BEGINNING - Bere'sit -
how elusive a word is Beginning! Are the opening words of
the Bible referring to
the Creation of the Universe, revealed to Man by divine edict;
or do they refer to a new Beginning after Man was already
established on this Earth? We believe the latter.
first two chapters of the Book of
Genesis were fundamental to the later development
of the Jewish and Christian religions. The text on which modern
translations of this chapter are based, are taken from fragments
of the Priestly Code (P) compiled during the Exile in Babylonia
in the sixth century B.C. The text of the second chapter has
been taken from the older Judaic Document (J), the various
strata of which are believed to have originated in the Southern
kingdom after 850 B.C.
chapter, therefore, which is our main concern here, was written
under the influence of redactors desperate to see the re-establishment
of the Jewish state in its homeland.The con-quest by Nebuchadnezzar,
and the exile in Babylonia, had been orchestrated by Yahweh
(so they believed) in revenge for the abandonment of the Covenant
by the Israelites.
this concept was foremost in the minds of the redactors, in
compiling the books of the Old Testament, seems unequivocal;
though whether it blinded them to the possibilities of alternative
meanings to the ancient words which they were studying, cannot
be determined. But, certainly, the interpretations put on
these words led to a tradition that was to influence the Greek,
and other European scholars, who were to produce our version
of the Old Testament.
they were Mosaic in origin, or even earlier, the original
writings have been lost in the mists of antiquity. All that
is left to nourish two of the World's great religions are
fragmented passages that have been copied and re-copied, meticulously,
for nearly three thousand years. In that time, we believe
the texts have remained remarkably constant except for the
inevitable scribal error that must have crept in from time
to time. But what have not remained constant are the Hebraic
and Aramaic languages.
remind ourselves of how our own language has changed since
Elizabethan times, a mere four hundred years ago, and how
it is changing decade by decade in this modern expressively-permissive
society, we can understand the dangers of taking a fragment
of Hebraic text Ø written perhaps in 1300 B.C., and edited
and copied in 550 B.C. Ø and of expecting that the individual
words and phrases were all intended to carry the same connotations
as they did, for example, in the time of the early Christian
Fathers, sixteen hundred years later.
if to this uncertainty we add the dangers inherent in the
Middle Eastern practice of paronomasia,
by which one symbol or word, purposefully, may represent a
number of different meanings, we are faced with an extremely
we have drawn attention in our earlier books to the absolute
necessity of fully understanding the context of an isolated
passage in a Middle Eastern language before undertaking its
translation. In many cases, a translator with a religious
conception of the context has produced an entirely different
translation from that of a translator with a secular conception.
be argued that changes in a language with time are less important
if there is a traditional understanding of the context and
meaning of a passage Ø but this is only true as far back as
the original misinterpretation of the context Ø if there were
in making such translations, there is one golden rule. If
the context could be open to doubt, and there are one or two
alternative possibilities, then one or two alternative possibilities
must be attempted. The correct one will nearly always become
obvious because of its consistency;
this being the yardstick by which such translations have to
Old Testament was translated into modern Hebrew - and then
into Greek, forming the early chapters of Genesis.
But this translation led to interpretations which were neither
consistent within themselves, nor consistent with either the
earlier Sumerian, or Hebraic Enochian accounts of the same
events. These inconsistencies have been glossed over and ignored.
that, at this point, it is the authors' task to attempt an
alternative translation of the first chapter of The
Book of Genesis in an
effort to determine whether a more consistent account can
be obtained in a secular interpretation.
this translation, very early texts were taken from The
Book of Genesis: Critical Edition of the Hebrew Text
by Canon C.J.Ball, and used in conjunction with the
Jerusalem Bible in English, and A
Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament
by William L. Holladay.
had some concern over a suitable format for the presentation
because considerable explanatory material has to be included
if it is to carry any credibility. This material needs to
be presented in a full Appendix as any bald statement of the
alternative text would be meaningless to those for whom the
traditional versions have a special value. This explanatory
material is laid out on the following pages, verse by verse.
page Genesis 1:1