s on, it’s a bad site, it won’t let me read the papers (for free), it wants my personal information and the only anonymous option (Apple ID) is broken.

    That being said, the part of the preview I can see has no references. You cannot write a paper and have no references as to the authority or even if you are going to go against the mainstream, what specific things you try to disprove, nobody will take you seriously. I saw something you quoted Augustine, but there was no reference to the actual quote which makes it hard to verify your statements, however If you quote things (intentionally or unintentionally) without attribution and reference, that can be considered plagiarism.

    If you want to be taken serious by serious scholars, publish on a serious, non scammy site like one of the ArXiV or OSF and get it peer reviewed but you need to do a bit better than an essay.

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