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The Restrictive Syntax of Genesis i 1

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Although many Hebraists have departed from the traditional understanding of in Gen i 1 as an independent phrase with grammatical reference to "THE beginning," it is a view that continues to thrive, and is reflected by the majority of modern translations. Even advocates of the dependent phrase position (e.g., "when God began") struggle with a precise and compelling linguistic analysis. In this article I offer a linguistic argument that will both provide a simpler analysis of the grammar of Gen i 1 and make it clear that the traditional understanding of a reference to an 'absolute beginning' cannot be derived from the grammar of the verse. Instead, the syntax of the verse, based on well-attested features within biblical Hebrew grammar, dictates that there were potentially multiple periods or stages to God's creative work.

Affiliations: 1: Toronto


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