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Genesis 1.1: A jewish response to a persian challenge?

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Chapter Summary

"In the beginning God created heaven and earth". These proud and programmatic words of the first verse of the opening chapter of Genesis have become so familiar to us that we hardly realize how unusual they really are. Morton Smith suggested that many themes in Deutero-Isaiah 40-48 depend on Cyrus' proclamation concerning his conquest of Babylon. The similarities pointed out by Smith certainly exist. Smith also argued that the prominence of the theme of Yahweh's creation of the world in these very chapters depended on Persian cosmological material. Given these close similarities between the Persian and Israelite texts, it is hard to believe that the authors of Genesis 1.1 and the relevant chapters of Deutero-Isaiah did not, directly or indirectly, observe Ahuramazda's rise to prominence under Darius; they will also have observed Darius' claim that he was the creator of heaven and earth.

Keywords: Ahuramazda; Deutero-Isaiah; Genesis; Israelite texts; Jewish response; Morton Smith; Persian cosmological material; Yahweh's creation



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