Posted By MSH on October 9, 2009
That’s the contention of Dr. Ellen van Wolde. The problems in translation and interpretation in Genesis 1:1-3 are well known to Hebraists, but it’s rare for any of them to claim that the Bible teaches that God did *not* create matter, which Dr. van Wolde claims as a necessary conclusion. The first thing I thought of was how odd Genesis 1:26 would sound: “And God said, ‘Let us spatially separate humankind in our image and in our likeness.” Huh?† Actually, she’s just trying to argue that bara’ in Gen 1:1 doesn’t mean God created the earth (it’s already there in Gen 1:2). That view isn’t uncommon among Hebrew scholars and is syntactically plausible – but there’s more to consider than Gen 1:1-3 when articulating a full-orbed description of creation in OT theology, as this response from my fellow Hebraist and zealot blogger John Hobbins has written here.